Pathways – From My Point of View


Have you picked your path yet?

Pathways was something I thought I needed to fear. Terms like “Base Camp” intimidated me. The idea that my CC or CL would be worthless in the new system infuriated me. Finally the software made me want to run my head against a wall. However, after I had a chance to mess around with Pathways and try the projects – I have grown to enjoy it. Recently I finished my PM2 award, and if scheduling goes well, I could have my PM3 and PM4 awards early next TM year.

Today I will share what has helped me software wise, run through how I understand the process, share my first several projects in Pathways, my thoughts on the biggest fears and concerns one may have, and finally my advice to all of you as you attack Pathways.

Before moving forward I want to make a few things clear:  I am sharing my opinion – I am not a Pathways Ambassador or Guide.  This is ONLY my opinion.  Finally I am not an expert.  I’m just a user sharing his experience.  Please keep all of that in mind as we move through this blog.

Technical Difficulties

Hopefully it is not this bad

They are a few harsh realities you have to embrace as we move to Pathways:

  1. You need to know your user name and password on the main TI website (  This was an adjustment for me.  Keep in mind, until 9 months ago, I had a 3 year vacation from being a club officer.  Meaning it was years since I logged on the site!  Take the time to reset your password, and if needed change your user name into something memorable.  When I first had my username it was my membership number that was confusing for me.  Now that I’m on Pathways, I know my user name and password by heart.
  2. Pathways is not smart phone friendly, I do not have a tablet, so anytime I work on Pathways it is from my laptop computer.  My suggestion is to have the browser open all the way, and be ready for Pathways to take up you entire screen.
  3. Finally – make sure you understand how to navigate both the main TI website and the Pathways Portal.  The best way to understand both is to simply dig in.  The more you are in the website the easier it will be for you to pick everything up.

The Process   

With every project I see some similarities:

  1. You need to hit the launch button
  2. You will be given a pre assessment on your skills before each project
  3. You will learn a lesson in each project which includes in certain cases video
  4. You will be assigned a project and given all the materials for the project
  5. You present your project
  6. You take an assessment
  7. You complete the project

Once you finish every project

  1. You want to mark the level as complete
  2. Your VPE, President, or Secretary must submit for your award
  3. It takes 5 levels to compete 1 path

My Projects so far and how I handled them:

A few examples of what happens at each level

When I took the assessment the portal told me Presentation Mastery was the best path for me.  Considering I had a huge TLI presentation and I was competing this half, it made sense for me to pursue the path.  Here is what my path looked like so far:

Level 1

For this level I had to do the following:

  1. An Icebreaker
  2. 2 5-7 minute speeches on anything I wanted, along with an evaluation
  3. One more 5-7 minute speech where you research the project

This is how it went down for me:

  1. My icebreaker – Honestly I jumped in with 20 minutes before the meeting started to do this project.  The original speaker backed out.  Overall my speech was very vanilla.  Nothing I was proud of.  That said, I remember my first ice breaker – my goal was to not throw up or black out.  In this case, that was also my goal.  Mission accomplished!
  2. First of the 5-7 minute speeches – It was the first speech after we had our holiday break.  I dusted off an old speech I did on re-gifting.  The timing was right and created a lot of laughs.
  3. Second of the 5-7 minute speeches – I visited a club and served as a target speaker for their club contest.  I decided to present my contest speech.  It was rough going, however I was able to see what was powerful, what was funny, and what I could improve on.
  4. Evaluation – The day before Sharon Stadul, Mark Butler, and I presented our TLI presentation, Sharon presented her portion at our meeting.  I evaluated her speech.  Sharon is a tough person to evaluate for two reasons:  she is always prepared and she is very poised.  I had to dig deep to give Sharon an evaluation.
  5. Research the project – This was my TLI speech.  Most of the facts and data I shared with the district was for the sake of this speech.  My biggest gripe is that I wish I could have had more time.  I could have talked for 30 minutes.  The 5-7 minute speech is always a challenge!

