Celebrating Erica: General Manager, Producer and Mum of two Arts Industry

You held me accountable. The biggest change is how I frame everything… I am better at delegating… Half way through our work together I started coaching my team… If you are with a company, make coaching part of the company culture.

Erica

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

Hi, welcome. It’s Gitanjali here from High Definition You and today I have the most wonderful Erica with me. Erica, welcome. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the world.

Erica

Sure, thank you for having me. I am a general manager for the investor theatre group. I run the Emerson Colonial Theatre here in Boston, Massachusetts. And I’m also an independent theatre producer and have several shows on Broadway and have had several shows throughout my career.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

We’ll talk about Hamilton later showing. Yeah, tell me a little bit about what your life and your work looked like before we started working together? What were you struggling with? Why did you feel the need for help?

Erica

Sure, I think the biggest thing that I knew I didn’t know how to change in myself as I have a very kind of like, me against them mentality and there was no specific way. But my husband once pointed out to me that I always seem to have a quote-unquote, arch-nemesis, that every place I had worked, you know, that there was always someone that I would not actively or, or, you know, there was nothing punitive going on, but that there was always, you know, at the end of the day when I came home, and it was how was your day, there was always one person who I was like, Oh, you wouldn’t believe what so and so did today.

And I put a lot of energy and frustration into, and maybe sometimes it was a department but it always kind of boiled down, to something that just really got under my skin. And that, unfortunately, I’d get under my skin and I put energy towards and with no successful results. I never, you know, if anything ever escalated, it was never really resolved and just kind of lingered.

And I think that that was something that I know myself to be a very passionate person, I know myself to love to be a collaborator and, and solve problems and find results. And but I found that you know, I didn’t know how to balance my passion, and my commitment to finding resolve when I would hit what I would call a kind of an internal roadblock with just a situation that I thought was dismissive, and maybe I wasn’t being as appreciative of the fuller picture.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

Hmm, and what kind of effect did that have been for you as a leader? And even then, you know, maybe in your personal life?

Erica

Yeah, I think it’s just, um, it just took a lot of negative energy just took up a lot of space mentally, um, it could cloud the day, you know, it could change the day, if I even if I was proud of something excited about something that was going on and interaction, you know, that was frustrating, or, again, that was escalating for, for not the right reasons would really kind of change the trajectory of my overall just make up my day.

And, and it just wasn’t, wasn’t productive, really, in the simplest of terms, wasn’t productive, emotionally, wasn’t productive in the workspace, and wasn’t allowing me to get the right work that I needed to get done, done. You know, as full as I would have liked to, I think simply, hmm.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

And, you know, we were introduced as a result of your company investing in you as a leader and giving you a coach. As part of that process. Was there any resistance from you or any concerns about that process and how we were going to be working together?

Erica

Um, no, because I had, you know, fortunately, ATG has a wonderful programme called leading lights, which, as soon as I joined ATG, they were like, Hey, we need you to come to England for two weeks. I had a three-month-old kid at the time and I just started with these, you know, we need you to come to England for two weeks to do this two-week training programme and I thought it was gonna be a programme on all things ATG, and I had a Huggins assessment right away.

And I’m like, I just started working for this company. And these are, wow, there’s a lot going on here. And then I did the course, which really opened my eyes in general in terms of emotional intelligence and how to be a leader. I’m, you know, multipliers and diminishers and all of those kinds of things about looking at yourself as a leader and looking at your team and how you make up your team and how you can get the most of your team.

So when I was told that we were getting coaches, I was actually like, Yes, more, please. Because I immediately saw the benefits. Just within myself whether or not there was any large, you know, gaping, you know, huge outward change, I couldn’t say especially because I was transitioning and hiring a new team, because I was the first employee hired here.

But I think internally, I suddenly had tools that I knew I wanted to continue to develop. And I knew that you and I were a great match. And that we would find more tools for me to explore which we did.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

And we worked together over the course of a year and tell me, what’s changed for you since we started working together? What is your life and your work? Look and feel like now? Yeah

Erica

um, I would say, I still work in a very intense, ever-evolving, daily life. So I’m also like you and I discussed at length, I’m a working mom, I’m a wife. And then I run, essentially, you know, ATG basically says, we’re each CEOs of our own venue. So I’m the CEO of a venue here in a very robust and competitive market, with a lot of nuances. And I interact as well, with a lot of Broadway productions in high level, you know, shows with a lot of high stakes going into them when they come to the colony. So there’s a lot, a lot of balls in the air.

I think, for me, the biggest change is just how I frame everything. This sounds like a simple statement, but it’s a very grand statement in that I’m much more able to say, Okay, well, if I do this, what’s the worst that can happen? And what’s the best that can happen, which is something we’ve gotten over a lot. And I’m better at delegating because I have to be, I used to, you know, I alluded to this earlier, I love solving problems.

