On August 15, Saudi Arabian security engineer Mohammed Qahtani won the title of Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking.
He survived seven rounds of a competition that lasted six months and included 33,000 competitors from more than 100 countries.
“Your mouth can spit venom, or it can mend a broken soul,” said Qahtani, who grew up being teased for having a severe stuttering speech impediment.
He said as a child he was a mute who uttered his first word at age 6. “Words are power,” he said in his speech. “Words can be your power. You can change a life, inspire a nation, make this world a beautiful place.”
TPM: Can you name a person who has a tremendous impact on you? Maybe someone who’s been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I have been mentored by many, and I owe my success to a lot of people, but one person, her name is Mallee Howaidi made a big impact in my life when one time she was competing in the speaking contest and she lost despite she was the best speaker, and I thought she will be pissed at the judges. But when I talked to her she said “ I am not competing for a trophy, I am competing for a higher purpose, to voice my message to a larger audience” that had a greater impact on me and reminds me to always dream big, always aim higher than winning or recognition, aim to touch people’s lives and change the world to a better place
TPM: What’s the wisest thing you have ever heard someone say?
An old quote that I love is “ Be like the candle, burn yourself to give light to others”
TPM: What life lessons did you learn the hard way?
“Always ask for help”, I used to think I am strong enough to make it on my own, and I don’t need anyone. But life does not work that way, always seek advice, always ask those around to be by your side. It is not a sign of weakness but rather sign of strength that you are not shy enough to ask for it
TPM: If you had one year left to live, what would you try to achieve?
I want to inspire people to take control of their lives, stop blaming the society, the circumstances, or even luck as a reason not to pursue their dreams
TPM: Have you made any recent acts of kindness? Which ones?
I only try to be a better person, and even if I did an act of kindness i refuse to talk about it. they say “ do good deeds and through them in the sea”. Bragging about what you do or expecting appreciation is a sign that you didn’t do the act of kindness to be a better person, but rather to be known for it.
TPM: Would you ever give up on your life to save someone else’s life?
That is a question that is hard to answer. Many people will say “Yes I would” but when faced with such a difficult situation in life where they have to actually make that choice people will grab onto their lives. I can’t answer such a question until I am faced with such a situation.
TPM: How much would you be willing to sacrifice for people living in poverty?
I really hope I get a chance to make the world a better place, and for that, I am willing to use my talents and power to end poverty if I could. Yes, it sounds a bit too big of a dream, but who knows. Maybe I can inspire the world to reach out and help this great cause.
TPM: Would you rather work less (and do the things you enjoy) and have less money?
Me personally, yes. There is nothing more fulfilling to do the thing you love, regardless of how much you get paid for it. but one must think of those depending on him.
TPM: Where do you find peace? Do you have a special place for it?
I find peace when I know that I helped someone. Every time I give a speech or a workshop and someone walks up to me after the event saying “ Your words changed my life “. For me, that is worth than all the money in the world.
TPM: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Nothing is impossible. You thought you could never speak, and now you are the champion of public speaking. Always dream big and always keep chasing them
TPM: If you could be the most influential person, what would you change about the world?
I would change conflict. I would aim to end all wars because I believe all wars start with a very stupid incident, where both sides never yield to sit down and talk about it.
TPM: Can you give us some advice on how to live a better life when times are hard?
Surround yourself with positive people, people who always see the beautiful side of things. People always say “ look at the glass half full not half empty,” I say “ why don’t you get some water and fill the glass?”.