Conduct difficult conversations

by Susan Scott

Susan Scott is the master of positive change through powerful communication and author of Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time. To be successful, you need to have difficult conversations at work (or even at home) using effective methods to get a message across – and get what you want.

In her book, Scott shows how you can:

  • Overcome obstacles to meaningful communication
  • Expand and enrich relationships with colleagues, friends, and family
  • Mehr Klarheit und besseres Verständnis schaffen
  • Deal with strong emotions – on both sides of the table
  • Connect with colleagues, clients and family on a deep level.

Watch the video below to learn more about how to successfully manage difficult conversations.

Terms and Definitions for DEI

The dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion is broad and growing. This introduces the need for common vocabulary to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

Words often have different meanings; depending on lived experiences words might hold different meanings for different people.

For this reason, we have created a video to clarify important terms regarding DCI to help better understand and use them correctly.


By Sabine Gromer

Happiness is an attitude toward the journey of life, not what you find at your destination.

That’s what happiness researcher and best-selling author Shawn Achor writes.

But what is happiness? And most importantly, how can we be happy and so, as researchers have proven, be 31% more productive than people who go through life with a negative or neutral mindset?

Happiness = a quality-of-life-increase

Happiness research, also known as positive psychology, has been dealing with the topic of happiness for years. Positive psychologists ask themselves how people, who are content and inwardly balanced, deal with difficult situations. What tools do such people have, and how do they manage to see a glass half-empty as a glass half-full? The answer, that ‘making’ happiness requires more than mere affirmations. You can’t achieve a positive attitude by chanting down “I-think-I’m-happy” mantras. Save yourself the trouble, happiness needs more.

The Pie Chart of Happiness

A study from the US found that about 50% of life satisfaction is due to genetics and 10% to external circumstances. Now, in the remaining 40% is the potential to manage our quality of life actively.


Happiness is associated with lower heart rates and blood pressure. Happy people get sick less often, are better protected from stress because they release less cortisol. They are less prone to pain, dizziness, muscle tension, and heartburn, and overall, live longer. What’s more, happiness makes you successful. After all, with a positive attitude – as mentioned above – we are a whopping 31% more productive. Yet it doesn’t have to be “natural” happiness. We know that “experimental reinforcement” of positive emotions also equates to better results at work. People who are happy with their jobs are less likely to quit or take sick leave. In this regard, happiness and job performance are closely linked: happy people do better work, and people who do good work are more likely to be happy.


The science is clear. We can increase our happiness levels by taking specific actions.


A list of my personal favourites for boosting happiness levels

Connect with people.

A Harvard University study conducted for over 80 years explains that interpersonal relationships are fundamental to happiness. This makes it all the more important to nurture your interpersonal relationships. Surround yourself with people who make you feel supported and loved. Nothing is more effective at increasing happiness.

Do good to others.

People who do good for others significantly increased their sense of happiness. So-called “random acts of kindness” – such as helping an old woman cross the street, giving someone a gift, etc. – lead to an increased release of oxytocin and dopamine, which boosts life satisfaction.

Use your strengths.

Find out what your strengths are – for example, using the CliftonStrengths Finder, and try to use them every day.

Gratitude Exercises.

Create a gratitude jar that you fill with notes and mementos of beautiful moments. Empty it at the end of a year and stick the contents in a book.

Practice mental hygiene.

Think for a moment about what helps you feel good. For me, it’s a piece of chocolate, nice music, or an episode of Pumuckl. Use these things to avoid descending into the deep valley of unhappiness and separate yourself from over-work.

Vision board.

At the end of each year, I create vision boards about how I want to feel in the new year. This strengthens inner alignment and provides moments of happiness.

Allow feelings.

Don’t push your feelings away – even if it can be hard to live through them now – you will feel better in the long run. So, allow them.

We are not born happy. We cannot buy happiness. But we have happiness in our hands, and we can shape it to lead us through life successfully. Work on it.

Good luck.

Read the full article

New employee Administration & Project Management

MagnoliaTree has grown considerably over the past few months. This is of course extremely gratifying, but it has not been without some stumbling blocks. The previous office management was unfortunately not up to the challenges of a growing organization and so we had to start looking again for a suitable person for this very responsible role. Fortunately, we quickly found what we were looking for. We would now like to introduce the new office management team to you. 

