Careers: Interviews
Caroline New, International Authority in Coaching, Training, Communications, Writing, Public Relations and Marketing

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Caroline New.

Caroline NewCaroline New is an experienced trainer and business consultant who spent 25+ years consulting to companies in the area of business communications, writing, public relations and marketing.

An expert business writer, Caroline has delivered for her clients thousands of media releases, columns, articles, case studies, annual reports, speeches and presentations, in addition to website copy, advertising and promotional materials.

Graduating in 1984 with a Bachelor of Business Communications (Journalism) from the Queensland Institute of Technology (now QLD University of Technology), Caroline worked as a broadcast journalist and newsreader (4BK and 2WS) before moving into in-house corporate communications.

Since 1991, she has consulted – both directly and as a sub-contractor within other consulting firms – to a large number of ICT-related organisations, providing both strategic and practical assistance. Her clients have included the Australian Computer Society, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, NetComm, PeopleSoft and more.

Although more focused today on her training and coaching business, she continues to provide writing services to a small group of long-term clients, including delivering a ghost-written column for The Australian each fortnight.

Caroline began coaching and training in 2004 and is highly regarded as a trainer and presenter on all topics of business communications, professional and personal development, integrity in business and values-based leadership. She is an expert at engaging individuals and groups in meaningful conversations that cut to the core issues of behaviour and performance.

Caroline is one of a small group of trainers accredited to deliver the Integrity and Values Leadership Program and holds Master Practitioner certifications in NLP, Time Line and Temporal Dynamics. She is also an experienced executive assessor and has participated in scores of assessment centres for senior government and business executives. She has completed dozens of training programs in business and personal leadership, coaching techniques, advanced communication and presentation skills, marketing, social media and more.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

PARTIAL EXTRACTS AND QUOTES FROM THE EXTENSIVE DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:27: What were the milestones and lessons that led to your current roles?
"....It's been a bit of a journey. I began my career as a journalist and newsreader in radio, moved into technology marketing and that's been a mainstay of my career since. Public relations, communications and consulting in the technology space...I love this sector. Over the years I've worked a lot with professional associations and that's been a theme through my tech career. But I guess it's the personal journal that always drives the professional journey, so there's been moments in my life that that have been teaching-learning points....It's been an amazing 30 years of my career this far and there's still lots to do and lots of opportunities moving forward as well...."

:02:22: You have a fantastic background and I know you are very busy and heavily scheduled because of the high demand for your elite expertise. How is it being expressed in your current roles and what are your current roles?
"....My communications and public relations business is in the tech stream where I work with a few organizations (mostly long term clients that are very much grouped around the area of professionalism and professional associations). That's the PR side of things....Over the last 13 years I've developed my roles as a coach and leadership trainer, facilitator and executive assessor. I work with business leaders, senior executives, C-level executives assessing their capabilities, strengths in the area of opportunities for development. I work with them to build leadership, enhance their ability to lead, inspire, develop change and to grow leaders within their organization and help them to achieve their goals...."

  I am going to ask you a series of questions on different areas of your background and would like you to provide some tips in each of your areas of expertise (and if possible a short case study or example illustrating the points).

:04:35: Let's start with executive coaching, can you share some tips?
"....As an executive coach I have a number of clients in the IT industry, but also across government, consulting firms and small business. Part of my role is to assist the clients in terms of their values, attitudes and behaviors and I use a range of profiling tools to assess that. I teach various tools and strategies to enhance leadership and a big focus is to engage in accountability conversations with their teams. My job as a coach is to create a safe space for my clients to explore their issues and challenges, to help them find the solutions and strategies for their problems, and what I do more than anything else is to ask questions. I'll challenge their thinking, assumptions and hold them to account - it's my job to say the things that others won't say....If I were to offer a tip for managers or leaders wanting to coach their staff, I'd say use questions to make them think. When one of your staff members or team comes to you with a question, rather than just fixing it and creating a dependence on you, push back and ask them what they think needs to happen. Then have them go away and come back with three suggestions and tell you which one they would recommend. Once they've thought about it, then you as the manager can sit down and give them feedback on their ideas and recommendations and help to refine their thinking, but get them to do the work first....Another tip is also to be ready to let them fail. We will learn much more from our failures than we can from our successes. Good leaders will let their people be free to try and give them some space and autonomy to actually take on the challenge and try new initiatives...."

