The Remarkable Coach

With featured guest

Michaela Lindinger

Michaela Lindinger Show

What kind of approach do you use in your coaching business? What are your struggles in the coaching business, especially during this pandemic?

In coaching for high-level performers, it’s very important to be clear, concise, and direct.

When you are a consultant or a coach, it is very essential to involve your client in the process of solving issues together. Be their accountability/sparring buddy. Guide them in polishing their leadership style.

The reason why projects or companies grow better and faster is not only because the people and leaders work faster, it’s because the leadership team realized for themselves what needs to change.

A coach’s responsibility is to make sure that leaders, especially at the C-suite level, understand that they should not be focusing only on their career, but holistically. It is important to focus on your BODY, EMOTION, MINDSET, and EXECUTIVE CAREER (B.E. M.E.).

In this episode, get to know more about Michaela Lindinger and how her principles are impacting her clients, and soon, the world.

Quick Bio:

Michaela Lindinger is the founder, CEO, and mastermind behind braininspa! Her vision is to inspire executives, entrepreneurs, and next-generation leaders towards working with more clarity, productivity, passion, and presence NOW!

As one of the youngest executives in an international management consulting firm, she has worked with Fortune 500 organizations and clients around the world on digital strategies and large scale transformation projects. She was responsible for helping client teams with value creation, product, and process innovations in multi-million-dollar projects. She has also worked with several national and international startups and corporations to guide their talents when preparing for the challenges of digital transformation and adjusting their business models to become agile and purpose-driven.

She understands successful entrepreneurs and ambitious leaders because she is a millennial serial founder and experienced corporate executive, as well as a working mom and family-manager. At 28, she received the ASG Leadership Award for visionary leadership. She’s been a lecturing professor for Bachelors and Masters courses on innovation and business models since the age of 29. She’s also a member of the international Forbes Coaches Council and the International Society for Coaching Psychology. For the last 15+ years, she has inspired her clients as an Executive and Leadership Coach, High-Performance Expert, Sparring Partner, Employee Experience Angel, Keynote Speaker, and Team Development Trainer.

Where you can find her:

Where you can listen to this episode:

Michaela Lindinger 0:02

It's a question of a holistic approach, and I know it sounds almost a bit too generic. But when I work with my clients, I always say the one thing they need to understand, and it's still amazing to me how many people struggle with this despite being at a top-level because I say it's not just your career that you focus on. It's actually what I call the Be.Me. that the core 4. B as in body, like your physical things. E as in emotion, like your emotional well being or your emotions, your relationships in general. The M is like your Mind like your mindset and habits work. And the E that is for the Executive career.

Doug Holt 0:38

Hi everyone, welcome again; I have a really special guest. And I'm extremely excited about this. I'm with Michaela today. Michaela is the founder and CEO of Brain In Spa, an Executive Sparring and employee experience company guiding visionary leaders to maximize their healthy high performance with more clarity, production, and passion. She's the only female millennial corpse coach in Europe and a happy mompreneur University lecturing Professor since the age of 29. And on top of all that, the author of the No7.2ing Formula. Michaela, thank you so much for being here.

Michaela Lindinger 1:16

Thank you, Doug, for having me. It's a pleasure speaking to you today.

Doug Holt 1:19

Absolutely. We had a great conversation before; there are so many things that we can talk about. But let's let everybody know, just a little bit about your background, you have a fascinating story and a unique history, I believe, with your background, you share that with us?

