Buffi Duberman is a high-performance corporate and private English communication coach with over 30 years of experience. She coaches the humans behind the celebrity and CEO titles to share their talent, business, and message with the world in order to create true value, meaning, and impact.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York and have always been interested in languages. When I was 11 I wrote to my school principal to offer Latin and Greek as foreign languages. He refused. After I finished college I traveled through Europe for 6 weeks before starting my job as a bilingual therapist in NY. In 1990, someone heard me speaking English in Prague, and spontaneously asked me if I was a native speaker and would like to start the first private language academy in the Czech Republic. I said yes, got 70 cents an hour, and started a lifelong adventure of serving others in their communication goals. I met a Dutch man in Barcelona, then moved to the Netherlands, where I had a safe, well-paid job at the most prestigious private language academy for professionals. I left in 2001 to follow my dream – to be the first Personal English Coach of the Netherlands. I’ve coached over 10,000 people, worked on over 100 albums, done dozens of films, have consulted for 50 TV shows, and have CEO and celebrity clients in several countries. I realize that not everyone can invest in personal coaching, so that’s why I founded Communication Nation – the world’s first Business English app and membership platform.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
Yes. I had just left a very safe, well-paid job to start something that no one had ever heard of. Instead of working with people in an academy with a bell ringing every 55 minutes, then working with another client, I wanted to work long-term with highly motivated people, creating tailor-made solutions for their communication needs. Nothing like this existed in Europe at the time. Everyone thought I was crazy, especially since I was leaving this wonderful job with excellent benefits just after having my first child. I could no longer ignore the voice inside my head. I had to take the leap. It did not exist for anyone else in the world, but it existed in my heart. So it was time to gather my courage and leave it all behind. I had to work so hard to prove my value. I had no peers, there was no one I could ask about how they did this, as it was a completely new concept. I took baby steps but big risks. I took on every job I could. People started hearing the difference in how some pop stars were singing on the radio, how they sounded much more confident and natural in English. Then their managers asked me to help them negotiate better deals internationally, check their press releases, etc. Then the ball really started rolling and CEOs, politicians, and people from outside the Netherlands started asking me for help. It was a hard start but I had to keep on trying. Every day one small baby steps in the right direction. I heard a lot of ‘no’ – but to me ‘no’ is just short for ‘no…t right now’. I said thank you and that I’d follow up in a few months to see if that no was still a no. By then it had turned into a ‘yes’ because they had started hearing about my work and seeing the results.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
I have a wacky sense of humor which has served me very well. I also love creating my own materials and really designing new communication strategies for my clients. Because of this cocktail of humor and creativity, I was usually asked at the language academy to work with the artists, as they were the ones who did not fit into the mold. I was asked so often for private lessons – and at one point I could not combine both jobs- the last straw was that I was working until 5 teaching at the academy, then I jumped in my car and drove to Brussels to record an album with a top pop star, then drove home at 3 am just to start work at 8.30 the next day. That made me realize I could not sustain this for long. So I decided to take the leap. No regrets.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
I founded Communication Nation as a natural extension of my coaching practice. Personal or corporate coaching is an investment, and I realize not everyone can afford that. So I spent 1 year writing, 1 year designing, and 1 year building, testing, and tweaking Communication Nation, the world’s first Business English app and membership platform. It has all of my expertise, tips, and tricks, combined with my wacky humor and creativity. There are 7 courses on the inside – from the Presentation Playground, to the Vocabulary Valley, to the Mindset Mansion, and so much more. There are over 200 videos and workbooks, plus an active membership community of like-minded people who also want to ditch the doubt when it comes to English communication. We also have live events, challenges, daily contact with an English coach, and so much more. We open the doors on Feb 1 for 1 week only, and there are hundreds on the waiting list with zero ads. I’m so happy to now help even more people communicate with confidence!
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
- Always be the stupidest person in the room – make sure your team is smarter than you in the things you don’t want to learn or are not good at. I have a small, passionate team who keep me organized so that I can focus on coaching.
- Every ‘no’ to someone else is a ‘yes’ to you. Make sure you honor your time, attention, and energy – they are limited and precious – spend them well.
- You are not good at everything. And you can’t do it all alone. If you cannot invest in a team, find out who needs what you are naturally good at and make a barter deal.
- The way you talk to the world starts with how you talk to yourself. If you feel you don’t have a story to share, this might mean that you feel you don’t have any value. You do. Don’t withhold the gold. You do have a story to share, that no one else can. Share it.
- Perfection is self-sabotage. Not doing something because it’s not ‘perfect’ yet is just another form of procrastination. Share the imperfection.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
I was working in Bali and I came home at the end of February, 2020. Within 4 weeks I had lost all my private and corporate coaching sessions that were planned for the next several months. All of it. I had to put on my entrepreneurial hat and develop more online material and coach online too. It was a big change, and I missed hugging people, but now I love working from my Zoom room, as I can be in several different countries every single day!
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
Yes – the biggest one is founding Communication-nation.com. I’ve tested it in several countries around the world and everyone has loved it and found true value. Even native speakers found the quizzes challenging!
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
Women need to support other women. If you see a job profile and you don’t fit it 100%, apply anyway. So many women hold back until it’s ‘perfect’ and keep comparing themselves to others. Stop the comparison and jump into action.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
‘Life is short. Make it deep.’ – you have no say in how long you will be here on this planet, so go deep. Get real, be true to yourself, and share your story with the world.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Keep believing in yourself!