In 2018 I set out to become the World Champion of Public Speaking. 30,000 other competitors set out with the same goal. Only 1 achieved it.

As 2019 approaches I am reflecting on my rookie year in Toastmasters and my third-place finish in Round 4. How can I eventually close the gap and finish first in Round 5 as the World Champ? In reflection, I see that I am very good at setting goals, drafting plans and developing strategy.  But when it comes down to executing I often find myself more than 150 feet behind my wagon of good intentions.

What does it take to become a World Champion?

I asked this question to Rory Gervais, 2018 World Champion Outrider of the WPCA.

His response: “Ride clean and show up to every race.”

You can be the best chuckwagon driver in the world but crossing the finish line first is bitter-sweet defeat if your outriders take penalties. In the sport of chuckwagon racing, four horses are hooked up to a wagon. This team of horses is assisted by two outriders (riders on a single horse). The lead outriders job is to ensure the team of horses are lined up perfectly at the start of the race and keep them calm to avoid any false starts. The second outrider is responsible for loading a stove into the back of the wagon when the horn sounds to start the race. Failure to load the stove properly or finishing more than 150 feet behind your wagon results in crippling time penalties.

In speaking competitions, you must wrap up a speech within 7 min 3o seconds. Failure to do so disqualifies you. If you want to be the world champ you can’t take a time penalty.

Show up to every race … In chuckwagon racing points are assigned in every race – miss races – lose points “kiss world champ goodbye”. In Toastmasters the local clubs meet weekly. Completing a speech at every meeting throughout the year is akin to showing up to every race.

I spent a lot of time in the oil patch this fall with the World Champion Outrider.  Beyond the sage advice of “Ride Clean and Show up to Every Race” I picked up on the following qualities of a World Champ.


World Champs don’t go through life willy-nilly. They make progress towards goals. This goal setting mindset is not some type of strategy for achievement … it is a mindset that is evident in everything a World Champion does. Whether it is fitness goals, healthy eating (world champs consume copious amounts of tuna and avocado) or the many goals that need to come together to build a superior cattle herd. A World Champions activities are goal-orientated.


Becoming a world champion does not happen overnight and rarely happens in the rookie year. Rory entered the outriding scene on the Canadian Tour in 2008. A decade later he became the Champion on the World Tour. This patience was also evident in his approach to building a world-class cattle herd. Culling non-performing cattle in the early years of trying to build a herd negatively impacts quantity in service to long-term quality.

The patience factor was also highlighted in the keynote speech prior to Round 4 of the competition at the Toastmasters District Convention. World Champion speaker Lance Miller told stories of his own decade-long journey from his rookie competition to world championship.


There were three aspects of attitude that I observed in Rory’s functioning that I think help to produce a World Champion.

The first was confidence. On my first day working with Rory, he sized up a gas tree in preparation to make modifications to the scrubber. He stood back and studied the set up for several minutes. Finally, the silence was broken when he looked at me over his shoulder and said “You know what … I am the greatest pipefitter in the world … go get me a sling”. On my way to retrieve a sling, I pondered what I could achieve a 1/10th of his confidence.

The second was seeing obstacles as opportunities. One day we were waiting for a backhoe to deliver some gravel to a containment. With this equipment, the operator would have been able to feather out the gravel in such a way that only a small amount of manual labor was required. But the operator dumbed the gravel over the edge and sped away. The other workers were furious, Rory laughed and said “grab a shovel boys – this is going to be a good work out”.

The third was quality work. World champs don’t half-ass it. They take the time to complete quality work. There are numerous examples of this commitment to quality whether it was insulating a flow line, applying a gauge board sticker with meticulous detail or shoveling for an hour longer than others would have said good enough to ensure a level surface.


I also had the good fortune to work in the oil patch this fall with 5-time World Champion Outrider – Dale Gray. Dale taught Rory the ropes in outriding and in running an oilfield maintenance crew. I observed many of the same attributes in both World Champs, in particular, the commitment to quality work.

If you want to be a World Champ seek out some mentorship/coaching from World Champs.

How did 2018 go for you? Did you get knocked down?

As you look forward to a New Year, I offer you the following quote from the 2018 World Champion Outrider:

“Invest your goals into yourself.” Rory Garvais

and the following video from the 2018 World Champion Public Speaker, Ramona Smith

Click Here: Still Standing