Michaela Lindinger 1:34

Sure. So it's always a question of where you start; when they start with the background story comes right? In terms of talking to entrepreneurs here and high performers, I love to go back to where I like to learn my favorite to put independence and entrepreneurship; that's what I always call it. So I grew up in Austria in Central Europe, and my dad was an entrepreneur. And it was just so cool for me seeing that he never had to do what others have to do, like go to work and do his nine to five. He lived by his schedule; I don't want to say you could do whatever you wanted. But it was kind of like, and he loved what he did. And he was building his business and his empire. So this was cool stuff, and on the other hand, I saw my mom. She had a chance to spend lots of time with us, with our family and taking care of us. But on the other hand, I think she was never brave enough to do her thing. So I kind of like, if I look back now, being a mother and adult and an entrepreneur myself. I can tell very well, and there's one part at my parent's side that lived his dream and got the entrepreneurial journey going and was independent and free to a certain extent. It was then the other part that took care that everything was perfect at home; I had a very loving family and a very loving home, which is important. But then obviously, she had kind of like to cut back on her desires and dreams. Now fast forward, what happened to me is that I started in the business world; I have a background in business and strategy and innovation work. I work with large corporate clients, the rusty dusty, the big giants, the ones that are sometimes former public, and now they're private, and they've never been well known for being fast changers. And for the last 10, 15 years. I always asked them to change things to do strategy work to do digital stuff to be innovative. This is not fun for many people, human beings; we're not made for change. What helped me a lot was not that I had the better blueprint:, the better practice or the better rule book or whatever. But I always trusted working with the people, making sure that the people when this was shop floor level or this is the CEO, every individual in my team. I wanted them to understand the why, while we're doing whatever it is we had to do, and when they kind of like understand the why I could hand over and I knew they bought in and they were in the boat, as we used to say back then. And it was just things that were just way smoother. And again, fast forward when I had my daughter a couple of years back, and I came back from my mama break; I took a year off, it was wonderful to do. I realized what I've done in the past and the CEO role and within that executive role, and the struggles I saw and with that little what I always called household psychology that I applied. I thought there's more to what sciences and basically what sciences know from neuroscience, brain science, there's so much cool stuff out there. So I went back to school, and I got a master's degree in coaching psychology focusing on leadership and health from the UK. It turned out that one part of me has done like all that business and executive type thing. The digitals and the strategy, we're going to transformation projects. It was then that a new part of me was learning to understand the science behind how we work as human beings. And I felt like there was this big glass block between the two. And this was back in 2014-2015. Where I said, "All right, somebody needs to solve that." So I created Brain In Spa, one of the three companies I funded in the meantime. And branding spies is what I call a healthy high-performance company. So I'm trying to, especially for C level people, for top-level executives, and professional men and women, I try to help them understand how they function in a healthy way and what's healthy. I mean, like Body, Emotion, Mind, and Executive career like all four of them. So that's basically where I am today and where this whole entrepreneurial thing is coming from.

Doug Holt 5:44

I love it; we talked offline about sharing a mutual belief of being very direct to be born. It's something I caught right off the bat within talking with you and looking at your materials, as you call it. Executive Sparring, which I love. By the way. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that is?

Michaela Lindinger 6:04

Yeah, I have to go back to when I got my status in the UK. I mean, there's so many terminologies floating around right there is consulting, there is coaching, there is mentoring, and, by textbook definition, when you are in the role of the coach, well, when you are in a role of a consultant, it's about client would expect you to know more. And I've been a consultant for many years, and I always said, "Actually, I just have seen maybe a few more organizations, but I don't do what's best for you." So I tried to offer my expertise, my consultant part, so just to say to my clients that I didn't say I'm the smarter one here, I know how to do it, we need to solve that together. So everybody brings his share to the table. Now, when you look at the coaching world, when you look at how people are getting talking to a coach, if you by definition, a coach is somebody who takes a, I always call it a very passive stance, to really just let the coachee define the journey and the speed of the journey, and just support with questions. And I always find that that's just way too slow for the people I work with and me; if you work with the C level or a C minus one, they just don't only want to have the question, they want to have the tough cookie fix, and obviously, for them, it helps if I have been in a CEO role in the past, I don't want to say I know all the situations, but I think I came across a few of them, the tricky ones at least. And I could just be more of a sparring partner. I think this is what this is why the Executive Sparring, that's what I call my service to see the level of clients and to leaders is that I say I'm not just asking you questions, I'm here for you to be like your accountability buddy. And to be the person with whom you can actually reflect on eye level and somebody you can trust. Because if you look at your spouse, whoever that is, it's not the right sparring partner. Suppose you can look around at the border at C level. Sometimes, they're good teams, but many times they're not that smooth with each other. And it's just difficult to speak openly, and on the other hand, we know how important it is to reflect and to shape decisions together and to look at things from different perspectives. This is what I call a sparring partner, somebody who goes part of the journey with you making sure that you, as an individual, can shine that you don't overlook anything but always serving you without any hidden agenda. Be there for you when you just need a sparring buddy to reflect on some things or to just make some decisions a bit more clear, I would say.

