The EBS 60 Second Interview – Al Cowie
Al lives in Battersea with his lovely dog, Nyxie, a fine state of affairs that sees him regularly walking through Battersea Park, taking in the fresh air and seeking inspiration. And sometimes he even finds it and writes on his blog! (Relief of the Windy Spasms – www.cajuput.wordpress.com )
Al is a comedian, writer and entrepreneur and does the things that take his fancy. He usually has several ambitious projects on the go, such as last year producing the 140 show every day during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and is currently launching a new app aiming to raise millions of pounds for charity.
What brought you to EBS?
I was looking for a space to extend and develop my performance skills, and a reason to write more new material (an excuse not to be lazy, perhaps!). As I perform in the evenings usually, I searched for a morning club, and was lucky enough to find one that was perfect for me.
Was it everything you expected?
I didn’t know what to expect really. However, since joining, I have found that I have learnt more through aspects of the club that initially I had substantially less interest in, for instance giving evaluations, the toastmasters way being a great way of giving constructive feedback that is of value and also valued by the individual receiving it.
How long have you been a Member?
3 or 4 years I think…
Did you have any expectations before you came?
Were your expectations fulfilled?
What surprised you most about EBS?
The great setting for the club. Presentation space is so important, and EBS is both professional and relaxed, allowing for the perfect meeting, and meaning that visitors get a genuine show.
What has been your greatest learning as a Toastmaster?
The learning has been incremental. However, offering feedback to others is a great way to reinforce the lessons you yourself want to learn – after all, whenever someone gives you advice, they are only ever able to give you the advice they wish to be receiving themselves (something that I always find puts the advice I receive into perspective)
What is special about EBS?
Many things. But particularly the people, and the environment of perpetual experimentation and improvement. It is a place where new speakers quickly become proficient, and proficient speakers get to stretch themselves and improve further. That is a pretty cool thing to achieve.
What do you like best about coming to our Club?
It is always a show. Because the level is so high, people push themselves, and so on most mornings you will see 3 speeches that in another club would all beat the winning speech. EBS really is the art of the possible.
What do your friends and family say about you since you joined?
EBS doesn’t define me, so the question isn’t particularly pertinent as asked. More rather, EBS is an important part of my weekly schedule, and the many real friends that I have made through EBS are also people I see outside the meetings. Maybe the question could be, what do they say? And in that case, I don’t know, maybe, nice to meet you, and isn’t it great that we are friends, and what a splendid way of connecting with others. Ask them!
How has becoming a member of EBS affected you/ your life?
I was a proficient speaker when I joined. I am now substantially better, and will continue to improve as long as I continue to push myself. The people at EBS have the get up and go to get up in time for the meetings, and the go to get on with fun projects. As such, it is a nice area of stability to come back to, to see my EBS friends, and to feel variously moved, inspired, connected or many other things. However, as a person who goes to bed late, it does mean that Thursday can sometimes be a bit of a write off. I mean, on other days of the week, I am still in bed when the meeting starts!!
What was your biggest fear before you came?
I came by myself, so I suppose the fear of not knowing anyone. However, EBS has always been so friendly that from not knowing anyone to knowing most of the club was an easy 5 minute process.
Is that still your biggest fear?
No, my biggest fear now is missing my alarm. Or maybe it is the alarm itself…
How does public speaking impact your life?
It is a major part of what I do. But the public speaking is only part of it. The other part is pushing yourself to do the things that you find less easy, always be seeking to be better, because that is where the real fun and satisfaction lie.
Is there anything else you would rather be doing on a Thursday morning?
No, or I would be doing it. I’m simple like that