The Central Penn Business Journal recently spoke to Heather Zell, president and CEO of PrepTalk, a Hershey-based marketing consulting firm, and a certified emotional intelligence coach.
Zell spoke to the journal about her last year as an emotional intelligence coach, the future of her business and the importance of “soft skills” in the corporate world.
Now that you’re about a year in, what impact have you seen emotional intelligence coaching have on area executives?
You can have an incredibly high IQ, but without the emotional intelligence to be able to connect as a human with your team and your clients and your staff and even people in your personal life, you can’t move the needle forward.
I think we have seen more and more and more as people struggle with recruitment and retention and so many people are now able to work remotely wherever they go, they are not tied specifically to central Pennsylvania anymore, and it’s so very important that people are building relationships and making these human connections.
That’s where I come in. I’ve seen a great response in terms of how they can be more connected to their employee base and how this can help really move their companies forward.
Where do you hope this facet of PrepTalk goes from here?
One of my favorite things to do is to keynote, and I have a program I love to share with businesses on branding and storytelling.
Humans connect to your business by hearing stories about what you do and the people you serve. We’re all wired that way. Stories put us in a place and time.
Stories are so important and the way we tell our story and the way we convey our message by using our emotional intelligence is really what helps businesses put themselves on the map.
It helps you retain employees by talking to them and rewarding them, by making them know their work is impactful, by telling them a story about how what they did at work really impacted a customer of theirs, or in healthcare it really impacted a patient, and so my favorite thing to talk about is how EQ and stories can help in terms of branding and that human connection.
Why do you think it’s important for executives and business leaders to seek out further training, especially in areas — such as emotional intelligence — they may not have considered before?
Everyone often views these as the soft skills and sometimes not as important as the hard skills, but the soft skills are what really keeps everything moving.
I think what we’ve seen in terms of the workforce moving to a more remote workforce over the last couple of years, it’s more important now than ever to make sure you are making those connections with your team. I also think the mental health crisis has really come to a head, where we understand that has to be a really large part of how you take care of your workforce.
You can’t just be taking care of the person at work, you should also be taking care of the entire individual and that means supporting their mental health needs, giving them the time they need off to be with family, to address personal issues.
Having a safe place to be able to discuss these things with their employer and their colleagues are so very important, and emotional intelligence coaching helps leaders develop those skills that can help make sure they are offering their employees a safe and wonderful workspace to grow and learn from.
What do you do to keep your spirits up in the cold winter months?
My fiancé and I always like to plan at least one trip to warmer weather in the springtime, and sometimes this can boost your mood so much, just thinking about planning a trip, or sitting down with your family and saying what do we want to do or even planning your summer trip in the winter months.
Also what boost my mood is, I am obsessed with my bernedoodle Fletcher. You have to still get out there for walks, even in the winter.
Making sure you’re surrounded by friends and family and you’re still connecting to people and making plans, because I am so guilty of this — as soon as it starts to be freezing cold outside, I’m in my house, got the gas fireplace on, I’ve got Netflix on. But I’m really trying to make more of an effort to keep those spirits up and get out there.
About Heather Zell
Heather Zell has more than 20 years of experience in the communications and marketing field, starting as an intern at the Late Show with David Letterman.
She studied at Harrisburg Area Community College and Penn State Harrisburg. The Harrisburg resident enjoys sailing with her fiance and time with her best furry friend, Mr. Fletcher the Bernedoodle.