My story about growth and coaching
My parents certainly remember me as a curious child, with lots of questions. Learning new things and growing my understanding about the world led to my passion for travelling. During my studies, I volunteered to support foreign students getting settled in my home country, Austria. Body language was my common means of communication with the Spanish student I was looking after. It was fun to help her grow, professionally (in her studies) and personally (cross-cultural awareness).
Mental adaptability and flexibility
During my studies abroad in Spain, I had to adapt to new situations, and communicate with limited language skills. My motto: If there was a will, there was therefore a way. Straight after, I went to India for an internship at the Austrian Trade Commission in New Delhi. The different culture taught me that unfamiliar situations require mental adaptability and flexibility.
Choosing the road less traveled
In my Marketing & Sales Trainee program with a multinational company, I took the opportunity to go abroad for a couple of months. The choice was between Australia or Asia. Following my curiosity, I chose Guangzhou, China. From there, I went on to work on international marketing projects in the Middle East as well as in India. I began to notice common challenges appearing in cross-cultural settings.
Communication is understanding, not telling
In order to succeed in the corporate environment, you have to make your colleagues or employees understand what you can achieve together. It's not about explaining something with the perfect words. It's about making people understand in the context of their own words, culture and values. For me, this means that by knowing myself and being able to access my rich variety of logics (not just the one I grew up with), I can adapt my understanding of people and their diverse circumstances. Thus, we can succeed together.
In different situations with work colleagues, clients, suppliers or industry partners, I noticed that the common challenge that kept appearing, and made the difference between success or failure, was my ability to access others' logic and adapt my communication accordingly.
That's what got me into coaching & consulting
About 10 years ago I read about self-coaching and was impressed by the big impact it had on my life, after applying small actions. I acquired a broad range of books on the subject - and kept learning new insights about myself with every reading. Gaining inner clarity is a life-long process, and sharing my experience within my network created value. An ability that came naturally, unconsciously and with ease.
Evoking growth and transformation
This brings us to the present, where I continue to train my listening skills, intuition and assertiveness to feed my mission to evoke professional and personal growth through courage, confidence and willlpower. Please feel welcome to read more about my services or packages, and to see how they may in turn suit you.
Read here my interview by the founder of Expat Businesses in Utrecht Facebook group: Edition 2: Interview Series by Expat Businesses in Utrecht. Written by DARLA DUGGAN, founder of Expat Businesses in Utrecht Facebook group:
Creativity and Profitability are not mutually exclusive. I believe they both have a magnetic force, attracting the one to the other. - Claudia Mayer
Claudia: I moved from Amsterdam to Utrecht in April 2014, so it's been about two years. I had lived in Amsterdam for one year before that. I used to work as a Strategic Business Developer at UNStudio Architects. That job brought me from Singapore to Amsterdam.
Claudia: I lived in Asia for four and a half years. I loved my experience there, but coming here was for sure a culture shock for me... like a sort of reverse culture shock even.
Claudia: The biggest difference was that in Asia you mostly can't express critical feedback, it's called "saving face." You can't be direct, or critical, you can't just say no....but if that's what you really mean, you have to say it in an indirect way. When I went to Asia I had to unlearn my directness, as I come from Austria...and then coming here I had to learn it again. One example, I think it was one of the first work meetings I had in Amsterdam. I was new and joined the first Communications team meeting at work. I had an idea and proposed a certain tool or link, when the team leader said: "We don't do it that way," and that was it.... I had expected a bit appreciation for the idea and a friendly reply, like I would receive in Singapore or Guangzhou. Now I know, she didn't mean it rudely, it's just Dutch directness.
EBU: So that is how you ended up in Asia. It must have been quite some experience there, also learning the language.
Claudia: Yes. You can imagine it was a big culture shock because everything was so different. I needed a shower curtain and I went to a store with household goods. I showed the lady an image of a bathroom and tried to motion 'shower curtain' and the lady showed me pipes. She showed me everything BUT shower curtains, and later I learned that few Asians use shower curtains. So I went to the Ikea. It was a time of misunderstanding, due to language barriers but also a different way of thinking. The way we construct sentences is different than the way they structure their sentences. Time or location is always first and then the subject is later. So the whole thinking is different. It's also based in the Communistic roots. Because of the 'saving face' there is no "no," so therefore there can be a lot of misunderstandings. If I asked the assistant if she booked the company car and she said, "Yes," I understood yes to mean yes. But then there was no company car. You needed to translate first the language but also into the cultural framework and that was a good opportunity for learning from failure. I learned that communication is not me saying things but adapting my message into the recipient's world, so successful communication is determined by the receiving and not by the sending.
