Panel Discussion on 9 Aug 2022

Since 1970, marriage has been on a steady decline and single living is on the rise across the globe. Divorce rates are also rising. In 1960, only 12% of marriages ended up in divorce, and in 2022 the divorce rate is up to 48%.

We hosted a 40 minute panel discussion on “How to Resolve Conflict in a Marriage”. There were four panelists each with different marriage experience – Molly (3 years), Simon (10 years), Johnny (30 years) and Clare (30 years). What’s common between all of them is that they are happily married. What can we learn from them?

Johnny gave a good analogy of a marriage:

“Don’t be fooled by what you see on the surface. Marriage is like a big barrel and it’s got one layer of honey and one layer of fat, and another layer of honey and another layer of fat. But eventually you eat through the honey and you’re stuck with the fat. If you eat it quickly, then you get to more fat. But the fat is a lot and so it takes you a long time to get through it. If you manage to get through three or four layers of fat, then the honey will will be endless”.

my late dad

Here’s a quick summary of answers to some of the panel questions:

Why did you get married?

  • It was the right time. We had a pretty stable relationship so it was the natural thing to do.
  • I wanted someone who shares similar values as me, have lots of common topics we can discuss, and is committed to the relationship.
  • The chemistry was right and we wanted to spend all our time together.
  • I wanted to get married since I was 16. I did it for the challenge.

What causes conflict in a marriage?

  1. We have different expectations of what marriage is going to be like. We might also expect the other person to be something they are not, and we go into a marriage believing we can change the other person.
  2. Your spouse believes they are right and not willing to admit that they could be wrong.
  3. We feel the relationship is unfair or unbalanced, e.g. too much housework.

How do you resolve conflict?

  1. Make your spouse aware of how their behaviour is impacting you and others. It took me years to make my spouse more self-aware. Could I have done it differently? It is what it is. Life comes at you. You cannot look back. If I solved it then and there, then there would be other problems that I would need to deal with later.
  2. If it’s an important decision, we gather the information from external sources and personal experience so that we make the right decision. If it’s not really important, then who cares as long as my spouse is happy!
  3. There will be periods where the marriage is unbalanced, so we work towards getting it back into balance. It’s impossible to always be completely equal. It’s a process and that’s a good way to fairness.

What advice would you give newly married couples to ensure a happy, healthy and lasting marriage?

Johnny answered this question.

Make sure you’re in love and don’t get married for financial reasons only. Don’t get married because you found someone that thinks like you, or because someone else told you that this person is great. The way to gauge it is to feel in love.

I’ve noticed with many modern day couples that there’s too much logic being thrown in.

You know when the right person comes along. Something clicks. It’s like a little switch in your head. You don’t have to prove it with mathematics or science or biology or anything. It just happens.

The Four Happily Married Panelists

Club Meeting 28th Jun 2022

Tonight is the annual executive changeover meeting. It’s been waiting long to have a year-end gathering in a restaurant since Covid-19 starts. But we made it! We were having a meeting while enjoying the food at Spoonful Thai restaurant in Beecroft.

Johnny delivered a speech called “My Toastmaster Journey Part II” and told us an inspiring story why he decided to join Toastmasters. He wrote his book and wanted to inspire people how to make their dreams their reality. This is his purpose, his desire, his dream and his Goal. To do so, he needed to improve his speech so that he can talk a 40 min to 1.5 hours speech in front of a large groups of audiences. He initially joined 6 clubs to achieve the amount of practice time. No wonder he ends up being an experienced and natural speaker.

We also had table topics during the dinner. Each member drew a question out of the cup. The questions are:

  • If you can choose any person to have dinner with, who will it be?
  • If a movie was made of your life who would play you and why?
  • If you absolutely have to sing karaoke, what would be your go to music?
  • Is there any fashion that you want to bring back to life?
  • What is the strangest thing you used to believe as a child
  • If you can hang out with any cartoon character who would you hang out with and why?

Thank you for our area director, Kalinga, to join our dinner this year. He inducts the new executives and also provided good advice how we can manage clubs.

Overall, we really enjoyed the night!

Club Meeting 3rd May 2022

Tonight’s meeting theme is “Space Travel”. What an exciting topic to imagine your travel in the universe, potentially to meet Elon Musk on Mars! It was one of the most exciting meetings, with the presence of three visitors and one of our most experienced members – “Rowan Kunz”.

Having known that no human has ever gone beyond Earth’s orbit, Simon Jia led a toast to “live long and prosper”. In the universe, we are all peregrine workers exploring its vast expanse. “Peregrine” was the word of the night. I still cannot help laughing out loud with Laugh-master – Clare’s joke: What is two-headed monster? The answer is “Hello, Hello”, while turning your head from left to right.  

