Communication And Culture Coaching — Angie Snowball-Thompson
Angie Snowball-Thompson is a communication and culture coach in the USA. After years of living and traveling abroad with jobs in corporate America, she became disenchanted with how often she saw her colleagues struggling to communicate in English. In 2010, she founded Living in America to provide fun and effective ways for international professionals to polish their English skills and express themselves effectively in global situations.
Hi Angie, I really like how you aim to make learning fun and effective. But before we dive into that, tell us a bit about your backstory. How did you first get started teaching English?
When I was 24, I was selected for an expatriate assignment in Belgium because the scores on my French language test were exceptional. Unfortunately, once I arrived, I realized I didn’t speak French at all! Years later, I moved to Germany and didn’t speak a word of German. I remember waiting for the bus thinking, “I can tell him I am cold, but I can’t buy a ticket home.” There is nothing worse than being trapped inside yourself. Eventually, I left corporate America, got an MA in English and Linguistics, and wrote a textbook that would teach people how to talk, not to test.
Wow! You made quite the leap when you pivoted. What does your business look like now?
I have pivoted so much I’m dizzy. In short, my ESL business outgrew me. When I stopped to evaluate my situation, I realized that the key to my success wasn’t English at all. It’s communication. I teach people to think about how they say something, not just what they say. It’s about listening and watching. It’s about culture. It’s storytelling. Who are you ? Who needs to hear your story?
So, I’ve changed my focus to business communication. I help global professionals break into international markets by breaking through language and cultural barriers. Sometimes, that means English lessons. Sometimes, it means content creation. Sometimes, it means developing a storyline for your marketing campaigns.
When you talk about your business, you don’t mention “teaching” but you focus on coaching communication and culture. Why do you have this focus?
I always say, I teach to talk, not to test. I am a certified English teacher in every way, but I don’t have students. I have clients who want to polish their communication skills. No one can tell your story better than you, but sometimes, you need someone to help you craft it. This is why I focus on coaching, not teaching. I also believe communication is more than just words. It is listening, watching body language, understanding your audience and so much more. Teaching English is only one aspect of communication, I use a holistic approach to integrate many aspects.
You’ve said that you left a corporate marketing career because empathy led you to set up the business that you have now. Can you talk about how important empathy is in your business structure?
Empathy is a cornerstone of my business structure. Every aspect of communication involves listening and understanding — your own story, your ideal audience, the situation in which you are communicating and many other factors. People trust me with their story because they know I understand how it feels to be unable to tell it. I know how it feels to be trapped inside yourself and I am passionate about not letting that happen to my clients.
Marketing is part of communications, and you consult entrepreneurs on organic marketing strategy. Can you give us one tip to remember when planning out our organic marketing?
Don’t try to be better, be different. Know why you’re different from everyone else in your field and capitalize on that. Don’t overextend yourself by marketing on every platform all the time. Find your market based on your unique selling point and then focus on where they are and when they are there.
That’s golden advice. I completely agree with you there. If you could go back in time, is there anything that you wished you’d known about earlier when it comes to your language teaching career?
I never wanted to be a teacher because I hated the idea of textbooks and grading papers. I wish I had thought about writing my own book and breaking pedagogical barriers earlier — games, conversations, listening, feeling and learning — that’s what teaching is really about.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about yourself?
I would like to share that I have a new LinkedIn live series, Business without Borders, which is a great resource for learning about working with cultures around the world. LinkedIn has been such a huge success for me and I’m excited to share with everyone the experts that I’ve met and work with. I’m also happy to share how I made all this happen on LinkedIn with my workshops as well.
Okay, so if others want to connect with you online, how can they do that?
Email: angiesnowballthompson [ at ] gmail [ dot ] com