How Coaching Will Help You To Achieve Your Career Goals

Keywords: career coaching, creative industry, job strategy
Published: posted on LinkedIn Pulse, 12.09.2016
Pictured: career coaching

In my daily work as Business Coach for Creatives and Designers, I witness how powerful it is to follow your own path. It sometimes means taking bold decisions, taking risks or uncovering new truth about yourself. It is however very releasing and energizing to do what you love most. Read further to learn more about how Coaching will help you to achieve your career goals. Clarifying your values helps you uncover your ideal new employer. Find out how a client of mine used his values to meet the career that’s right for him after his interior design studies.

You might know the term Coaching from sports, such as basketball, football or hockey. A coach is a cheerleader, supporter and challenger of a sports team to perform at its best. Likewise, a career or business coach is a trained professional with multiple tools and skills to get you into the best version of yourself. The main difference with a consultant is that a coach won’t tell you what do, but rather helps you find your own answers – by asking you the right questions. Coaches are also not psychologists, who focus on analyzing mental patterns in order to diagnose a mental sickness.

Professional career or business coaching consists of regular face-to-face or virtual sessions to explore your topic, questions or goals. They are in-depths conversations which may include visual and creative exercises, guided meditation and powerful questions. It’s a collaborative process or personal and professional growth, with the aim to move you out of your comfort zone into your growth and learning zone. A coach sees what you can’t see or can’t imagine, and helps you explore new perspectives and opportunities in your career or business. Below real-life story helps you understand how a coach works and which impact he or she can have on your career development.

Meet Xuyang, 26, a Chinese interior designer that made the executive decision to move to Europe last April. However, he found himself in a bit of a predicament. He couldn’t find a job in the Netherlands due to his unfamiliarity with the local market.

Xuyang used career education platform and found Claudia’s coaching services. What he wanted was a partner to assist him in his application strategy. Claudia is a Business Growth Coach who works with Creatives and Designers every day. She knows about the creative industries – such as architecture, interior and lighting design.

When Claudia met with Xuyang, she saw a determined, gifted and fervent young professional with an ABC life slogan – Adventurous, Brave and Creative. The pair’s coaching sessions took place through Skype. In order to succeed, the collaboration of coaching mixed with consulting is one based on responsibility and mutual trust.

After the first session I didn’t feel nervous anymore and became more confident to face all the challenges. Claudia captured all my strengths and suggested on how to show them.– Xuyang.

Claudia worked with Xuyang to recognize his career values – to find out what his potential employers were that coincided with his ambitions. In order to find a career that’s right for anyone, they need to be clear on what their career goals are to find the right employers.

Claudia worked with Xuyang to update his resume and cover letter in order to fit the Dutch market. They highlighted his strengths and unique creative skills. One talent he has is in storytelling (exhibition design), which meant taking his portfolio and going with a storytelling approach.

It worked!

He was able to take his updated application to a number of chosen companies in his field of expertise. From that, three companies invited him for job interviews – two of which came through Claudia’s network.

Due to his predicament of being a “visitor”, he needed a work permit – solved with Claudia’s network which included an immigration attorney. Xuyang, knowing what he wanted, laid out an individualized road map and was confident in himself. He offered up conclusive documents that ensured him a job offer at one of his best employers.

I received good replies. Some of my favourite employers invited me to have an interview. I improved myself during the coaching. Finally I got a job offer from my top employer! – Xuyang.

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From slippers to stilettos: setting your courage on fire!

Keywords: confidence, will power, personal development
Published: guest blog on Daily Outfit, 10.05.2016
Pictured: replace your slippers with stilettos!

Are you ready to step out of your cozy slippers and into your expressive stilettos (or other stylish shoes)?

Let’s get you into action with a personal mini-challenge!

I work in personal growth and business development. With my clients, I have observed that courage is based on confidence (knowing what you want) and willpower (doing what you want).

DailyOutfit’s motto is, “Feel beautiful & confident every day,” so I know Allison knows a thing or two about courage and confidence. But, she wanted me to offer you a different approach to the topic since this is the work I do with Coaching by Claudia every day with my own clients.

You probably know that the magic for growth happens outside of your comfort zone. It’s where we expand our world view, learn new experiences, enjoy and experiment.

So, how can we build your confidence? The relationship between challenges and courage. Mandy Hale says,

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.

We all know this – but often only in in retrospect. Somehow it feels so difficult to grow and change, and it is only when we take action that we realise it’s wasn’t as tough as we assumed.

