Steffan Surdek is an in-demand leadership development coach and corporate trainer. He has always been driven to expand the notion of leadership to include each member of the team. As a widely recognized principal consultant, Steffan’s work has a strong business impact, helping reshape business cultures and guiding them in becoming more collaborative and efficient. He is the founder of Pyxis Cultures, a consulting and training company based in Montreal, Canada.
Steffan has two kids, he likes to do projects around the house, play around with video editing and other techie stuff. He lives outside of Montreal, Canada.
Got his start in Tech. Had the opportunity to go into companies and work with their teams as a part of his job, he did this for four years then had the opportunity to start a sort of branch of the company that focused on corporate leadership development and trainings. He's been doing this for over 2 years now.
His first year in business. Trying to decide if he wanted to break away from the company he was working with.
When he started hiring people to take all the work load off of himself.
Bringing in more ways to work one to many.
Workshops, corporate training, corporate coaching clients, book revenue, speaking gigs.
New Client Attraction
Be clezar on your purpose. Develop relationships.
Habit or Skill - Presence and Empathy
Quality - The ability to be yourself.
Internet Resource - Social Media
Millette: Welcome to the Unstoppable Coach podcast where inspiration and action come together. Today I'm joined by Steffan Surdek. Steffan is an in demand leadership development coach and corporate trainer. He's always been driven to expand the notion of leadership to include each member of the team as a widely recognized principal consultant Steffan's work has a strong business impact helping reshape business cultures and guiding them in becoming more collaborative and efficient. He's the founder of Pyxis Cultures a consulting and training company based in Montreal Canada. Stefan thank you so much for joining us today.
Steffan: Thank you for having me. It will be fun today, Millette.
Millette: Before we jump into more about your business, I would love it if you would tell us just a little bit about yourself, maybe some of the things that you like to do when you're not busy working.
Steffan: Well I'm a coach that plays a lot with people that works a lot with people. At the same time I try to keep very much my technical geek aspect of life. So when I'm not working with clients or giving training I like to try different things. I like to sometimes make videos play with video editing. I also like to do stuff around the house do some work woodworking play with my kids. I have two kids a boy and a girl. We live just in the outskirts in Montreal so it's nice it's in the country it's out of the way. And aside from that just the regular stuff some reading some movies just trying to enjoy life and take it easy.
Millette: Yeah absolutely that sounds good. What sort of projects do you like to do around the house.
Steffan: Well these days I'm playing to try to build myself a little vocal booth in an area of the house to do better recordings and whatnot.
Steffan: Aside from that I like building furniture.
Steffan: Every once in a while or last year I redid my deck outside. That was fun too.
Millette: Very cool. Yeah I'd love to build myself a little recording but if that sounds like a great project.
Steffan: Yeah. Well for podcasters the less noise you have right.
Millette: Absolutely. Now I would love to get started on this conversation learning a little bit about your business journey. So can you tell us really what got you started in coaching. Where did that interest come from and how long have you been doing it.
Steffan: Originally I started coaching probably about eight years ago but before that I was a very technical person.
Steffan: I used to do a lot of software development. I did pretty much everything that you could do from the software development perspective. What I've enjoyed in my life is I've been fortunate to work in a lot of great companies like IBM Motorola the T.D. bank in Montreal. So I've had very much an understanding of the corporate world but I've also worked a lot when smaller companies you know 10 15 20 people and so it's kind of shaped my background playing in business. And you know when you work in a small company and you're going out and meeting clients face to face to support them on the software that you've developed that that kind of helped hone my consulting skills a lot at the time and in my career I ended up in a place where I kind of slowly graduated to coaching. I went from being a technical lead type of person to all of a sudden being the big brother on the teams that I was working with.
Steffan: So for example I started working with distributed teams with teams that are not just in Canada but also with folks in the U.S.. People in China India all over the world. And I I kind of turned into the bridge to help people communicate better to help people talk better, work more collaboratively together. The funny thing is if you would have told me 10 years ago that I'd be doing the type of work that I'm doing now in my life I probably would have laughed.
Millette: When you were talking it's like you have a really technical background and maybe it doesn't seem like it really lends itself to becoming a coach. So what was it about coaching that really intrigued you or kept you in that industry.
Steffan: Well you see as I said the part about becoming the big brother all of a sudden that was kind of the start of helping me learn some coaching skills and being more aware of inter personal relationships and through time. I you know it's funny because when I started working really as a coach at first I was kind of the achiever coach because I achieved a lot of good stuff in my life been very successful in the projects that I've been on. So I was kind of the coach that would cheer you on and motivate you through a rah rah rah. And a few years ago I followed an integral coaching course and I learned a whole lot more about people developing empathy developing presence and I learned I had some of those things and I probably had some of those things since I was a kid and through a long time I was so busy achieving that I wasn't cultivating that.
Steffan: And so I kind of neglected that aspect of myself. And in the past few years it's been cool because the way that I've been working has completely changed. Like helping teams find their purpose helping organizations find their purpose and working more around developing collaborative leadership skills and people the work that I do now has so much more impact than when I started dabbling and also dabbling in coaching about eight years ago or so.
Millette: So let's talk a little bit about that that transition.
Millette: What made you make that leap and how did you make that leap from working for a corporation to getting into business for yourself.
Steffan: The interesting thing is back around 2010 it was my last real big well no not my last corporate job but it was I had been at IBM for five years and I changed companies for a year I went to work somewhere else and all of a sudden in that other company what I used to do that made me successful wasn't quite perceived that way anymore and it forced me to kind of question myself about how it was showing up with people how I was interacting with people were people understanding my intentions when I was working with them and that kind of triggered part of the change in my life. And as for going into business for myself I stayed at that company for for a year and then I moved to a different company that actually did coaching that was offering coaching services and the company was called Pyxis Technologies.
Steffan: And when I joined Pyxis I was kind of learning what coaching was about. And the fascinating thing about Pyxis is the importance that you know how do we help people develop themselves. And I stayed with the company for four years and as I was working with the company eventually I hit a kind of a tougher moment for myself a transitional moment for myself and I was thinking OK so right now I can't do this anymore. I need to leave and I need to get into business for myself and the beautiful thing that they did for me as they said. But Stef isn't there a way that instead of you leaving the business can you stay with us and maybe develop something new and maybe develop your develop your entrepreneurial side. But you know while you're staying in the family so to speak.
Steffan: So that kind of gave birth to this culture's about two and a half years ago and we've been working very closely together we've been working very tightly together and have a lot of appreciation for what they've allowed me to do because basically I had a safety net that first year and a half we're still part of the company till finally we played out in two separate companies but we still work very closely together yeah that's a really interesting concept.
Millette: I don't think I've talked to anyone that has had an experience like that where they've been able to make such a gradual transition like you said with that safety net.
Millette: As you were getting started as you were getting your business built up and then splitting apart from the company that you were working so closely with, what would you say was maybe a disappointment or just a low point that you experienced while you were getting your business going.
Steffan: The first year was the toughest one. And because originally I was supposed to develop another market and I was trying to put effort a lot of effort in developing that market. But at the same time my main client was in Montreal. My main client was keeping me very busy in Montreal so although I was spending time in that other city I didn't have time to spend as much time as I would have wanted. So that was hard trying to learn by doing that way. So after a year of that I made the suggestion to the people I was working with and said "And what if I developed what if I hired some people in Montreal to help me with this big client." Could that be a first step into learning to build this business. So the following year I hired two people during the year I hired another person earlier this year.
Steffan: So we're for now inside the company. So it's really it's been fun for me making that switch to saying could I do that. Would this be possible. How would you see this versus just accepting that maybe it wouldn't take that chance was one of the best things I've done.
Millette: Yeah I'd like to go back to something that I said in your bio that is really interesting to me and I'd like to explore that just a little bit and what it was was the notion of leadership to include each member of the team. Can you unpack that just a little bit and talk about what that is and how you bring that into your coaching business. I've never really talked to anyone about that specific aspect of team coaching before.
Steffan: So in the world that we live in now in the valley of the corporate world what's happening we're talking a lot about empowering people. We're talking a lot about you know the importance of employees employee engagement.
Steffan: There's a lot of talk about that there's a lot of talk about purpose too but sometimes in large corporations the problem is we still have these hierarchies. We still still have these structures we still have people that are used to I'm the boss. I have a title that says I'm the boss and that title automatically makes me a leader and that can be very limiting because then what we're doing inside companies is we're actually you know suppressing the leadership of people around us. And in my own life when I think of that company that I went to work for after leaving IBM you know when they hired me they hired a very senior person that had a lot of experience. And when I was trying to bring that experience I was basically being pushed away. I was basically being told no don't do that don't lead any more we don't want you to lead here. And like but I'm not asking to be a boss. I'm asking to be alive.
Steffan: It's not the same conversation. So when I see when I go work with clients I'm very aware of that. I'm very sensitive to that. When I see people that have great leadership skills and you ask them what do you do outside of work and they'll tell you oh I'm a hockey coach.
Steffan: Oh I'm the lead of the ski patrol. Oh I'm a leader in my church community. Oh. And you see that they have this leadership potential and you see the work they do at the office and you say well wait can't you do that here.
Steffan: And they go I don't have the right title so that's why for me it's not about having one leader and be and you know following the leader blindly. It's about how can we share the leadership hat and here Millette you can wear it for now because you have this great idea. Here, I'll give you permission to lead me and I will I will follow for a little bit and I'll support you and I'll work with you to allow that thing to happen or to help make what you'd like to do happen that lead that permission to lead is something we often forget inside companies.
Millette: So is this being a cornerstone of the way you coach, is this something that businesses, companies are approaching you and saying hey we want this sort of culture or is this something that you're presenting to people and saying this is how this mindset shift could help your business. Or is it a combination.
Steffan: It's a bit of a combination. And often what I talk about with clients I talk about typically like you know the world of Pyxis this is the world of software development. So how to develop software in a way that allows us to meet the needs of our clients faster, increase our time to market, build collaboration inside our companies. But what I found is that you know, often companies bundle that under the name agile transformation. And when we do that you know people say stuff like OK we're going agile and it becomes meaningless. Why are we going at all. What's the purpose behind going agile. So when I talk to clients I don't talk about that I talk about building environments building cultures that foster continuous improvement. And if we're embracing continuous improvement then it can be agile, it can be lean,
Steffan: it can be something else called potato next year. But at least we have the awareness and we're paying attention to what we're doing. And at the same time you know our mindset of continuous improvement may encourage us to embrace this new thing more easily.
Steffan: So in that concept of continuous improvement in that culture of continuous improvement people need to be able to bring their ideas they need to be able to step up they need to be able to have the real conversations with one another and that's when this aspect of everyone can be a leader kind of sets in.
Millette: Is this something that you felt like you wanted to bring to people or is this something that the company that you were with that they were already doing and you just, as a natural component of creating that business with them that it was something that you just continued with.
Steffan: That's something that I encourage very much. And again that's part of my own leadership journey.
Steffan: One of the books that I read a few years ago that really changed part of the game for me was a book called Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, Don King and Haley Fischer Right. And in that book they talk about you know stages of development of groups. And I read the book and I understood part of it but then what I did is I actually signed up online. They don't give courses anymore I believe. But they used to give courses to help you assimilate the material. And I also did their approval program and that program having actually experienced the stage for of collaboration of being purposeful as a group kind of turned on the light for me where that's what I look to create now around me and that's how I run my business. And that's how I also try to work with my clients and teach them to do. So that's that's kind of why people work with me they kind of get inspired by that vision I think.
Millette: Right. Yeah. Well I think that it's a it's probably something that isn't the norm but I imagine that particularly seeing the results that you've been able to have, a lot of people are probably interested once they learn a little bit more about it.
Millette: What would you say was a big break or when you started to feel like you were getting some momentum after you sort of split apart from the company and were a little bit more standing on your own.
Steffan: As I said that first year was the hardest thing. Once I actually started taking the chance and getting over the fear of hiring people because you know when you you started a business there's a couple of ways of going in business right. You can go in business all by yourself which is probably the easiest way to some degree or you can hire people around you and the number of people that you hire depends on the intention of what you're trying to do. And I felt it was odd to try to talk to my clients about building cultures of collaboration without doing it myself and my own business and without having people that work with me.
Steffan: And for me to experiment live through it see what it actually meant.
Steffan: You know I talk about about conscious leadership about purposeful leadership. And the funny thing is with my own team sometimes I don't want to say it gets put in my face but I practice what I preach. A whole lot more.
Millette: Well it's almost like you become your own case study at that point. Yeah.
Steffan: Exactly. And I promote learning by doing with my clients as well. And that that's what I've been doing with my own business that first year was OK can I build this business. No I can't this is preventing me what do I need to do different. OK. Pivot try something different tried something different for a little bit then try more and more things. But you know I tend to focus on what am I learning and what I'm doing. What can I do with what I'm learning and what's the next step we can take. And then it becomes this thing where it's easier to just be with what's happening right rather than aiming for full success or aiming for perfection right away.
Millette: So, when you hired people on were you hiring additional coaches or just support staff in your business?
Steffan: What I've done essentially, I started by hiring people that I saw potential in people that may not have all the experience but people that have the willingness to do what I was talking to them about basically I served my dream and I saw can can can you dream this too. Are you interested in this dream. Are you willing to invest yourself in this dream. So in the end right now in my head you know I'm and this could be a limiting belief but we'll deal with that eventually. But right now I'm thinking even if we're a company of four five people and we stay that way for a while I'm fine with that as long as we're building and living the culture that we're bringing to our clients. And if we can get through that then we'll integrate someone else.
Millette: I think that's interesting. I don't know. I'm totally going way off topic I guess here but I just I would love to unpack that just a little bit that you are pondering whether that's a limiting belief to not necessarily be you know really pushing growth.
Millette: Do you think that that with small businesses with entrepreneurs that we should be growing or is it an individual decision or is it just you know is it OK to just want to stay a solopreneur or what's your take on that?
Steffan: I think it's fine to be a solopreneur if that's what you really want. If you're happy doing it I'd say sure enjoy. Go for it. In terms of pushing growth I think my perspective on it and I don't tend to be greedy about money either. So it's like I don't want to you know in my world in the consulting world it would be easy to hire people to position people to work with clients. And you know you're just kind of you're just doing it to make money and then you're not careful about who you hire and you're not careful about the work that's being done and is the work meeting the needs that are out there in the world. So I guess my perspective at least for my business is to have is for us to develop ways for us to work together for us to practice what we preach so that when we work with clients we kind of feel their pain a little bit.
Steffan: I can share a quick story a few weeks ago we were having as I said we're four in the company and we were having some hard conversations together.
Steffan: And I remember one of my colleagues looked at us and said "So this is what we're really asking our clients to do. "
Steffan: And the realization kind of sunk in that moment. Right. But when we can look at it that way and when we can be curious about that and say oh yeah that is and this is the struggle that we're facing right now. So OK we know where we're going to get. So what do we want to do to get over this one. Right. It's a much healthier place than "oh my god what you're really mean with me and you're bad with me." And and then you know just brewing the conflict.
Steffan: You can look at the situation from a place with more curiosity right?
Millette: Yeah I like that idea too that you said a little bit earlier not necessarily growing just for the sake of growing but if it makes sense for you. And if it's if it's in alignment with what you're wanting to create then go for it.
Steffan: Yeah. Because you know there's the for me the biggest motivator in building my business was really around building this collaborative team. And you know when I talk with my team I often talk about we all have superpowers so how can we use them together and how can we play with everyone's superpowers together. So there are some things that one person may be better than another. How can it be OK for those people to help each other versus being in competition because of ego.
Millette: Right. Well and also I like to explore the idea of: not everyone is good at everything. I mean I know that I have certain strengths and one of my weaknesses is executing ideas. You know I'm much more on the creative side but when it comes down to actually putting it into practice and taking that action to move it forward that's where I hit a stumbling block. And as a solopreneur we all have to do everything until we can either hire more people or farm out the work. So I like that idea. Once you have that team being able to really see where people's strengths are and you know share the load and let everyone you know bring their superpowers in to make the business even better.
Steffan: And it's you know it's it's hard as a solopreneur like even myself I do a lot of you know I write a lot of articles I get articles published on my own blog I get articles published as part of the Forbes Coaches Council I get I write about content. I manage part of my Twitter account. I delegate the other part of managing my Twitter account but it's a lot of work outside of being with clients sometimes and that can be very hard. And you have to be very passionate and very dedicated to push yourself to do those things sometimes.
Millette: Yeah absolutely. Now talking about pushing yourself what what does the future look like for your business. What are you what are you creating next.
Steffan: I'm just going to sidestep your question a little bit before answering.
Steffan: Right now the main ways that we get money inside the business is through consulting work and through training work. So what I'm looking at building next is seeing how can I do more speaking.
Steffan: How can I bring speaking engagements as part of the revenue flow. That's something that's very much of of interest to me. The other thing is about developing more and better leadership programs that we can offer to clients and things that would allow us to work with clients on a longer term versus just punctual things for training.
Millette: So do you mean more more ways to to work one too many.
Steffan: Yes. So for example one of the things one of my little dreams is to organize a leadership retreat for two or three days maybe once or twice a year and get known around where I live. For doing that type of thing and to have people come up and maybe people from the outside come up not just people from Canada but people from the states or people from the outside. But eventually once you have that format for the retreat there's nothing preventing you for doing that with with clients on a private level.
Steffan: And you know so I'm trying to see how do I leverage some stuff how do I create new things. One of the things I like to talk about and that I like to write about in regards to what we were saying. Leadership for everyone is this concept called co-creative leadership which is something I've been writing about a lot in the past year or so and it's about how do I create more teaching around that for people maybe stuff online or not we'll see. But how do we do get more stuff like that.
Millette: Yeah I think that that's something that a lot of coaches think about even if they haven't brought that into their business yet.
Millette: A lot of the people that I talk to will start out with one on ones or consulting or group coaching and then at some point they start to look at, well I'm I'm one person and even if you have people on your team you're still just the the man hours of what that one person can provide. So a lot of people, a lot of coaches seem to be really exploring the idea of how can we take this message and broaden our scope whether that's some of the things that you were saying like starting to get speaking engagements or creating products or services that can be brought to more people so yeah I think that that's something that a lot of people really like to think about and are are trying to develop for themselves.
Steffan: And the truth is you need a certain balance to in your in your revenue mix so to speak because you know from from experience I've been in the consulting world for the last six years or so and out of experience what I've seen is you know if you're focused on hourly consulting you have to do a lot of hourly consulting versus if you're able to have either revenue streams that are sleeping in the background and producing money for you within the initial effort and then you can kind of surf on it for a little bit or just feed it a little bit and a more regular basis or if in my case when I offer training or workshops the profit margin is just different than doing than than doing hourly coaching.
Millette: So when you when you do workshops do you go into that as this is a one-off training.
Millette: Or do you go into it where you maybe you present your material but then you follow up with people and try to bring them in and and do coaching with them after the fact.
Steffan: It depends. For me training is public training courses that we offer are are one of the business development zones easily because I give courses for leadership teams for management teams. So when I have the CEO or when I have someone in upper management the person has access to dollars or knows the people that have access to dollars and if you can key into their needs every once in a while you'll find someone that you go oh I really want to work with you. Oh that would be a lot of fun. We can really do this together and can make an impact. So that's that's one way. Aside from that the other thing I'd like to do sometimes with clients is with some of my good clients people I am I'm with regularly sometimes what I like to do is I like to try stuff up with them.
Steffan: I like to try new workshops with them I like to try different things with them and all turd's that originally probably on an hourly basis. And as were practicing how to deliver that as a team and as we're getting better to deliver it as a team than I can market it as a separate thing and sell it at a different rate.
Millette: That's actually a really great idea for people who are wanting to broaden the scope of what they offer because I know a lot of people will get started and they'll just have one signature workshop or one signature talk that they present. So that's a great idea on ways to expand smartly.
Steffan: Yeah and it gives you you know if you're doing this with people that you know and people that you trust you can't look at it from the short term money perspective you have to look at it from the perspective of well this allows me to practice. This allows me to see if I'm even delivering value or not and sometimes if you charge the rate of a workshop and you don't deliver on their expectations maybe you're not going to see that client anymore. And often when you do a workshop after that it's also both seeing well how can I leverage this as part of something else. So sometimes you can do a workshop with a client at an hourly rate for example because it's a good client and everything but you know that you're still going to work with that client for a few months after. So what does it matter really if I'm doing it this way for now and it allows me to practice.
Millette: Do you find that the workshop topics that you that you present on, do you keep those more like the basic information and then you know your coaching would go deeper. Or how do you really structure your training your workshops.
Steffan: So for me when I say that we're doing a workshop we're coming out with something concrete at the end.
Steffan: So for some clients. One thing that I'd like to do with clients is a change management workshop that we do over a certain period of time. And in the workshop we're not giving them theory. We're kind of guiding them through questions and they're sitting at tables they're doing the work they're talking together because you know part of my perspective on business too is one of the things that's missing in companies is alignment, is having the right conversations. So doing a workshop where you allow people to talk more in-depth about a subject even if it's for two days after they've walked out of those two days they feel a whole lot more aligned on what they've spoken about. Already you've gotten them in a place where they're practicing and after that the follow up coaching is more.
Steffan: OK so you've dreamt the dream. Now how do I help you reach your dream? Right? How do we help you as a team now reach that dream?
Millette: Yeah that makes a lot of sense. So you've kind of already covered the ways that you're generating revenue in your business. What would you say is your favorite strategy for just introducing new people to who you are and what you can offer them?
Steffan: Public training's are my favorite venue because you never know who you're going to get. And often you get a mix of people from different companies. I love it because you get to hear their cultures. You get to hear their hopes, their fears, their dreams. You get to hear what's not going well and sometimes I find it's fun because when I'm giving training courses I can also I like to give a lot of examples based on work I've done with my clients. So the stories they hear stories of things we've actually done with clients it's not we're not just giving theory we're telling stories along with them that kind of go along with the theory. So that's really my favorite way to get people to know what we do is inside that kind of forum and the other thing I like to do is I do a lot of writing to as I said earlier and often when I write about different topics I write about what's bugging me now or what's in my mind now.
Steffan: So sometimes all right. You know for a while on my blog I posted a couple of stories of leadership his parents with or with our children. How do we lead her children in some circumstances. And people can read that and tie into some stuff that maybe they're experiencing as well. And it also kind of I might challenge over the years has been writing in a way where I'm not just the consultant but you know I also part of my self shine through and that that's been part of the work I've been doing on myself over the past few years to how do I show more of myself, as I'm doing these things.
Millette: Yeah a couple of things with that.
Millette: Have you always worked storytelling into your presentations and do you find that to be something that really draws people in. More so than just a lecture or a talk?
Steffan: Oh yes. Yes it draws it draws people in a whole lot more. And you know sometimes it's about the energy that you put in the storytelling too. I've been doing public speaking for the last eight or nine years or so and over the past couple of years you know I've been presenting stuff where I have two words on the slide and I talk five ten minutes on that slide. So there's no safety net if I don't know what I'm talking about I can't be that if if I can't leverage. And sometimes you know to make it more fun I have one deck that I do. It's called the silent leadership crisis. And I do that deck there's eight slides in the deck two words per slide pretty much. And it goes for about an hour. Well and to make it more fun what I do is I tend to interact with the people a lot.
Steffan: So I'll ask questions to the audience and I've done this with the 100 200 people even a bit more where you know you're it's kind of presentations or conversation with people so you kind of have an idea of where you want to go. But you don't always know how you're going to get there or you don't even know if you're going to get there or you're just telling stories in the moment that are the stories that kind of come up that seemed the most relevant for the audience that's there.
Steffan: And it's the same thing when I teach you can come to my courses too and you can come a couple of times and there's some stories that you will hear over and over again but some days depending on the groups you'll have different stories because that's what we've been talking about during the course. This is the concerns of the people in the room so let's talk about that. But if you put energy in the motion that gets to be a whole lot more fun too. You have to you have to be passionate right?
Millette: Right. Well and just keeping people engaged over the course of the workshop is always helpful as well. Now one thing that I did want to clarify at the beginning you said these were public workshops is that sort of like we have MeetUp down here is that kind of what you mean sort of like just that you would put on and an anybody can can come, sort of like a Lunch and Learn or something like that.
Steffan: Actually there's some public courses that we schedule on the Pyxis web site. So we actually have a public schedule of fixed courses that we do and workshops that I do more often than not all tend to do that with with private clients they also give private courses for clients that are interested in the stuff that we do. But we have to answer your first question. We have a public calendar of course is that people can sign up for.
Millette: OK. All right great.
Millette: So knowing what you know now about building up a successful business if you were talking to a brand new coach what would you tell them what would be your advice for something that they should do first or even is there anything that you wish you had done first when you were just getting started.
Steffan: What I would tend to suggest is be clear on your purpose. Be clear on why you're starting the business that you're starting. Be clear on how you want to serve that purpose how you're serving it now what you have to offer in service of that. And after that I'd say go out and be yourself because the rest can can happen to a high to a certain extent if you're able to go out in a networking meeting and and talk to people. Be passionate about what you do, not worry about money right away but worry more about building connections with people. You'll get somewhere. And with my clients I spend a lot of energy in building relationships that bring me past what they experience or what we do together at work. Because that creates stronger change for them.
Millette: So you find that developing relationships with potential clients or just developing a network in general is something that coaches need to be thinking about doing.
Steffan: Yes. And even when you're going to see clients don't necessarily focus on selling something focus on listening for what they really need and how you can meet that need. And if you can't meet that need be honest about it. I've met some clients in the business development contacts I've met some clients where we'd meet on a regular basis. We'd meet every few months or something and we'd talk and I'd I'd just put flyers out there or little feelers out there. This is how it could help or this is how I can help or how do you read this book. I think you should really read this book. This will give you some next steps. And if it's not clear just read it. Call me back we'll talk some more. And by showing people that you really authentically care and that you really authentically want to help them people will find the money to work with you. At least that's my belief.
Millette: This is really really good. I've learned so much about an aspect of coaching that I really didn't know very much about. So it's just been really great. I'd like to finish up now with the final five rapid fire questions. All right. What is one habit or skill that's helped you become unstoppable?
Steffan: Presence. And I'll put two developing my presence and developing my empathy. My ability to be and to put myself in the shoes of the people that I work with. And you know just to circle back that's something we said earlier, you were talking about my technical background earlier. It's my technical background that also makes me a better coach because in some ways when I work with my clients I'm one of them. To a certain extent while at the same time I'm not but I can still understand and relate to them better.
Millette: Right. Yes that absolutely makes a big difference. I think. What's one quality that you feel every successful coach needs to develop?
Steffan: The ability to be themselves. In the coaching world sometimes our clients put on masks but as coaches we can put on masks too and try to make ourselves more successful or try to make ourselves look all sorts of stuff and then we lose humility and we lose a lot of good things that allow us to be in contact with people. So I really think the one big quality is being yourself and then at least when people work with you if they see you outside or if they see something you write they go "oh yeah, that's Millette".
Millette: Recommend one book that's had a big impact either on your business or on your life.
Steffan: So I'm going to recommend two, the first one is Tribal Leadership especially if you're working with groups then you want to develop a more collaborative mindset. This is one book that helped me a lot on the personal side. One of the books that helped me a lot is a book called Sailing Home by Norman Fisher. And the interesting thing about this book and what fascinates me about this book every time I read it is it talks about Homer's Odyssey the old story from the past and it brings it back to real life and it brings it back to how we experience things in real life and it actually brought me a lot of peace about myself and another perspective another way to look at things.
Millette: Interesting, I've never heard of that, I'll have to check that one out. Give us one online resource that you think coaches would love and that you couldn't do business without.
Steffan: That's the hard question. I'm not sure what to answer that one because aside from social media I don't use a whole lot of online resources right now.
Millette: Well social media is always a good one for people. So finally if the listeners want to know more about what you do how they get in touch with you, what social media platforms are you on and what's your web site?
Steffan: My main social media platform that I'm on is Twitter so you can come and follow me there at the handle @ssurdek and on my Twitter I tend to share a lot of the articles I write. The videos I do, everything Stef is basically on my Twitter. Aside from that you can visit my leadership blog called provokingleadership.com and there again it's all the leadership content that I've written over the past four years. There's over 60 articles videos or whatnot on there. And every time I write somewhere that's kind of my hub. I also have my personal web site if you're interested in having me for a speaking engagement or you'd like to contact me for any thing like that too which is SteffanSurdek.com and feel free to send me a note I'll definitely respond.
Millette: Well I will be sure to get all of those links and recommendations onto the show notes page Steffan this has been a really good conversation and I want to thank you so much for joining me today.
Steffan: Thank you for having me. It's been really a good time. You've been great. Thank you very much.