Growing With The Business Industry Through Leadership, Innovation, Inspiration And Wellness with Silvia Christmann
As the business industry progresses and becomes more and more complex, you will need to find a place where you can fit your skills and purpose. International executive and business coach Silvia Christmann shifted her priorities in order to build a more successful life. She shares her insights about how to keep people inspired, how to stay on track, and how to deal with the future of work as we all go along this overwhelming and ever-growing industry with all its dynamics.
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Growing With The Business Industry Through Leadership, Innovation, Inspiration And Wellness with Silvia Christmann
Blockchain Business Strategies for High Growth
I am here interviewing Silvia Christmann from SilviaChristmann.com. She’s a wellness coach, life coach and business coach. She works with a lot of incredible VCs and entrepreneurs to help them grow their businesses and scale in a way that make sense to them in a more holistic manner. You’ve seen a lot of different businesses, whether they’re in blockchain or not. I’m so happy you’re here to join us. Thank you so much, Silvia.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate that you made the time and that you’re having me as a guest.
You’ve worked with a lot of different businesses and you’ve been at this for a handful of years now. You’ve been doing coaching in a different way, but this particular business you’ve been at for at least four or five years, am I correct?
I’ve been working with entrepreneurs in the tech industry for over twelve years now in various different facets. I used to be a strategist on the team, and then I needed to reclaim my own health and sanity due to this very common known thing called burnout in our industry. I needed to reclaim the way I worked, my wellbeing and my sanity. I shift some of my priorities in order to build a more successful life on top of that. Out of that came me strategically consulting with businesses on a freelance basis, just in the initial stages. From that, I went into the coaching space. I realized that the strategy we can put into place to build a business and build teams, especially innovative technology environments in fast-paced high growth companies, is dependent on the people implementing it. I realized that my competitive edge was always having been coached and having coaches.
I went into becoming a coach myself because I thought that it was such a perfect hybrid to work on leadership development, team building skills, and then infuse the ideas of wellness. They do yield higher returns and decrease burnouts into my methodology, which have been wildly adopted. The way I run my business with coaching and consulting joined as one thing. The goal of the coaching is to strategically build the business, double your revenues and get on a fast-paced high-growth environment. It took a while to marry it perfectly, and that’s been about five years.
It sounds that you’ve put two things that fit well together that would just make perfect sense. It’s almost like in retrospect perfect sense. As you’re creating and innovating, you’re like, “I’m just going to take these two wildly disparate things.” Suddenly, they fit easily though.
It was part of my own evolution and journey because I was a leader in a fast-paced high-growth environment. I was the person that had a lot of pressure on her shoulders to meet numbers, to bring in the right people, to find the right partnerships, to meet deadlines. I burned out because I didn’t understand what happens long-term when you sacrifice your diet, sleep, and exercise. I talk to people about productivity hacks like diet, sleep and exercise. You make better decisions faster, you’re more effective and your cognitive function is so much better and that you have heightened stages of focus that will yield higher returns faster. I didn’t know that when I was younger, especially in my twenties. I just thought like, “Just push,” and the error rates went up along with it. Now, I’m so much more effective. What I teach people is to slow your roll in order to get more done, to be more effective, and be a top performer. Work in environments of rapid scale that yield productive returns, not “I’m busy” returns.
“I’m busy” returns are so annoying. It’s like, “What did I do today? Stress myself out, hurt my adrenal glands. That’s about it.”
Work until 2:00 AM is a sure way to shot my adrenals for the next two days.
Speaking of shooting your adrenals, can you talk about the moment where you knew you hit that wall and you knew you were burned out, you knew you’re going to have to make a change, whether it’s the moment when everything had to stop or the moment when you knew which direction to go next? How did you get into coaching, consulting and a different type of path?
There were some interesting developments in my life. I had discovered a more spiritual path in about 2004, but it didn’t take any shape. It was a slow growth journey, let’s put it that way. Everything is more relevant, more important, meaningful, purposeful. It was very slow. I am a fast adapter in everything else, but not when it came to that. It wasn’t until about 2006 that all of a sudden, I became a yoga practitioner and I became a regular meditator, but it was a sideshow. My first teacher said, “It will ruin your life.” What he meant by that was it started infiltrating everything I did in a positive way. All of a sudden, I got a curiosity on the side. It infiltrates everything in a positive way. Everything starts shifting no matter how little you care, and that was me. I was like, “This is great.” I wasn’t drinking the Kool-Aid at all but it had its effects. As I was experimenting with myself and became more and more curious, the more positive my life became. At the same time, my health was rapidly declining.
