Style, manners, communication and body language. Topics that are extremely important in business today. In our interview this week we introduce you to Elena Lauber, coach and trainer with a lot of experience in this field. Here she tells us how she came to coaching on detours, why manners in the widest sense are so important in almost every area of life and why a dress is absolutely necessary for a business outfit.
Name: Elena Lauber
Family status: Long-term relationship
What is your job title? Coach and Trainer, owner of LebensArt
Where do you live? In Dusseldorf.
How would you sum up your life-style? I enjoy life – each day and to the maximum. Nothing is more exciting than life itself.
Hobbies: Finance, literature, politics
Do you follow a philosophy in life? Yes. Nothing will come of nothing.
What is your professional background?
I studied in Bucharest, where I earned a PhD in agricultural sciences and veterinary medicine. When I came to Germany, I first began working in the fashion industry. I then changed my focus to jewellery. Through watches I arrived at what would eventually become my speciality – diamonds. It has always been my dream to found a school. While technically I never did, as a coach and trainer – and by founding LebensArt – I am still fulfilling this dream of mine.
You have your own company as a coach and trainer for etiquette, communication and style, both for individuals and companies. Can you give us a brief insight into your concept?
At the company level, my specialties are in-house communication and the public image that employees convey (style, manners, body language, etc.). Goal-driven communication, for instance in sales pitches to customers, is another topic that I find extremely important and where I’m happy to pass on my knowledge and experience. For private customers, I offer comparable services. For instance, I help with inducting and developing household staff and personal assistants. Coaching young professionals and helping them make a confident impression are another aspect of my job that I enjoy a lot. All in all, however, it is my customers and their individual needs that matter most to me. Because what I regard as most essential for every form of interaction and style is also what is at the heart of my profession: an empathetic view on others, the environment, and yourself.
What motivated you to venture into self-employment?
Since I had always worked in a consulting role, at some point it became the logical next step for me. When I began receiving more and more requests, I was certain: Now is the time. At the same time, I have remained faithful to jewellery and still have a part-time job at Bulgari. Overall, thus, taking this step was easy for me – especially because I am convinced that there is demand for what I have to offer. Manners are not outdated and cannot be reduced to table manners alone. They are a fundamental element of a successful social life – no matter if professionally or privately.
What qualities or talents should you have as a coach?
As a good coach, I am empathetic and reflected, I can listen and observe well, I am trustful and honest – and, most importantly: goal-oriented.
Do you have more male or female customers?
At the company level, I have more male customers, whereas a majority of my private customers are female.
What are your most important experiences in coaching?
I have experienced over and over again how effective it is to create a dialogue between, on the one side, how you view yourself and, on the other side, how others view you. This is extremely powerful.
Do you think that women generally have to struggle harder in business?
I hardly dare to say this, but my answer is: No. Maybe I feel that way because I don’t know any women who wished for more than they accomplished or than they were ready to make sacrifices for. With regard to the things that I haven’t achieved (and there are numerous examples), I believe it’s because I did not prepare and engage myself sufficiently.
Styles4Work is an online shop focused on business fashion and business editorials. What is your estimation on specialized platforms and blogs for future trendsetting?
I find the ideas at Styles4Work fantastic. This is why I often recommend the platform. Every woman can find something that suits her here. The advice and tips, for instance on body shape or “felt age”, are realistic and thus very helpful. Styles4Work is classical but not boring, feminine but not playful – you can sense the love for detail. This is particularly important at the workplace.
Do you use social media yourself?
Yes, but only for specific reasons, for instance to follow people that I find interesting. Social media are time-consuming, and I don’t want to miss out on life by constantly paying attention to my smartphone. I find observing and naturally talking to people much more exciting. Enjoying nature, shopping at the market, cooking, spending an evening with my partner – this is what I prefer taking time for.
Fashion is an emotional, very personal topic. Is there a favourite office outfit that always works for you?
The dress. Because the dress can – depending on a woman’s physique and the style of the dress – conceal every problem area or, even better, underline her individual advantages. There is no other piece of clothing that better serves this purpose.
Are you including fashion trends in your business outfit?
Rarely. I am interested in fashion trends, since I work as a style consultant and stylist, but personally I have developed my own style. This is where trends don’t really play a decisive role anymore.
Which colours do you wear in the office?
I like wearing earth tones best, mainly because they appear soft. At the same time, in combination with white they can have a fresh effect, whereas in combination with black or dark blue they can make a dramatic impression. The choice of colour thus also depends on what I want to achieve on a given day. Nude tones can furthermore help to showcase accessories. I usually wear high-class accessories that I select with great care each day – since less is definitely more.
Which hint do you have for women who are still looking for their own style?
Observe, observe, observe! And of course, browse fashion magazines for inspiration. For me it was Vogue, Madame and Elle. In case you find something you like: cut out the page and archive it. You can then sort these pages, file them in folders and browse them every once in a while. For instance, I personally sorted according to the categories ‘evening attire’, ‘business’ and ‘casual’. At some point I had five folders…this was after I began sorting by ‘haircuts’ and ‘make-up’ as well. It works – over time, a picture emerges in your head, a picture of your own style, which you don’t just want to realize, but which you actually can realize now.
Who or what inspires you?
With regard to fashion, it’s the 1950s that inspire me. Fashion in the 1950s was very feminine. I’ve found a great dressmaker who can tailor me dresses in that style. In finance, I am inspired by the “Finanz-Heldinnen” (finance heroine ). And apart from that, my significant other.
Which social topic is important to you?
I care about the topics work-life-balance, empathy and social harmony as well as ecological topics.