:10:40: How about applying these kinds of ideas to executive training and what are some of your lessons and tips in that area?
"....When I'm working in executive training I tend to work with executive teams (which might be seven to ten people in a room together working through a leadership program). So in that context we'll have monthly training and coaching to ground the learning. The first thing I teach an executive team is how to hold people accountable. I give them context around different communication styles and the impacts of those and I give them specific tools and strategies to enable them to communicate in an assertive way....The big focus is on taking responsibility, to take ownership of what they can do and then encourage their colleagues in the team to similarly take ownership, and together as a team to work together to be really clear on the vision, mission and values of the organization. Then as an executive team really work together to drive those outcomes over a period of time...."

:13:31: What are some of the lessons as a business growth strategist?
"....If I was to pick one key thing as a business growth strategy then having the right culture is absolutely critical in an organization, because that affects everything you do. The culture affects how you communicate, drive goals, support people within your organization and making sure that the people you bring into the organization are a good fit. (If you bring in someone who is not a good fit culturally that will actually drag down the culture inside of the organization). Once you know the culture that you want, you can workshop and develop that with key people within your organization, and then you need to communicate those clearly and often and hold people accountable for their performance....We know from research that recognition is much more motivating in the workspace than money. There's a great book by Daniel Pink called Drive: The surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He talks about the fact that money can actually be a demotivator or disincentive if it's not provided consistently, whereas recognition is something that people will really warm to and seek. When it's provided in an appropriate place it can be a fantastic motivator...."

18:35: What makes for compelling speaking?
"....The first thing is that speaking is a privilege....A really good speaker will take time to prepare well and will offer relevant, interesting and valuable content to the audience. You've got to deliver that content in a way that makes it really accessible to your audience (telling stories, bringing the material to life to make it memorable). As a trainer I use stories to ground concepts and messages I need to teach. (A story provides a structure for people to really look at their own lives and get insights, learnings and personal instances)....Other techniques that are specific to speaking are spatial anchoring (using different parts of the stage to highlight positive things and negative things). Really good speakers will use a lot of unconscious anchoring. That will work for different modalities (such as the visual and the kinesthetic modalities). A good speaker will use different techniques and different words and phrases from each modality to ensure that they are bringing along with them people from each of the modalities....Using visual aids, but not relying on them is really important...."

:26:13: How can an enterprise excel at corporate communications?
"....You have to be clear about your vision, purpose, mission and values and everything that you communicate has to support and be consistent with that....You need to understand your audience. Know who you are talking to and then tell your message accordingly. You won't be saying substantially different things to the different groups, you will just position it differently and appropriately....Today the focus is about engagement. We've gone beyond just feeding information out to our audience and expecting them to just take our static information and accept it, now it's very much a two-way street in terms of how organizations and corporations communicate and you are trying to encourage engagement. We want feedback, we want comments....Keep it positive. Be responsive to feedback and move quickly to address any issues that arise. As a company don't be afraid of criticism, listen to it and welcome any opportunities for improvement...Another rule of thumb in communication is always tell the truth. Don't lie to your customers. You may not tell all the truth if you are constrained by reporting issues or other boundaries, but never lie to your customers or your stakeholders. When you lose a customer's or a stakeholder's trust, it's very hard to get it back...."

