Last Friday (June 14th) was my last day as a board member of The National Speakers Association New York City Chapter (NSANYC).

Back in 2017, I visited NSANYC for the first time.

I was already a confident speaker at Toastmasters, and I had won Toastmasters’ speech contest 5 times by then. I thought NSANYC would be just a natural transition.

Yes, and No.

Yes, it was a logical transition to transform from an amateur speaker to a professional speaker.

No, it was NOT a “smooth” or “natural” progression. Professional speakers’ quality is FAR above “good amateur speaker”.

I remember when I first visited NSANYC’s chapter meeting, I was frightened to see a huge gap in skill level. I thought I was a good speaker. I thought I had what it takes to become a professional speaker. I thought it would be a “smooth” transition. Instead, I realized I had SO MUCH to work on to make a speaking business my career.

People say, “do what scares you”, right?
If I wanted to become a professional speaker, I needed to surround myself with the highest level people in the industry.

So I joined NSANYC.

Just one month later, NSANYC hosted a speakers showcase event. I volunteered. I gave my Toastmasters contest speech.
Fast forward to 2021.

Then-incoming president of NSANYC, Jeanne M. Stafford reached out to me out of the blue.

“What did I do wrong?!” was my first thought.

She said with her gentle, nurturing voice, “I just wanted to catch up.”

Well, she lied!! LOL.

She said “I am the incoming president, and I’m looking for candidates for my board”.

I started to think, “who I know could be a good candidate?”.

Then she said, “I want, YOU”.

I was like, “you who?!” I literally looked behind me to find who “you” was.

She continued,
“When you gave a speech at the showcase back in 2017, I knew you had something to offer.”

I almost said “no way, it can’t be me. What do I have to offer? I’m still a newbie, I’m a “foreigner”, I don’t qualify to serve as a board of director for a group of top level professional speakers!! Way too scary and waaaay out of my comfort zone.”

Then I had a second thought.

If someone says I had something to offer, maybe I’m not seeing what they are seeing.

My Japanese value system kicked in.
“I can’t let her down. If a top guy tells you something, I have to say yes.”.

I said yes almost out of fear of letting Jeanne down.
Half a year later, I was losing my confidence as a board member.

“I am not providing my values. Why am I here?”
I reached out to Jeanne and addressed my concerns honestly.

She said,
“But you are still showing up. That’s a value.”
Really….? I doubted her words. But I still kept showing up.

A year later, Ralph Peterson took over the presidency. He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to stay in his board.

I said “well….yes, not because I feel I qualify, but ONLY because I feel like I had some unfinished business, and if I quit now, I would regret it later”. I had to feel that I provided some values to this board before I call it a quit.
I was still the only Asian, the only “foreigner”, and still a newbie in this business. But I started to feel that I could still give something to this community.

At the end of Ralph’s term, a huge surprise came.

I was awarded “The Member of the Year” award.

I was speechless… Jeanne was right, I kept showing up, and I had something to offer. I can now finish my 2 year term as a board of director.

Or so I thought.

Then, Robyn Hatcher ‘s presidency began. She asked me to stay in her board. I thought I was retiring!!! LOL.
But I wanted to contribute for another year to slowly hand over my tasks to the next board member. That’s when Adam Zimmerman came on board to share my tasks as co-director of membership. He learned so quickly, performed the tasks with such professionalism and grace. Most of all, I enjoyed sharing tasks and working closely with him.

Yesterday was officially the end of my extended 3 year term as a board of director.

It was bitter sweet to see the new board members being installed.

What a fantastic journey, learning experience, and growth opportunity I had been given.

I will continue to be an active member of NSANYC.

I truly look forward to seeing NSANYC grow even further, and continuing to learn and grow together with this community.

With gratitude,
Natsuyo N. Lipschutz
2021-2022, 2022-2023, 2023-2024 Board of Director, NSANYC CSP class of 2024

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