Almaty Toastmasters Spotlight Series: Tom Bartkoske
Almaty Toastmasters Club – Member Spotlight Series will be featuring all the current members of the Club. Stay tuned to learn more about our fellow Toastmasters, why joined the Club, what they like about it and what is their life like outside of the Club activities!
Today’s “spotlight” features Tom Bartkoske, the founding member and current President of the first official Toastmasters Club in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which was established in December 2013. We are delighted to present this interview.
Tom with his family on a mountain hike
1. What is your happiest childhood memory?
When I was young, we lived along the wild Missouri River in Montana. One day, my brothers, sisters, cousins and I waded along the river from my cousin’s farm house to our home. Along the way, we caught frogs, pretended to be pirates, made our own mudslide, and took in the wildlife and beautiful scenery.
2. When did you join Toastmasters? What made you join?
One day at an American Chamber of Commerce event, I noticed someone wearing a Toastmaster pin. When I asked Levon about it, he said that he had been a Toastmaster in Kiev and wondered if there was a club in Almaty. I said that I had thought about starting a Toastmaster club for a couple of years but nothing had happened yet. With confident optimism and energy, he said, “Let’s start one this week.” And together we did. Our club almost had enough charter members several times but it was not until December 2013 that we officially chartered.
3. Life outside Toastmasters or what do you do for a living?
I am involved in helping people improve their work and family relationships through business trainings in EQ (Emotional Intelligence), DISC (personality testing), strategic planning, life coaching, management skills training, couples seminars, conflict resolution and other tools.
4. How do you use communication skills in your daily life?
I use communication skills daily when thinking about how to draft an email or helping teams work through conflict and tension or assisting an executive team to articulate their vision and mission or managers how to motivate their direct reports.
5. What do you like best about our Club?
I like the people who are involved. Come and you will see for yourself how wonderful, kind, engaging, motivated, and positive our club members are.
6. What have you learnt since you joined? Do you feel that you had grown as a communicator or a leader since you joined Toastmasters?
I have definitely grown in my ability to lead meetings up front and be relaxed. At first when I was the Toastmaster up front I would be so nervous, I would forget things, I would be constantly looking at my notes. Now I feel more confident and relaxed in leading a meeting from up front.
7. What are your personal hobbies and interests?
I enjoy bicycling along the Bolshaya Almatinka with my family, friends, and even our dogs. I enjoy jogging either by myself or with our dogs into the hills and orchards near our home. Our family loves to go up to Chymbulak and go skiing above the gray skies. I love to go hiking in the mountains with family, friends and fellow Toastmasters. We have fun sledding in the winter. I enjoy playing basketball myself and help coach my son’s team. I also enjoy gardening.
8. Can you share random or surprising facts from you biography?
I grew up in the small town of Big Sandy, Montana, which has about 800 residents but have lived and worked in large metropolitan cities like Boston and Almaty. Counting half brothers and sisters and step siblings, I was one of 11 children.
9. If you could have a lunch with anyone, who would that person be and why?
My father passed away when I was young, so I would like to have lunch with him and find out more of what he was like and let him know that I love and forgive him because we are all imperfect people in need of unconditional love and acceptance.
10. What is the most important thing you would tell your friends and family about Toastmasters?
Toastmasters is a positive and friendly environment which proves a safe and encouraging atmosphere for taking steps to grow and develop both professionally and personally. And it is great place to make friends.
Tom is the current President of Almaty Toastmasters Club. He has been organizing unofficial Toastmasters meetings for many years that he has lived in Almaty, even before the Club became official. We owe it to him that we finally have a Club here in our lovely city!
Thank you for this interview, Tom! You are such an incredible inspiration to all of us at the Club. Your encouragement and true leadership are truly treasured by the current and former members as well as (and especially) the founding members and officers of Almaty Toastmasters Club!
Posted on: 06.04.2016, by : Aliya Shaikhina