…if there was one thing, I’d like to help starting is getting governments of some popular destination countries to develop a program for visa, residency and tax system for digital nomads. In the past, this used to be a category of backpackers that would roam around Asia, staying in hostels and picking up small gigs to pay for their accommodation and food. Today, there are successful businesses that are entirely functioning remotely, and by 2035 there will be an estimated 1 billion of nomads that are need of logistics to help them function in this new found system, and not merely function in the gray area of a co-working space here, a hotel there, a tax paid in their home country, while they are 300 days out of it, and juggling through visas that are expiring after 30 days in most countries they want to go to.
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Verineia Codrean, the founder and senior speechwriter at Speech Architects, a Hong Kong based company. She started with the nickname “the lawyer” in high-school — where she’d be the spoke person for anyone too shy or afraid to speak for themselves. Today, she makes executives sound good on stage, entrepreneurs crush media interviews & start-up founders pitch with confidence. She provides consulting services to C-suite executives across industries in Asia, US and Europe. And is responsible for refining their voice in major speeches, executive presentations, op-ed’s, blog posts, social media, internal news, and all manner of creative and editorial work. She turns raw content into amazing speeches and consistently wow’s her clients with creativity and eloquence drawn from her theatre experience & 11 years of PR expertise. From powerful speechwriting to voice coaching, stage presence and powerful delivery, she’s the secret card that executives have up their sleeve when comes time to up their public speaking game.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In high school my nickname was “the lawyer” or “the lobbyist” because I was always pleading on someone else’s behalf or advise them how to “present their case” to a teacher or even going to the school’s principal. When I’d be called upon and haven’t had the time to study for that lesson, and yet manage to make a presentation out of it, with no fear of God instilled in me, for being caught, I’ve realized the power of powerful, engaging storytelling & public speaking. Later during my university, while studying PR and Communication, and being a theater actress on the side, I was in the organizing committee for a youth development conference and was responsible for hosting 500 people in a hotel that we could only pay to host 180. When called for an urgent meeting into GM’s office, on the 2nd day of the conference, because they discovered how many people were actually sleeping in one room, because…brace yourself, they’ve counted the tooth brushes in each room, anticipating an answer on how a person can have more than one bag or 2–3 pairs of shoes for a 3 days conference, I saved the day and managed not to get us all kicked out, mid-winter, in the outskirts of Transylvania, when I pleaded the case and made a whole presentation on why they should let us continue the conference there. These experiences and the ease I was navigating them with, while my colleagues kept asking how I can sail so smooth into a presentation without much effort and improvise on the spot, led me to a career into becoming a coach for pubic speaking for executives that are constantly under high pressure, in high stakes situations, and need to make presentations within minutes of finding out about them and still create a powerful impact.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
There are so many, but the first one that comes to mind is a presentation I was doing for a group of over 100 engineers, 95% men over 50 years old that were having their global annual meeting in Guangzhou, south of China. They were flown in from around the world to participate in the workshops their company organized over a period of 3 days. I was invited to deliver a session to bring some diversity to their technology track and I wanted to do it in a more unusual setting. I used my previous experience in the wine industry and organized a wine tasting to start with, where they’d have to smell 4 wines and get some tasting notes out of it. It wanted to lighten up the atmosphere and provide a great opening to my session. I was facing an audience that was looking at me in disbelief and I could almost read on their faces “what can this girl teach us, the wise engineers that we are”. I put on a big smile and asked the audience to identify the aromas they could feel in the first wine. A gentleman in the back raised his hand and when I approached him with the microphone, gladly blurred “it smells like dirty socks”. The entire audience exploded with laughter and I knew that I have exactly 2.5 seconds to either have them ignore me the entire presentation and drink their wine in peace or make them listen. I took the microphone back and waited for the laughter to calm down and said “Now, now I was not expecting that answer. “, giving into his grinning all the way. Did you know that In the perfume industry, there are very few people in the world known to distinguish refined aromas and same goes for wine? Only a true expert can identify a Sauvignon Blanc smelling like cat pee, or a Riesling smelling like petrol and kerosene or dirty socks”. The way I said it and the way I embraced the heckler’s comment, that clearly intended a different reaction from it had the audience’s attention and I had them eating from my palm by the end of the presentation. And to top it off I had the president of the company approaching me after my presentation and saying that in 3 days they were running the conference he hasn’t seen a more successful presentation and such a great reaction and interest from the audience as I had with mine and invited me to come the following year again right there on the spot.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The beginning of my career in public speaking was definitely my role as assistant university lector, and as a newbie and only a few years apart from the college students myself, I had to find a way to establish my authority, or, otherwise risk not being taken seriously nor my teaching. My first-time class was a total disaster. It had 48 students attending and I tried introducing myself, and the subject I’ll be teaching, “Negotiation and Decision-Making Course”. Nobody was listening, and they were all talking between themselves — it was a scene straight from a movie, where they were all the cool kids and I was there just to survive until the end of the class. I tried raising my voice, call the attendance list, and it all gave me no more than 2 minutes of their attention and have them sink back into their more interesting conversations. So, I just…. left. I wanted to quit there and then, and suddenly an idea came from my theater experience.