With this in mind, I want to share with you some insights from my recent online survey among 50+ Creatives and Designers, who I asked about their current biggest challenge.

Creatives and Designers (as well as many other professionals) seldom detach their work and self-worth. They create their beloved design babies with sweat and blood, and seek to master their skills. For my clients, their biggest challenge is all-around visibility. They answered in different ways (sales, getting clients, positioning, marketing), but it was ALL about visibility.

I’m guessing that is YOUR biggest challenge, too: you want to be seen for you who truly are. Otherwise, why would you be reading DailyOutfit? I want to help you achieve this – so let’s try this mini-challenge I use in my own work with creatives and designers. This DIY-exercise sets your courage on fire!

Your mini-challenge for today
When it comes to being seen for who you truly are, courage is crucial. If you’re not crystal-clear about what you want, how can you present yourself to others in a convincing way? Within a few minutes you will get clarity about your current comfort zone and the action you need to take to expand it.

Get your paper and pen ready!
1) Draw a big circle on your paper. This is your personal comfort zone. Brainstorm things you know well and write them inside the circle.
2) Write courageous actions in the growth zone, which is the blank area outside of your circle.
3) Mark a dot indicating the position where you stand right now (is it in the centre of the circle, in the middle, at the edge or a bit outside?). Then, mark a dot indicating where you want to be in 3 months from today. Circle one or two courageous actions that you will take to help you get there.
4) Show your drawing to your best friend and ask him/her to frequently ask you about your progress. Ask them to check in with you and hold you accountable for your goals.
5) In 3 months from now, after completing your one or two courageous actions, celebrate your learnings with your friend!

Courage is reflected in your personal style – because nothing is as stylish as being confident and having the willpower to live a courageous life!

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Are you clear about your #1 business asset?

Keywords: vision, strategy, personal development
Published: posted on LinkedIn Pulse, 27.04.2016
Pictured: small business owners attending the workshop at Seats2Meet in Haarlem

business growth coach for creative entrepreneurs and designers

One of my favourite quotes of Simon Sinek, international speaker and author of Start with Why perfectly summarizes why clients care about your business:

People don't buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

No matter if you're an employee, start-up, CEO or small business owner, I believe that your #1 business skill is to be crystal clear about your WHY.

As Business Growth Coach at Coaching by Claudia I work with visionary Entrepreneurs and Designers on a daily base. Their creativity is based in their right-brain, which allows a countless flow of ideas, opportunities and options. To turn their creativity into profitability, my coaching & consulting services serve as a bridge to their left-brain, which is decisive and strategic, 'the business' or commercial side so to speak.

business growth coach for creative entrepreneurs and designers
Image source: Wikipedia

In order to support ambitious individuals to get clarity on their business/career focus and direction, I'm hosting regular workshops to formulate a persuasive short vision statement in less than two hours. With creative visualisations and group works, participants brainstorm personal values, define their impact and combine it with a powerful archetype.

The vision statement serves as your WHY, because it emcompasses key values and expresses the difference you want to make in your life. Knowing why you do what you do makes your future decisions easier, and brings more meaning to your communication with partners and clients. Read how organizer Anna Gogoman from Seats2Meet experienced my recent workshop in Haarlem, Netherlands:

The workshop was a big success! Thank you Coach Claudia for helping us clarify our WHYs and for giving us new insights about the direction we want to go.

For those of you interested to learn about the background: WHY refers to Simon Sinek's Golden Circle which consists of three layers:

  1. WHY (core): your company values and beliefs
  2. HOW (midle layer): your work or business approach
  3. WHAT (outer layer): your products or services

Watch Sinek's 18-min TED video to learn all three elements with powerful examples including Apple:

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Let’s FuckUp & share the fun: What you missed at the first FuckUp Night Amsterdam

Keywords: Failure, Learning, FuckUp
Published: posted on Facebook page FuckUp Nights Amsterdam, 23 February 2016
Pictured: Speaker Bart Eysink Smeets; photo:



In a cozy Doka at the Volkshotel, more than 90 explorers, creators and learners filled every single seat to be part of the first edition of FUN Amsterdam. Organizers Dymphie and Ewa brought Amsterdam finally on the map of a 140+ city international community of FuckUp creators and listeners!

