Nadine Hack – Lessons From a Grandmother | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

Share on:

Nadine Hack | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

Known internationally for pioneering engagement leadership work, Nadine advises business and non-profit executives, heads of state, and all kinds of other organizations. She’s CEO of beCause Global Consulting, named Best Stakeholder Engagement Firm, and was the first female Executive-in-Residence at IMD Business School with a focus on responsible leadership.

Among her many accolades, she’s received the Catalyst for Change award; been shortlisted for the Responsible CEO of the Year, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award presented at Säid Business School Oxford University.

From TEDx to Forbes, Nadine speaks about engaging with others who have different perspectives and the value of connections.

Listing all of her accomplishments and honors and awards here would take us all day, and that’s saying nothing of all her ongoing work across the globe.

Most importantly for today, Nadine’s in the midst of writing her new book, “The Power of Connectedness” (with a foreword by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu), which is at the heart of everything she does.

(In fact, that was nearly the title for this episode…but Nadine inspired an even better one.)

We begin our conversation with a story about Nadine and her grandmother, and how an early lesson in giving and serving led Nadine into becoming the coach she is today.

“I didn’t recognize at first that my coaching style is kind of like what a loving grandmother would do: open space for exploration without pressure. I’ve been told by those I’ve coached that I create a safe space and ask gentle but probative questions that enable them to unearth primal issues underneath whatever specific concern they’ve asked me to help them resolve.”

We go on to explore several deep and powerful ideas around human connection, with Nadine drawing from her decades of experience coaching just about every kind of person you can imagine. We touch on things like open questions, building trust, creating and holding space, how respect fuels patience, not “stealing the revelation”, and so much more.

She closed our conversation with this: “Knowing who you are and learning how to not lie to yourself – whether ‘you’ is a person, a family or a business – is the ability to recognize denial or avoidance when it’s in play and put an end to it by owning up to what’s real. As a grandmother, I feel this is the best legacy I can share.“

Seriously, this is among the deepest and most value-packed 30 minutes we’ve had the opportunity to record. Nadine is a treasure, and experiencing even this tiny piece of her work here will enrich your life.

To learn more about Nadine:

Share on:


Kevin Stafford 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the conversations with coaches podcast. I am once again, your grateful host, Kevin. And today I am especially grateful, because I get to chat with someone who have I’ve actually been looking forward to chatting with Nadine for quite some time. He was on a podcast I listened to, I think over a year ago at this point. And it was before I’d really gotten my stride here on this podcast. And she was kind of like in my in my head in my sphere of awareness. And we finally get to talk from across the world today. So let me stop rambling excitedly about dating hack and introduce you to Nadine hack. I’ll read you a little bit about her. And trust me, it’s going to be a little bit because there’s a lot she is known internationally. For a pioneering engagement leadership work did he advises businesses and nonprofit executives, state all kinds of other organizations, listing all of her accomplishments and honors and awards here, but take us quite frankly, all day. And let’s say nothing of her ongoing work across the world. Most importantly, for today, we’re going to talk a little bit about her her origin story, her past, present and future. And I’m certain that we’ll touch on the new book that Nadine is still in the midst of writing called The Power of connectedness. Yes. So, Nadine, thank you for finding time making time being here chatting with me. Thank you. I’m glad you’re here.

Nadine Hack 1:19
So Kevin, I’m delighted to finally connect to you when we’ve been kind of circling each other for a while. Yeah. Since you asked me about my origin story in the context of coaching. When I was a very young child, my Barbie, which means grandmother in Yiddish, suggested that I asked the bakery for the price of today’s and yesterday’s bread, then I should buy the day all blow off and put whatever pennies I saved into a jar we kept on top of the refrigerator to give to people less fortunate than we were. I learned early on that passing it forward is the right thing to do. And I’ve now shared that guiding principle with my six grandchildren. So my origin story might be called Lessons from a grandmother. I didn’t recognize at first that my coaching style is kind of like what a loving grandmother would do. Open space for exploration without pressure. I’ve been told by those I’ve coached that I create a safe space and I asked gentle but probative questions that enable them to unearth primal issues that are underneath whatever specific concern they’ve asked me to help them resolve. And intimacy comes from safety. And feeling safe enough to become intimate with oneself, is at the heart of helping anyone self discover through coaching. So that they can grow into deeper self awareness that allows them to understand and work with others in richer, more fulfilling ways. Not leading them, but instead, allowing them to find their own golden nuggets of truth that are already inside, kind of the job of grandma.