:30:20: I know this a big specialty of yours as well. What makes for excellent public relations?
"....Public relations is about using communication for influence. Whether it is to develop product, promote an idea or initiate an event, you are trying to influence an audience to agree with your point of view and they have to take action....Consistency in messaging is key. You want to communicate with a similar tone and the same ideas across each platform....Responsiveness is key. You might only have fifteen minutes to respond, particularly if it's radio or television....Also it's very important to manage the pressure. Have that preparation time, create some time for yourself even if you've only got 10 minutes. I always say 'yes I'm in the middle of something, I'll call you back in 5' to give myself a little time to get my thoughts together - what are my key messages, my must-says?....Public relations is very much about training so that you can take advantage of these opportunities. These messages are usually developed well ahead in advance. It's just a matter of refreshing yourself about what are the things you are going to say....Public relations is very much about having those relationships with key journalists and key media outlets and building those by being responsive, available, reliable (if you say you are going to call them back, call them back)....My job is to provide them with valuable, useful, relevant content, whether it's my client or just written material so that they can use it and then want to come back to my client with more interviews in the future...."

:34:33: Fundamentally core to a lot of this is effective writing. What are your tips for effective writing?
"....I'm very passionate about effective writing and it is a lot of what I do whether it's press releases or thought leadership columns....Whenever I'm writing something, I read it aloud and if it doesn't make sense I'll rewrite it. I always use active language and make it as compelling, interesting and as easy to understand as I can. It's not just about what I say or what I write, it is about what the reader or the audience understands. Communication is what comes back....Use few words rather than more....One of the things that's happening through the advent of the internet is people have shorter attention spans, so they don't want to read a big chunk of content. They want to read and absorb information quickly and productively, so use bullet points, subheadings, highlight key phrases or quotes. People want to capture information quickly....Communicate in short chunks, keep your language succinct and to the point, and use stories and metaphors to bring the material alive and to ground it for them, and give them opportunities to consider how it might be relevant in their lives....."

:40:02: What makes a great executive?
"....Great leaders are constantly developing other leaders. They are not trying to do it themselves, they are empowering others and challenging people to grow, develop and achieve their potential. They will provide support, provide recognition and make sure their people feel appreciated....Great leaders are predictable. I don't mean they will do the same thing over and over again (although in some context they will). I mean they are consistent, reliable, they communicate with a level of authenticity and transparency so you always know where you stand with them....Great leaders will set the expectations and it's their job to communicate their vision and keep directing everything that happens within the organization to the vision, mission, values and goals of the organization....Great leaders will be the vision-bearers of the organization. They operate with integrity and they do what they say they'll do....Great leaders are also excellent communicators.....They will have strong interpersonal skills and great self-awareness skills....Great leaders welcome feedback. They will want people to hold them accountable....Great organizations and great leaders are constantly looking to improve...."

:44:35: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? Can you expand on professionalism and some of your recommendations?
"....You went through the hallmarks of professionalism, what a profession has, that you have demonstrated professional development, that you have a code of ethics, a code of professional conduct, that you take responsibility and there is public accountability, but there are professional standards and that there are recognized credentials and a core body of knowledge – these are the hallmarks of a profession....All sorts of businesses and organizations, more and more are going to conduct their transactions, business and customer relationship management on technology. It has to be on and has to perform so having professional standards, staying up-to-date, operating in line with a code of professional conduct and practice, being part of the community and practice and having those defined levels of knowledge - they will absolutely be critical to maintaining those professional standards...."

:50:34: How about ethics and your recommendations?
"....Yes, absolutely. Ethics are important because bodies like the Australian Computer Society, Canadian Information Processing Society, Association for Computing Machinery, the IEEE, IFIP as the global body - they have a role to play as the guardian of the user community, as in they are the voice of the ICT profession to hold them accountable. These professional associations can be the voice of the profession and the voice of the consumer in many instances to make sure technology is done in a trustworthy way....Technology must be trustworthy and that means the people who work with it need to be trustworthy and operate according to a code of ethics, and make sure technology is applied in a way that benefits users and does not harm or disadvantage them, and having that accountability is really important. And making sure that there is a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and in the public domain about inroads into privacy....."

