This month it’s a pleasure to interview Veronica Kirin, who is based in Berlin, Germany, and who runs a business providing training in leadership and team building. She was also named as a Forbes magazine NEXT1000 Entrepreneur. Veronica is an anthropologist, author, scaling coach, and a WHY Certified Coach.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Veronica
I am a serial entrepreneur who works with businesses around the world to help them scale.
Effective teams and a healthy internal culture are critical components to scaling.
I work 1:1 and in groups using the WHY.os (as in Simon Sinek’s “Start With WHY”) personality test to identify each team member’s particular skill set and help improve communication, leadership, and collaboration across the board.
I chose to become a Certified WHY Coach because, like Sinek, I am also an “anthropreneur” (an anthropologist turned entrepreneur).
The WHY.os Discovery is the only personality test I came across that describes one’s “WHY,” i.e. not just how one should work, but also what they should be working on.
This is transformational for teams who want to work together more effectively and for leaders who wish to develop a vibrant company culture.
Once you know why your colleague approaches their work a certain way, you are empowered to communicate and collaborate in new and interesting ways.
When not leading team training, I work one-on-one with business leaders to help them scale out of the “founder doing everything” role and into the role of a “CEO visionary.”
Here, again, the WHY.os Discovery is important, for it helps leaders understand what aspects of the business they should hold on to, and which they can release.
It changes their hiring process, priorities, and partnerships for the better. I recommend it to every leader as it helps you to gain new perspectives that will accelerate your employees’ progress and it helps you to refine their culture for the better.
2. How did you get involved with freelance/corporate training?
At first, I was focused solely on private coaching with business leaders.
I felt that that was where I was most effective.
However, one of my clients wanted to offer the WHY.os Training to their team after experiencing its power, himself.
I saw how transformational it was for the team and heard from my client how effective it was in amplifying the good in the company.
Working with teams is a critical component to the health of my client’s businesses.
It was a natural step to provide WHY.os training in the corporate space as an independent offering, so I decided to make it a formal service I provide.
I am the only WHY Certified Coach in Europe and that helps me to create an even deeper value for my clients.
They don’t have to rely on virtual training with WHY Coaches in America — I’m right in their backyard!
3. What subjects do you provide training on? Your top 5?
Team building and company culture come naturally to me as an anthropologist.
I also love leadership development because, as my mentor says, “When you’re in the bottle, you can’t read the label.”
It’s not uncommon for leaders to get stuck in a feedback loop, and all it takes is a few sessions for them to become more confident and effective leaders.
I also enjoy team management & organization, a natural combination of leadership and team building.
Growing pains can often affect the hierarchy and management of a team, leaving in place old systems that no longer serve the business. Put together, all levels of the workplace thrive.
4. What are the biggest challenges as a trainer?
I find that there are a lot of “shoulds” in business — people assume they should act a certain way and push themselves into an unhelpful box that erodes morale and the capacity to grow.
Part of my job is to build a safe space where each team member can openly discuss their WHY.os and how it affects their work.
The challenge is getting even the most stoic employee to be open to the process. I find humor an effective tool for accomplishing this.
Throughout the workshop, we reveal the strengths of each team member, facilitate conversation about strengths AND weaknesses, and empower the team leader to amplify the team’s capacity for growth.
The result is both a more effective team and deep team bonding.
5. What is your favorite part of being a trainer?
I love the transformations and the laughter.
Often, it is the most stoic employee that turns out to be the silliest!
There is always at least one “ah-hah” moment where the team realizes a better way to learn and connect.
Working 1:1 with team leaders is exactly the same and a breakthrough creates a better company culture, leadership, and all-around enthusiasm for the work.
By the end of a good training session, I have also become part of the inner sanctum, something I do not take for granted.
6. How do you identify the training needs of the employees or people you train?
I listen to what the leader is saying and I also read between the lines. In other words, I listen for what is being left out.
That tells me what the team needs, and what leadership needs in order to be even better at their job.
7. Your one tip on how to be a good trainer
Be prepared for anything!
Sometimes leadership will tell you one thing, but on the day of the event, you find that the team is in need of an entirely different mode of support before leadership’s goals can be addressed.
For example, I was invited by leadership to conduct training on the latest industry issues and how to manage them.
The first thing I do when I meet a new team is gauge where their knowledge lies.
It turned out that what leadership wanted could not be accomplished until the very end of the training because at least half of the room was unclear on the basics!
So be prepared with even the most baseline information for your industry and open your session with questions. You may find that you need to pivot and do some baseline work, first.
8. Second tip or advice for new trainers?
Develop a system for your consultations with leadership so you get the details you need before the training without any back-and-forth.
Some questions you may want to keep on hand are:
- Will there be A/V recording (audio/video)?
- Who owns any recordings of the training?
- What is their budget?
- What are their goals?
- What kinds of training have they had before?
I also suggest conducting a preparatory survey with the team, if possible.
The purpose of those initial meetings with leadership isn’t just to sell yourself and your services, it’s also a critical fact-finding opportunity so you can deliver your absolute best to the team.
9. What should business leaders look for in a trainer?
Managers and leaders should look for a trainer who:
- is dynamic (let’s not bore your teams)
- has unique qualifications (certifications and/or background) that will lead your team to success
- and quickly understands your needs in your initial consultation.
They should be asking questions about your business, not just trying to sell you on their training.
A good fit will leave you feeling heard, respected, and optimistic about the outcome for your team.
You should have a good idea about what the day holds for yourself or your team, and what transformation will be had through the training.
10. What do you like to do outside of work? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Berlin always has something going on and it’s always unique and interesting. I enjoy our beautiful parks, going to events with friends, and traveling to nearby countries.
In summer, we’re outside a lot. In winter, we prefer to stay in and host dinner parties.
I find that having a personal community of diverse friendships helps to enrich my work and also relax me!
Connect with Veronica
You can connect with Veronica directly here:
Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds
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