The mind was getting there but the body hadn’t followed yet.
My other skills such as excessive amounts of caffeine and four hours of sleep at night has its toll on you. Loads of travel thing, staying in airplanes, trains and automobiles just has a toll on you. There was a lack of fulfillment. As all of these things are hitting home, I found myself being at home at night making a lot of money, having a career in New York City that most people would want. I found myself burned out and tired, unmotivated by life. I was watching the ceiling fan go into circles at night going, “Is this it?” It was meaningless.
I did all those things. I got to where I thought I was going and I’m here now and this isn’t the party I thought.
Where is the party? Where is the passion? Where is the love? I needed to make some decisions. The doctors were pretty clear. There’s also something that happens with adrenal fatigue. You think you’re depressed, but you’re not. It’s just your adrenal. I had severe adrenaline fatigue twice in my life. One is at 28 and one is at 34. I could not get out of my bed. It’s this chronic fatigue in every inch of your body where you can barely make it through the day. My doctors are like, “Maybe we’ll give you antidepressants.” They have a tragic effect on me. I got a twitch. They gave me Zoloft or Prozac or something like that. I was twitching and I’m like, “Are we sure I’m depressed?”Burnout is what happens long term when you sacrifice your sleep, diet, and exercise. Click To Tweet
You’ve been in the wellness space for a while. You’ve got a compelling wellness backstory. You know what works for you and what doesn’t, and what works for other people. Have you worked with any wellness companies or people that are in the wellness space as well? Do you have any strategic partnerships that bring a lot to that space for you?
I’ve worked for actual wellness companies. I’ve helped them launch products because I’m a huge believer of homeopathics and herbal remedies over medicine. What saved my life was not the Prozac. It was a radical change in diet, sleep, exercise, lifestyle and choices. With that, I adapted gyms and supplements and natural products that I’m eating. I’m not eating anything processed and utilizing anything from essentials to homeopathics. There have been various companies I’ve worked with over the years whose products I believe in. I don’t use anything chemical anymore at all, and that includes makeup, shampoo, food and sunscreen.
I’ve been doing the same thing. I was looking for very specific herbal remedies for very specific things on YouTube. This person happened to have this long list that scrolled as they talked about what you do in the morning and, without being a chemical fanatic, how many chemicals you expose yourself to just by taking a shower, doing your hair before you even adjusted anything? How much you put on your skin and on your body? It was near 200. I think about organic food, but I don’t think about organic products nearly the same way. I thought, “I’ll just get rid of some of these. I think there’s automatically going to be a health benefit.”
What’s interesting is your skin absorbs the chemicals faster than your stomach absorbs them. I grew up very hippie, just to be very clear. I was speaking to my massage therapist, and as a chairman who grew up in Waldorf schools, we’ve been using Belita and Dr. Hauschka products since I was a baby. I’m a Belita baby so I’ve never had regular products on my skin until I came to America. With that, my health declined quickly. That’s something I highly recommend people to look in. Your mental wellbeing and ability to build plasticity, and your focus and being highly productive greatly depends on what toxins you take in. That’s not just through your gut and the food, but also through the chemicals that you use in the products.
I asked about some of the general genres that you’ve worked in. I know that we’ve overlapped even in the fact that I’m in blockchain and fintech, which seems a huge leap, but that’s why I love what you do because it’s so translatable. You take the basics like diet, sleep, exercise and it’s not like these are simple things, they’re actually quite complicated. As an entrepreneur myself, I know how hard it is to stay on top of my wellness and my own self-care because I’m busy birthing this thing out into the world. Your skillset is so diverse. It’s not just that you’re in the wellness space and you stick to the wellness space. You talk with a lot of people in the venture capital world as well as in the entrepreneurial world and that entire ecosystem. I know that we met through so many different communities, but we also have some overlap in the blockchain space. Can you talk about any of the companies or what you’ve worked on in terms of blockchain specific solutions or people that are working on that stuff?
I don’t consider myself being in the wellness space because I’m in leadership development. I might be a practitioner and I emphasize this component unto leadership development, but that’s because I have always worked in tech and innovation. If you have a love for technology and innovation, it’s almost impossible to not end up at a friend’s seat in the blockchain. If you’re focusing on helping leaders, entrepreneurs, and visionaries create something extraordinary. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to give them the information and learning I’ve had for the last few years, including wellness because I don’t want you to burnout as you’re building something visionary. That’s why I ended up in that space being fascinated with innovation as a tech pioneer myself. This is the only place I want to be when there’s something new happening that’s fascinating, that’s challenging the status quo. I want to bring in thought leadership forums into the leadership development and principles for the senior teams that as rebuilding them, that will assure that you will be more successful.
