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Past President Interview: Gosia Gorna (2006-07) on how being President at Corinthians inspired me to found my own public speaking club

November 15, 2012

 Q: During your time as President did anything memorable take place during meetings or otherwise?

Gosia founded Polish Your Polish after being President at London Corinthians

I never thought I would become the President, so the fact that I agreed to be the President was a very memorable thing in itself. I soon realised that being President was not just about organising the meetings. There was politics to deal with: Handling things with people who would get upset, learning how to do it so everybody was happy by acting as a mediator. We all enjoyed the Polish Christmas party that year, with pierogi – polish food and polish vodka. It was magnificent, we had so much fun, we even sung Christmas carols. That was very memorable and I absolutely loved it.

Q: Will you describe the best speech you heard during your Presidency? What made it so good?

I find it almost impossible to remember one specific speech at all, but I remember people who I found touching on regular basis. Fiona Williams was one of those people. I admired her managing all her young children, especially while nursing a newborn baby, and all the while keeping her effortless flowing style, looking beautiful, jumping on the stage to deliver a speech and then going straight back home. Gilly Cutts always inspired me with her genuine connection to the heart. Then of course ‘Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy’ – Jeremy Mitchel who I think was the President when I first came to the club. I think that if anyone else had been President I would have escaped the meetings. It was like disorganised chaos but Jeremy was so playful and everybody loved him. I felt that with such fun people like Jeremy, who actually belonged here and come here all the time, I could become part of it too.

Q: What made you decide to become President? How did it come about?

A big part in all of that was down to Gilly Cutts. From the very beginning we had a very strong connection and she always sensed when I was scared or uncomfortable. She said the right words at the right time, she coached me with enough support and challenge for me, and kept her eye on me all the way through. One day she said: ‘It would be so amazing if you became part of the committee’. I was Sergeant at Arms at first but then she immediately invited me to become the Vice President of Education (VPE). I didn’t know that it was understood that if you became VPE you would go on to become President. So I agreed, not aware of what was expected of me. It wasn’t until a few months into the job that I realised it – my goodness! Gilly said ‘You can do it’ and there was constant support on her part to help me to face this challenge. I don’t think I actually thanked her for this and her important role in finding me. Gilly gave me the sense of consistency. Everyone in the club was inspiring and supportive, but she was consistently so.

Q: What have you taken away with you from your time as President? Did you achieve your goals?

I don’t know if I had any goals as President, but my aim was for more people to come in, have fun and come together; to have more love in the club and a sense of unity. I think I achieved that because that’s what people say was happening when I was President. It was seemingly complete chaos, I was unstructured. The regulations – I didn’t adhere to them too strictly but there was lots of love and caring in the club. What I learned from being President was that I could actually do anything. It was a very uplifting job. If I didn’t have the experience of being President of London Corinthians I would have never started the ‘Polish Your Polish’ Toastmasters Club and it is one of the better things I have done in my life. So if I hadn’t been President of the English Club I would never have come up with idea of the Polish one. That was key.

Q: Is there any advice you would give to the future presidents with the benefit of hindsight?

Yes, three things: – Have a very good mentor as President. Not only the Past President but other people you can call upon. – Delegate more, ask for help. I often tried to do things myself, too many things, instead of delegating, thinking ‘Oh I’m not going to bother them at 11:30 in the evening(!)’ – Hold the vision for the club, in your mind and in your heart. Your energy will extend it to the club.


Working or living in the LondonVictoria area? Want to know more about becoming a better public speaker? Visit London Corinthians on the 2nd, 4th and 5th Thursdays @ 7.30pm.

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