The table topics today was quite challenging and full of fun. The highlighted questions include:

  1. You are a Russian astronaut in an international space station. You know that Russia has invaded Ukraine. How will you get along with other astronauts in space?
  2. You discover exotic flora and fauna in another planet, which can cure cancer. But if you bring the plants back to the earth, it will kill all other plants. Would you bring it?
  3. You travel to a parallel universe where you see yourself powerful and wealthy. However, your parallel self is sick. You can take his place, but you must leave your family. Would you like to travel to the parallel universe?
  4. Aliens designed humans as an experiment. The alien told you they will terminate humans because the experiment is finished. How would you respond to the Aliens?

Take a moment to think, how would you answer the above questions from the Table Topic Master?

In the prepared speeches session, we had 3 speakers.

“The origin story” – Rowan Kunz presented his icebreaker speech to introduce his life journey and how he ended up choosing education because he valued it the most in his life. Like most of us, by going with the traditional flow organised by parents, working hard in university but without any clue where we are going, he eventually found his way by consistently asking himself “How do I get motivated? Who am I?” Now as a successful business entrepreneur, with tutoring business across Australia, he inspired us to think and ask ourselves “Who are you?”. He is definitely the superstar spiritual model for young generations.

“Unreasonable or not” – Paul started his speech with George Bernard Shaw’s quote “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” He introduced the John F. Kennedy’s achievements whose unreasonable ideas facilitated space exploration and human progression. What an amazing concept Paul brought to us!

“A mentor makes the world a better place” – Here we are with our club’s barrel full of laughs – Caroline. Who would treat TV as a mentor? Caroline did. Caroline shed a light on a new perspective that numerous kids leant from TV nowadays. For example, in Harry Potter, Dumbledore told Harry “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” However, it also reminded us of the pro and cons from TV without proper supervision. She also talked about her work mentors, who can be open to questions or can be brilliant at office politics. We never lack different types of mentors in our life, aren’t we?     

I really enjoyed this meeting. If you want to attend or participate in our meetings, feel free to contact our club for further details. We meet every Tuesday night at 42A Hill Road West Pennant Hills, NSW, Australia 2125.

Club Meeting 8th March 2022

Tonight’s theme was “Ethical Dilemma”. Molly Yang hosted the Table Topics session. The audience was given 2 scenarios, each one with 4 questions. The audience needed to listen very carefully to appreciate the complexity of each scenario and think about how they would act.

Scenario 1: A child was near death with a rare virus. The only drug that might save him had recently been developed by a local doctor. The doctor had spent a great deal of time and money developing the drug and was charging ten times as much for it ($1,000) as it cost him to make it ($100). The child’s mother didn’t have enough money to buy it, even after trying as hard as she could to borrow the money. She asked the doctor to sell it to her at half the price or let her pay on credit, but the doctor refused. The mother was desperate and stole the drug from the doctor’s office. (Ethical Dilemma)

  1. Imagine you’re the mother. Please explain why you were right to steal the drug?
  2. Imagine you’re the doctor. Please explain why you were right to sell drugs at market price?
  3. If someone does not agree with you, are they unethical?
  4. What would you do if you are the judge? Would you charge the mother with theft?

Scenario 2: An employee decided to leave his job in 31st July, giving his employer 30-day notice to ensure he had enough time to handover his responsibilities. However, the employer decided not to pay the employee their bonus for work done for the year ending on 30th June. The contract did state that payable bonus is at discretion of employer once employment contract terminates. However, this employee could have waited two more weeks and receive his bonus in mid-July, and give only 2 weeks notice to the employer. (Laws and Ethics)

  1. Imagine you’re the employer. Please explain why you decided not to pay the yearly bonus to the employee once you were aware they were leaving?
  2. Imagine you’re the employee. Please explain why you told your employer that you’re leaving in 30 days, instead of waiting until after you received your bonus and you had only had 2 weeks left in the job?
  3. If you were the employee, what would you do?
  4. If you were the employer, what would you do?

In the prepared speeches session, we had 2 speakers.

“Leadership with Style”, – Aaron Fluery presented a speech from Pathways Level 2. His objective was to share what he has learnt about different styles of leadership and communication.

“My Vision Brought to Life” – Johnny Manolelis presented a speech from Pathways Level 5. His objective was to develop and share a detailed vision for his personal or professional life.