I came back in and went the complete opposite way, and instead of raising my voice, I imagined I had the audience for a theater play. We did a lot of improv that would make you practice again and again the idea of reacting in the moment and coming up with an idea for your next line, your character, who you are, what’s your story and so on. I started whispering and first, just the front row got surprised and started to listen. Within seconds I had the entire auditorium listening and shushing each other so they can hear what I was saying.
That day I learned that conventional ways will never bring you the results you want, and standing out always pays in great results, in the most difficult situations. Since then, I always plan for unusual ways (that I don’t always have to apply, but shall that be the case, you always have an interesting story that you reach out “into your pocket” when the screen goes blank and the projector doesn’t work, when there is a heckler in the audience, when you need to start in an unusual way to gain the attention of your audience…because like in theater, to deliver a great performance, you need to rehearse over and over, until it looks like your presentation is as easy and smooth like a hot knife goes through the butter. And that is what distinguishes an expert from the others, always having a plan B for your plan B.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Start with the basics — look at your profile and re-write it in such way that (1) it tells a story that makes you smile, and (2) it stands out, so that when someone reads it, it has some candy in it. In speechwriting we have this secret — give the audience a piece of candy, so it interests them enough to look further into what you’re doing your presentation about, the main part, “the dinner” (a larger piece of work, a research, a new development policy for a city, etc.). It has that one memorable bite size information that they can easy share, remember when you or your company would come to mind. Share a unique thing about your company, something interesting, a curious fact, even a fun fact would do, as long as it’s related to the topic at hand. At the end of the day, there is another individual sitting on the other side of the screen, reading it, so you need to connect to that person, even if it’s a B2B platform. On my profile I share my nickname I used to have in school — “the lawyer”, which is that piece of candy I want those that land on my page to get. It’s an interesting fact that also connects me to my career and shows how deeply rooted my interest for what I do today is.
2. Repurpose your content from your blog or the guest posts you wrote for LinkedIn, and either share it as a link or write directly in the platform. The content needs to deliver value and teach something useful, without lunging into the history of your company and how it all started. It’s a valuable piece of real estate that needs to be used strategically. And while for some the interaction will stop there, it helps clients see you as an expert and hence later you’ll pop up into their minds when comes time for them to need your expertise. It will also lead them into visiting your website and generate traffic you wouldn’t have otherwise. Include content that talks about best practices, trends or some boundary pushing thinking that shows your pioneering take on topics within your industry. An article we wrote for a partner on how to improve your website’s copy, and later shared in on linked in, got us some great leads and it was a great example on 2 birds with one stone example. Not everyone will take the time to hit the like button, and it’s not necessary, because it reflects in other type of outcomes.
3. Engage in the comments with people you want to connect with and offer valuable insights or simply share your view on the topics they posted about. It will show them that you stand behind them or even add a perspective they didn’t think about. If it’s within the realm of adding value, spiking curiosity with your comments it’s always a great tactic, because it will encourage them to want to know more about you and what you do, and eventually lead to high quality clients. In one such occasion, I commented on someone’s post that was asking for some recommendations or feedback on a presentation they were preparing for a conference. I took time to give detailed feedback, and even went above the expected and included some ideas for some funny comments they can include, related to the topic or wow their audience with some unique delivery techniques. Within a few exchanges, without even asking, this became a serious client that generated business directly and later recommended others too.
4. When you want to connect with someone, go beyond the pre-given template from Linkedin on either “work anniversary congratulations” or “invitation to connect template”. One of my clients transitioned from architecture to being an investment banker. I congratulated the change of career with an enthusiastic message and prompted him to abstains from jokes that only architects will get. It gave us an opportunity to connect and get an introduction to his now worldwide present company.
5. The last one is more of a spy book inspired tactic, that worked wonders. I needed an introduction to a company Saudi Arabia that is building the futuristic city of Neom, under the vision of 2030. So, I designed a curated add targeting the exact person that I needed to get in touch with and a few additional ones that could make that introduction possible, given no prior connection existed. And it worked wonders. I got not only the connection, but also the email of that person along with starting a very lucrative discussion for the future project I was helping a client to get started on.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Interestingly enough I have been thinking about this topic recently, and if there was one thing, I’d like to help starting is getting governments of some popular destination countries to develop a program for visa, residency and tax system for digital nomads. In the past, this used to be a category of backpackers that would roam around Asia, staying in hostels and picking up small gigs to pay for their accommodation and food. Today, there are successful businesses that are entirely functioning remotely, and by 2035 there will be an estimated 1 billion of nomads that are need of logistics to help them function in this new found system, and not merely function in the gray area of a co-working space here, a hotel there, a tax paid in their home country, while they are 300 days out of it, and juggling through visas that are expiring after 30 days in most countries they want to go to.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Holly avocado, I thought you’d never ask!!!! Without a shred of a doubt it would be Elon Musk. Have you seen the movie Sideways? Any self-respecting wine lover must see it, by the way J)) There is a quote about Cheval Blanc, that the day you drink a Chateau Cheval Blanc is a special occasion. Or like others say that the day you taste the iconic Cheval Blanc 1947 you can considered your wine experience complete. Well imagine a rebel, a visionary, a “visitor from the future” approach to all he does, packing it with determination and insatiable desire to simply do good in this world. A quick sip of coffee with Elon Musk at 8am would be the equivalent to a sip of a Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947 to an avid wine connoisseur.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!