Wellness is a component of leadership but the focus is the output of leadership.
I love building businesses and I want you to be successful. That’s where my interests lie. What’s so important, especially in the blockchain space, is we have a real opportunity to do things differently. We’re reinventing industry sectors, we’re using a new form of technologies. We have globally decentralized teams that allow us to reflect schedules. That allows women to have a whole completely different role in it because our need for flex schedule typically comes along with children. It used to push us out of the marketplace. If there’s a company that has a whole flex schedule and decentralized teams, that becomes irrelevant because everyone has a flex schedule. All of a sudden, you have more opportunities. You have more equality. Inequality goes away. It doesn’t become a moral and social issue of inclusion. It’s like everyone is doing it. It’s more effective.
I know how it works. I’ve been in the global innovation space for over twelve years on top of bringing in real thought leadership and concepts that can help people thrive in those environments and help them shape this. That’s why I wanted to be in blockchain and support founders in that environment to not burn out. If you’re on a plane every day three times a week, there are things you can do that will protect you from burnout, which we have seen. I’ve been in this for a long time. What I learned from working in the VC world and working in a more traditional space of investing, startups, technology, and data is a couple of things. I learned that 92% of those startup founders are chronically depressed and burned out. It’s costing us over $400 billion a year. That stuff is real. We already know those. We have the data for it because unlike blockchain, the traditional VC world has been around a little longer so we have time to collect that data. Lifestyle choices are no different. The principles apply here too. Let’s be smart and take what we learned and apply it as we’re building this.
To speak to the future of work and decentralized teams and decentralized work, I just want to underscore that you’re on this call with me from Tulum, Mexico. You were on the beach. It’s part of your life. You’ve architected a pretty smart solution.With blockchain spaces, we have a real opportunity to do things differently. Click To Tweet
It’s not for everyone but it works for me. I work with teams in Asia, I work with teams in Europe, I work with teams in the US. I try to keep myself in time zones that are favorable close to airports where I can go in and out of towns. I’m going to fly in New York then I’m going to fly to Europe, and this is a good airport. The East Coast time zone is always good. It’s the same line. It’s a few hours to Europe. It’s still okay. It’s twelve hours with Asia so it’s manageable. West Coast becomes too hard. Australia also is tough for me. From a quality of life perspective, I like to be in a place that’s not New York in the winter while maintaining my efficiencies and being able to work. I got up at six because I started my calls at 7:30 with Europe. I had another call with Asia before anything else because it’s 7:00 for them. It works. Some people think I’m on permanent vacation. I had a couple of calls with Asia where I worked from 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM. That’s not a problem for me because I can sleep in a little bit. I just went to the beach in the morning at 8:00 to take a little beach walk because that recalibrates my adrenals. It gives me the opportunity to not suffer burnout from having odd working hours. To me, that’s just smart business.
In terms of smart business, what have you gotten to peek in on as a leadership coach and almost an outsource CEO for so many companies? In the blockchain space, do you have any specific experience with some of the innovations that are coming out in this very new spot? It sounds that not only distributed teams are a big part of this distributed ledgers, distributed teams, distributed health, and distributed coaching. Do you have any experience with your blockchain innovators that you’ve been talking with?
What I see across the board are common pain points. They are signs of fatigue from a lot of traveling very fast-paced environments and being in a different time zone and a different climate with a different diet with food.
That’s the case for me. I’ve seen so many people going through ICO or STO that are going to Asia to do a lot of their fundraising. To do that, you have to go over for a couple of months at a time because it’s just too much to go back and forth. I see so many people getting burned out as they try to stay on this treadmill schedule of being in all of the right events all the time. I myself have done it and it’s challenging to stay ahead of the fatigue.
There is a bit of smart planning and that comes into play and prioritization that you eliminate things at fault and take on the “hell yeses” in one time zone, take the climate and environment and bounce around within that construct, and then move into a different one and bounce around within that. It might seem that you’re missing out, but you’re going to be more present. There are also products and supplies to take with you to assure consistency in diet, sleep, and exercise. There are habits you can develop. Meditation practices while on airplanes will help you recalibrate and go into deeper stages of meditation so that you’re getting into those delta waves when you’re missing out sleep. It’s more effective than trying to sleep or taking sleeping pills. That’s important to understand. Like any entrepreneur, it’s being super clear that you have regular team meetings. The faster you grow, the more often you have to have meetings for clarity to stay on the execution roadmap so that you do not become a chaos agent and a micromanager and end up confusing the whole team that nobody knows what’s going on anymore because you’re just on the plane raising funds and doing this.