PoetryPusher Justin Samgar presented his thoughtful poem as creative warmed-up, and taught us that we should listen carefully to following not to-do’s. Six FuckUpreneurs kept the audience on the edge of their seats and in stitches of laughter:

Bart Eysink Smeets is independent artist and art director at ad agency KesselsKramer. His old-school poster-presentation was hilarious and educative: only if you try you fail or succeed, which is far better than not trying at all. Bart shared his personal experiment of a gallery hunt: emailing 7 local galleries to enquire an exhibition with his artwork. The result was a 100% FuckUp: 5 of them didn’t reply, and two replied with no. Anyway, keep on trying and failing – with humor and creativity.

Linda Vermaat and Erik Loots – business and bed partners, shared their FuckUps with Twentie Four, a movie project which shares stories of 24 international social entrepreneurs. Linda and Erik not only found out that they are complete opposites, but also that both are amazingly talented to talk, think and drink coffee. Thus, big ideas and ambitions didn’t miss – but the action. The project result was a great trailer – to promote a movie that was never completed.

Victor Milton van Doorn was a double FuckUp, time- and content wise. His talk was far too long, but we somehow couldn’t resist to hear all his stories, especially the fun experiences with his amateur soft-criminal friends. The serial entrepreneur successfully launched two businesses, Sherlocked & Uncover Lab. However, his intention to become the Dutch version of Banksy (a satirical street artist and political) resulted in a short visit at jail. Eventually this experience was crucial in his creative process to laser-cut a personal mac cover for the King of the Netherlands, or creating successful escape rooms to allow adults to unleash their inner child.

Last but not last, FuckUpreneurs Diederik van Gelder and Rogier Leopold shared their master FuckUp with Bilder & De Clercq. They had a dream to open shops for recipe-based premium packages for urban hipsters and comfort-lovers. Without any prior retail or food experience, they succeeded to find investors and opened two stores in Amsterdam. Too good to be true, as the second location was sprinkled with bad luck: construction site next door and few walk-in customers. Lessons learnt: 1) Research your retail location well, 2) choose your investors wisely, 3) No matter what happens, get this Fucking award from New York.

The uncountable laughs in the audience is the best proof that all these FuckUps are human. We perfectly relate to them – as we did them all ourselves before. Let’s FuckUp & share the fun!

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How a busy design team turned a critical moment into a trust-based collaboration

Keywords: Team Coaching, Designer, Team Leadership
Published: LinkedIn Pulse, 1 December 2015


Inspiration for Designers and Creatives

Cross-continent collaboration

Imagine four talented designers working on large international projects with demanding deadlines. Three of them work in Europe and one of them in Asia, resulting in challenging time management. It’s obvious that deadlines and complex client needs require efficient communication and clear role responsibility among the team. Previously, unclear assignments and missing clarification caused tensions, and communication was all about results or output.

Insights from personal experience

The ambitious team leader hired me for personal coaching at the beginning of the year, to work on topics such as self-confidence in the professional and personal environment, time and priority management, and awareness-building around profession, vocation, mission and passion. Her transformative growth involved taking actions beyond her comfort zone, as well as mental stretches. As a result, the team leader naturally created a more fulfilling professional and personal life which in turn triggered her to take her team to the next level.

Customized team coaching day

With the goal of increasing trust, recognition and open communication, I blended techniques from Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) as well as Co-Active Coaching, to cover both vision and action on a team-view. Highly interactive sessions, partly playful or creative, brought to light hidden knowledge and awareness among team members. From the beginning, I facilitated a co-creative environment, for instance, by instigating a collective designed alliance for our day. Three visualizations revealed team emotions and efficiency, as well as important team values. To translate these findings into action, the team co-created a visual team contract on how to work together in the future, indicating concrete responsibilities and due dates.

The team’s crucial moment

As team coaching facilitator, I enriched interactive group exercises with three compact skill trainings. The goal was to focus on team dynamics as well as members’ awareness of each other’s capacities. Active listening turned the listen-to-answer mode into listen-to-learn. This awareness exercise paved the way to give recognition for personal qualities among team members. Rather than focusing on the output by saying “your design is great”, recognition became more about one’s personal qualities, for instance, by saying “you are creative” or “you care for our clients’ needs”. Receiving meaningful appreciation created a profound moment for the team: giving mutual recognition can be effortless. To stretch even further, I invited team members to feedback on personal growth potential, i.e., qualities that are visible and shall be further expanded. Rather than discussing weaknesses and problems, this perspective creates a positive view – and enables growth both individually and as a team. Below are two quotes from the participating designers:

