My Icebreaker Speech: “Feet First”

The goal of the “Icebreaker” is to introduce yourself to your Toastmasters group in 4 to 6 minutes. My main challenge was deciding what to leave out! I called it “Feet First” and this was my intro:

“ I was born feet first. I used to wonder if it was because I was cautious and wanted to test the waters. Now that I’ve been around for a while I think it’s because I was excited about life and wanted to hit the ground running!” ...

...Good morning Madam Toastmaster, fellow Toatstmasters, I’m very grateful you are all here today.

Two years ago I partnered with an anti-ageing company. Within a short time I found myself doing power point presentations. What surprised me was that I really enjoyed doing that. I decided that if I was going to be successful in my business I better meet a lot of different people. I went on Meetup and that led me to being here today. I had no idea what Toastmasters was about but it has become clear to me that being here will be helpful to me when I have to speak in front of 20,000 people.

My name is Clara Bellino. I was born in Paris France to two very young and adventurous parents. I have one brother Jean-Francois who is 19 months older than me. When I was 5 we all embarked on a boat to New York. My brother and I were very excited to be going to the land of the cowboys and the Indians. My parents were English teachers on a Fullbright scholarship for 2 years. In New York we were greeted by my dad’s friend Harlan, they had been summer camp counselors in the Bronx in 1956. My parents rented a house from a Polish lady who bred Golden Retrievers in Lancaster Massachusetts. I was thrown in an American school and learned how to speak English in 3 months. The following year we camped across the United States. My parents had a fascination with Native American Indians and we stayed on reservation campgrounds and rode mules to the bottom of canyons. We then lived one year in Santa Clara. My mom taught French at Santa Clara University, my dad at Notre Dame.

Then we took a boat back to France with a Golden Retriever we named Che.

Back in France my parents asked me what I wanted to do with my time. I said I wanted to play the piano. I was enrolled in and completed a 10 year program with the National Music Conservatory. I played piano, my favorite composers were Ravel, Debussy and Bowie, classical guitar and tenor recorder in a quartet.

I went to the same high school my parents taught in. They started all kinds of school exchanges and the school became known as the most international school in France. During a school year I typically spent one month in Germany and occasionally one month in England. At 16 I was enrolled at Berkeley school of music on the East Coast. My parents who had a school exchange in Boston went to visit the school and said no way, there are bunch of crazy people and you’re too young. For a year I did what they wanted: I took the easy way out and majored in English with German and Spanish as my second languages. The following year I arranged to attend Foothill College in Los Altos. After 3 months I went home and told my folks I was leaving in 2 weeks again. My high school boyfriend had sold pot to buy my ticket. For 4 years I flew home to take my exams at the catch up session in September. I got my M.A., and quit school.

I had moved to California for music. For 15 years I lived in San Francisco in as many apartments. My first band was called Metro Poplin, my second one Love Life, I played bass in a reggae band, keyboard in an instrumental band called Scene A, for years I had a band called Flying Monkeys, nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz which I had never seen. I just couldn’t keep a band together. We played up and down the Coast. I released my first solo album called Flying Monkey. In 2002 I moved onto a 29 foot sailboat with my second husband in Embarcadero Cove in Oakland, and released my second album called Embarcadero Love. 

I have year books full of daily to do lists that would each take one month to accomplish. A combination of being overly ambitious and passionate. I became a Union actress in 1996, an American in 1997. I ‘ve worked on more films, commercials and voice over spots than I can count. Highlights include being directed at sunrise by Robert Redford on The Horse Whisperer, working on 6 Robin Williams films, and 3 with Clint Eastwood, he is a prince to work with. And being a voice to save the White Tiger for Wild Aid with Jackie Chan. 

I’m currently working on my fifth album, the working title is “Unexpected”. I’m married to my 3rd and forever husband, he is an absolute sweetheart, his name is Kris. We live with our cat Wally in Oakland, CA. I love to garden and grow most of our vegetables year round. 

My life has as many revolving parts as Toastmasters has roles. What I hope to gain from Toastmasters is the ability to think on my feet and increasingly engage the audiences I speak to.