Aaron Fluery presenting his speech in front of an online and face-to-face audience

Club Meeting 22nd Feb 2022

Tonight’s theme was Conspiracy Theory. Christopher Tso delivered a Toast to the inventor of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee. As the world is moving towards more authoritarian governments, we can no longer take for granted our freedom of speech and freedom to transact. The Internet is helping us protect our freedoms because of its decentralised nature, and provides a check-and-balance on governments overstepping their boundaries.

The Word of the Night role was empty due to the assigned member having to stay home to fix things after the storm hit. Luckily, Johnny Manolelis had a spare word already prepared. It was “salubrious”.

Table Topics was hosted by Johnny Manolelis. The unlucky audience members had to pretend that they really believe in the conspiracy theory presented by Johnny, and had to explain it. We explained black helicopters, global warming, the JFK assinnation and Area 51. It was a challenging and entertaining session.

We had 3 prepared speeches.

“Jack of Many, Master of None” – Paul Da Silva delivered his Icebreaker speech. He described his journey from South Africa to Australia. He wants to improve his ability to persuade others, which is why he joined Toastmasters.

“How to Ace the Job Interview” – Harper Yang delivered her speech for the Pathways project “Negotiate the Best Outcome”. Job interviews are definitely among the most common negotiation scenes. Harper shared her experience on how she went through this negotiation process with plenty of useful advice.

“Wrong Words” – Molly Yang delivered her speech for the Pathways project “Know your sense of humor”. She shared her personal stories on how words can easily misrepresent your intentions if you are not careful. Molly struggled with this sometimes because she was not a native English speaker. For example, at a previous Toastmasters meeting when everyone was busy packing up and talking to each other, our ex-president Clare said “I feel I’m useless here. Maybe I can go now.”. Molly replied, “Yes you can go”. Haha. Poor Clare. A better way of saying it is “Thanks for your help today. We will see you next time.”

Harper presenting her speech “How to Ace the Job Interview”
Mark hosting the prepared speeches session
Chris providing an evaluation of Harper’s speech

Club Meeting 8th Feb 2022

The theme for tonight’s meeting was “Game Theory”. Game theory is a framework for understanding choice in situations among competing players. Game theory can help players reach optimal decision-making when confronted by independent and competing actors in a strategic setting.

Table Topics

During Table Topics, Mark Paton randomly picked audience members to deliver a 1 minute speech on how they would deal with each situation by using game theory. The question not only tested our impromptu public speaking skills, but also listening and problem solving skills! Anyone who participated in Table Topics is probably now an expert at Game Theory! Here were some of the questions:

  1. Prisoners Dilemma – You have committed a serious crime with your best friend – possession of drugs. If you cooperate with the investigation, you will go free and your best friend will go to jail for 20 years. If you keep your mouth shut and don’t cooperate with the investigation, you both get 2 years each. What will you choose?
  2. Cournot Competition – You are one of only two players in the market selling the new and exclusive next-gen smartphones. You can either flood the market with 1,000 phones and sell them for $1,000 each and make $1M. Alternatively, if you only produced 200 phones you would need to sell them for $5,000 or more each. You do not know how much your competitor is selling them for or how much they are producing. What do you do?
  3. Centipede Game – The maximum prize is $5,000 and will go to either yourself or your best friend.
    • Scenario A; You take $5,000, your friend decides to give it to you, you keep $5,000
    • Scenario B: You give your friend the money, your friend decided to give you the money and you win $10,000
    • Scenario C: Both take the money and both get $0.
  4. Dictator Game – Your best friend has been given an unknown sum of money. He or she will give you part of it and keep the rest. If you don’t accept the amount your friend gets nothing. Your friend offers you $500. Do you accept?
  5. Nash Equilibrium – You have a one of a kind smartphone that allows you to teleport yourself from place to place. This is sold for $5,000 per phone and costs you $2,500. A competitor is coming into the market and is planning to undercut you. Their cost is $3,500 and they plan to sell for $4,000. Do you sell for $3,499 destroy your competition and loose profitability or keep your price and margin and allow them to enter.
  6. Coordinator Game – There are 2 smartphone providers in the market. A new microchip technology is available.
    • If both companies introduce this, they will make $600M each.
    • If only one company introduces this they make $150M.
    • If no company introduces this you will continue making $300M

Prepared Speeches

My Toastmasters Reboot – Simon Jia delivered his Icebreaker speech which shared different aspects of his life with us.

Burning the Midday Oil – Aaron Fluery gave us advice on how to manage stress.

What Kind of World Do We Live In? – Johnny Manolelis explained why we should view the world as a friendly place rather than a hostile place. There was also Q&A session at the end where a couple of interesting questions were asked by the audience.