“There is more empathy and closer relations in the team; it was a safe place to share doubts and fears.” Miriam G., Designer
“In the team coaching, I opened my heart to share the good and the bad; I feel more union and trust in the team.” Ismail M., Designer

The impact of recognition

Working with four talented designers was a privilege and pleasure. As a business and career coach, I enjoy working with creatives who have an entrepreneurial mind-set. The richness of wisdom produced by visualization exercises was impressive. The second positive surprise was the impact created by giving recognition. Active listening, showing appreciation, and helping each other to grow created a strong effect for the team. Taking time and focusing on what matters most confirms that this team is committed to succeed. Likewise, it confirms my commitment to continue guiding many more ambitious creative professionals/entrepreneurs and ambitious teams around the world. Below are two more quotes from participants:

“We created more closeness and interest for each other; our communication is now more fluid.” Flor S., Designer
“The team coaching is like a point of departure. We start working closer together. I feel enforced to represent the interests of our team and stand for our high quality work.” Abigail N., Designer/team lead

The starting point for ambitious teamwork

In a short follow-up virtual call, the team reviewed major learning points and impacts that the team coaching created on the designers – personally and professionally. The focus was on creating accountability and responsibility. By asking “How does your visual team contract stay alive?” specific due dates for two milestone tasks have been set. Which leads me to a related quote by American Futurist and Author Joel A. Barker: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.

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What do you get if you congregate creative leaders from all over the world under one roof for three days?

Keywords: Creative Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Inspipration, Group Coaching
Published: LinkedIn Pulse, 1 October 2015

You get a thunderstorm of inspiration, insights and wisdom for life | Sharing what I learned by attending a creative leadership conference.


Coaching by Claudia - business coach for designers and creatives, photo: A talk by Eiji Han Shimizu about Cultivating Happiness

Last weekend, THNK School for Creative Leadership organized its first FSTVL, a thought-provoking beehive of out-of-box thinkers, blended with organic experimental food and great music. THNK launched its first program in 2012. Currently, 300 participants are taking part in the Creative Leadership program. Two years later, THNK opened its international locations in Vancouver and Lisbon.

My motivation to be part of this community was to enrich by mental horizon and cross-fertilize my learnings. A special highlight the group coaching workshop I hosted working with personal values, life vision and a creative approach to answer your personal WHY in the blink of an eye.

When reading below learning highlights, I'm wondering: What is new to you? What is surprising?

1. Trust is a function of the sum of credibility, reliability and intimacy, divided by self-orientation.
2. Our elevated listening spectrum not about providing solution but rather acknowledging and emphasizing emotions.
3. We have an emotional brain called Amygdala, serving as our scanner and shaping how we perceive our world.
4. SAP and Google have a Mindfulness-based Emotional Intelligence Program in place in order to keep its employees from toxic stress.
5. The movie 'Happy' collects the wisdom of 6 years travelling and concludes that compassion is the common denominator among fulfilled people around the world.
6. Entrepreneurs have double probability rate compared to non-entrepreneurs when it comes to encountering depression over lifetime.
7. Esther Wojcicki, a pioneer in the field of instructional technology, defines Moonshot thinking as choosing hard things, ignoring outside noise and not being afraid to fail.
8. What’s new about the Sharing economy is not the peer to peer based collaboration but rather the bypassing of traditional processes as well as online and virtual to do so.
9. Every person is capable to define a list of personal values and conclude a personal life vision encapsulated in a sentence with less than 9 words.
10. Jimmy Nelsen, the talented photographer behind portraits of indigenous people, uses confidence, proudness and connection to create serene moments of human beauty.

Please share your learning around creativity, personal leadership and entrepreneurship below.

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Are you creative in procrastinating paperwork filing?

Keywords: Task Management, Prioritize Workload, Organization Skills, TRAF-method, Self Coaching
Published: LinkedIn Pulse, 17 July 2015

"The more you organize, systemize and automate, the more time you have left for interesting projects."


Coaching by Claudia - business coach for designers and creatives

I bet you are and prudently smile when answering this question. Eventually you recognize a common habit most of us share: the spontaneous creativity when it comes to finding reasons and excuses. When facing difficult or unpleasant tasks, for some of us our creativity level rises incredibly. Do you eventually come up with reasons that this task can wait for tomorrow, or that other things are more important, or that it might solve itself after some days?

