Executive Communication Coach Interview: Steve Piacente
August 30, 2017
We sat down with TCC Executive Communication Coach, Steve Piacente, to learn more about his role, his past and what led him to communication, and the art of communication coaching.
How did you come on board at The Communication Center?
I had been working at GSA as a speech writer and a communications manager. I was there for 10 years and it was time for a change. I was friends with Jeanne, and I met Dean and Alaina and we hit it off!
The reason that I wanted to come work here and the reason that I liked it was because it had married all of the things I had done before. I had been a reporter, I had been a speech writer, I had been a communications manager. The idea of training people to give better presentations or to talk to the media felt very natural to me.
What is your favorite part of working here?
What I like is that our clients are all so interesting and they all do good work in different fields. By helping our clients communicate what they do, I think we are helping them help themselves.
Favorite topic to coach?
I like media training because I was a reporter. I feel like people are so intimidated by reporters, and giving our clients the tools to deal with aggressive reporters in particular is a fulfilling thing to do. Again, our clients are all doing really interesting and worthy things. It’s not like teaching anybody how to get away with anything. We are teaching them a different skillset. They are all subject matter experts, but communicating what they do is a different skill set. That’s where we come in.
What did you want to do when you grew up?
As a kid, I didn’t really have a dream job… unless someone could teach me how to fly and it came with a cape. I always knew I was going to be a writer of some sort. I always gravitated more toward English and writing than math and science. I was horrible at math and science. It became evident pretty early that I could write about people who could do the math but I couldn’t do it myself. Everything I have done involves writing. One thing we didn’t talk about is that I have written fiction. I like to write.
What do you do outside of TCC?
Outside of TCC, four main things: Family first. I have three children and I have two grandchildren, which is a lot of fun. Second, writing. I am currently working on a fiction and a nonfiction book at the moment. I love to play tennis, third.
Last but not least, I am a life coach. As a life coach, I work with people who are in some communications related industry, and finding and helping people navigate common pain points. Work/life balance, a difficult boss, maybe switching jobs, switching careers. This year, I’ve begun my own small business, called Next Phase Life Coaching.
Additionally, I teach journalistic and mass communication-style writing courses at my alma mater, American University.
What was first job ever, do you still use it?
I bring it up during trainings here! My first job out of college was as a high school sports reporter in Naples, Florida. When I was in college, I knew I wanted to write. I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it. I joined the college newspaper and the only place they had openings was on the features desk.
I sit down with the editor and he goes: “You’re really going to love my first assignment for you!” I go “okay…” The editor says, “I want you to go to Wrigley Bros Circus and I want you to interview the bearded lady at the circus.” (Here, Steve pulled out a photo of himself and the bearded lady, which we will save for your personal training experiences) At trainings, no one ever believes me, so I have this photo as proof! I always like to say that: “She was a lovely lady who taught me many things.”
Since you have a good amount of experience with interviews and reporting, what questions should I have asked you?
I like to end all my interviews with a question about the future and where everything is going. So I would have asked: Where is this all headed, in terms of the industry we work in?
And to answer my own question: I think the future is very positive. I think communication is more important today than ever before. People, because of social media, are always “on” and you have to be aware of that. Wherever you work, you are always a representative of that organization. You can’t afford to lose your temper at a diner or an airport, because someone is always standing there with their cell phone, ready. And then, you become an instant YouTube star. So I think it’s important to learn the lessons that we teach here. I think the future is only good for us.
Anything to add?
I love the people I work with. I have learned so much from them and it’s really nice to go to a place every day where we have mutual respect, lots of laughs, and the atmosphere is conducive to a great work product.