Recently I’ve had the pleasure to sit down with Dilek Süzal, a SEA community member since 2020, a licensed and registered business coach, trainer, speaker and facilitator based in Vienna.
With over 20 years of professional experience and a career shift from architecture to coaching and training, Dilek is passionate about holistic self-mastery for business and career.
But besides being our lovely personal and professional growth “freak”, Dilek is also a mom of two, a sports enthusiast, art, architecture and travel lover. In particular, Dilek enjoys the warm weather and she’s helplessly in love with the sea - you can see the spark in her eye when she talks about it, especially now, in winter!
During our conversation, we dived deeper into her inspiring journey and gathered more details about her approach to coaching and dealing with the legal aspects of self-employment in Austria.
What is it exactly that you do, Dilek?
Dilek: I define my coaching niche as 'holistic self-mastery for business and career,' aiming to support personal and professional transformation seekers in taking action, towards who they really are and how they can contribute to this life.
As a coach, trainer, and keynote speaker, I offer a range of services tailored to support individuals and teams in their personal and professional growth journey.
These services include one-on-one coaching sessions, and group coaching programs, an example - my most recent, already sold-out program "MOVE FORWARD 24" Self-Mastery and Career Coaching. My focus is structured, solution-focused coaching for shifting perspectives for conscious life & work style upgrades and for time and resource-efficient action. My superpower is to support others to sustainably keep on track!
Besides that, I offer customized corporate team events, training and workshops and engage in keynote speaking. My contribution here is to help teams to communicate, create and collaborate better.
What inspired you to pursue this path of coaching?
Dilek: My journey towards becoming a coach is deeply rooted in a quest for personal fulfillment and a desire to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others. It began during my career as an architect, where I found myself increasingly dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Despite my passion for design and creativity, I felt a nagging sense of disconnection from my true purpose. It was a time of soul-searching and introspection, where I came across questions about my career trajectory and life purpose.
During this period of self-reflection, I turned to self-help books and coaching as a means of exploring alternative paths and unlocking my potential. I found relief in the idea of coaching as a transformative tool for personal and professional growth, and I was drawn to the prospect of helping others navigate their own journeys.
The idea of enabling positive change and inspiring individuals to reach their fullest potential resonated deeply with me, pursuing my passion that would ultimately shape the course of my career.
Driven by a profound sense of purpose and a desire to empower others, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and professional development. I pursued formal education and training in coaching, completing programs such as the Erickson Coaching International Academy's "The Art and Science of Coaching" program that provided me with the foundational knowledge, skills, and tools needed to begin my coaching journey with confidence and clarity.
As I delved deeper into the world of coaching, I found my niche in holistic self-mastery for business and career. This focus on personal and professional transformation resonated with my own journey of self-discovery and aligning with my true purpose. I was inspired by the idea of guiding individuals and teams towards achieving their goals, empowering them to overcome challenges, unlock their potential, and thrive in both their personal and professional lives.
My transition from architecture to coaching was not without its challenges. It required courage, resilience, and a willingness to embrace uncertainty. However, the rewards far outweighed the risks, as I found immense fulfillment in helping others realize their dreams and aspirations.
What were some of the initial challenges you faced when starting your coaching business, particularly from a legal standpoint?
Dilek: One of the biggest challenges was the licensing requirements. Obtaining the necessary licences and permits to operate as a coach posed a significant challenge because my International Coaching Federation accreditation was not enough for proven qualifications in Austria. I had to complete another local training on “business coaching” at the WIFI institution in Austria, in German. I needed nostrification for my bachelor's and master's diplomas alongside other documentation and consultations for legal guidance. All of this required a considerable investment of time, effort, and resources, but I diligently worked to ensure that my business complied with all legal requirements.
Since we are talking about the challenges, I’d like to highlight that before venturing into the world of coaching, it's crucial to begin with self-discovery and reflection.
Take the time to delve into your passions, strengths, and values to make sure that coaching resonates with your personal and professional aspirations.
My advice? Start by working with a career coach to gain clarity on whether coaching aligns with your goals. This step is essential in understanding the nature of the profession, the requisite skills, and whether you possess the qualities essential for success in this field.
Furthermore, understand that coaching includes a structured methodology that is often rooted in psychology and requires a mindful approach and good interpersonal skills. Additionally, consider seeking a licensed business consultant early on to deal with the requirements and obligations associated with establishing a coaching practice in Austria.
I’d like to invite you to join us for an upcoming webinar where expert Mag. Miglena Hofer will share further insights on coaching and consulting from a legal standpoint.
When: February 13, 2024, from 5 PM CET
During this webinar, you can ask Miglena Hofer any question related to coaching and consulting in Austria.
