Rachel Elfenbein is a project manager and personal coach, as well as owner of Zannico. Rachel is originally from Maryland, always loved the arts and theater, but went to a science and math high school. Like any wise person, she moved to NYC as soon as she was able and ended up at NYU getting my master’s in Performance Studies from Tisch School of the Arts. She worked at The Jim Henson Company for a bit working on their International Festival of Puppet theater which was held in NYC. Definitely the most fun job ever.
Rachel moved to Seattle because it’s beautiful. She worked for Microsoft and did some acting/directing, but found her true calling as an acting/presentation coach. She started her own company, Zannico http://zannico.com, an acting/presence coaching, business communication, and presentation development consulting firm. She uses a wide variety of theater techniques (voice: Linklater, technique: Meisner) translated to the corporate environment. This mix of humanities and business is particularly fascinating to me; I love the areas where disciplines overlap and where people find ways to meet needs by gleaning wisdom outside the usual purvey of a domain. Rachel is also a wife and mother to a daughter, Sophie, 11 ½. It’s such an honor to interview someone with so many talents!
Q: You have some expertise with personal coaching and applying acting techniques to business presentations. How did you learn these skills and what effects do they have on your clients? How does coaching change lives?
RE: I have a theater background and an M.A. in Performance Studies from Tisch School of the Arts (NYU). I also have a background in the corporate world. Being inside the business world, I observed a huge gap between job expectations, i.e. that ability to present and clearly communicate, and skill/comfort level. Although I draw on my performance background, I don’t reference it much in my coaching work.
I believe that my coaching helps individuals be more cognizant of how to get what they want either in a conversation (asking for a raise) or a presentation (pitching a new idea). I also teach them to listen and observe their audience. Are they closer to getting what they want out of the conversation/presentation? If not, what can they do to change tactics to be more successful?
Q: Can you tell me more about yourself? What would make someone recommend you for Interviews with Incredible Women?
RE: I’ll start by saying that even though I live in Seattle and love it here, I’m still an East Coast-er. Being farther than 30 minutes from any large body of water makes me incredibly nervous.
I am so humbled to be recommended as an “Incredible Woman”. I suppose it’s because I’ve done lots of things but I rarely stop and reflect on them. I own my own business, Zannico, as an acting and presentation skills coach, I am a metalsmith, I’ve been known to re-upholster anything that isn’t nailed down, I’m a geek and worked at Microsoft, I love science especially physics and geology, I’m a mom, I can’t cook but I can make a mean batch of cookies, I’m a breast cancer survivor, and I have written several articles on avante garde puppet theater which is a passion of mine.
Q: Diane mentioned that you are a jeweler. How did you become involved in making jewelry? What do you enjoy creating?
RE: I love making jewelry because I don’t think, I just do. Metalsmithing is truly, very difficult. You can get better at it but you can never be perfect. I find that extremely freeing from my perfectionist tendencies.
My grandfather was a jeweler. It is something I’ve always been interested in.
Q: How do you make time for yourself? What gives you balance?
RE: Cocktails with girlfriends…I also schedule blocks of time for myself – to do jewelry, work on my business, or just relax. It’s not easy but I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve gotten older.
Q: When have you been most satisfied with your life? What does that feel like? Taste like?
RE: If at the end of each day, I can look back at the day and know I found the time and energy to balance what I need to do (chores, work, exercise, remembering to take my vitamins and eat dark leafy greens!) and what I love to do (connect with my daughter and husband, work on my acting/presentation coaching business, making jewelry). Every day I try to push through being tired, being lazy, or being scared. It feels intentional and satisfying and I feel proud of myself for a day well lived. It tastes almost exactly like cherry pie.