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GeekWire Summit 2018

What do you want out of your professional life?  Is there a gap between where you are and where you want to be?  If you are ready to develop yourself and your leadership, or to address daunting business challenges now’s the time to do so with professional coaching.

2018 GeekWire Summit has partnered with the International Coach Federation (ICF) to bring you – the innovator, entrepreneur, business executive, media or tech leader – the opportunity to experience a one-on-one coaching session with a top ICF Credentialed Coach who knows your industry and speaks your language. 

Founded in 1995, ICF is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches. With almost 30 thousand members spanned across 137 countries worldwide, ICF seeks to advance the art, science and practice of professional coaching.

Our local experienced coaches will answer your questions, walk you through ‘state of the art’ research encompassing modern day workplace challenges, and provide an overview of proven solutions using a systemic coach-centric approach to help get you (or your team) where you want to go.

Help us Shape Your Experience at the Summit

What is Coaching? from ICF Headquarters

Articles by our member coaches

  • Tuesday, August 28, 2018 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    Contributed by: Executive Coach Margo Myers

    Is Your Communication Style Holding You Back? How Coaching Transformed One Leader’s Approach to Sales

    As a Vice President of Technology Services, my client was often brought in as a 'fixer' to solve the complicated needs of his company's clients. Joe* loved being in this position and got an adrenaline rush from being 'the guy' with the answers. Plus, he loved to talk. I mean REALLY. LOVED. TO. TALK.

    And then, this method no longer worked as successfully as it used to. Joe's solutions weren’t always on point. He found himself going down rabbit holes on other topics, and instead of helping build rapport, he was losing his audience. That's when his boss brought me in as an executive coach to help.

    Over the course of our coaching engagement, Joe realized he needed to shift from talking mode to listening mode. It's made a huge difference in how he approached client meetings. He shifted from 'talking to explain' to 'asking questions and listening to understand.' Plus, he noticed his shift in energy during the meetings, and how to stay ‘on topic.’

    What we accomplished through coaching

    1. Active listening means observing what's being said, as well as what's NOT being said.

    A successful salesperson who actively listens is someone who listens not just to the words, but to the tone, the inflection, the body language and to what's not being said. We can listen with our entire bodies, not just our ears. My client learned to watch what was happening with the other people in the room by reading the ‘whole person’ and their body language; not just the words being spoken.

    2. Listening means allowing others to take center stage.

    Joe likes to be the center of attention. He feeds on it. And it has been hard to let this go. When you are actively listening, you are taking a step back to really listen. That means giving up your ego to hear the other person. It's okay. Joe learned his words carry more weight when he uses them more judiciously, and not just talk to be talking.

    3. Listening means engaging with others.

    Ask questions. And then listen to the answers. Don't go into the conversation just to be the expert. Go into the conversation to hear the other person's concerns, perspective or opinion. Be curious. Joe found that by asking questions first, instead of coming in to 'fix' the clients' problems, his solutions are better received. He's understanding their true needs, not just what he thinks they need.

    Coaching helped Joe become aware of the emotions and physical feelings he experienced as a ‘fixer.’ Through coaching, he developed strategies for controlling the adrenaline rush, and he's now a better listener. He asks more questions to truly understand customer needs – which in turn, is improving client relationships. Joe can offer more effective solutions to client issues.

    * The name of this client has been changed to keep his identity confidential.

    Margo Myers is a certified executive coach who is also credentialed by the ICF. As a former TV news anchor, she coaches leaders on confident communication, executive presence and presentation skills. Learn more at

  • Thursday, August 23, 2018 2:56 PM | Anonymous

    Contributed by: Leadership Coach Kristiina Hiukka, M.A. PCC, CPCC 

  • Thursday, August 23, 2018 2:47 PM | Anonymous
    Contributed by: Leadership Coach Micheline Germanos, PCC

    The Coaching Case: A Matter of Trust

    As coaches, we have many of the tools of effective facilitation in our toolboxes. Curiosity, openness, and the ability to listen both for what is and is not being explicitly said, are all essential for working successfully with groups. Being genuinely empathetic to the issues the team is grappling with and providing direct, yet respectful feedback is as useful with a group as it is in our individual coaching work. I have found that working with teams once every quarter or so complements my individual coaching work and allows me to feel temporarily part of a tribe—probably the only aspect of my past corporate life that I sometimes miss.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to do exactly that when one of the sales leaders I coach wanted to bring her leadership team together to enhance their collaboration and overall effectiveness in a year of dramatic change.