What specific legal considerations did you find most important or surprising during the registration process?
The recognition—or lack in my case —of international accreditation.
As someone who had undergone rigorous training and obtained accreditation from the reputable International Coaching Federation, I assumed that my qualifications would be internationally recognized. However, I soon discovered that this was not always the case. Despite holding certifications from esteemed institutions, I had to provide additional evidence of my qualifications and professional experience.
This lack of reciprocity and acknowledgement of an international accreditation was both surprising and frustrating.
Where did you find support when dealing with legal matters related to your self-employment?
Being part of the Self-Employed in Austria (SEA) was a big help when it came to legal stuff. In 2020 I stumbled upon the SEA guidebook about self-employment, looking for advice on dealing with legal issues. In that book, I found a mention of Miglena Hofer, a licensed business consultant who specializes in helping self-employed individuals. Intrigued by what I read, I reached out to her for some guidance. And let me tell you, that was one of the best decisions I made.
Working with Miglena was a game-changer. She helped me understand all the legal hoops I had to jump through, from getting licences to staying on the right side of the law. But it wasn't just Miglena who helped me out. The SEA platform and community as a whole were a goldmine of support and resources. I attended webinars and joined the forum. Thanks to the support of the SEA community and experts like Miglena, I was able to deal with the regulatory side of self-employment with a lot more confidence and peace of mind.
How do you stay connected with other self-employed professionals and continue learning and growing in your field?
Dilek: I stay connected through various platforms such as Cosmo Table group, and PWN, and attend different networking events.
Continuous learning is essential to me, whether through online courses or attending seminars. Keeping my brain active and stepping out of my comfort zone fuels my growth and development.
I've found valuable insights from webinars and resources within the coaching community, SEA platform and Mindvalley courses.
The SEA webinars I found particularly helpful were the ones on scaling business and business strategy, and also the legal ones for example on Types of self-employment in Austria & bogus self-employment led by Mag Severina Ditzov. Additionally, the SEA Forum has been helpful too.
For coaches, the ICF Austria Chapter might be a great place for networking too.
Could you share with us the tools you use to stay organized as a self-employed professional?
Dilek: Over time, I've tested plenty of tools, apps and strategies and found some that have been indispensable in keeping me on track and maximizing productivity.
First and foremost, calendaring tools like Calendly and Google Calendar have been lifesavers for me. These platforms allow me to schedule appointments, block off time for specific tasks, and set reminders, ensuring that I never miss important meetings or deadlines. The ability to sync these calendars across devices ensures that I have access to my schedule wherever I go, whether I'm in the office or on the go. I use Google Calendar for everything, including private and professional tasks and events.
While I've experimented with various to-do list apps, I've ultimately found that Google Calendar serves as my centralized hub for task management. I use it to create daily, weekly, and monthly task lists, and colour-coding entries to differentiate between personal and professional commitments. By blocking out specific times for each task, I can prioritize my workload and ensure that I allocate sufficient time to meet deadlines and achieve goals.
Integrating my calendaring and task management tools has been key to optimizing my workflow. Platforms like BetterUp (where I also work as a leadership coach) allow me to integrate my coaching sessions and appointments with my Google Calendar, ensuring that my availability is accurately reflected and preventing double bookings. This integration not only streamlines scheduling but also minimizes administrative overhead, allowing me to focus more time and energy on delivering value to my clients, so I recommend it!
While technology plays a crucial role in my organizational strategy, I also rely on tried-and-true methods like time blocking and prioritization. By allocating dedicated blocks of time to specific tasks or projects, I can maintain focus and productivity without succumbing to distractions. Additionally, I prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, ensuring that I tackle high-priority items first while still making progress on longer-term projects.
Last question, how do you stay motivated, and where do you source all your energy from? ;)
One concept that has been transformative for me in this regard is the idea of experiencing the 7 types of rest, as articulated in a recent blog article I wrote.
In this article, I shared my personal experience of actively resting and the profound impact it had on my well-being. I recounted a weekend getaway with friends to Niš, Serbia, where we engaged in various rejuvenating activities, including standing in a special energy circle in Rtanj. Despite the short duration of the trip, I returned feeling rested, renewed and re-energized.
I invite you to explore these concepts further and consider how you can integrate the 7 types of rest into your own life. As I shared in my article, experiencing rest in all its forms is not only essential for combating fatigue but is also key to unlocking greater productivity, creativity, and fulfillment in your work and life.
I’m very thankful to Dilek for taking the time for this interview. After our conversation came to an end I realized that it loaded my day with optimism and inspiration. Dilek's journey from architecture to coaching exemplifies resilience and passion. Her commitment to continuous learning and dealing with legal challenges highlights the importance of persistence in pursuing one's dreams.