EMMY award-winning journalist Gina London marked a very special day in the life of the Rosscarbery Toastmasters Club recently.
Joined by life and business coach, Walt Hampton, Gina addressed the club on the occasion of it being named an officially chartered club.
Walt, an American, has moved West and now resides in Castletownshend with his wife Anne, but Gina, also an American, is new to the delights of Rosscarbery, but not Cork city itself where she, her husband Scotty Walsh, and their lovely eight-year old daughter LuLú, have been living for more than a year.
Expressing her pleasure at being in Rosscarbery for the first time, Gina said: ‘I take every opportunity I can to explore a new place, so this is a privilege for me.’
John Keating, the president of Rosscarbery Toastmasters – a group that meets every Saturday morning at The Celtic Ross Hotel – met Gina at a Junior Chamber International event in Cork last month and asked her to attend a lunch marking the official charter of the club.
She didn’t hesitate because Gina is committed to the power of communication, having worked ‘as a storyteller, as a journalist’, for a number of years.
The former CNN correspondent and anchor has a proven track-record of teaching the skills and strategies needed to become a powerful and credible communicator.
She has experience training and interviewing thousands of executives, political leaders and celebrities worldwide. Her international trainings have taken her across the globe from Egypt to the UAE, to Cambodia and Indonesia and more.
And she is no ordinary journalist. It was her heartfelt coverage of the 911 atrocity that resulted in her being presented with an Emmy award – a tremendous achievement given the subject and the circumstances.
For her, telling a story is all about connection. It’s not the sound bite. It’s not the trickling tear. It is about giving people the opportunity to tell their story, as it is for them, not as the media would like it to be.
Small wonder, then, that she supports the work of Toastmasters – an international organisation that helps people develop greater confidence and personal growth.
The last person to speak at the Saturday celebration – an event that featured gravitas and a lightness of touch in equal measure – was a woman, a member, who has a mild but perceptible stutter. That woman’s softly spoken words of gratitude for all that John Keating has done in establishing the group were marvellous.
Walt Hampton, who originally trained as a lawyer and spent 30 years working as a trial attorney, is now an executive coach, speaker, trainer and writer.
He has published two books: Journeys on the Edge – Living A Life That Matters and The Power Principles of Time Mastery. Do Less. Make More. Have Fun.
On Saturday he spoke about fear and how it ‘causes us to play small’, but he was most persuasive on the point that ‘when we move beyond our fear, beyond our comfort zones, that is where the adventure is.’
The thing is if you wait and wait and wait ‘you will never be ready. Your speech will never be perfect. It will always be a work in progress. There is no right time. The time is now.’
Rosscarbery Toastmasters is not just a place where people learn to overcome their jitters in time to give a best man’s speech at a wedding, or learn how to present better as a lecturer or teacher, or how to command attention as a businessman or woman. It is also social. This club is full of warmth, energy and friendship.
Gina said: ‘I have never formally been a member of Toastmasters, but I did attend several meetings when I started out as a reporter. Then my career got in the way and I didn’t have time.’
As a communications consultant and a communications strategist, working with national and international companies and corporations, as well as individuals, Gina knows what it is to help people feel more confident.
‘It helps no matter what industry you are in. It allows people to be more effective.’
As a consultant (now based in Cork city where she is ideally placed to work with her clients throughout Europe) Gina said she is ‘committed to the power of content and delivery.’
The reason Gina and her family have moved to Cork is because her husband, Scotty Walsh – a mentalist, consultant, speaker, and physical comedian – is doing a PhD programme at University College Cork on the topic of Mind-Reading and Mind Control.
Of Cork, Gina said: ‘I have found my place in the world.’ And of the people, she added: ‘The genuine relationships that I have been fortunate enough to make convince me that I am in the right place.’
Gina and seventeen of her new BFFs will be going to Isaac’s restaurant in MacCurtain Street shortly to celebrate a birthday – the number of which she smilingly declines to mention.
Rosscarbery, Cork, Ireland are something of a revelation to Gina who is impressed by ‘the intersection of communities’. She sees Ireland as being peopled by ‘a vibrant and caring community’. She said it offers ‘cultural diversity coupled with a real sense of community’.
In Irish communities – big and small – she said there is business innovation combined with a good take on work/life balance, and genuine care for family and friends.
Gina made her first foray into the world of journalism at the age of 13. She took exception to an article written by George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, newspaper columnist, and political commentator.
Having what the American’s would call ‘the stones’ to put herself out there like that is something that probably came from her mother, her first role model.
Gina was just eleven when her father, a pilot, died.
‘My mother has given me the great example of reading and exploring. She gave me the incredible example of determination and persistence to go for whatever I wanted to do,’ said Gina.
‘She went back and did her masters in deaf education and raised three kids,’ all of whom are highly individual and content to do their own thing in life – to be confident, to be themselves.
Rosscarbery Toastmasters has as its motto: ‘Where confidence grows.’ All are welcome. Here, too, people will find confidence, a place to be themselves. For further information contact John Keating on 085 7202 808 or email [email protected]