    The situation: A strong and charismatic leader who needs to implement deep strategic, executive and organizational changes. A leadership team dispersed across Russia, where ongoing tension between Moscow and the other regions fuels the lack of trust quietly growing within the team. A two-day off-site workshop intended to create a different mindset within the team.

    As my client and I explored the key issues preventing the team from operating at its best, the theme of trust—or, rather, the lack of trust—arose again and again. This was exacerbated by the fact that only half the team was based in Moscow. The further a team member worked from the city, the likelier that his or her trust in the team had given way to defiance and frustration. We agreed that she had to bring all of the leaders on her team together to address the situation and scheduled a two-day off-site workshop in Moscow.

    My client recognized that she could be biased in her own assessment and welcomed my offer to interview the 20 participants in advance to get a complete, unbiased picture of the situation. Those interviews revealed critical information that guided the agenda and contributed to the overall success of the workshop. I learned that the regional teams felt the challenges they were faced with were not appreciated by the central team; as a result, they felt less valued. The Moscow team, on the other hand, believed their regional counterparts weren’t sufficiently transparent about the issues they faced. Their constant probing and requests for weekly reviews and reports fueled the regional teams’ belief that they were treated as “less-than.” Consequently, every communication glitch, however minor or unintentional, fed into these beliefs and perpetuated the cycle of distrust.

    In addition to providing valuable insights, these interviews helped me create a connection with each participant. They also signaled that their leader valued their perspective.

    Insight: Pre-workshop efforts played an essential role in the success of the workshop. Never underestimate the power of understanding and connecting.

    I began the workshop by asking each participant to share a piece of information that their colleagues did not know about them. It was incredible to watch them become more open to one another as they discovered that the person they talked to on the phone every week was also a flutist, sang in a choir, had founded a professional dancing school or was passionate about baroque music. Suddenly, these colleagues were also people—people who had interests, hobbies and talents that they shared or could relate to.

    I also consciously ensured that the breaks during the workshops would promote deeper connections.

    Because food is the ultimate connector, we all went to a cooking class at the end of day one. I enjoyed watching the participants build trust and enjoy themselves as they prepared salads, whisked eggs and made jokes about their creativity and cooking skills.

    In addition, each time we broke for lunch, I asked participants to sit with a colleague they did not know well and leverage the opportunity to create or deepen their connection.

    Insight: The need for connection is powerful, and it’s anchored in each one of us. We will naturally seize any meaningful opportunity to connect with our fellow humans.

    During the pre-workshop interviews, I had uncovered an essential piece of information: Most of the team members were not aware that the frustration they felt with their current dynamic was shared by their peers.

    When I projected the slides summarizing themes that had emerged from the interviews, the team members realized that in addition to sharing hobbies and interests, they also shared the frustration generated by their common challenges and issues. (I also let attendees know that, for a topic to be included on the slides, I needed to have heard it from at least three interviewees.) This realization was so comforting and relieving that it caused a shift in the room: Suddenly, it felt natural for the attendees to engage in the difficult conversations that they had been avoiding.

    I invited attendees to take a quick vote on the top five challenges their team was facing and form self-selected breakout groups to address each challenge. During the morning on day two, each group shared its findings and proposed a course of action. From there, we mapped out a “resolution path” for each challenge with an identified owner, action items and a timeline.

    The participants agreed to review the action items in each staff meeting, and I enlisted their human resources business partner, who was invited to the workshop, to be their “conscience” and hold them accountable for the commitments they made during their two days together.