Kevin Stafford 3:21
It was honestly I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my grandma who passed away many years ago. But she made she made it well into her 90s, which is just just one of the great gifts I’ve experienced in my life is having her around. And I would always make time to go over and spend time with her. We would play rummy and Pinnacle and like we would sit around and talk and she would tell me about the book she was reading and I would tell her about the books I was reading. And she was always so and I didn’t know, I didn’t know it at the time. But what the what you describe the way that you coach and your experience with your grandmother is exactly what my experience was with her in that she was so I mean, I’ve she had raised seven, seven children of her own and an innumerable number of grandchildren. And you know that the tree, the tree extent expands from there. But she it’s almost like she had, she had learned and I think from from the stories I’ve heard of her and her younger years as a mother and even earlier, she always kind of had a knack for this. But that ability to just naturally almost effort seemingly effortlessly create and hold space in which you move into it. It’s almost like she becomes not a chameleon because she was always uniquely profoundly strongly her and yet she always had something for you. That was for you. She always allowed you to feel and gave you the space to feel that and it really was it was safe and it felt exciting and also curious it had all the attributes of a beautiful human connective experience and so yeah, it’s I’m feeling very nostalgic and loving for my grandmother right now

Nadine Hack 4:47
that I conjured that up for you

Kevin Stafford 4:50
got so lovely and Yeah, talk. Talk a little bit about that how you do that in your coaching because I feel like that’s, that is that creation of and holding of space Is it gets, I know that word gets tossed out there quite a bit. Now I think there’s a greater awareness of the importance of space. Rather than filling in the gap between people in order to build a connection, sometimes holding the space for that to happen naturally, is what is what really sparks a human connection. So talk a little bit about that in your coaching practice. Now you

Nadine Hack 5:22
and I actually even call it often sacred space, because it’s that space where you’re really present. And by being present, fully owning the whole of you the good, the bad, the Ugly, you know, just being showing up, you kind of are offering an invitation to the other person to know that it is safe for them to show up fully. And, and as my coaching practice became more mature, I discovered that asking open ended questions are the best way to guide people into knowing what they really want to explore. So I might start with, what do you think is the most important issue we can discuss to help you and follow with similar questions like, why is that vital for you? Do you know what you’d like to achieve in the short, mid or long term? What does your ideal situation look like? What would help you clarify that? You know, so I’m just kind of giving them an invitational. I’m trying not to lead them anywhere. You know, I’ve prepped and I do have ideas of from what they’ve told me about them. But I try not to impose that. And it’s really fascinating to them, see, how often people can keep hidden from their conscious knowledge, what their unconscious may truly sense, if not fully, yet know. And, like, I’ll just give you an example of how it can go in such a different direction. And in a coaching session, after asking that, first, what’s most important to you question, a senior executive from a multinational corporation replied, Well, I must bring our EBIT margin, for those of you don’t know that’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, to at least 12% By the third quarter. So knowing his situation, and having already established a secure level of trust during our coaching process, I said, we certainly can talk about how you’ll do that, if that’s how you choose to use this time. But is it okay if I posed a personal question first? And I always ask that because I don’t want to pry that. The mutuality requires a kind of give and take and, and with his explicit permission, I then asked, well, how does your wife feel about you having traveled 200 days of this last year, when you’ve just had your second child, ie 55% of your time. And this tough as nails guy, broke down sobbing. He explained that he’d felt the need to maintain a certain level of lifestyle for his family. But we were then able to delve into how he could downsize his financial expenditures for them. While he upsized, his emotional expenditures with them, which he then started to do. And his wife sent me a bouquet of roses, thank you for that.

Kevin Stafford 8:56
Oh, well done, well done. And it really is, like we this is one thing I love about the the entire coaching industry and the coaching experiences, because it’s largely very simple, very obvious things in retrospect. But in the moment, you need someone like a coach who has the skill and the care and the patience and the and the ability to kind of like just scratched the surface and move move behind whatever fronts people are putting up. And I love that you were viewing what he offered you as an indicator of what might be behind it, and asked for permission to go behind the curtain a little bit based on having built in and I love that that you highlighted that step, having built that trust already. This executive felt comfortable enough to let you behind like one step behind that curtain. Maybe you were just peeking inside, but it wasn’t anything necessarily hugely profound or hugely intrusive, but you’ve got that permission and consent based on trust. And we’re able to ask the question behind the question. Yeah. Which, which, which opened everything up, and I gotta tell you those moments. I mean, it’s a It’s, it’s why every coach who coaches does what they do, because those moments are among the most beautiful moments of human connection that I’ve, I’ve ever even been tangentially related to let alone a part of.

