July 9, 2010 fm

Are you old-fashioned?

On June 5 2010 I participated in our Toastmasters International Speech Contest in The Hague, The Netherlands. After winning on club, area and division (Spain & Portugal) level I was then facing nine tough competitors coming from all corners of Continental Europe.

The District 59 speech contest was a great experience. I saw fantastic speeches and I learned an important lesson about the power of not winning yet.

Today I would like to share with you the script of my speech titled “Old-fashioned”…


I don’t really remember where it was… And I don’t really remember when it was either… I must have been 13 years old…. And YES it was at highschool… One day this one guy – I forgot his name – came to me and said: “Hey, look at you!” – “What?!” – “You are OLD-FASHIONED!”

There it was… This dire, dreadful, disastrous word: OLD-FASHIONED!
And the worst part is: he was right. I somehow had forgotten to cross the bridge from innocent childhood to fashionable adolescence. There I was standing with my old sneakers and my worn out sweat suit… I WAS OLD-FASHIONED and I felt… TERRIBLE!

Dear contest chair, fellow Toastmasters…

OLD-FASHIONED is one of those things you really do NOT want to be. You can be RICH, you can be POOR. You can be HANDSOME, you can be NICE. You can be EXTROVERTED, you can be SHY… You do not want to be old-fashioned.

Good news is nowadays I hang around a lot in Berlin. [asking the audience:] Who of you have been to Berlin? Isn’t that a FANTASTIC, OPEN-MINDED, COSMOPOLITAN CITY??? And there’s something peculiar going on in Berlin in terms of FASHION. NOTHING, NOTHING seems old-fashioned in Berlin. They are smart people, they just labled it: BERLIN STYLE. Berlin style means you can wear anything, anytime, anywhere, in any combination, and any color… you’ll always be fine. I could wear my worn out sweat suit and my old sneakers and walk right into an art opening. They would say, “Wow, so cool, so Berlin style, he must be the artist!”

But, my friends… this, of course, only applies to Berlin and some other FEW PLACES in the world. Don’t do that in The Haague… All the rest of of us, let’s be honest, we surrender to the dictates of the catwalk. We conquer those H&M’s and Zaras on a daily basis because NONE OF US WANTS TO BE… [motivate audience to say “old-fashioned”].

There’s another sector [showing an iPhone] and now I’m talking about the consumer electronics sector, where exactly the opposite is going on to what we witness in the fashion world of Berlin. In the consumer electronics sector every product is old-fashioned THE DAY AFTER THEY DECIDED TO BUILD IT!

You buy this latest of the latest, the newest of the newest IPHONES. You put in the SIM card. You dial your best friend’s numb[….]… old-fashioned!

You buy the new iPad. Where’s the camer[….]… old-fashioned!

Every product in the consumer electronics sector is old-fashioned THE DAY AFTER THEY DECIDED TO BUILD IT! Why is it then that Steve Jobs gets RICHER and RICHER and RICHER every day?

That is because WE ALL conquer his iStores every day.
That is because WE ALL buy these gadgets every day.
That is because NONE OF US wants to be… [Audience says “old-fashioned” – then say NOW YOU GOT IT]

[putting cell phone on a table]

There were several of these old-fashioned gadgets lying on that table in our team meeting we had back in 2008. We were discussing whether or not to address the topic of RACISM in our CROSS-CULTURAL PROJECT. I remember well how Constance – she always makes constructive comments – said: “Racism… is old-fashioned!”

Racism is old-fashioned… LIKE A NOKIA CELL PHONE FROM THE NINETIES. Racism is old-fashioned…. [now with a louder and more energetic voice] Of course! For years I’ve been wondering why they put messages in football stadiums in Europe like “Together AGAINST racism” or “Stop racism NOW!” – I have a three year old son. You know what he does when I tell him to stop doing something? HE DOES IT ANYWAY! WE ALL do anything we are not supposed to do. BUT WHO THE HELL wants to be OLD-FASHIONED?

I didn’t want to be old-fashioned when I was 13 years old… What about you? —- Do YOU want to be old-fashioned, Eddie? —- Do YOU want to be old-fashioned, Sarah? [addressing the entire audience] What about ALL OF YOU. DO YOU WANT TO BE OLD-FASHIONED??? [They will say NOOO!]

Nobody wants to be old-fashioned… RACISM IS OLD-FASHIONED! What a great phrase!

We can launch a T-SHIRT CAMPAIGN – “Are you old-fashioned?”
We can kick off a SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN with Donna Karen from New York and Kobe Bryant from the LA Lakers! Racism is old-fashioned – I LOVE THIS PHRASE!

[driving voice down] And I love so much because it hits those IGNORANT PEOPLE  out there where they do not expect it: in the RUDIMENTS… of their INTELLIGENCE.

Racism is old-fashioned! What an amazing PHRASE… what an amazing… GRACE!


When I was 13 years old, I was still driving through life with my hand brake on. I had low self-esteem. I wasn’t a Toastmaster THEN. And I felt really terrible when this guy came over to tell me that I was OLD-FASHIONED…

But today – DESPITE MY GERMAN HISTORY – I’m NOT old-fashioned anymore. Today I’m a TREND-SETTER. I set the trend the other day when I was talking about my good friend from London and I did NOT mention the COLOR OF HIS SKIN. I’m a trend-setter. And YOU??? YOU ARE TOASTMASTERS!!! YOU ARE are trend-setters TOO. SET THE TREND like Martin Luther King did at Lincoln Memorial! SET THE TREND like Rosa Parks did in THAT BUS IN ALABAMA! SET THE TREND like Nelson Mandela did during that Rugby World Cup in 95! THIS IS THE TWENY TENS! RACISM IS OLD-FASHIONED! I ENCOURAGE YOU TODAY — go out there, BE TREND-SETTERS, SPREAD the WORD to the WORLD: Racism is old-fashioned! I do NOT want to be old-fashioned…

[longest pause in the history of pauses, stepping forward]…



Now ask yourself… Are YOU old-fashioned? 😉

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