My Toastmaster Ice Breaker speech. I recorded it post meeting as unfortunately nerves got the better of me on the night and I entirely forgot. Still a looooong way to go but feeling a little more confident speaking in public! I think delivery was probably better in the meeting :)
##Opening Mr Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and most welcome guests.
Today, Keeping in the spirit of the Ice Breaker talk I’m going to be quite selfish and talk all about me, what I do and give you some insight into my reasons for attending toastmasters.
I count myself lucky that for as long as I can remember I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life. Ever since I picked up my first lego set as a kid I knew I wanted to build awesome things. I think there is something so incredibly satisfying about creating real value out of nothing. Creating something where the whole is so much more valuable than the individual parts.
But before I get into the exact details of what I do today, I’ll tell you a little more about myself.
##South Africa / UK I’m 29 and despite having lived a little over half my life now in England I still consider myself South African. As I’m sure you can tell from my extremely South African accent. The only real giveaway now is my name: “Deon Botha”, which as it turns out is so incredibly common in South Africa it’s like John Smith over here.
I spent a good part of my childhood growing up on a farms South Africa & Zimbabwe in pretty much the middle of no-where. In fact, on one farm in particular you literally needed to drive around 4 hours just to reach the nearest town which had a population not much larger than the number of people in this room.
Despite this relative isolation from the wider world my parents somehow always ensured that my siblings and I had access to the latest computer technology. My passion for building things out of lego quickly turned to computer games and then luckily to the more productive pursuit of building my own games and computer programs from scratch.
Around the age of 14 my parents decided to move us all over to the UK so that my brother, sister & I could attend better schools and universities and ultimately give us what they perceived to be more opportunities in life.
At university I studied computer science for three years. To my mom and pretty much everyone else means I’m qualified to fix printers when they break. To me it meant I got to focus my time building cool things. Or at least that was the idea. In reality the course was highly theoretical with little practical application so I didn’t get to build quite as much as I’d have liked.
So what do I do? Well if you were to ask my wife she’d probably tell you that I’ve done my very best to avoid having a real job for pretty much the last 9 years since university. If you were to ask me, well I would reluctantly describe myself as an entrepreneur. I use the word reluctantly because I’ve always associated that word with my own personal hero’s all of whom are definitely out of my league, maybe one day :) But at least according to the dictionary definition for entrepreneur which is:
a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit
the definition fits.
Now you might be thinking, so Deon - what is your latest “preneur”? Well I run a moderately successful technology company. Moderately successful on paper means I get to tell my wife it’s probably worth millions but in reality means that on average I’m broke, in debt and probably going to need to be looking for a new job by next week. The upside is that every day I get to go into work and build awesome things.
Starting my own business is part of the reason I’m attending Toastmasters. Over the last few years I’ve had more and more people looking to me for guidance and leadership and I’ve realised it’s just not something that comes all that naturally to me. But I do believe it is something that can be learned, and that’s why I’m standing in front of you here today!