Doug Holt 8:48

I love that. And we have, one of the things that when I talk about as well is you've carved out your own niche, you found what works for you. And it's actually something that works for the client; oftentimes, right is clear and concise to direct, especially doing high performers. And it's you, and it's authentically you so you can come across that authentic nature.

Michaela Lindinger 9:11

Yeah. Sometimes I really have to say that I have clients where they say, "Alright, this is too much for me." As you were just saying, I think it's clarity over harmony. What I always tell my clients, there is no point if I work with a very young leader who has a team lead with three or four people and I come across in my speed, with this workforce, this will not work for sure. But I also know from the other end that people who are actually used to having their daily dose of decisions of a certain level of pushing in a very friendly way. They just love it, and they really see how much progress they can make if they have a sparring partner who is about in there, at their pace.

Doug Holt 9:56

Absolutely and right now, especially, we're in such unprecedented times, especially here in the States right now, as we go back into a big dip with the pandemic, as we're recording this. I also know that you have an unconventional approach to how you prepare C level talent and people for challenges ahead. Do you talk a little bit about that?

Michaela Lindinger 10:18

Yeah, sure. So I think there are two dimensions to this one. One part is that I love to work with individuals. Now, obviously, if you're an entrepreneur, you could say, "Well, how does that scale?" but for me, the point is, if you're throwing a stone into the water, it starts with a small circle. And what I found out over the last 10-15 years in my career is I've been part of large transformation projects, when this was on digital things, and innovative stuff, and whatever. And it was just a huge effort needed to really transform may be just one part of larger organizations. Whenever I look back at why projects were faster or more successful than others, it was not that the people grew up faster, or they were smarter, or they were just whatever. But it was really the point in time when the individual leader or the leadership team realized for themselves what's needed and why things need to change. It's almost like a question like what's in it for me, but in a very natural way, right? So what I said is that I really want to work with the individual leaders, because if they don't understand for themselves first, and then for the rest of the organization, why they're supposed to be doing, what they're supposed to be doing, and why things are just different and faster, then they will never ever be a good role model or be a good leader for leading that change that's needed for the organization. And when we look at individuals, leaders, leaders, what I see many times is that I get asked the question a lot, "Oh, are you a business or a life coach?" I'm like, Huh, funny question. Oh, I'm never, I've never been asked like, are you just laughter or your right. It's a question of a holistic approach, and I know it sounds almost a bit too generic. But when I work with my clients, I always say it, the one thing they need to understand. And it's always amazing to me how many people really struggle with this, despite being at the top level, is it I say, it's not just your career that you focus on, it's actually what I call the Be.Me. that the core four.B as in body, like your physical things. E as in emotion, like your emotional well being or your emotions, your relationships in general. The M is like your Mind like your mindset and habits work. And the E that actually is for the Executive career. And the point is that whenever people start focusing too much on one out of those four, they kind of like to get sideways. But what's the big thing actually, look at real true high performers, in sports, or in the business rule that they more or less look at all four of these dimensions simultaneously. And I think this is part of where my role comes in, making sure that, especially high performers don't define themselves just by the work-wise, high performance, because it's going to help them and we've seen it so many times. And I'm sure you know, some people and I know, unfortunately, many of them that turn like 40 or 50. And all of a sudden, I don't know, relationships are gone, friends are gone. I don't know, their kids, like all the bad stories in the reverse case, have health issues. I always say, please do me a favor, don't let it go that far. There are ways you can actually go about your stuff before something that's happening, right. I think this is what you're referring to a bit of a unique approach that I want to make sure people are balanced to the extent that they they have somebody taking care of themselves, so to say, as a sparring partner, not just for the career part, but also for the other things because it's kind of stacking on each other, right? It's almost like building layers. You got to start with the body. You get to add on little emotions and your mind work, and then eventually, it will evolve into a great career.

