4 Coaching & Beyond was created during a significantly challenging year, as a gathering initiative aiming to democratize business development processes governed by authenticity: organizational culture, coaching, consultancy, training, and mentoring. We set the stage to discover Cristina Velio, Mădălina Cobăleanu, Remus Bucur, and Valentin Danielescu, founders of this concept, so we asked them a few questions. Before looking at their answers, we are sharing a few points from the open conversation we had together. Their diverse backgrounds, education, and experiences offer a wide range of expertise (from cultural differences applied in business environments and leadership and all the way to internal structuring, activity management and organizational culture) that can be leveraged into the companies’ growth strategy with mid to long term results.
C&B: What is the 4 Coaching & Beyond portal?
Remus Bucur: „Our portal is a virtual space that allows you to meet the four founders, both from a descriptive perspective (few words about who they are, ICF – International Coaching Federation and LinkedIn profiles) and from their mindset perspective, which can be tapped into by reading the weekly articles on the blog.
Many times, especially during a crisis (like the one we have now), companies are almost exclusively oriented on survival at any cost, placing efficiency on lower importance places. While the “at any cost” piece is far from being a negative parameter of a company’s life, it fosters the appearance of systemic inefficiencies that many times are not quantified by the entrepreneur or the decision maker. On medium and long term, these inefficiencies tend to become the norm, the foundation of the status quo for most employees’ generations.
4 Coaching & Beyond aims to democratize these business processes by defining (and de-mystifying) key components: accessibility of services and theoretical concepts with critical business impact, specific definition and articulation of business and organizational objectives, clarity about steps needed to achieve said objectives, defining the client’s specific solution, and finally, what is and what is not possible.
For instance, a significant chunk of activity inefficiency is related to excessive fragmentation. The perception that multitasking brings a great deal of benefits is false (what we perceive multi-tasking is, in fact, a constant switch between several activities fragments) as it brings massive redundancy and imposes significant resuming time.”
C&B: When was the idea born and how did you assemble in this formula?
Cristina Velio: „The concept was born in 2018, but the story of the founders originates in 2013. Two very competitive work environments allowed us to meet and discover similar personal values and aligned beliefs.
Over the years our relationship grew based on trust and respect, which allowed us to discover the value offered by our professional development. The highlight of our discovery was to learn (in 2016) that we were formed by the same mentors with impeccable professional deontology.
The following years (2018 with the first version of the idea for this concept and 2019 with a second version, just as shy) provided the grounds for us to accumulate experience and build up energy to consolidate this concept. And the trigger was 2020’s spring when we had the immense opportunity to rediscover ourselves and our common goals.
For 6 months we identified significant opportunities to reinvent how we do business, how we position towards our clients and how we look at our personal projects. We exposed (and will continue to do so) a fair share of these thoughts on our blog hoping to foster curiosity and desire to learn. This also led to our idea of democratizing development processes.
This democratization is all about complete and authentic transparency on the relationship between clients and their goals. Although this relationship seems implicit, direct and immutable, we have observed numerous instances in which decision makers’ thought process was significantly diverted by noise, perceived as valuable pieces of information. This noise is difficult to quantify without a tool or companion that aims to make you aware. After all, we are all going through moments when we need support, regardless if this need is generated in the professional or personal sides of our life. Not to mention that 2020 accelerated volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity which usually lowers our ability to focus.
We are approaching each client having in mind their specific context and factor in the current challenges: while at the end of 2019 everyone was part of a competitive environment, 2020 brought additional unpredictable components such as the governmental focus on social protection. Consequently, in 2021 we will see an increasing need for a radically different intervention to maintain edge and counterbalance the unpredictability of the COVID-19 era. This is our value proposition.
We are building each relationship with a friendly and generous offer for each business vertical or business type (for instance, non-profit organizations).
We are focusing our efforts towards delivering value rather than delivering marketing campaigns. This means that we need to increase the time we invest explaining what we do.”
C&B: What was your vision during childhood? How about now?
Valentin Danielescu: “During childhood we used to hear the classic: what do you want to be when you grow up? in a more conversational rather than productive way. We don’t know how often we responded to that. And with four different versions for an answer (from airplane pilot and veterinarian to astronaut and commander and finishing with football player) we had different visions for what we wanted to become. Both between ourselves and to ourselves.
Decades later, the question comes with a twist: What do you want to gain, now that you’re grown up? The paradigm shift from a ROLE (what do you want to be?) towards impact (what do you want to achieve?) brings a completely different positioning into the role we are willing to take in society.
During childhood, none of us knew about coaching. The educational system (oriented towards solutions, not questions/discovery) did not have the gift to enable us in this direction. We needed several decades of trial and error (education by doing) and multi-cultural exposure to become aware of the fact that questions are more important than answers. The emergence of the labor market in Romania has enabled us to practice (in one way or another) the coaching skills that we discovered while attending coaching schools.
Our experiences, both personal and business ones, have brought us to this convergence where the focal point became the Client. With a capital C.”
C&B: How did the pandemic influence your activity?
Madalina Cobaleanu: ”The pandemic allowed us to remember what binds us. And we rediscovered ourselves: some in Romania, ”strapped” in office chairs at home, others surprised during travels to foreign lands, for which reason our patience was significantly challenged (3-4 months of lockdown far from home) not to mention our financial management abilities.
Thus, 4 Coaching & Beyond has been born from the ideas of 2018 and became an anchor point both for its founders and for anyone who is aware of the necessity for accompanying during these uncertain times. For us, crisis moments became pivoting moments towards “something else” and we want to use this experience to be there for other professionals who are re-inventing themselves. We say it in this manner to avoid corporate clichés that are somewhat irritable for a good portion of the market.
We are at the point where we can build a community of people that want to use this opportunity to grow their business. We feel this period has changed all of us, as humans, and we believe it showed us many positive aspects of us, as a species.
Coaching is one of the instruments that we place in our partners’ toolset that has the gift of deeply exploring these aspects. Coaching is joined by other methodologies with the purpose of increasing the business environment.”
C&B: What advice do you have for those just beginning or indecisive?
Cristina Velio:”Permanently explore new opportunities to reach their goals, find like-minded people, build a plan and gather the strength to start. Then, be prepared to constantly learn, possibly more from failures than successes”
C&B: How does society and entrepreneurs in Romania see your vision?
Valentin Danielescu: ”Romania is a land of all opportunities. We are an emerging entity (both from the labor market and new business development standpoints), fact which enables many growths, learning and influencing opportunities. You know the saying: if we could do it…
Probably one of the often forgotten or underestimated components is that of influence. We have the possibility to influence the way in which future generations are educated. Both directly by delivering a correct curriculum, or indirectly by influencing the way in which this curriculum is built. Here most likely we still have space to learn.
An important aspect to consider is that of cultural differences between generations. If early 00’ (when Fabrica de Glucoza street used to see a Dacia 1310/1400 every 40’) jobs were marketed in the national newspaper (print version). Today you can find multiple options of social media platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram also), some even going beyond continental borders. If in early 00’ activity breaks meant a cigarette (most likely on the fire escape), today breaks can (involuntarily) be a simple Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp scroll. If you also smoke; break time can increase by waiting for the elevator or simply moving back and forth from the smoking spot.
The purpose is not to demonize generations or working preferences – we know everyone can identify their role in society under one shape or another. What we propose is awareness of reality and implementation of working ways that consider our diversity as a species”