:53:24: Can you share some stories of what seemed at the time like 'impossible' challenges that you were able to master?
"....As a coach and a trainer I go 'everything is possible, you just have to find the way', so I don’t buy into the word 'impossible'. I think it's about resourcefulness. There's a saying in the training industry that the level of resourcefulness you bring will determine how quickly you solve the problem, (not if, but how quickly)....Life is a journey and we're constantly growing and I'm the sort of person who puts myself in positions where I'm forced to grow fast because I really value growth. I value contribution and the contribution I can make to the life of my client increases exponentially with the amount of growth that I do, so I'm constantly growing. I deal with people and while people are pretty predictable they are also extremely challenging. My work really revolves around helping my clients solve their 'impossible challenges' and they are the sort of challenges that I take on a daily basis with my clients. My job is not to fix it for them, but to empower them to fix it themselves and to find their own innate wisdom. My job is to be a sounding board, the mirror, the challenger and to hold them accountable....The biggest challenges in my life are really the personal ones...."

:01:01:42: What are the important lessons that you have learned from your 'impossible' challenges?
"....We have a choice about how we deal with and respond to life. I talked earlier about working with executive teams and taking a position of responsibility and ownership and that's my choice as an individual in my life.....You can't change what you don't own. So I have to own the good and the bad in my life and then I can work through it and I can move forward, recognizing that I have a choice of how I deal with things. It's inevitable that we will meet these challenges and problems, but rather than let life beat up on me and giving in and playing the victim, I choose to live powerfully, I choose to live authentically....We all have a contribution to make. I don't think any of us are here by accident and as a coach I fundamentally believe that everyone is extraordinary and there's stuff that we do, some good and some not so good, but that's not who we are. We have enormous potential and it's a choice to step into that and to act from that as leaders that will dictate the level of contribution we make in the world...."

:01:06:02: You have many interests. Do you wish to talk about any of them at all?
"....As a coach and as a leadership trainer I encourage my clients to have balance in their lives, and of course I have to lead by example....I'm very committed to health and fitness....I'm a reading buff....a musician....The lesson for me - to really be true to the things that make my heart sing and to provide opportunities in my life for the things that fill me up....When I'm happy I can function better, I can serve people more effectively, my contribution is greater. I believe that I have a responsibility to kind of keep my tank full by doing the things that empower me and uplift me so then I am more able to bring my contribution to the world and to serve my clients and colleagues more effectively...."

:01:09:15: You choose the topic area. What do you see as some of the top broader challenges facing us today and some possible solutions?
"....There are things like climate change where I go 'that's an issue' and I do what I can do as an individual....The things that I worry about and that concern me are people issues. When people are inhumane to other people I struggle with that...."

:01:14:07: From your extensive speaking, travels, and work, can you share some stories (perhaps something amusing, surprising, unexpected or amazing)?
"....I have worked with extraordinary people and my philosophy as a life-long learner is always to learn from the best. So a lot of my trips around the world have been very much to go and learn and sit at the feet of someone I consider to be a master in the space and to learn from them so that I can do what I do better....Growth is as painful as we want to make it. The learnings are always there and the opportunities are always there and so being willing to kind of reflect on what we do and to look at our lives (not from a point of judgement but from an openness), and go okay what is happening right now in my life, what meaning am I giving it and what's the lesson here for me? How can I use this to actually grow as a person and be able to perform at a higher level, or bring you insights, or make a bigger contribution? As I said earlier on, it's who I become through the process of what I do that is the most important thing. That's what I tell my clients...."

:01:20:00: If you were conducting this interview, what question(s) would you ask, and then what would be your answer(s)?
"....If I were to pick a question right now, it might be about the future....What do you want to accomplish or achieve, where are you going right now that's influencing what you do in the moment?...."

:01:24:47: Caroline, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your deep experiences with our audience.

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