Doug Holt 14:12

Oh, absolutely. And I think it's funny because you and I both saw it where you see outcome and want to be high performers. And he thinks so much they can compartmentalize different areas of their life. This is my work life, this is my healthy life, this is my relationship, and it doesn't work. Whereas high performers and I see this all the time working at Biocybernaut Institute, they're coming in to better themselves holistically, and you do this through a seven-day intensive where you offer people a glimpse at this, which is your Be.Me seven day intensive. Right?

Michaela Lindinger 14:44

Right. So what I always say it's kind of like when you go back to I don't know, when you start something new, you have to do your foundation. What I put out there is basically bringing together what I would call Boot Camp Training or the foundation work before I get started with working with my clients and over the past couple of months. I think especially leaders that are really challenged because of what we see in that stressful situation with many going on, and I think this is a very tough cookie for anybody in a leadership position. This is not an easy one, right? So what I did is I actually put the foundation best pieces together. And I say this is available for people out there who want to work on themselves. Once they realize this is kind of where that's going, and I need more of this. And obviously, we can start working together. But I think it's essential. And one last comment and this one is what's been so surprising for me personally, was that the thing I was struggling with in my I was pulling my first career as an executive role. Being a consultant and traveling the world, and working with large organizations. The things I've been struggling with in a leadership position and in a client-customer interaction. And what I then learned from this is how things actually work. I'm like, "Holy moly, this is not difficult. But why is nobody telling me that?" And so I think this is really part of why I put together a few things in my foundation seven days of an intensive course, mostly it's like really short, but I really try to break it down to an executive schedule. So it's a busy schedule, but it gets you started in the right direction. I think this is the real intent behind the seven days of the intensive course.

Doug Holt 16:34

I love it.

Hi guys, I want to interrupt this show to tell you about the Biocybernaut Institute. Now the Biocybernaut Institute is the pioneer in neurofeedback training, helping you to tune into Zen-like states in days, not decades. Now, Dr. Hart, the founder, has been doing research in brainwave feedback and training for over 40 years. And up until now, this has been the secret of great coaches and successful people such as Tony Robbins, and Dr. Michael Beckwith, and many, many others. In fact, after doing my Alpha 1 training at the Biocybernaut Institute, I actually took a job with them. The first job I've had in over 20 years, I was impressed not only with my results but with the results that I was seeing other people get, go over to that is to find out more information. Now let's get back to the show.

And something that's really interesting, you and I talked about this as well of this recording was your work with both men and women in leadership roles. But you can also provide that interesting perspective, especially to women and moms that are there in leadership roles. And do you find that's an underserved market because you don't see that many high-level coaches, especially talking about sparring? It's almost that I feel that sometimes women in leadership roles when it comes to coaching are almost talked down to rather than talk to as equals.

Michaela Lindinger 18:05

Yeah. So this is a really, I would say a tough one a difficult question to answer because being a woman myself, I always grew up basically in a boy's peer group, right? It was only like, "Hey guys, let's go for this." and "Hey guys, let's do that." And the guys were meant to be a very male version of "Hey guys," and I knew they included me as well. So I think, on the one hand, I have a pretty good feeling of, I now call the boys to talk and the way alpha males think and behave on a C level or C minus one position. On the other hand, I'm a woman; I'm a mom and entrepreneur. I am a family manager, whatever you want to call it. So there are many roles; I don't only try to fulfill that I do like this passion and full-on convincing fully convinced that this is important. And I also want to be a role model to my daughter's showing her that yes, you can do whatever you want to do, and if entrepreneurship is your thing, then please do go for it. And on the other hand, yes, there is time for family and for taking care of making sure at home is a comfortable place to be so I think when I when I look at the business world in this is really frightening to me that so many women once they let's just say climb the career ladder to a certain level. They almost feel their biological clock is not ticking. It turns into a bomb almost right. And they are so high, frustrated on the one hand because they want to have that family life and they want to have a baby or two or three but they also know they can't give that little baby to a nursery something, some caregiver when it's a couple of weeks old just to go back to negotiate a big deal with a client that doesn't feel right to them. But somehow, I see so many of my clients, and this is when I get a lot of questions, asking them many top levels of executive women to turn to my sparring program these days is where they say, "Hey, how can I actually do that? I get both?" And it turns out, over the long run, as I said before, it's not just about your career, and organizations need to understand if they want to go for diversity, whatever we define this diversity, they need to allow for different models. And I think especially when it comes to executive scoring, and I had a hard time. I never had a female role model; there's too many out there. So I'm trying to give back, especially to the ladies out there, and try to find the way for them. That doesn't mean either-or, but that allows them to combine and find their perfect combination. Basically.