    Two key decisions that emerged from the workshop had the potential to address multiple challenges. First, participants agreed that the regional leaders would each make plans to spend several days in Moscow shadowing organizational leaders and participating in customer and staff meetings. They also agreed that, moving forward, the agenda for staff meetings would include a space for each leader to share a top-of-mind subject or concern and ask for support and advice.

    By the end of the workshop, participants had increased their understanding of their peers and their leader and they all felt more confident about tackling the business challenges at hand. As they wrote in the formal surveys I handed over to them, they left with an increased level of trust in their collective capabilities. In doing so, they took meaningful steps on their journey to becoming a high-performing team.

    Trust is multilayered, and its cultivation requires relentless focus. After the workshop, the team members continued to build on the foundation they had laid. In the five months since the workshop, they have increased their commitment to sharing top-of-mind concerns and expectations on a regular basis, representing a huge shift from how they’d communicated previously.

    The leaders are taking their newfound sense of collaboration and team spirit into their own teams, creating a ripple effect that’s changing the organization for the better. They have even created an anonymous mailbox employee can use to voice questions to the leadership teams. The mailbox has evolved into an important tool for collecting feedback and staff suggestions, and the process of managing it and responding to questions and concerns has helped tap into the wisdom and experience of every team member.

    As humans, we fear what we do not understand. However, we can overcome this instinctive perceived threat when provided the opportunity to do so in a safe environment. Marie Curie says it eloquently in her quote, a favorite of mine, so relevant to our coaching work “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

    Micheline Germanos, PCC

    Micheline is a executive, leadership Coach, speaker and Team facilitator who provides business leaders and their teams with a uniquely valuable perspective by combining 25-plus years of versatile, international business and leadership experience with deep coaching skills, EQ, intuition and empathy. Visit Micheline’s website at, connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter: @inspir2transfrm.

  • Wednesday, August 15, 2018 6:10 PM | Anonymous

    Contributed by: Leadership Coach Kristiina Hiukka, M.A. PCC, CPCC


    Although often hard to define, executive presence is expected of V- and C-level professionals. People say “you just know when people have it or not”. Leaders know they must embody executive presence to influence others and drive results. It is the ability to operate, communicate and lead - even under pressure - with poise, confidence, decisiveness and dignity.

    When the CEO of a software design firm hired me for Susan, he told me that “Susan (not her real name) is brilliant but needs more executive presence to be taken seriously as a C-level executive, and potentially as the future CEO.”


    Based on the conversations with Susan and 360 interviews with several people around her, we were able to identify three areas of focus for our coaching:

    1) Ability to express executive presence.

    2) Manage the work-load.

    3) Take a clear stance and make strategic decisions.

    The assessment (Core Value Index) helped us understand her motivations and revealed that she was well suited for her current position in the controller and operations functions because she tends to conserve, analyze and inform. In addition, we also discovered that she is even more of an “innovator” – a person who loves problem-solving. This means that she is energized by solving complex challenges but has less patience for process and interest in selling.

    Over the 9 months of coaching sessions (weekly or bi-weekly phone or Skype) she became clear on her leadership philosophy and principles and how those related to her company’s vision and mission. She clarified her personal values and found an authentic way to express them. In the sessions she practiced “tough conversations” when she had to lay off people and how to communicate her vision.


    At the end, I conducted another set of interviews. All of the respondents reported positive changes in Susan’s executive presence. Most concluded that she would be able to step up as a CEO. They also said the following: “She has more presence and confidence as a leader.” “She has always been a strong leader but now she handles tough situations with a new confidence.” “She is decisive with her feedback and intention. You always know where she stands.” “Everyone looks to Susan for inspiration and guidance. She is very respected. She can lead from everywhere – she is always present.”

    I also asked Susan to assess the impact of coaching. She reported that she is now more successful in

    1) Embodying and expressing her executive presence (being confident about her leader’s voice).

    2) Managing her work-load (delegating and letting others lead).

    3) Making strategic – and hard - decisions (e.g. providing direction during lay offs).

    Leadership Coach Kristiina Hiukka, M.A. PCC, CPCC / 425.462.6613