Level 2:

For this level I had to the following

  1. A speech about my communication style
  2. A speech using body language
  3. A speech about mentoring 

This is how it went down:

  1. Communication Style – When I took my communication assessment I found out I am a “Direct” communicator.  I created a 5-7 minute speech for a club I visited, sharing how being “direct” has allowed me to find trouble in TM, with my family, and socially.  I had fun making fun of myself.
  2. Body Language – I used this for my club contest speech.  It was an honor to advance, and the feedback helped me improve more for my area contest 8 days later.
  3. Mentoring – I paid tribute to my first mentor Barb Tittle and how she influenced me as a TM.  Not my best speech, however it was a powerful message.

Level 3:

While I have not started this yet – here is a preview of what I have to take on:

  1. A persuasive speech
  2. Elective
  3. Elective


Here is what I plan to do:

  1. Persuasive speech – I’m going to present this blog as a speech to my club.  My goal is to have more people at my home club want to be involved in Pathways
  2. Elective 1 Story Telling – I plan to practice my contest speech one time for the club before division.
  3. Elective 2 Entertaining Speech – My Division contest speech

For Level 4, one elective I can choose is to write a blog.  Do you know anyone that writes a blog ;)?

As you can see, Levels 1, 2, and 3 are a total of 10 speeches and 1 evaluation.  Honestly, that’s not bad at all!

Biggest Fears.

Pathways DTM – a few changes

Change is hard.  No one enjoys it.  However we have the choice to embrace it.  Here are the biggest fears I am hearing from the district:

You are currently in the traditional program, you want your DTM, but not sure if you are going to finish in time.

My take:  If you have 4 or more education awards in the traditional program, you have a good shot at finishing up your DTM under the current program.  You have to make sure your projects are laid out and you have a good pace with your speeches.  In my club I see people working actively on a current traditional award, and they don’t want to abandon their efforts.  I felt the same way before I started Pathways.  My advice is this – finish up your current traditional award.  After that take an honest assessment of how close you are to your DTM.  If you believe you will be a DTM under the traditional program by July 2020 – then keep going.  If not, switch over to Pathways.  All that being said no one is stopping you from working both programs at the same time!

Another fear:  your CC, AC, CL, or AL does not translate into Pathways

My take:  yes it is a bummer but you have to get over it.  A level 1 is WAY easier to earn than a CL.  Honestly I feel a CC is worth a 1, 2, and a 3.  However they are a lot of changes.  The manual program is over.  When you think about it each path is a manual.  It teaches you the basics, then challenges you as you progress.  It is a very different concept than what we had before.  We are comparing apples to oranges.  This program is radically different and we have to embrace it.

Another fear:  Pathways is geared towards younger members and not our current members

My take:  I disagree.  Pathways has been poorly marketed.  Many concepts are the same.  You present a speech with objectives, and you are evaluated.  You have projects you must complete.  The goal is for you to grow.  I believe that Pathways can help even a seasoned Toastmaster grow.  The biggest change is doing more online versus the manuals.  If you can’t embrace that, then you can always spend the extra money for the Pathways manuals.  While the requirements may change for our DTMs, the same concept we have had for years stays the same.  Pathways is for everyone who wants to grow.  

Final Advice:


  1. Contest people and district leaders – every speech you do can fit a pathways project.  Think ahead and be proactive.  Don’t waste speeches here.  Just like the traditional program, you have a place in this program.
  2. Take the time to dig in – Play with the website, basecamp, even take the time to learn your club website and see if tools there can help you.  The best way to overcome the technology is to integrate yourself with the software.
  3. Ask for help – I can’t express how many times Deonna and Bill have helped me over the last several months as I tried to gain comfort in the program.  If you are lost ask a club officer for help, if they can’t help, ask a Pathways guide or ambassador.  Make sure however that you look for help.

That is it for now.  Next week I will be back about elections.  Happy April!



1 Comment

  1. Mike

    Thanks Pete for your open and honest opinion. The software sounds very much like it is SAP based.

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