Doug Holt 20:41

I love that. And it reminds me of something that I've heard is when people say you can do this or that, where's and? Why can't I do both? I live in a world of and as my wife always tells me when I get to make a decision.

Michaela Lindinger 20:54

Exactly. I was just working with a client today. She approached me a couple of weeks ago, when we started working, and it was this, "Oh, my gosh, I have to decide whether I do this one or that one." I'm like, "Why is that an either-or?" And she was like, "Well, because I contact both" I'm like, "Well, you can have both, if you're comparing it to 60-70, our top-level C level job, and then a zero-hours job that is 100% family life thing. But what's in between, and it's like almost the Oh, gray and white, these are the only two colors there is nothing in the rainbow. Well, that's boring. So it's really about trying to help them think through the options they have. Sometimes it's just, and it's always such a pleasure for me when you hear the other end say, Oh my gosh, yeah, this is really hard work. And then if you give them, I always call it like my toolkit of structures and things that have worked for others. It's really something so simple. But unless somebody calls like, "Guys, your nose to where it's supposed to be going," you're struggling, and your mind goes crazy, but it doesn't get you any further. And I think this is something where I feel, especially women, especially high power executive and professional women who tell me to carry the weight of the road on their shoulders, they wouldn't ask for somebody to help them carry for a couple of meters or miles. Man, nobody's here on this one; they know when they need to say, "Hey, is there anything else I can learn?", "How can I prove myself?" but for the ladies, sometimes they just think they need to do it all by themselves. Which is garbage, right?

Doug Holt 22:29

Yep. Oh, absolutely. Now, do you find obviously with the advent of COVID, I know that you work with people all over the world? Have you found that things have changed over the last six months or so?

Michaela Lindinger 22:42

An honest answer, I would love that if it had changed more. I think burden wise, pressure wise on any leaders, male or female. I think what happened with this last couple of months. These are special circumstances. That's what a client of mine called the other day. But what I've not seen, unfortunately, is that organizations feel and get really fast in building code support structures for the leaders. So I think there's always been, you know, five to 10% of organizations who understand the importance of healthy, high performing employees, not just leaders, but all across the hierarchy. And I think what I see is that they do really well and support and serve them even more with those extra special circumstances. But the others, I feel that they're grateful when people just walk the extra mile the last couple of months or weeks, but they've not been there where they say, oh, by the way, shouldn't we just make sure they are not collapsing after the next two month, but that they actually can remain in a healthy high performing role.

Doug Holt 23:56

And then are you seeing this happen with your coaching? Your coaching style in the way that you're coaching are you finding that that's changing, or it's the same for you? Because you're able to do it via video before now, you are as well?

Michaela Lindinger 24:10

Well, I think in terms of my coaching style, what might have changed is that it's not really fully virtual. I think that was a challenge for some people really, in terms of like, how we work one on one, but um, for many this was actually easier than to build that into the anyway already screwed up a daily schedule. And the other thing I see content-wise in the, with my clients and the coaching I'm doing is it sounds funny, but it's sometimes the bare minimum questions that come up now where people really I mean, before the crisis, there was lots about; Okay, how do I make sure I'm visible to the top and polishing their leadership style or making sure when they have a tough time to call a rejuvenated and recharge batteries again. But right now, I feel there's a lot of like this; why am I doing what I'm doing? That really doesn't mean anything. So I think that the challenges that my clients face are a bit going deeper. And they also take care more about their people. So it's like, well, "If this works for me, what do I have to do for my people?". "Can I make sure that they also get their share, so to say in a positive way?" And yes, I think there is a change in the coaching questions company-wise that you can see especially with top-level leaders that they're asking different questions, and they bring different topics to the table.