Nadine Hack 10:11
Absolutely, totally, they’re magical. It’s why they call it sacred space when you’re really with each other. And, and there’s been so many times when people have said things to me like I never told this to my best friend, I never told this to my spouse, I never actually even really set it to myself, I don’t know how you got it this so quickly. But it’s because of that kind of patient willingness to really read all the signs, not just the words, but all the signs of what somebody is conveying, and offer them the opportunity to explore what might be going on inside of themselves. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will pick up on it, nor do you ever want to force it on anyone. You know, you don’t want to open a Pandora’s box of perhaps traumatic life experiences for someone who doesn’t have the emotional resources to handle that. But by offering the invitation and just taking it step by step back and forth, reading each other, you you do create the possibility, but something truly transformative can happen.

Kevin Stafford 11:53
And while you’re building that possibility, you’re also building, building the support structure that will allow that possibility to grow into fruition because I think you so astutely identified the importance of not forcing, because sometimes you’ll as a coach you get I mean, you get very skilled over time at being able to read people and kind of read the tea leaves, and you can kind of see where a conversation is going, or where a relationship is going a few steps or a few sessions before you actually get there. And one of the key attributes to every great coach I’ve spoken to is the patience to wait for the readiness. Because once there, the readiness is a part of it’s a part of the entire process. And without it, you risk again doing not only not helping in the way you want to help possibly doing damage and setting your clients relation back farther. And so that patients I know it gets gets get paid lip service, quite a bit of people talk about being patient, but it is it is maybe the most vital attribute to demonstrate in that relationship because that patience is central to the space and the permission and the consent and the vulnerability and the intimacy and the empathy that will be the bricks, the building materials of the bridge that’s forming between you.

Nadine Hack 13:04
You know, and I’d also say that what undergirds that patience is always holding a deep sense of respect for whom ever you are with. And you’ve said, I’ve worked with some quite famous people, Nelson Mandela, but it’s not, I try always to treat every human being I interact with whether it’s the busboy at a restaurant, or a prime minister. Exactly the same, you know, rather than kissing up to people were, you know, on a higher level, and I won’t use the curse word of you know, pooping down to the lower level which which, sadly, too many people do, I try my best to treat each person with the same level of respect. And by respecting them. That means I’m also going to respect what their own healthy boundaries are. And some people don’t have any healthy boundaries. And so I have to help them protect because they don’t even know what boundaries are. In respecting them. I’m never going to push them to go to a place I’m going to invite them to consider the possibility of exploring something that could liberate them. But that’s as far as I’ll go. And in the way that I offer it that way. Gently, but Clearly, it really does allow people more often than not to just open up

Kevin Stafford 15:10
and come through the various personas and projections they might have, you know, between them and the rest of the world, anyone else they meet us, I think one thing that really helps helps me to ground myself in that, like basic respect for another human being, regardless of who they are, or who they project to be, is an understanding that it’s all it’s all a persona, whether it’s fame, or fortune, or parenthood, or service, or career ism, or like all the different like identities we have projected outside of ourselves, it’s all the same human reflex, regardless of what shape it takes, or how bright it might be. In the case, when someone has very, very a position of power or has great fame, it’s still the same human reflex, they have the same, you know, protectiveness, the same, same projections and just connecting at the beginning of our journey with the human at the heart of all that, and just letting things develop. Because really, it’s it’s virtually impossible to beat down someone’s persona to get to the soft human core. It’s, that’s an exercise in futility, at best and just dangerous damage at worst. But coaxing and allowing and holding the space for that human to come out from behind the projections and masks and personas that they were maybe feel they have to wear and maybe often do have to wear just to do the things you want to do in the world. That’s the that’s the special sauce right there. As far as I’m concerned, that’s, that’s where the real that’s where the real magic can happen. And I love that I love that you again, you call that out a very important aspect of grounding your patience and your work in respect for who they are as a human being.