Word of the Night

Satoshi was the word that Chris asked everyone to use as much as possible tonight. A satoshi is the smallest unit of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. It is named after Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of the Bitcoin protocol.

Example Usage:

  • “I just had a satoshi moment. I finally understood how to solve the problem. This is going to be big.”
  • “Here’s my two sats” – same usage as “here’s my two cents”, but the unit is in satoshis (abbreviated as sats) instead of cents.

Club Meeting 28th Sep 2021


Due to COVID restrictions, the WPH Toastmasters meeting no. 638, was held online using Zoom. It was attended by 10 members and in addition, we had the honour of having the Area Director, Kalinga Wijeyewardene, as a guest for the evening.

The theme on the meeting was Metaverse – a virtual universe, made up of shared 3D virtual spaces.


The Toast of the Night was delivered by Shirley, who helped us understand what Metaverse meant and the wonder of the ever-expanding English language. We raised our glasses and drank to the creators of the English language.

Word of the night

Chris came up with the word of the night, “Scale”, at very short notice. He aligned to the theme of the evening, referring to the scale of the Metaverse. He defined the word, used it in examples to illustrate its meaning and recommended that the Toastmasters use it throughout the evening to practice including it in our vocabulary.


Jonathan was the Lasughmaster for the evening and made us laugh before he opened his mouth with squeaky background noises. He followed with a few funny jokes which received a laugh or two.


Juergen presented a 15 minute educational which was entertaining, captivating and thought provoking. He shared with the Toastmasters, a personal story, of when he started in Toastmasters in South Africa and how Toastmasters became a constant as he moved around the world. He left us this a strong message “Define your goals and make every opportunity count”.


Carolina was the Table-topics Master for the meeting and used the theme for the night as inspiration for some very challenging and ruthless topics. Her laugh was evil and her glee visible as she watched the speakers squirm when the heard the topics. Even so, the Toastmasters stepped up to the challenge and responded with imaginative responses. The agenda item was enjoyed by all.  The table topic speeches were evaluated by Mugu and Johnny.

Prepared Speeches

We were very privileged to hear two excellent speeches.

Simon presented his speech titled “Human Park”. The objective of his project was to present a speech using descriptive language. As always, Simon’s speech was well structured with a strong message. He took us through the Rat Park experiments, which was a series of experiments on drug addition, painting a visual picture with words. He then drew an analogy to humans and society, thus the title “Human Park”. Simon’s speech was evaluated by Harper.

Johnny delivered a speech called “A different war” which had the COVID vaccination as the central theme. He succinctly put forward his point of view and reasons for taking the vaccine. Johnny’s speech was evaluated by Caroline.  


A very enjoyable evening with high-caliber speeches and content. These were the words from Kalinga’s short presentation during the evening. The novel theme “Metaverse” set the tone for the evening and was weaved into the Toast and Word of the Night. The Educational had insightful content and was presented in a professional and captivating manner. Lastly the 2 speeches were presented by experienced speakers which demonstrated their presentation skills with descriptive language and appropriate gestures.

The next meeting is on the 12th October. Looking forward to seeing you all there.

Written by Clare Fraga

Club Meeting 15-Dec-2020


Tonight was the last Toastmaster’s meeting for the year. To wrap up this year we had a Christmas Themed meeting. We had 2 guests and a long-time member join us!


Tonight we had 2 toasts. Toastmaster member Jonathan gave a toast to grit and resilience, and toastmaster member Clare gave a toast in reflection to 2020 and it’s impact on our lives. Clare ended her toast with a cheer to a better 2021!


Toastmaster member Johnny shared with all the members a joke about wives wanting to be James Bond and what they were required to do in order to achieve secret agent status.

New Member Induction

Tonight we also had the pleasure of inducting new member Harper to the club.

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Table topics ( Secret Santa )

Tonight we had a special edition of Table Topics. We had special guest Santa who bought us a few presents and members were called up to unwrap the gifts and present an impromptu speech on the item they had. What resulted was some very humourous and creative speeches!

Toastmaster of Speeches

The long-formed speech part of the night was hosted by member Mark, and he introduced speakers Ray and Harper. Both members were newly joined and major props to them for taking the initiative to give their prepared speeches!

Ray’s speech spoke about the study of epigenetics, and he conveyed this branch of science in relation to his own experience watching his twin sons exhibit different personality traits at their school.

Harper’s speech was her icebreaker speech, and she introduced the audience to the origin and meaning behind her English and Chinese name. Through her speech we got to understand the influences of culture and how that has shaped Harper.

Year End Reflection

The meeting was wrapped up by President of the club, Chris, who praised the club for its adaptability throughout the year, trialing online meetings, losing members, gaining members and also winning contests.