And, you know, immediately, you know, if someone said to me, Hey, we’re having a concern about this, I just pick up the phone or shoot off an email and say, Oh, handle it.

But number one was just adding more work to my own play. And number two, that wasn’t letting my team build their own problem-solving skills. So I think through our work, you really helped me be firm in what I was going to take on and what I was going to take on saying no, which is really hard for me, but you know, just constantly kind of having your voice in my ear? Do you? Do you need to be the one doing this?

What do you know, you know, I remember early on, you had me draw kind of myself and my direct reports and my indirect reports, and the lines and the connections and how many people might actually, you know, be responsible for?

And could I put more people in between? But then also, in my conversations with my staff, using the same skills and tools that you’ve given me, you know, asking them the question of, you know, using a more coaching style with them as opposed to solving or creating a potential solution.

It’s more allowing them to arrive at an answer for themselves that works for them, which may not be the way I would have solved something either. But they have to be the ones to get through in order to advance their issue. And, that was really eye-opening for me. And it was also really eye-opening and frustrating when there were employees of mine who have not been exposed to coaching yet or to our leadership philosophy and seeing their resistance and I’m sitting there going, I know exactly how they’re feeling like that was me.

Not so long ago, but to understand and to be able to look at things with a much more, less emotional and more neutral perspective in terms of evaluating the consequences or the benefits, right? And then it’s not emotional, it’s not personal.

It’s not going to come home with me as something that ruined my day. Here’s what the situation is, and here’s how we can do it. Can I ask a question? Can I find a way through this? That’s simply towards the goal and not personal? You know, it’s not about the emotion of it?

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

Yeah, and I remember that when you started realising that actually, you were becoming a coach for others like you Getting the coaching. So take me to the moment, Erica, when you knew that the coaching was working?

Erica

Oh, um, oh god the moment. I mean, I think it’s, it’s an ever-evolving process, right. So I think for me what’s most obvious to me is when I think back to other company cultures that I’ve been a part of, and other positions that I’ve held, and I go, Oh my god, I just remember being so frustrated with that thing. I mean, I’m now three years into this job, and I couldn’t be happier.

You know, and I think knowing that before, a lot of times about two years in if you look at my resume, I was itching, you know, there was just something that wasn’t working or wasn’t clicking. And I think for me, now, I’m in an environment and in a company where I can ask questions, I feel empowered.

But further, I’m empowered to do that with my staff as well. So that there’s a real top-down understanding of how we approach problems and how we work through things positively and collectively. So I think, I think when it was really obvious to me was that when I started having confidence in coaching my team hmm, because I knew, which was probably halfway through our work, right? So probably about six months in, I had figured out my own time management, so I haven’t mastered it, but I had figured out, okay, I’ve got to get these priorities in gear, I had better start.

That’s not a sentence, I had better create a system for delegating effectively. And, and checking in, I think that’s important, too, that I was delegating. But I was constantly checking in with the folks that I was delegating to, to make sure they weren’t overwhelmed, um, simple things to just in the the reframing of questions, as opposed to, you know, just looking at things from the perspective of, I’m having more compassion, which sounds interesting because I’m, I’m a very compassionate person.

But understanding, you know, if an employee would come to me and say, Well, you know, so and so hasn’t done this yet. And I’d say, Okay, well, let’s, let’s not get so emotional about it, you know, perhaps some things come up in their world, what’s a? What’s a good way to check-in? Or is there something else that you can do to get it?

The answer you’re seeking or whatever, so, so, finding that when those moments started happening pretty naturally to me, I was like, Oh, I didn’t even know, you know, I just pulled up a coaching question. It just came right out of me. So I think that was the real turn of events for me that, you know, like, they say, you have to get your own house in order first. And then once I had confidence there, I was able to really continue that work, always continuing that work in myself, and then also really doing more with my team.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

And what was it then about the way that we work together that allowed you to get those results?

Erica

Um, well, I think the biggest obviously, is you held me accountable all the time, which was great. Because just like anything in life, you need someone there, whether it’s a trainer or a spouse, or a friend to remind you of the goals and the things that you want to achieve. So I think you listen very intently.

I learned a lot about listening because you are very good at immediately knowing what is my own, whether it was self-deprecating or whatnot, catchphrases for you keyed into those very quickly. And anytime I wouldn’t say them, you would immediately go at them. You know, you would pipe in and say no, you know, and so many things are just natural to us.

And we don’t even realise that we’re doing it until there’s someone there to break the habit. Right. And so that was incredibly helpful. And it was little things and I tend to say the word fine a lot. Did you notice that right away? You know, things are not fine. How are things right, let’s, let’s, you know, find was a throwaway for me, oh, it’s fine. I’m fine.

Right. So that was a good point. And then, again, I think understanding that coaching goes both ways, right? It’s not just for my team and the people who report to me, but it’s also helpful for me, with the people I report to and that there’s an environment where I’m not so concerned about it.

