Can you teach creativity

Writing specialist books and teaching creativity: Zamyat M. Klein

She is the trainer of the trainers, she has written 16 books and was the co-author of another five books. Zamyat M. Klein studied education and quickly switched to adult education. In order to make her tips and tricks known to a wide audience, she not only passes them on in courses (online and offline), but also reveals them in her books with exceptional openness.

Birte Vogel (bv): Ms. Klein, today everyone can call themselves a trainer or coach. At the moment there is a real glut of coaches. But even highly hyped trainers who take a lot of money for their courses sometimes turn out to be absolute rubs. How can I tell if someone is good or not?

Zamyat Klein (ZK): It is very difficult indeed. An incredible number of people rush to the market. Many who used to be different think: "Oh, I'll teach the others how to do it", but have no methodological or didactic idea. They could come to me, I train coaches (laughs), but they often don't have a feeling of deficiency at all. You can't always tell from their certificates, because the training courses all have different qualities. Basically, you can just try it out and then find out whether someone is just giving deadly boring PowerPoint presentations or has an idea of ​​what they're doing.

bv: Is this flood of threats to competition for you?

ZK: I've been doing this for 33 years, I've written 16 books, I have the training in the background - I don't worry about it. I also train the trainers myself.

bv: What are the requirements to be a good trainer?

ZK: Of course, you have to have a technical understanding, have either read it all together or have attended advanced training courses. But you absolutely have to have a methodical and didactic training, an idea of ​​learning techniques, types of learner, of how differently people learn, and that I cannot catch everyone with one method. There should be something for everyone so that they can learn optimally. This part is my absolute hobbyhorse.

bv: One of the latest books that you have contributed to is called "Adventure from Coach Hell". So is it a hell not only sometimes for the participants but also for the trainers?

ZK: There are incredibly great, exhilarating moments, but I've also had terrible experiences, for example with Deutsche Bahn, which I've been using for 34 years. To be able to marry myself out and write about the terrible mishaps was great.

Anyone who reads my books feels like taking a course with me

bv: A few of your more recent works have titles that promise a lightness that can hardly be imagined in both parts of your profession, at trainer seminars and when writing books. For example: "Easier to learn - with fun", "The magical world of suggestopedia" or "The dancing camel". How easy and fun is book writing really for you?

ZK: It's really very easy and fun. At some point I discovered that this is very easy for me. I don't sweat over the leaves, but just hammer away. The examples I give have always been matters of the heart to me. Unfortunately, only the title “Suggestopedia” went wrong. I was very happy to think that the readers would trust me and buy the book because it was mine. But that's worst of all. It is a treasure trove from which one could draw for ten years! A few days ago I asked my editor to rename it in the new edition. (laughs)

bv: Unlike many of your colleagues, you are known for unpacking in your books, i. This means that you describe all your methods in great detail and in great detail. These are exactly the same methods that you teach in your courses. Isn't that counterproductive?

ZK: I've always thought about it. But when people see my books, they really want to come to my courses. Of course, trainers could also take clients away from me with my own methods. Only by the time they have copied that I have invented something new again. But I have to pull myself together hard when someone introduces a method that is mine, but does it differently or incorrectly ...

bv: You are primarily a trainer. Why did you even start writing?

ZK: One day I read an article in a magazine for trainers with the title “Creative Learning Methods” and thought: That's my topic! It described one of my seminars and included photos from my flipcharts. But my name did not appear anywhere! I was angry, of course, called the publisher and asked: "Hömma, folks, why are you letting someone else write this, why not me?" Then they asked me if I wanted to write a whole book about it. And I thought: why not? So I sat down and wrote the book in 14 days.

bv: In a fortnight?

ZK: It was about the things that I did all the time anyway. It just flowed out of me like that.

Textbooks can also be fun and interesting

bv: Your books are not your typical, dry textbooks.