Nadine Hack 16:46
Yeah, yeah. And respecting difference and recognizing that everybody ticks slightly differently. Not projecting how I would do something to how others should do something. I’m never prescriptive. I mean, I’m often asked point blank, should I take this job? Should I leave that, you know, should I, you know, go for the promotion? Should I leave my husband? You know, the full gamut, and I will never answer a question like that. That’s not my job. That’s their, what I can do is help them think through. What is it about that promotion that you feel will make you that makes you happy? What is it about that promotion that frightens you? What is it about ending your marriage, or on the other end of the spectrum, starting a relationship that excites you, terrifies you, so that they themselves can find their way into their own answer. Because my path is not your path is not anybody else’s path. And there is no one right way to do anything, anytime any one of us makes any choice. There’s always a trade off. There’s no choice that doesn’t have its pros, and its cons. You know, every choice involves gaining something and giving up something, though, there’s just no way around that. And so it’s really up to each person to decide, what’s the right choice for me. And, and, and to go deep enough into their own kind of awareness. And, and, and sitting with the problem. Also, like, I encourage people not to make rash decisions, but to like, especially on those big choices. Yeah, you know, I, the only time I say anything prescriptive is when someone has already decided I am leaving my job. I hate it. I’ll say to them, like something like, in this economy, it might make sense for you to like, quietly, put out some feelers with some headhunters and have something lined up before you leave your current job. You know, unless it’s so toxic for you that it’s really hurting it.

Kevin Stafford 19:30
Yeah, you make sure it’s the right actually the right decision and whether it’s made or not you explore it together to give it some time to fully flesh it out, you know, yeah. Yeah. And that’s I love once again, you’ve said something I love I keep I keep starting all of my sentences, but I love what you said there. Because I think it’s it’s it’s an important element of not being prescriptive because it’s so tempting when you when you think you can see the next steps that a person can take, and you have your own experience and you’ve talked to so many different people you have so much to offer. And it’s not that you’re withholding that as you’re choosing to offer it in a more helpful way, a more guiding way. And something that always helps me to to pull back whenever I start to get tempted to just be like, Oh, let me just tell them, let me just tell them what to do. I could see it, it’s so perfect, is that I don’t want to steal that moment from them. I want to steal the power of that realization from them that illumination, because that’s, that’s the best part. That’s the that’s the part that, that it’s the best part. I said it right. The best part?

Nadine Hack 20:31
Yeah, I love that. You’ve just articulated it beautifully. You don’t ever want to steal their power, you want to empower them, by allowing them to own the insight, the decision that might follow from the insight, you know, that that’s such an empowering thing to offer a human being the ability to, in and of themselves, you know, whether they’re a child or you know, well advanced years, giving anybody the opportunity to really discover themselves, what it is they care about, is such such a gorgeous gift. And robbing them of it is really a thievery.

Kevin Stafford 21:26
Yeah. And it’s really, it’s easy to accidentally do that. When you especially when you’re in such a position where a coach is in such a position of respect and skill, and knowledge and experience and empathy. Like it’s, it’s all right there. And it’s very various rightfully easy to put that one foot wrong and steal a little bit of that of that power, a little bit of that illumination, that revelation, and holding back. And again, that patient’s grounded in respect and letting it happen, quite frankly, naturally, the way it’s going to happen if you just wait long enough and stay engaged. It’s it’s one of the hardest parts. And it’s one of the best parts. Oh, man, shoot, we’re 25 minutes into our chat. It feels like it feels like it’s been five minutes or an hour. I’m not quite sure which It’s so delightful to be talking with you. Oh, I have like a couple more things I want to talk about before I let you go. I know you’re at the end of your day. But I want to talk a little bit about we’ve been talking about Yeah, we talked about your your your origin. And like we’ve really talked a lot about your approach to coaching and how you coach and we’ve really gotten into like some of the some of the deep the deep knowledge as it were. But I do want to make sure we talk a little bit about this, this book, The Power of connectedness, yeah, how things are expressing themselves now and in the future. So talk a little bit about that. How’s the book going? Do you have a release date for it? What’s the

Nadine Hack 22:46
release date. It’s a journey like everything else. The book is called The Power of connectedness it has a foreword by does Archbishop Desmond Tutu I’ve got permission from his family to use it posthumously. And in it, I tell stories from decades of insights about how I and others, who I’ve worked with have tackled with overcoming the obstacles to have an honest connection with our inner selves. And from that place, being able to have profound relationships with others everything we’ve been talking about. And, as you’ve said, I’ve worked with people in the highest level senior positions in enterprises from all sectors, corporations, heads of state leaders of global nonprofits, academia, et cetera. And I’ve observed that the ones who are able to admit their own faults and or that their organizations are in some way dysfunctional, and then take action to fix those problems are the ones who earn the greatest trust from those they lead. So they can actually affect positive change. And, you know, knowing who you are, and learning how not to lie to yourself, whether you is a person, a family or a business, is the ability to recognize denial or avoidance when it’s in play, and put an end to it by owning up to what’s real. So that’s what I’m focusing now on the book. And as a grandmother, I feel this is the best legacy I can share.