Asking a question and what will the ramification be, but that when you, when you do it from the perspective of looking for a positive result, and really working together, what you’re actually doing is you’re creating more of a trust, which, of course, is one of them, you know, biggest tent poles of leadership. So I think it helped me really kind of see that in a, in a, it sounds cheesy, but you know, leading to better teamwork, you know, on all sides, really.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

And as part of that process, what really surprised you or delighted you, with the coaching that you received?

Erica

Oh, I’m just how it’s such a mind shift that like, you can achieve it that you can get from a place of, I don’t know, my way through this. And this is so frustrating. And this is just tension building, escalating, escalating, escalating to, Oh, I see, there’s something that could be building here, how do I, how do I do that.

And I think now, it’s even funny, like, I use it, even with my family, or I use it with my husband, sitting there quietly at home, um, you know, but just, um, you know, they’re just ways of looking at things that are so much more open. And there’s almost a calming effect that I have in my daily life. Because when a situation is brought up, I’m not, I used to go, Okay, someone goes here, I’m gonna go here.

And now I’m like, Oh, they’re going here? How do I even know, like, even like, when you call the insurance company, and they’re questioning a bill or something, and it can so quickly get, like, very frustrating.

And I’m going to call their supervisor, whatever, I don’t know, you know, you just, and now I’m like, Okay, how can I approach this? How can I get the best result? What are the tools that are going to help me who might be able to help me? What are the things I can ask? How might I ask if that might achieve a better result, right?

It’s all of those kinds of not the why questions, but the who the what the where the how. So that it never, it never gets to a point where you’re starting to feel your heartbeat, because there’s no reason to, for anything to really ever get there. Really it’s just a more pleasant way of going through life.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

Hmm. And, I mean, that is just such a big part of the transformation that I’ve seen you make as well. So if there’s people that are watching this erica, and someone’s thinking about investing in coaching with me, and they’re being inspired by your level of calm and emotional intelligence and focus, they’re a little one coming in they’re in the bag in the kitchen.

Remember, Okay, goodbye. That is protection, because but this is they’re being inspired by you right now, looking at the way that you’re managing, you said at the beginning, you’re a working mom, your wife, your spouse, your leader, you’re a CEO. So, if they’re being inspired by that, and they’re thinking about investing in coaching, what advice would you give to that person?

Erica

Yeah, um, I would say absolutely, you know, especially also I would say, if you’re with a company, go to the company and make it part of the company culture, because the more people that in your company that understand working through daily work-life this way, it’s amazing, it really is, it gives you a whole vocabulary and toolbelt that just leads to a more positive resolution, quicker resolution, more empowerment in your work.

And if you’re not with a company, it also just gives you balance and goals and, um, you know, the personal habits that you picked up on you know, my workout routine is one that I know I’m a better person, I’m able to feel better about my day if I’ve done something for myself. So you and I said, Okay, workout in the morning, right seems like a simple thing, but then you held me accountable to are you making that time for yourself?

I’m still really not good. I hold a half an hour on my calendar every day for just me to go through email or whatever, and I’m still really bad about that half-hour. But you know, it’s a goal. It stays on my calendar, and it’s something I continually try to improve.

So I would say It’s such a worthwhile investment because there are simple things that you can change that you as a coach specifically pick up on immediately, that will have a lasting impact. And in a short amount of time, I mean, it took, I think, by our second session, you were already catching me on things.

And I was like, How does she know? She doesn’t? We’ve never even hung out. Right? Like, you’ve been working. We’re separated by an ocean. Right? So um, there were so many things that I think just in your ability to listen and focus the conversation, there were very quick results.

But then again, seeing the longer trajectory and process for myself and then having that ownership. because I remember times going, oh, yeah, sure. I’m, maybe I’ll get that. And now, you know, after a full year, and then some, I completely understand how it’s now . In my nature, it is in my everyday life, if you will to immediately respond to the way that you and I’ve worked towards, as opposed to previously.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

It’s a new way of being that autopilot has been changed, it’s been rewired. And it has been my absolute privilege to be a part of that journey with you, Erica, you know how much I’d loved working with you. And being a catalyst for that change. And that transformation that has truly been something that I am grateful for. And I’m grateful that you took the time to share your story today. So thank you so much for joining me, I’ll let you get to the little girls that are waiting to play with their mommy. Thank you so much.

Erica

Thank you, as well i’m very appreciative and I wouldn’t mind. I haven’t sure you wouldn’t mind saying this. But I’m thrilled that our coaching has also led to a greater friendship, just in how much I was able to trust you and lean on you. And I think that the compounding benefits of all that I’ve learned and that has led to our friendship are incredibly important to me as well. So thank you.

Gitanjali – High Definition You Coach

You’re very welcome. Thank You