Just take that one hour a week to have a team call and commit to prioritization. Just be clear for that week only and this is for rapid iteration. It’s so important, especially in the blockchain industry. I’m in slowing down now because things are changing. It’s an hour a day, it’s an hour a week to say, “Where are we today? What’s still relevant? What moved us forward? What’s not moving us forward? Where are we going to put it? Where are we going to redirect? What did we will learn last week?” You’re in a new industry sector. You have to just sit there every week and be like, “What moved us forward? What’s in the actual working? What was the hypothesis that’s not working? Where are we pivoting? Where are we going?” What you see as visionaries, they want teams to delegate to. They want the executive decision makers, but they want them to just delegate it to. They forget to inspire, they forget to include, and they forget to engage. In their visionary space, they may be a good founder or visionary, but not necessarily a good CEO. Most of the time, it’s very unlikely that they would fulfill any COO function.
COO is very different than CEO.
A visionary founder can be very different from the CEO too. Make sure you’re delegating to the people that can fulfill these functions so that you have the right connections to the team so you’re not becoming micromanaging. My point is it’s just a chaos agent where there’s a disconnect between vision and execution. Unfortunately, it’s very common. Make sure you get the right people in the right places to take these things over and everybody is where they need to be. Remember that when you have a team member that wants to work for a visionary, it is your job to inspire, not just delegate. It’s always this inherent disconnect between visionary founder wanting to delegate, team members wanting to work for visionary founders to feel inspired and engaged. You’re like, “You need to learn this so we can have that.”
I often say to people that worked for me, “If I wanted children, I would’ve had them. If I can’t hand it off to you and not micromanage you, then this isn’t a good fit. You need to know better for yourself. You need to manage yourself at some point. I want to hand it and I don’t want to be doing your job for you or checking in all the time.” It’s not everybody’s style. Finding that right synergy with a team that is the right style for you is important, especially when you’re working on new technology. It’s going to change all the time. Even with our business, we’re starting on one micro-specific idea of what to do with our technology, and then so many iterations happen. There’s so much innovation happening on the tech side that we realize that we have a lot of marketing innovation that we had to focus on as well. Where’s the new frontier when you look at a new space like blockchain? It’s very challenging.
It’s super challenging. It’s important to remember that if you’re not the delegating type and you’re more the visionary, hire somebody who’s doing the project management and the delegation and the team inspiration. It’s well worth the hire.
I want to say thank you so much for joining us. It was nice to hear your insights about how to keep people inspired, how to stay on track, how to deal with the future of work. I can’t wait to share this with our whole audience. It’s going to be wonderful. Thanks again, Silvia, for joining us. I will make sure to include all of your links below.
Thank you so much for having me.
About Silvia Christmann
Silvia is an executive and business coach who’s spent the last 12 years working with leaders and their teams in fast-paced environments giving them frameworks for success. She focuses on working with senior management teams during periods of rapid growth giving them clarity and focus to take decisive action. Silvia works with teams to help them avoid pitfalls and uncover blind spots, keeping teams motivated and transforming founders into effective leaders.
Her mission is to maximize the global impact by curating human potential. She loves working with people who dare to care, challenge dated systems, and transform the status quo.
Her clients are visionaries and change-makers, driven to create change by building innovative businesses and being authentic leaders who are grounded in a meaningful life well-lived.
Her integrated frameworks provide the foundation needed to overcome modern obstacles and create clarity for effective execution.
Silvia was born in Germany and raised across Europe. She has worked in more than seven international markets and is currently based in NYC. She’s cultivated a high level of cross-cultural competence, which has allowed her to establish a global client base. Before starting her boutique practice in 2012, she was responsible for scaling three startups, two real estate marketing agencies, and MediaRadar, a leading Adtech firm in NYC that recently sold for $83 million. She helped to scale each company from 4-80 people while growing the revenue from zero to the first million in sales. From 2010-2012, Silvia worked with Lincoln Square Advisors, a private equity consulting firm, as their VP of Strategy
Over the past 9 years, Silvia has worked closely with tech entrepreneurs, health and wellness founders, globally distributed teams in the travel industry, hedge fund managers, private equity firms, physicians, real estate sales teams, as well as C-level executives at companies like Google, Bridgewater, PWC, Deutsch, and Tom’s, among many others. She is a frequent speaker on the “Future of Work” at conferences around the world, has taught leadership workshops at Columbia University and Fortune 100 companies, and has been featured in INC., Forbes and Entrepreneur magazine.