Sarah Pirchner MA

is now supporting the office team as of April 1. Due to a still valid employment contract, she will only be able to do this to a limited extent until the end of May. From June on, she will take over the office management, all administrative tasks and project management. Sarah was most recently a speaker and training coordinator for a European airline, holds a master’s degree in mediation and conflict management and a diploma in tourism management. She has already successfully managed offices and worked as an executive assistant in the past. We are very confident that Sarah will enrich the team spirit at MagnoliaTree with her many skills and her communicative personality. 

As of June 1, Sarah will be available at the email address [email protected]

Meet Sigrid Eghøj

Sigrid is based in Copenhagen and has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, furthermore she has studied business economics while working in farming for the last two years. Working mainly with sheep at a wool mill she is a hands-on type of person. She received an award as the Danish Organic Farming Student of 2021.

She will be joining MagnoliaTree in Austria throughout the summer to assist Elke in the journey to develop the Academy.

Fun fact about Sigrid, she prefers swimming in the winter, when there are less people at the beach.

Prominent women in leadership

throughout the 20th century

Illustration by Daliana Ilies

Article by Daliana Ilies

Now more than ever, we need to talk about the revolutionary women of the 20th century that achieved an enormous deal for women’s rights and, of course, how we came to celebrate International Women’s Day. I am not a historian, nor am I an expert in this field. My information comes from a place of curiosity and hours of research on the topic. Besides that, I am a woman myself, trying to understand why we are where we are at this point; and, hopefully, learn how we can reach our goals as a unity.

Please take a second to close your eyes and try drawing some imaginary pictures of a fifty-year-old woman living in western Europe around 1900. Saying she’s not ordinary would be an understatement. Now imagine a Marxist theorist, communist activist, and most importantly – an advocate for women’s rights. Maybe by now, you’re asking yourself, how are you supposed to visualize that?! Those are character traits, not physical ones. But picture a woman being part of the Social Democratic Party in Germany at that time.

Clara Zetkin

Her name is Clara Zetkin, and she was probably one of the very few women allowed in such a male-dominant political circle. She started holding conferences to discuss women’s issues, and by 1907 she organized the first International Conference of Socialist Women in Stuttgart, Germany. Her primary goal was to get women into the workforce in order to take part in the worker’s rights organizations. This way, they would have the means to improve their own conditions.

This started a trend. Almost at the same time, the US declared the first women’s day on February 28, 1909, and the streets of New York were packed with women protesting for better pay and working conditions.

1910 a second International Conference of Working Women came together. At that time, over 100 delegates from across the world met in Copenhagen. Zetkin pushed the idea of international women’s day, and the vote was unanimous, meaning they finally had a day when women could organize and press for equal rights.

Even more interesting, some other revolutionary ideas discussed at the conference were:

  • 8 hour working day;
  • pregnant women should stop working 8 weeks prior to giving birth;
  • women should be paid a “motherhood insurance” of 8 weeks if the child lives.

If you think about it, these are also the ideas that heavily influenced the views of maternity and paternity leave that we know today in the most developed countries.

Rose Schneidermann

The first-ever European celebration of International Women’s Day happened in Vienna in 1911. Only a year later, more than a million women took to the streets in Germany. And the trend continues in America, being sparked this time by Rose Schneidermann, who insists workers need more than just wages to survive; they also need dignity and decent working standards. With the first world war approaching fast, many countries decide to cancel the holiday to maintain peace on the homefront. To oppose the war, Zetkin organized the 3rd and final Socialist Women’s Conference in 1915.

Present there was Nadezhda Krupskaya, which you probably never heard of. But I’m pretty sure you heard of her husband: Vladimir Lenin. The couple stated that the war only benefited the rich and the weapons manufacturers. Sadly, the war went on, despite all of their efforts.

Alexandra Kollontai

1917 the most dramatic celebration of the IWD started in Russia, led by the feminist Alexandra Kollontai. Why?

The number of women working in the factories, mainly in the textile or chemical industry, has skyrocketed because men were in the war. The women replacing them were paid only half as much, even though they worked long hours under horrific conditions. Storming the streets of Petrograd on February 23 or in our calendar on March 8, women struck against war, starvation, and the Czar. Two days later, nearly every industry in Petrograd had ground to a halt. The protest wasn’t just women or even workers anymore. Students, teachers, and so many more joined them. The Czars responded by ordering the military to shoot them if necessary. But the protests couldn’t be stopped.

