Surprise comes when you are busy making other plans.

The key is you never give up.

Bond Wang
5 min readOct 28, 2023
Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash

Wednesday morning, Oct 27, I was in the meeting of my Toastmasters club, Road2DTM. I thought it was just another regular meeting. But right in the middle of the meeting, a beautiful flyer burst onto the Zoom screen. My photo was on it, and a line said:

“Congratulations. Bond Wang, DTM”

Lo and behold, I had become a DTM!

Just two weeks ago, I submitted my DTM application form to TI HQs. I thought it would be followed by a series of administration steps, verifications, extra documents, endorsements, and more. I couldn’t have imagined that the joy would come knocking on my door so soon. The Club VPE Sunita Jain was watching the online system closely. One day she found my DTM title had been registered. They didn’t call me to say Congrats. Instead, the club Secretary April Gillis made a beautiful flyer and popped it up in the middle of the meeting. You see, it is the end of October. The Halloween spirit is at its peak, let alone a huge, good surprise.

For the fellow toastmasters, we all know, a huge surprise it is.

My Toastmasters journey began four and a half years ago when I attended my very first meeting. All I remember from that day is that as I stood in front of a group of people, the fear gripped my throat, my hand, and my brain. Sitting in the audience, I was mesmerized by the skills and confidence emanating from the speakers. I hadn’t really got what I would be learning, I just enrolled in the club. I told myself, “Let me get to the stage first, then I will learn.” Besides, I wanted to get rid of all the “ums”, “ahs”, and “so-sos” in my mouth. They all lived in my head, but they never took my command.

Later I heard about the DTM title — the pinnacle of educational achievement for a Toastmaster. But it felt like a distant dream to me. So, I focused on slaying my own dragon — the fear of public speaking. Oh, this dragon had a slew of weapons to put me down, grammar, pronunciation, pace, body language, you name it. I can’t remember how many times I came down from the lectern, feeling exhausted and let down. But I remember that I tried to attend every meeting, tried to give every speech when I got the chance.

Two years passed. The fight was on and the dragon became tender. One day in a meeting, the Toastmaster of the Day, Becky Palmer, was introducing me as a speaker, “Bond’s Toastmasters journey is about two years.” She paused and added, “I can’t believe it’s only been two years. It seems like he’s been a Toastmaster for many years.”

Another day, the Past District Director, Sandy Amelino, said to me, “Hi, Bond, you should take on some leadership positions. We need your help, and you’ll get credit towards the DTM title.”

It was the first time I felt the achievement was within reach, and a new journey began. The routines remained the same, but it felt like a new path with a new goal — winning the holy grail. I applied to be an Area Director, reaching out to clubs beyond my own, taking more training, and, of course, speaking more. I still stumbled, and those filler words still jumped out and teased me. But I was gaining composure. And more importantly, these leadership activities led me to a much larger network. The support and trust out there were just incredible.

I realized DTM is not a distant dream, nor is it a daunting task. It’s a path of self-discovery, a path filled with appreciation, support, and joy.

After serving as the Area Director, I got one step closer toward the DTM title. The finish line ahead became clear. In early 2023, a new club, Road2DTM, was chartered in District 12. One day its chartering president, my dear friend Deborah Gillis, asked me to be the club mentor. Mentorship is another essential experience requested by the DTM title. For me, it was a new leadership challenge that involved more personal interaction. As much as I appreciated the trust my friend put in me, I yearned for this brand-new experience. I said “Yes” in a heartbeat. As the club’s name suggests, Road2DTM is home to both accomplished DTMs and aspiring DTMs. Mentorship is a dynamic, two-way learning process. While I was navigating the waters of mentoring, I found myself learning a wealth of valuable lessons from them as well.

The quest continued. One day I gave a speech in another club, Phonic Fury, sharing my path toward the DTM title. The then Club VPE, Darrel Zeller, told me that to get the title I needed another important credit — a Speechcraft credit. The club was planning to run an eight-week Speechcraft program. Darrel proposed that I host the program. Oh, the eight weeks were filled with intensive training and organizational challenges. I wouldn’t have successfully completed it without the support of the club officers and Darrel’s invaluable guidance.

While all credits were expected to be verified by the end of September, the final sprint encountered a slight stagger. The HQs responded that they could not find the mentorship credits for myself and another club mentor, Roz Carter, at Road2DTM club. Then a campaign was launched. The club officers made phone calls, sent emails, to vouch for our engagement. Soon the District Trio stepped in, personally sending emails to HQs to testify to our efforts. A few weeks passed, and while Roz and I were planning to accept the fact and looking to start the credit anew, a surprise hit us. HQs recognized the mentorship credits.

Then the second surprise came this morning. As the saying goes, “Surprise comes when you are busy making other plans. The key is you never give up.” I realize that although it is a journey of self-discovery, it can’t be done in isolation. The supportive eyes and words of those around me give me strength and confidence that I have never known before. Dear friend, if you are on the same path, I encourage you to keep pushing your boundaries and pursuing your goals. Because you never know what surprises await on your own path. May your journey be filled with joy, support, and the occasional stumble or two, because they will make the surprises spicier along the way.



Bond Wang

Forget injuries, never forget kindness. Hey, I write about life, culture, and daydreams. Hope I open a window for you, as well as for myself.