EBU: Interesting concept and well-said! And what brought you then to Singapore, where you lived before coming to The Netherlands?
Claudia: After Guangzhou I worked for Zumtobel in Singapore for two years as Business Developer for the Southeast Asian region. The move to Singapore was motivated largely by the things I had been missing from the western culture. Singapore is known as the Switzerland of Asia. I had a lot of business trips during this time, to Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. I was approached by UNStudio, who were clients of the lighting company, to work for them as Strategic Business Developer in their head office in the Netherlands. A few weeks later I packed up 33 boxes for my move to Amsterdam.
Claudia: I'm generally a very curious person, I love to learn and grow. Through intensive traveling and living in other places, you get to know yourself better. I wanted to consciously create more happiness for myself and improve my productivity. Ten years ago I read a book about self coaching, which was the starting point. It convinced me that if you know more about who you are and what you want, then you can achieve it, or create it. Long story short, I've been going to seminars over the years to learn about this subject, as a side interest. I started to unconsciously share advice with friends who later told me my advice was very valuable and that they were one step further in overcoming their challenges or fears. In Singapore I wanted to start a coaching training but I didn't because of the move to Amsterdam. You do certain jobs because they are convenient, they make sense, they match your competence and experience, but what you miss is that sparkle in your eyes. It was not totally missing for me, but it was not bright and glowing and powerful. I always knew that one day I wanted to create my own company. My father had his own company as real estate agent and I guess it was in my DNA. I just kept thinking about doing this Professional Coaching training. From April to October of 2015, I participated in the Co-Active Coaching training and I loved it. To be the best coach you can be is like a lifelong study because it's an art and a science. It was the best decision of my life to do it. In July of 2015 I started "Coaching by Claudia."
Claudia: I'm focusing on making creative people more courageous. I'm not a big fan of the word 'help,' because I'm not helping anyone. I'm more pushing and supporting someone to dare, the role is more that of a sparring partner. As the coach I'm a partner, I'm not superior or working for someone. It's a partnership, like a sports coach whose goal is to get the physical and mental performance of an athlete to achieve the unbelievable. A coach sees what a client doesn't dare to see sometimes. I force you to do something that is maybe a little bit uncomfortable. I do it for the sake of getting you more familiar with stepping out of your comfort zone and into the direction of what you dream about doing....
Claudia: I love the business of design and I love to design business at the same time. And that reflects why I worked 8 years in a creative industry (lighting and architecture). And I worked on the business development end before. So what I do now is basically enrich what I did before, business development, and bring it together with personal development through coaching. In my work I see that every career question, or business challenge, is rooted in the personal level. Especially creatives and designers have countless ideas, choices, and directions. If I ask myself what's next in my career, the right direction can be found by exploring the personal level. You need to dig very deep because the people always make business and career decisions in line with their personal values.
Claudia: I work with Dutch and international clients in Dutch, English and German, one on one or with groups. It's so individual, what I do. With one person my services are totally different than with another client. My specialty is increasing the entrepreneurial courage of creatives and designers, that they receive clarity on their career or business objectives and take action to realize those objectives. I believe that creatives and designers deserve profitability. Companies that are clear on why they do what they do are the most successful. So Simon Sinek says, it's more important to talk about why you do what you do than what you do. If I'm not clear on why I'm a coach then I can't be successful. I offer expats two packages, after one complimentary session. One is three sessions and one six sessions. To reach the goals in the most effective way I suggest to clients to meet every two weeks. Coaching is a personalized service and therefore I'm offering a powerful one hour complimentary session, with no obligation to book me further.
Claudia: Thank you for your professional interview and meeting with me. It was my pleasure talking to you, Darla. It's wonderful that you bring Expats in Utrecht closer together, by sharing their international, personal stories!