Kevin Stafford 24:28
It’s really that’s when it comes down to it we are in to a large degree our stories and our stories are the people we’ve we’ve touched or who have touched us along the way and the ability to share that with as many people as possible. Whether it’s you know, your your your family tree or the or the global world tree as it were. That’s just that’s exciting. I’m honestly like, plenty of people are talking about books that they have coming out but like having interacted with you and knowing a little tiny bit about you. I’m just like It’s a book of stories from Nadine, where do I sign up? Just just talking with you now for less than 30 minutes. I’m just I’m excited for more. Are you gonna you’re gonna read the audiobook version yourself? Are you gonna hear the contract?

Nadine Hack 25:17
That’s down the road? I will Yes.

Kevin Stafford 25:20
Excellent. Well shoot. In the end, I don’t want to respect your time. Although I selfishly, I really just want to keep you on the line for the next couple of hours and swap stories. I’ll just have to have you back on for another part. Maybe maybe as the book gets closer, or there’s it’s all over? I’ll have you back on. And we can do this again, because this has been delightful. Quite frankly.

Nadine Hack 25:40
Thank you.

Kevin Stafford 25:43
Before I let you go, where can people find out when the book is going to be available? Where can people find out more about you and your work? Where can people connect with you online? I know you have a website that people can go to do you have any social media that you’re active on?

Nadine Hack 25:56
My company is called because global consulting. And if you it’s is the website. I’m on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all as Nadine hack. And the only Instagram it’s Nadine dot hack, because I have to do that. But I’m pretty easy to find. And, you know, the email is on the website. But it’s admitted because that net, so that’s easy to you know, it’s I’m pretty accessible. Although, as I say right now, my auto reply will say I’m on sabbatical writing a book so I might not get back to people right away, but I try my best.

Kevin Stafford 26:47
Lovely, I’ll make sure there’s links to everything in the show notes. And yeah, I remember I was sent an email to you at some point and got that but even though we were like sort of in the middle of, you know, hashing out the details here, it was like she Oh, she’s in she’s in the book cave. Oh, okay. Okay, so she’s, she’s hearing me like he’s available, but she’s not available. It’s like, I totally get it. And I’m beside myself excited to see to see this book when it’s ready. And I’m just okay, it’s gonna be I find myself stumbling into this because I’m both thankful and grateful for you, who you are and what you’re doing in the world. I’m just, I’m just impressed and admiring and just filled with gratitude for you. And I’m also selfishly just grateful that I got to talk with you and like get 30 minutes of your time. This has just been, I feel I feel buoyed and all filled up. So I am doubly thankful. So thank you. Thank you. Nadine. has been fantastic. Yeah.

Nadine Hack 27:35
Kevin. That’s a beautiful thing to say. I take it in.

Kevin Stafford 27:39
Good. Oh, lovely. Okay. And to the audience out there, you’ve been listening. You were just you just heard 30 minutes of this or close to 30 minutes of this. You know what to do next? It’s fine. Whenever Whenever the book is ready for preorder. Get on it. Find out more about Nadine. She’s, she’s delightful. It’s great. And I am definitely going to have her back on this podcast again in the near future. So keep an eye out for that and we will be grateful to talk to you once again very soon. Thanks.

Think you'd be a great fit for the podcast?

Apply now to be our next guest!

Check Out Boxer Services

Be different

Enhance Your Brand

Most coaches struggle to explain what differentiates them from the next guy, let alone why your hot new prospect should pay you $10k more than your competitor who is seriously undercutting you.
Establish Your Authority

Establish Your Authority

Social Omnipresence allows you to meet your ideal prospects where they’re at by amplifying your authority across the same social media platforms where your clients are already spending their time.


Expand Your Network

What would you do with 300 new leads connected with you on LinkedIn each month? You’d probably build relationships with those prospects a lot faster, turn those relationships into clients, and make a lot more money!

Leverage Your Website

Elevate Your Website

You’ve established your brand and your authority. You’ve grown your social following and your LinkedIn following exponentially. People look up to you, they know you have answers, and they want to visit your website to learn more.

Before you go...

…how about another newsletter? 😉

In all seriousness, you’ll love this one. Five minutes each week with illuminating insights & amplifying spotlights from the world of business, branding, coaching, and marketing.

If that sounds like your speed, we’re more than happy to have you.