Expert communicator Fiona Cohn joins team City&Style
We are really happy to have Fiona Cohn joining our growing team of contributors at City&Style.
An experienced journalist, entrepreneur and qualified coach, Fiona shares her entrepreneurial journey and why communication is the key to great business. Her monthly blog will launch tomorrow and we look forward to her column in our print editions in 2013!
I was taken to my first football match at the age of 12 and I was hooked. I’d never experienced an atmosphere like it, nor been in such a big crowd. It also helped that the match was exciting too. Then I became interested in other sports as a fan and started thinking about how I could get to watch more sport. The answer was journalism and broadcasting. So actually the message came first and the vehicle – journalism – came later.
What prompted you to make the transition into starting your own business?
In the last few years I have found it harder and harder to be an employee. The jobs I’ve enjoyed most have been where I was respected enough by my managers to be given a more or less free rein to run my area how I liked – provided I delivered. After a while of working in internal communications and employee engagement, I realised how bad organisations were at this, and how defensively they reacted to suggestions for making it better, no matter how gently those suggestions were made. I’m a fairly passionate person and I found it increasingly difficult to support weak leaders in the organisations where I worked. I also trained as a coach and that allowed me to very quickly see through the mask that senior managers wear. I was often told I behaved like a consultant and actually that is how I felt.
I was already working coaching clients so once I’d put together a comprehensive business to business and business to consumer offer that got good reactions when I market tested it, I decided to ‘go for it’ this summer.
Throughout your career there has been an underlying theme of communication, why have you focused on this in terms of your business offering?
For me communication is the most important life and business skill and I feel privileged to have studied what I believe is an ‘art form’ for many years. We were all born with the basic communication tools – our mouths and ears. Now we also have lots of electronic tools with which to communicate. But most of us use them very badly. Think of a boss you found it hard to respect and it’s more than likely it was because they were poor communicators. Communication is the top leadership skill.
Communication builds strong relationships, creates culture, a team spirit and so much more. In business especially it has the power to make or break an organisation and getting it right for people who are not skilled in the technicalities of communication is not easy. Communication creates ‘engagement’ the emotional relationship we have with each other. Research has shown that workers who are disengaged cost the UK economy in the region of £64 billion annually.
I hate waste and that to me is waste on a huge scale. If I can help some progressive businesses reduce their contribution to this sum I’ll be very satisfied. Businesses often consider their marketing and pr activities but forget to build their internal brand or identity. It’s like trying to build a house without foundations. And I find helping private clients take control and achieve more productive lives in and out of work very rewarding.
Communication to me is much more than the words we use and our body language. It’s also to do with our behaviour – which is where coaching complements the technical communication skills I offer. Now I’m on a mission to help businesses achieve greater success through their people, as well as helping professionals achieve the success they desire. That feels very authentic to me. I’ve always been someone that people have turned to for support.
We live in a fast paced, technology driven society, how important is work life balance to you?
It is important, but it’s quite a challenge to maintain. My physical fitness and health is very important to me so I make time to go to the gym most days and I usually have Sunday off to play tennis and go horse riding. It’s really important for me to do something physical that demands my concentration and getting on a horse in the countryside with good company is the best relaxation I know. I’m not that technology savvy which is probably a good thing because I don’t let it dictate how I spend my time. As a people person I like to have offline relationships rather than online ones. All of these tools dilute our ability to communicate effectively so it kind of fits in with my ethos!
You are one of our new guest bloggers, what can our readers expect from your monthly blog?
I hope readers will get some food for thought – I do like to be thought provoking in my articles. And I hope they’ll get some practical hints and tips that they can apply to their lives that they may not have considered before. If you know anything about psychology, you’ll have come across the concept of male and female brains. I have a predominantly male brain – which just means I have different preferences from people with female brains and explains why I hate shopping and love sport! I aim to entertain and interest readers and provide some alternative views to the usual lifestyle features they may be used to reading. Also if there is a particular lifestyle topic they’d like me to consider writing about, I’m always up for getting suggestions!
If you would like to find out more about Fiona’s services and what she could do for you personally, or your business, she offers complimentary consultations, please call her to arrange yours on 07971 103232.