Shalom Agalaba, ACB, ALB, considers his best qualities to be his drive, charisma, passion, and most importantly, his approachability. He considers his most important quality to be that he’s approachable.

That’s much of the reason Agalaba is active in Toastmasters. He will spend this year as Division E Director, where he will serve Amarillo-area clubs.

Agalaba was born in Dumas, Texas, and has lived most of his life in Amarillo outside of a stint in Atlanta. The Palo Duro High and Amarillo College alumnus works at AIG as a relationship manager — somebody who bridges gaps between internal departments and external partners. His home club is Raging Toastmasters.

How did you find out about Toastmasters, and what brought you into that first meeting?
I joined Toastmasters because I wanted to become a more effective speaker and overcome some stage fright I was having. I was having a conference call with some business leaders and there were critical website updates we were making. Some of the changes were going to remove shielding from the public (on data we needed to keep private). Somebody needed to address that and bring it up on the conference call, I couldn’t articulate that point. Thankfully, a Toastmaster friend was on the call and was able to jump in and raise the concern that I was trying to raise.

It’s what really solidified my desire to join. After my experience on the conference call, I was approached by a Toastmasters member about being a participant in the speech craft program. I agreed to be a participant, but I knew that I needed to become a member. Following the Speechcraft session, I decided I needed to join. I thought about joining earlier on, but the conference call was the defining moment for me.

I remember thinking everybody was inviting, welcoming and knowledgeable. I thought I could possibly add value to the club.

What was it that brought you to your second meeting?
It was the Speechcraft that brought me in, but it was the camaraderie … the invitation from the members and the way they remembered me. They remembered the time I was in Speechcraft and visited the club. They remembered me and invited me every time.

How are you using your Toastmasters skills outside of the organization?
Every skill you learn is translatable, directly, into the real world. In my job, people don’t always see eye-to-eye and you can’t give everybody what they want. You have to be able to diffuse situations, handle difficult customers, overcome objections and come to win-win situations.

I also use Toastmasters in a written sense as well, typing it up and making sure my point is clear and concise before sending out the message.
I also serve on a cancer society board and a lot of what I’ve found on Roberts Rules of Order I’ve brought to the board.

What was the light-switch moment where you realized what you did in Toastmasters had a tangible effect on what you did outside of Toastmasters?
I enjoy helping people grow and watching people grow. One of the most gratifying things is Toastmasters gives me an opportunity to be a leader. I’ll see a problem, and I’ll know a solution, but Toastmasters has taught me to listen and ask probing questions to get them thinking outside of the box and (help them) think of a solution that might not have come to them initially.

If you could go back in time and see yourself attending that first meeting, what would you tell yourself?
I’d have told myself to get involved sooner, I absolutely would. My first meeting, I was there and I was optimistic. But I approached it as many people do, where people may talk to me and I might eat some food but there’s no commitment. I’m in two clubs now and don’t have any plans to decrease that in the future because of what the organization does.

I’m a very shy person by nature, incredibly introverted. It offers me an ability, or rather, an outlet to practice. I can practice in a safe environment without any judgment or any fear of failing.

Short answer, I’d say to get there a few years sooner than I did.

What would you like to do with this office in the coming year?
One of the things I want to happen is increased participation in our TLI events. We have to use the four hours, so let’s make it more interactive.

I want to increase our online presence in Division E. I want to grow a few clubs, and I want everybody to be successful in this organization. Up front, it’s going to be important to meet with my team and put the division plan together so we can drive toward goals for the year. I can come up with goals all day long, but it’s going to be better if we create goals as a team.