ZK: I had previously read Vera Birkenbihl's book “Stroh im Kopf?” And realized that specialist books can also be funny and interesting. When I noticed with my first book that I could write like that, I immediately wrote a second volume afterwards.

bv: With more than 16 books on the market: how have your fees for nonfiction or specialist books changed since the first book?

ZK: I received a one-time fee for the first five books. With that everything was settled. Since then, I've been getting ten percent as an author and that's it. I haven't received an advance payment in my life.

bv: You also sell your books through your own shop on your website. Is it worth it?

ZK: As an author, I get the books from the publisher 40% cheaper and can then sell them myself. There is more to me than the ten percent royalties. But a lot of people don't know that and don't buy in my shop, but elsewhere. I sell most of the books at my seminars.

bv: What are the editions of the books?

ZK: I do not know this. Maybe 2,000 or 3,000. The 3rd edition of “Kreative Geister” is now available, the 7th edition of “Creative Seminar Methods” and a DVD of “Tanzendes Kamel” is now also available.

bv: How did you come up with the other book contracts after the first book?

ZK: I took an unusual path: first I wrote the book, then I took out the right publishers from a directory in a bookstore by hand - it was all still cumbersome! Then I first sent the manuscript to one publisher, then to the next - but it took forever for them to even reply. So I made ten copies and sent them to ten publishers. After I got eight of the ten manuscripts back, the phone suddenly rang at eight in the morning. One of Herder's editors asked if the manuscript was still free.

Books in different publishers address different target groups

bv: How did the book sell when it was with this big publisher?

ZK: First they renamed it. I called it “learning with pleasure and ease”, but the publisher didn't want “pleasure” in the title. So we called it “easier learning with fun”. The problem was that the book was always in the children's section and didn't go well at all. At some point the first edition was sold off.

bv: How did it go with the next book?

ZK: I also wrote the book “Creative Seminar Methods” at first without a publishing contract, exactly as I wanted it to be. At that time I even glued in photos of the course and my methods by hand! You can't even imagine today. I had chosen a publisher for it, called there and talked to the editor. She said I should send the manuscript over. But what I didn't know at the time: you have to call again a few weeks later. So nothing came of it. But then someone introduced me to the Jünger und Gabal publishing house at Didacta in Cologne, and it was immediately clear that they were interested.

bv: And then did you stay with this publisher?

ZK: No, because three years later I wanted to go to managerSeminare for my next book, but I haven't dared call them for a long time. When I finally did, the editor immediately knew who I was and asked me to write an exposé. Then I said, “I can't do that. I'll make a mind map and come to you with it. ”At the appointment, I talked to them for two hours and they accepted the book.

bv: Is it an advantage to have published with as many different publishers as possible?

ZK: Some say that this is good because it gives you a wider range and appeals to other target groups. In this way you also get to know publishers. Unfortunately Gabal only pushes a few books, but not mine. manager seminars make better advertising; they always have new ideas. I feel better marketed with them.

My new book has marketing reasons

bv: Do the books have a measurable impact on the number of participants in your seminars?

ZK: I write to be better known and to make money. But I can't say whether the participants come just for the books. However, many say they know them. Surprisingly, some of them still come from my completely outdated website (laughs). Well, I think it does something.

Right now I'm writing a new book on "Creative Webinar Methods" [to be published in July 2015; Note d. Red.]. This is primarily for marketing reasons, so that it becomes clear that I've been working in this area for years. I'm also almost the first to come up with this topic and hopefully that will help make me better known in this scene as well.

bv: You have a degree in pedagogy. Why did you switch to adult education back then?

ZK: I originally started studying German, music and history to become a teacher. But that was only an emergency solution. Back then, people were more involved in politics than studying. Then there was a new course, diploma education. I realized relatively quickly that I wanted to do adult education. At the time, however, they were not very conscious of their choice of profession. I had no idea what I can do or what I want. I was bad at school, and I found it horrible, and at university, as I said, I was busy with other things.

bv: How was your start into professional life?

