An interview with Silvia Christmann
Interview: Silvia Christmann
Silvia Christmann leads our North America East office. She is a business coach who has spent over ten years working closely with leaders and teams, driving them towards rapid growth. She supports leaders to become change-makers, to hit audacious goals and ultimately, to become their truest selves. Silvia has been praised for her practical, tangible, kind approach to coaching.
Silvia’s clients have included executives at BMW, Google, Toms and a range of VCs, startups and portfolio companies across seven international markets. She has also been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur magazine, and has spoken on leadership at conferences worldwide.
Alongside her boutique coaching practice, she has recently joined the 2Y3X programme, where she helps leaders to succeed using a powerful framework for rapid and sustainable growth.
I spoke with Silvia to discover a little more about her background and her ambitions for the future.
Could you talk a little about your background? What types of businesses do you usually work with?
I joined my first startup venture right out of college, and I was doing business development for them, which I really loved. And from there, I actually went straight on to the next one. Neither one of those two survived the 2008 recession. However, I then joined the third startup which was Media Radar, which is still around. And that’s how I fell in love with entrepreneurship, building businesses, scaling and leadership development. So I was always the first non-tech hire, media advertising and technology companies. And I think what I loved about it was the idea of putting new products out into the market, looking for product market fit, building the team, developing myself as a leader, developing, startup front runners into leaders, building teams and scaling.
So all three of them I was, you know, getting them from zero to about one or 3 million. And then after I left Media Radar, I kind of ventured out on my own and started consulting to help companies scale on the side, and very quickly realised that there were some added components missing, which was being able to hold people’s feet to the fire in order to deliver on the roadmap I developed as a consultant. I had to turn around and really learn about human behaviour and leadership, so that I could better understand how to support clients to create change. So this is how I ended up turning my consultancy into executive coaching. Obviously going through various different training on the personal development and professional development side as well.
I’ve been doing that successfully for the last 10 years. And I have a very loyal client base of CEOs and senior executives, working with them in that exact same intersection of their self development, capacity building, scaling and fast paced, high growth environments.
I work with C-suites, and then I work with the senior managers if necessary, if it relates to scaling or capacity building, to work on performance, coaching or advising to make sure that what we think we need to do actually gets done as well, and helping people through limiting beliefs. And also other mindsets and perspectives that might be holding them back from executing a roadmap that’s put in front of them.
How did you come to be involved with 2Y3X? What was your initial impression about the methodology and what are you hoping to achieve by joining the team?
Felix (co-founder) is a colleague and a friend. I believe we’ve been having this ongoing conversation about business growth for the past 10 years, almost! I think that the methodology is wonderful. It’s an easy to implement, step-by-step structure that people can follow. And it’s a great addition to what I do, because giving people a roadmap without understanding what drives them and understanding the nature of human behaviour, doesn’t always guarantee that the map is executed. Which is where I come in. I can really help people to not stand in their own way and also to deliver what they set out to achieve. You say that you love working with people who ‘dare to care’, who challenge dated systems, and transform the status quo…. With the status quo in mind, could you share the key issues which you’d like to help change in your industry?
I would almost say I’m a little industry agnostic. What’s more important to me is whether or not I’m working with changemakers. And changemakers are people who are disruptors, who are looking at the problem in front of them from a new and fresh perspective. And I would say in this day and age, almost every industry sector is ripe for disruption, because it’s either the technology, the systems, the leadership model, and you know, from a sustainability perspective, identifying what’s working and what can we do differently. And there’s so much opportunity out there right now to reinvent and change.
What one piece of advice would you give to business leaders struggling to stay afloat during these difficult times?
Well, if they’re faced with fear or are overwhelmed, having lots of challenging decisions to make, I think it’s important to take a step back and make sure you’re emotionally and psychologically well resourced. So that you are ready to respond to the challenge that’s in front of you.
And this can look different to each individual because that individual might need a different ratio… It could be tactical, it could be interpersonal, it could be the need for a mentor or advisors. In 2020, most people I’ve come across in a professional context have stopped sleeping, and this makes the error rates spike, and our ability to make decisions completely drops.
Take care of yourself. Get tactics and strategies in place, and a support system around you. Know that most of the time you can only make imperfect decisions, one step at a time.
Are there particular issues which you personally find important and get excited to fix, regardless of the client?
Well, I always look at leadership development and capacity building and that really excites me. Asking how do we effectively scale and what does that mean? Because sometimes the problem isn’t the pipeline, the problem is you, are you as a person developed enough, as a leader, to present a roadmap to your team and give clarity and direction? Leadership is not a title, it’s a mindset and action that means you are able to get people collectively moving towards a common goal.
Are there any books or podcasts (business-related or not) you’ve found useful or inspiring recently which you’d recommend?
I always recommend Breneé Brown’s book Dare to Lead because it takes a fresh look at what leadership can look like. I do think that White Fragility is actually quite a powerful book. It’s very eye opening. And then I do go back to Chris Voss – Never Split the Difference quite a bit. It’s phenomenal, and a really wonderful guidebook to life because we are ultimately in negotiation with everything in our life.