Doug Holt 25:37

I could see that definitely happening all over the world, what is going through there. One of the things that come up often you see in the workforce is the advent of artificial intelligence and AI. People coming up, they're getting freaked out, the robots are taking over and coming after us. What would you say to people, because I know you have a unique perspective on this.

Michaela Lindinger 26:02

I tell you a story on this one; I think it was last year, somebody from Silicon Valley reached out to me, a guy who is very well known in the AI space. And he reached out to me saying, "Hey, I got referred to you. I think this is cool stuff to do with Brandon's file with your company. I like to have an interview with you on AI". I'm like, "Wait for a second; I cannot write a single line of code. I'm not saying I'm handicapped with my notebook. I can work out my digital stuff. But I cannot do any code. Nor do I understand how that technology behind AI works." He is like, "No, no, no, no, that is a difference. It's about people with AI." This is interesting. I thought this is AI's technology, other things, people. But anyway, so it was fast forward was a very funny conversation we had and it was a bit shocking to me as well because what he said was like, in Silicon Valley, the question is not "Can you solve that issue from a technical perspective?", I mean, it's almost like if you can wait a bit longer than things will be solved, whatever it was, that was a challenge for you. And the thing, though, is that once AI takes over more and more things, job positions, to do tasks, whatever, what will happen is that we as human beings will actually have a chance. And I really want to phrase it in a positive way, we get a chance to go back to what we can initially do best with like the human USP, and the human USP has never been going to some, I don't know, some production plant and putting in the four steam screws into the motor of an old bike for 50 years, right, and then retire with a broken back, and I don't know, crippled arms and something. It was like the Industrial Age, you know, but what happened back then, humans were more or less used as machines because robots were in there, and I was there. And I think what we need to see now with AI is that it's really if we see from a positive perspective, it's actually a huge opportunity, that what I always call the tedious slash stupid tasks that many, many people have to do just, you know, to earn money for their living. These jobs can actually be tasks that can be taken and will be taken over by AI. But at the same time, these human beings cannot just lean back and say, and I don't do anything anymore. But they're requested to get up and learn and really focus on their core human USP, which is creativity, being creative, collaborating on things, finding new solutions; I think this is really what's at the core of us as human beings. And I think that part is so not touched by AI. But it's a big transition for many, many people. To see what I've done in the past is definitely way off from what I will do and what I'm supposed to be doing in the future to be safe.

Doug Holt 28:55

I couldn't agree with you more. It's absolutely fantastic and fascinating. But Michaela, you're running at a time, and I could talk to you forever. As I've said, I've been in the coaching world for two decades, and you're always impressive and always fun to talk to.

Michaela Lindinger 29:10

Thank you very much—the same thing to you, Doug. I think there's a lot of things we speak in the same language. And we know what's out there and where the cool stuff is happening, I guess.

Doug Holt 29:20

Absolutely. Well, for those that like to follow up and learn more about your work, what is the best place for them to go?

Michaela Lindinger 29:26

I think the best place is always just reaching out to me on LinkedIn. As I said before, I'm a people person. So I just love to connect with people. If there are any questions. There's also my website, which is Brain In Spa, it's easy; it's just a brain with high performances and the spa area where we love to go to the hotel to relax and to work out our healthy parts of the body and emotions. So is a website but feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn and lastly look forward to any questions that might come up.

Doug Holt 29:57

Oh, absolutely. Fantastic. Well, thank you again for being here with us. Today,

Michaela Lindinger 30:00

Thank you, Doug. All the best to you. Thanks for having me.

Doug Holt 30:05

Thank you for joining us at The Successful Coach podcast. Please hit like and subscribe so we can bring you more great interviews like these. Until next time, have an amazing day.

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