I am remarkably moved and inspired by these women because they had managed to convince whole regiments to switch sides and join them. They went on the streets, risking being shot at and killed. And this was the beginning of the Russian February Revolution, and it was truly women’s day that inaugurated that. But we don’t really learn about this in school, do we? One week after the “celebration”, Czar Nicholas II abdicated, ending about 300 years of Romanov Rule over Russia.

They became one of the first governments of a major power to grant women the right to vote. 1921 it was officially decided that March 8 would be International Women’s Day. Lenin and Zetkin made this a communist holiday in 1922, and the same year the communists in China started celebrating it too. Eventually, all of the progress was destroyed by Stalin in 1936, banning women’s right to vote and even more than that, for example, banning abortion. Being concerned even at the thought of communism, the US erased this day entirely.

Lilian Ngoyi

Even though South Africa celebrates IWD 2 times a year and has its differences from the European celebration, I have to include one more fearless woman: Lilian Ngoyi. Also known as the Mother of The Black Resistance, Ngoyi was the first woman elected to the executive committee of the African National Congress, helping to form the Federation of South African women. Her energy and her gift as a public speaker won her rapid recognition. On August 9, 1956, (one of the dates when people in South Africa celebrate IWD), she led the women’s anti-pass march, one of the largest demonstrations staged in South African history. Holding thousands of petitions in one hand, Ngoyi was the one who knocked on the Prime Minister’s door to hand over the petitions. She ends up arrested for high treason along with 156 other leading figures.

Now here we are, 2022, and as women we earn less than our male equivalents; we are underrepresented in politics or business. Most scarry, we still suffer  significant risks of violence, and many times, women have to handle family care alone. I want our generation to stand up and continue what these lionhearted women created, achieving the freedom we all deserve in all aspects of life.



New Article: What is Coaching?

We as coaches are biased, our attitude towards coaching is subjective. We are convinced of
the potential of introspection and reflection. At MagnoliaTree, coaching is THE central instrument of what we do. Highest quality standards, ongoing evaluations and trainings and
a long-term cooperation are our focus.

However, because coaching as a field is confusing and diffuse, we decided to write anarticle on the definition and delimitation of coaching. We wanted to create a guide to help those seeking coaching navigate their way through the field.

New Podcast Bonus Episode: Bad Santa

Haben Sie sich jemals über die Führungsqualitäten des Weihnachtsmanns gewundert? Ever wondered about Santa’s Leadership skills?

Look no further! In our most hilarious podcast episode (yet) our colleagues Augustine Pasin & Elke Pichler discussed just that. Their verdict is not that favourable… Enjoy 16 minutes that will make you laugh

New in our team: Elke Pichler

We at MagnoliaTree are overjoyed to welcome Elke Pichler as a new team member. She is an incredible asset and will be leading the MagnoliaTree Academy.

Welcome to Elke!

Elke Pichler is a consultant, trainer and coach. At MagnoliaTree she leads the MagnoliaTree Academy, about which we will publish more info soon. She is the founder of impactory, the largest Austrian donation platform and YTILI Fellow 2021/22. 

In all her roles appreciation, curiosity and openness are guiding principles for her. She studied real estate management, business administration and business psychology, is a trained personality trainer and systemic coach. In these roles, she accompanies various organizations, lectures at universities and is a mentor for students and founders. 

Remote Leadership: FRED NeXus conversation with Sabine Gromer & Sylvain Newton

Leaders are transitioning to the ‘new normal,’ but how do we create a nurturing work environment for our blended WFH & in-person workforce?

Sabine Gromer, Founder, MagnoliaTree Consulting and Sylvain Newton, Founder, Newton Consulting talked on 18th November 2021 during the FRED Nexus Event about this matter.

As the first studies come in, the looming performance cliff becomes overt: While total hours worked increased by roughly 30% during a COVID-induced work-from-home period, average output did not significantly change, and productivity fell by about 20%

While many organizations save costs by reducing office space, they are simply not prepared for the consequences. Hyperactivity, a state of freeze, or a focus on benign issues are not leading to a focused and positive structure to give stability in this radical shift of the way we work. 

Leadership advisors Sylvain Newton and Sabine Gromer lead through this immersive and interactive FRED NeXus event. They shared their first-hand insights and offered opportunities to exchange ideas and impulses for creating a better work environment for the future (blended) workforce, and a more productive, aligned, loyal and engaged employee-base.