Coaching CEOs In Three Languages
Cindy Steiner of Steiner International launched her business in Europe at the start of her 20-year career. She speaks English, French, and Spanish, with a working knowledge of German.
Now living in the San Francisco Bay Area, she continues to coach C-levels and other executives from many countries, including America, on how to present themselves during investor presentations, media interviews, board meeting communications, and interpersonal relationships – both internally and externally.
We asked Cindy about the challenges of working in a global economy as the U.S. emerges from a recession, while the European Union faces mounting financial woes of its own.
ISBB: What’s been your biggest challenge over the past few years?
Steiner: Because the U.S. economy was suffering, very few European CEOs were making presentations to American investors. However, now that the economy is recovering, I’ve noticed that Europeans in the Life Sciences industry are now soliciting some interest on the investor side, so I’m starting to coach more of them.
What languages do you coach them in?
My clients are a mix of Swiss, French, Danish, German, and quite a few Americans. So I coach the Europeans mostly in their native tongues.
What challenges have you overcome running this business?
There are very few women CEOs and even fewer women who work in the venture capital industry in international companies, especially European-based corporations. However, being a female coach can be less threatening to a CEO.
For example, I’m usually referred to these executives from the top down, such as the Chairman of the Board (a VC I’ve worked with in the past) of a company whose CEO needs help with his investor pitch for Series B, C, D, or E funding, especially when the CEO is getting ready to go on the road to make a series of presentations. The CEO then brings me in to work with the management team.
The challenge is how to get ongoing work instead of a one-time engagement. To overcome this problem, I send personal emails to my contacts about twice a year, entitled “Cindy checking in.” I tell them about any new services I offer and ask what they have been up to. I end the email by writing, “So if anyone you know could benefit from my coaching, I’m happy to help. And, I look forward to hearing your news.” This strategy seems to work very well, as the timing is always important.
What ongoing problems do you have? How have you evolved your offerings?
Being there when and where there’s a need. When no CEOs were hiring me for coaching because the economy was in the tank, I sent them emails offering a new service for career transition, so I could help people either move up the corporate ladder or make a parallel move to another company.
Another new service I recently began offering is executive communications, which is coaching C-suite leaders on improving their style of communications with the executives above them.
Some of these clients had hit the glass ceiling and couldn’t go higher unless they could improve how they communicated with their bosses and their bosses’ boss. I’m happy to report success in this area. I’m helping these people communicate more efficiently and enhance their style, such as getting to the point up front and then supporting it, versus the other way around -- which seems to prevail in the international arena.
For more information about Cindy Steiner and Steiner International, visit her website.