It has been a great experience at the West Pennant Hills Toastmasters Club this year, looking forward to 2021!

Club Meeting 3-Nov-2020


Tonight was West Pennant Hills Toastmasters Club meeting 616. Tonight was a special night as we held our annual international speech and evaluation contests. This was also a very special night as we had a participant joining in the contest over Zoom!

International Speech Contest

The international speech contest was hosted by toastmaster Johnny, who explained to everyone the outline and structure of how the contest was run. Contestants were placed in order with Shirley, William, Chris and Leah speaking respectively.

Shirley’s speech was about her humourous experience of having to live on a farm-like estate, when her initial expectations was a mansion. Shirley’s speech taught us all a lesson in adapting and making the best out of an unexpected situation.

William’s speech was about curfew and his experience of it back in his native country with his family. William’s speech showed us that a curfew placed on his life was actually a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him to strengthen his connection to his father and bring this appreciation to his children.

Chris’s speech was about how the top 1% of individuals in the world do the opposite of what the other 99% do. Through a series of analogies and anecdotes based in finance, Chris’s speech highlighted the value of not following the crowd and to study what the minority do in the avenue of finance.

Leah’s speech was about inspiration and what it means to be inspirational. Leah highlighted this idea with her recount of her fit elderly neighbour who would run every day on a disciplined schedule. Through her speech, Leah encouraged the audience to always do our best as it can inspire others without us even knowing.

Congratulations to Toastmaster William for winning this contest with his speech ‘Curfew’.

Evaluation contest

The evaluation contest was also run by Johnny, and the evaluators participating in this contest were Mark, Jonathan and Molly.

Guest speaker Darrel Hoffman gave a humourous and convincing speech about the importance of food and how much of a role it plays in our everyday life.

Mark, Jonathan, and Molly were all given 5 minutes after the end of the speech to prepare a 3-minute evaluation of Darrel’s speech.

Molly was successful in delivering the winning evaluation and would be representing the West Pennant Hills Club at the next level.


The West Pennant Hills Toastmasters Club International Speeches and Evaluation contest were very enjoyable.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contests – Shirley, William, Chris, Leah, Mark, Jonathan and Molly. The strong member participation was a reflection of the highly engaged membership!

Thank you to Chris, Johnny and Clare for organising the contests.

Thank you to the Chief Judge Ashwani and his team for giving up their time to make this a successful contest.

Written by Jonathan Lau

Club Meeting on 20th October 2020


Tonight was West Pennant Hills Toastmasters Club meeting 615. The club contest for Humorous Speech and Table Topics was conducted during the meeting. There were 12 members present as well as 8 guests.

Table Topics Contest

The Table Topics contest was run by Johnny with the topic “Did you ever do or say something that you wish you did or didn’t do”. The topic challenged all 5 participants – Shreekant, Mark, Jagath, Raj and Leah. The responses were diverse ranging from sport and work to Toastmasters and personal examples. Congratulations to the winner Leah who sits down after her table topic assignment and wishes she talked about so many other things. As Toastmasters, that is something we can all relate toJ. Congratulations to Mark and Jagath for placing 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Humourous Speech Contest

The Humorous Speech Contest was run by our President Chris. There were 3 high quality speeches that had our audience in stitches.

Mark covered his journey as a young boy figuring out what he wanted to do when he grew up. At the ripe age of 8, he decided to pursue the dream career of a professional sportsman and commentator. Over time his hobbies and interests have taken him in a different but very fulfilling direction.

Clare told us about her experience as a young girl going on the Contiki version of skiing. A man smiled at her and said that learning to ski would be easy. Throughout the tour, she realized that skiing was more complicated and very dangerous. The lesson…don’t trust an old man’s smile!

Congratulations to the winner Johnny who delivered his humorous speech on awesomeness. We learned that just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, awesomeness is also in the eye of the beholder.


The West Pennant Hills Toastmasters Club Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contests were very enjoyable.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contests – Shreekant, Mark, Jagath, Raj, Leah, Johnny and Clare. The strong member participation was a reflection of the highly engaged membership.

Thank you to Chris, Johnny and Clare for organising the contests.

Thank you to the Chief Judge Ashwani and his team (who shall remain nameless) for giving up their time to make this a successful contest.

Please remember to block out Saturday 28th November in your diaries to support the winners in the Area Contest. Leah will be our representative in Table Topics and Johnny will be our representative in the Humorous Speech Contest. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the next meeting on 3rd November for the International Speech and Evaluation Contest.

Written by Mark Paton

Edited by Jonathan Lau