I will let you into a little secret. Wednesday 26th May is my birthday so I am going to take a day off & enjoy catching up with some friends & family, now lockdown has started to ease & we can see people again.
I often share with you through my blog lots of ideas, resources & tips about English communication & British culture, but today I thought I would do something a little different.
I want to share with you instead a little insight into me as a person, what I am like, why I do what I do & what drives me.
If you are curious, read on to learn more!
Why is your business called Perfect Cuppa English?
Well, a cuppa is a British word for a cup of tea, which I think is a real symbol of British culture because we drink tea with milk, unlike much of the rest of the world. In the same way, I want to support international professionals to really get how British people think, communicate & behave, so they can be more successful in their performance & career.
Tell us something interesting about yourself most people do not know.
A few random facts about me:
- I grew up around the corner from Sherlock Holmes.
- I once sang on stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall (with a choir!). Now I just sing in the shower.
- My surname used to be Swing (yes, really!)
What do you enjoy most about being an English communication & culture coach?
I find it so rewarding when somebody has a real breakthrough in their communication confidence. The people I work with are often already operational in English for work, so now they want to boost their communication skills for their job performance, career & promotion prospects.
And it is often confidence which is holding them back.
Some of my clients worry about making mistakes, or find it challenging to speak spontaneously, or feel like they are translating in their head as they speak. It means they hesitate to speak up, feel embarrassed & frustrated to speak in English.
I just love unlocking the mindset approach & strategies with my tools to enable that English communication confidence that makes a real difference to somebody’s career.
Why did you become an English communication & culture coach?
I changed careers 8 years ago after working in consumer brand marketing in the food industry. I was looking for a new challenge & something more flexible with my young family.
I wanted to become an English coach because, during my 12 years working for American & British businesses, I had some real insights into international English-speaking business culture. I founded Perfect Cuppa English because I felt there was an English communication gap in business.
Even though English is the real international language of business, there are nuances about how it is used around the world. These nuances are about culture as well as language. As somebody who has always been focused on how to communicate well, this insight drove me to set up Perfect Cuppa English in 2015.
What is a common myth about what you do?
I consider myself an English communication coach, not a teacher.
It is an important differentiation because a teacher inputs content & tests their students to a required standard, focusing on right or wrong, perfect or not.
I take a different approach, as the clients I work with often have a challenge with confidence in their English communication skills.
So, I focus on giving clarity about my client’s current level, providing a personal roadmap solution & insights into learning & confidence mindsets.
Then I build my client’s English communication agility, not fluency. This is important because it is about being able to be flexible with communication, whatever comes up, not necessarily saying it perfectly.
Finally, I work with my clients to integrate their new learning habits, revaluating & refining their plan to enable independent sustainability.
What is important to you in life?
As you probably guessed, family is pretty important to me, so I work flexibly to focus on my business & support my children.
I also have a real personal commitment to personal growth & learning. I always want to keep on improving & developing, and I find this very stimulating. For example, at the moment I am learning more about neuroscience & how it connects to confidence & communication.
Apart from that, it is important to me that I am authentic in what I do & how I share my business, and every day brings me joy when I am in flow doing the work I love with my clients & creating new ideas. This is what powers me.
What are the greatest learnings you have had in the last year and why?
Wow, what a year! There are some real positives for me from the last year since Covid started. I have moved all my coaching online, from previously working face to face most of the time, and I have enjoyed the challenge of coaching my clients in this way, building rapport with people I have never met face to face.
I love the fact that I am now working with clients all over the world, not just with international people who have relocated to London, the UK.
Did you always know you wanted to run your own business?
Not really! I actually originally thought I would stay in corporate life & develop my career there. However, I found that becoming an entrepreneur has given me the chance to express my creativity & strengths, plus flexibility & freedom to focus on my family as well as my work.
What is your favourite quote?
“It’s never too late to become who you want to be.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Occasionally I have clients who ask me whether it is too late to start working on their English communication skills. They think they lost the advantage because they did not focus on it as a young person.
However, it is a mindset choice. You are never too late to learn, change or set new goals, whether that is in life, career or improving your English communication.
That is why I love this quote. There is always space & time to learn, grow & develop.
What is your favourite thing to do in your free time?
Time outside in fresh air is really important to me, so I love walking & exploring London with my family, just looking up & around to see what we might discover next. Plus, I run to keep fit & get places faster!
We love our board games in my family, and Harry Potter Cluedo, Monopoly & Trivial Pursuit kept us going through the various lockdowns of the last year.
I adore going to art galleries & museums and have really missed this in recent months. I am really looking forward to going soon to the Iran exhibition at the V&A museum & the Nero exhibition at the British Museum.
Do you speak any other languages?
Yes, but confession time, I am quite rusty & would love to start developing my own language skills again! In fact, my route into English coaching started with my love of languages.
I studied German & French at school, then went onto a degree in German & Russian at university with some time living in both countries, and then later I picked up some Italian. Interestingly my daughter now learns Spanish & Mandarin in her school, which are languages I am starting to learn a few words of as well, as a result!
Where do you live?
I grew up in central London & now live with my family in north-west London, near to Hampstead. It is a beautiful, green area & we are lucky we are close to Primrose Hill & Hampstead Heath.
What is the perfect cuppa?
Good question! Well, if you came round to my home, you would get to choose from Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Camomile, Peppermint or Fennel tea. I keep it simple at home & I really like Twinings. However, if you want a really special cuppa, then I would meet you at Fortnum & Mason’s for tea.
So, there you have it, a little insight into me, what makes me tick & drives me. Is there anything else you would like to know? Go on, ask me, I will try to answer all questions truthfully!
Victoria Rennoldson, Founder of Perfect Cuppa English
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