An exam we prepare for, doing the regular administrative work, or starting a big new project in your life - these tasks are usually large, seemingly unachievable. They are sometimes so big, heavy and slick that we might not be able to touch them – mentally or physically. Today, my big task was about getting my financial administration and study documents organized and filing them into categories in a ring binder. Doing it is probably as sexy as tax filing.

After several procrastination rounds, my inner creative excuse production slighly faded. In this very moment I remembered the trivial advice from Talane Miedaner in her book “Coach yourself to success” to get order into life by clearing out, organisation and systematisation:

‘The more you organize, systemize and automate, the more time you have left for interesting projects’.
So I coached myself and applied the TRAF-method to manage the constant input of written material that faces me and fills my working desk every day. The TRAF-method was populated by New York-based organization expert Stephanie Winston and it has one simple rule: Categorize all documents into one of these four sections:

T: Toss it, or
R: Refer it to someone else/delegate, or
A: Act on it (start now), or
F: File it (in a ring binder or digitally on Evernote).
Looking back at my neatly organized two ring binders, I conclude that filing is not that unpleasant as I thought. I just needed a short yet intensive mental push to get started. And starting is already 50% process of the task.

Are we in this together? I'm curious to hear from you:

Which paperwork will you file this week? And what is your experience with the TRAF method?
Post your thoughts on LinkedIn

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Will the road less travelled take you further?

Keywords: Embrace Change, Living Abroad, Ex- and Repatriation, Intercultural Competence
Published: LinkedIn Pulse, 26 May 2015

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference."


Coaching by Claudia - business coach for designers and creatives

In 1920, the poet Robert Frost ended his Mountain Interval poem, The Road Not Taken, with these wise words:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference."

Almost one hundred years later, we continue to encounter diverging roads. Even more so in our modern life, which is full of choices and opportunities. Let me ask you two questions:

- What does ‘a road less travelled’ mean to you?
- When did you take a road less travelled?

To me, taking the road less travelled is about making a decision with unknown consequences, triggered by an optimistic intuition. A gut feeling tells me when something is right, even before realizing it consciously. Perhaps you have experienced a similar feeling?

At one time or another, you have probably faced an important life decision. Perhaps it was related to a new location where you lived, a new company that you joined, or a transition in your private life. I took my challenging yet rewarding road less travelled a couple of years ago, when I was offered a project either in Australia or China. Although my rational mind strongly voted for Down Under, I chose the city that I was hardly able to pronounce: Guangzhou. It was a choice I have never once regretted and it has led on to further enriching cross-cultural experiences I might not have been presented with otherwise.

For example, later this year, 10 ambitious students of Trade Management Asia (TMA), at the University of Applied Science in Amsterdam (HvA), will embark on their journey to study for several months in Asia. I was honoured to be asked to try and inspire this selected group by giving a half hour guest lecture. The preparation course where I was asked to speak, Personal Development Six, is meant to sharpen their inter-cultural communication skills.

I shared two case studies from my work in China and the Middle East. The students came up with fresh approaches on how to solve complex situations, while considering cross-cultural knowledge and cultural sensitivities.

Being curious, understanding differences and exploring similarities are crucial skills that everyone should pack into one's travel toolbox. This is especially true for cross-cultural situations with high potential for misunderstanding, and even more so in the business world. Asking clients about their needs enables value-creation from the client’s perspective. It is being curious that has led me to simply asking potential clients what they need and what problems they have (that I can eventually solve for them).

The TMA students were lucky to get the first insights into ongoing customer research about Ambitious Asians Abroad. From March to May 2015, I interviewed 21 Asian professionals who came to Europe for work or study. Aged around 32 years on average, with a bachelor to MBA background, most of them grew up in South Korea, China, India or Japan and went abroad on their own initiative.

Below you can see some of the more popular answers they gave when asked what living abroad means to them.

Coaching by Claudia - business coach for designers and creatives, photo: Ambitious Asians Abroad - What does living abroad mean?

Do you see a connection to the road less travelled? 

To me, the answers “discover self”, “get experience and inspiration”, and “experience new culture” definitely form a strong correlation. Like the 21 ambitious Asians abroad, the international TMA students will soon gain unconventional experiences abroad - as they choose the road less travelled - and hopefully find personal fulfilment wherever that journey takes each of them.

Does this topic resonate with you? Are you currently standing at a crossroads in life and seeking guidance for change? It is often useful to talk things through and gain the perspective of a professional coach to help inform your choice. In fact – doing so may furnish you with greater confidence, and help you to realise that you knew the answer that was right for you all along.

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