ZK: My first job was about preparatory measures for Turkish young people. They were really nice and it was through them that I discovered my love for Turkey. But the job was tough because they were fresh from Turkey and I couldn't speak a word of Turkish; there were no method books either. But my colleague spoke a little Turkish, we invented the methods ourselves, and that's how I found out that this is exactly where my strength lies.

bv: So no more thought about teaching?

ZK: Looking back, I can say, thank God! I would have gone mad at school. When people were looking for advanced training for teachers and trainers, I said: I want that too! That was exactly the right choice.

Financial security is never there

bv: What is so interesting about adult education?

ZK: I can work with someone on an equal footing. The participants are there voluntarily, they want to learn something, are interested in the topic, are open-minded, highly committed and motivated. I can take up and use suggestopedic methods quite freely. She is enthusiastic about it, and I have a lot of fun.

bv: You have been self-employed since 1991. Why did you start your own business back then?

ZK: That was also not known, but somehow everything always falls into place. At that time, Turkish youths were no longer allowed to enter the country, so the projects stopped and I became unemployed. Via an ABM office [ArbeitsBeschaffungsMaßnahme; Note d. Red.] I then worked for two years in further training and finally got my own project: a seminar on the re-entry of women. The next question was whether I should register as unemployed or start my own business. Since I had good contacts, I started my own business. As a freelancer, I thought I needed an answering machine, which was brand new back then, and I got one. Three days later I already had the first request whether I wanted to do seminars for teachers, trainers and social workers in the so-called “disadvantaged program”.

bv: With the experience of 24 years of freelance work: Would you start your own business again today?

ZK: I would probably have been heartbroken as a teacher because I would have found 70 percent of my work nonsense. I am an independent and self-reliant person. And thematically, I am completely free. Over the years I have learned which customers and which conditions I need, even if it unfortunately took many years. First I had to learn very hard not to work on weekends and evenings. Basically it is ambivalent: the type of work is exactly right and I really enjoy it. But financial security is never there. In old age and with a view to retirement, that also scares me, to be honest. That's what I find horrible about being self-employed. And I envy my friends who were teachers and who are now comfortably retiring and have a fine life.

bv: As a freelancer, you also work a lot from home.

ZK: I am a morning person and I like to get up early. I can do twice as much in the morning as I do in the afternoon and work very hard in the morning. But as a freelancer you have to fight for that very, very hard. For others it looks like this: “Oh, she's at home.” I beat everyone not to call in the morning and got really grumpy when they still do it about shit. I put all appointments in the afternoon, so I'm very, very adamant about that. And for two years I have been trying to keep my #pümipau, a punctual lunch break! At the latest at half past twelve I get up and go out; that flup! (laughs)

It's a creative frenzy that I enjoy

bv: How do you advertise yourself?

ZK: I do marketing very aggressively, especially through social media. Because of course I am most likely to find participants for online seminars on the Internet. I've blogged for six years and send out a weekly newsletter, where I can also live out my passion for writing. A new variant is also information webinars, where I can present my projects in direct contact with interested parties. There are now the greatest possibilities - and that's what my new book is all about.

Marketing is at the same time a service for customers, because this is how they find out what offers are available and what suits them. I do it my own way, but it has a completely different effect. I'm a one-woman company, I don't have any mentors or anything behind me. Still, I'm known like a sore thumb. The other day someone said to me: “Your book changed my life.” That's nice, but I can't buy anything from it. Basically, like many women, I hope that quality will prevail at some point. But to be honest, I don't get that impression.

bv: If you stopped training, could you make a living from the books?

ZK: No, I can't make a living from that. I like to write, and I also have plenty of ideas for new textbooks. But writing takes a lot of time. On the other hand, I earn next to nothing with it. I can't afford to write one book after another unrestrainedly. I used to write in parallel, but that was too stressful. Now I've been pinching it for a year or two. It doesn't matter whether I've published 16 or 17 books. I then like to use the time to get my seminars and online seminars up and running.

In 2014 I wrote again, 100 creative tips for an app and a new book [“Games and Movement in Seminars”, Haufe-Verlag; Note d. