German by birth, American by choice, educator by trade, a speaker & trainer by design and CEO by passion, Brigitta Hoeferle is the Founder of the German Language School and the Montessori School of Cleveland. Transitioned from corporate Germany to the world of coaching, placing education at the forefront of her mission, Brigitta has combined her knowledge and creativity to coach corporations all over the globe.
When one has ownership of their insights, change happens faster, simpler and with ease.
From Germany to America, what challenges did you experience moving to a new country?
There were many challenges crossing cultures. I believe the biggest challenge was coming to the US with a German precision mindset paired with my young cockiness of “learn from me, I already know everything”. Although one of my laws that I teach that states “There is no failure, only feedback”, the biggest lessons I learned was to shut up and listen to relate, not to respond. Often I have displayed “false listening” which appeared to the other person like I was listening, but all I did was wait. Wait to spew my own agenda onto the other person. And through this challenge I learned and developed the 5 levels of deep listening [where “active listening” is still superficial]. Knowing the language is part of listening, relating to the culture, subculture and all the nuances of the 5 levels play a big role in being successful.
The stigma of adults returning to education is slowly being erased. You have two educational institutions – what inspired you to give back to the community through education? Why was it equally important to create one for children and one for adults?
Ever since I was a small child, my father instilled the thought in me that I am “a tool for humanity” – I remember being a small child, around 5 years of age that my father told me this and I remember thinking: “What does that mean?” But I never really questioned it, but accepted this as part of my identity and purpose.
Growing up, my family and I moved across cultures several times and I felt like I “never belonged” wherever we lived. My fellow students in school never accepted me for who I was, I was the “outsider”; but all I wanted to do is “belong”. I hated school. I hated my classmates, my teachers, but most of all: I hated myself. I came to that realisation much later in life.
As I went on to study Social Pedagogy I learned about the different learning methodologies, about human behaviour and that lead to more studies, more learning, and the desire to offer parents and children a unique learning environment with the intention to be judgement free zone while creating a feeling of belonging.
And as I was building a very successful Montessori School, I started coaching parents. And while I am coaching the parents of the children that attend my private school, I found that children are innocent by nature and that it is the adults around the children that shape them [or screw them up].
That led to more learning, more studies and continued education that led to buying an educational communication training centre that was established already in the 1980’s. I built this centre out to a very successful training centre that is very involved in the community. For every training sold, we financially support a homeless family in Atlanta in need.
My creed for this is: instead of buying things for children (that you might have never had), tech them all the things you were never taught – because that now teaches the child AND the adult! It creates a bond and instils a deeper sense of communication.
From working in the corporate world to coaching large cooperations, what led to this transition? Did you experience burnout in a corporate setting? How did the two environment differ?
I left the corporate world due to toxic masculine leadership and severed the relationship not by being a “victim” but by wanting to “do and be better”. I started to build my own business. Fast forward years into my successful business and the continuous growth, I was “scouted” by a global training company to speak and train.
Burnout was never part of it, it was clarity on purpose and focus to live my live fully and to support others while doing so.
The environment of building corporate coaching programs depends on the company culture and the more I am able to be involved in building an intentional learning environment. And that rises and falls with the company leadership and the company culture. Long story short – I now am able to control the environment that I work in and can choose who I work with and where I work. It’s driven by purpose and value, not money. The money is a by-product.
Why is business coaching so important for success?
As a certified and professional coach you are working with the PERSON – not with the PROBLEM. Most corporate leaders, business owners, C level executives focus on the solution of a tangible problem in the business. But often the “leaders” don’t take time to elicit the mindset of the people working on the “solution” and wonder why the implementation of the logic solution is not sustainable.
The power lies in the awareness that the frame of mind that got you “here” [problem] won’t take you there [solution]. Meaning if you want a different result you will want to take a different approach. Change can be hard and tedious, if you don’t have a proven strategy and guidance.
Internal change is very seldom doable by yourself. Have you ever seen someone’s situation so crystal clear while they were stuck in their own forest and were not able to see the proverbial trees around them? That happens to all of us! That’s why even highly influential and sought after business coaches like myself have a coaches and a mentors.
What have you learned about yourself while coaching others?
Leaders are learners as there is wisdom being drawn from all situations. I have personally learned from my clients that if one person can achieve a specific goal, YOU can! The recurring patterns drive a person’s life – in a supportive or non-supportive way, the key is to take inventory of what works and do more of that and what does not work so well and learn how to do it different to get the desired outcome.
There is a very clear difference between a mentor and a coach and they frequently get mixed up. A mentor is someone that guides, due to the experience they had in a specific field, role and responsibilities. A coach is someone that asks quality questions so that the coachee may explore his/her opportunities and possibilities. When one has ownership of their insights, change happens faster, simpler and with ease. My career in Corporate Germany has given me deep insight in corporate structures. But more importantly it has shaped me into the structured, knowledgable, kind and fun-loving professional coach, facilitator and highly successful business owner that I am today.
You are a wife, mother, businesswoman, speaker and coach – how do you juggle motherhood and business?
Great question! When I built my first successful business I was a new mom of our toddler daughter, we just moved to the US and I was pregnant with our second daughter on the way. I am in full support of my children and family, that’s why I built my first business, the Montessori School! And I can also say, I will do everything for my business, my employees and my clients.
As my business established and grew and my children grew up I can truly say: I gave my all! I came home from work with both kids and then we cooked a home cooked meal together – every day. We make time to go on fun outings with our children. I gave and still give all my resources, energy, knowledge and some of my time to grow my business, because I have great capabilities in OWNING my time. Notice, I do not say “time management”, because what I model is truly time ownership.
As I focus on owning my time, planning ahead, scheduling office time, development time, home time, family time and fun time, I make the best of my time. And to this day I have a great habit of making time for all the things that I want to make time for: taking a yoga class with my daughters, going to the gym, meeting with my clients, taking a new course to further grow and learn, scheduling my coaching call with my coach & mentor, teaching certification classes, meeting potential clients, going on vacation, walking the dog, taking a cooking class with my husband, bathing in the sun.
And through my time ownership strategy I am pro-active to not having to put out “fires” regularly and let my time be consumed by “urgent and important” tasks. I can strategically plan ahead and make time for what’s important and delegate the rest, so I have time for what I love doing: spending time with my daughters and my husband [and Magnus, our dog], serving my clients, teaching others so they may teach and support others. And it cuts out the stress.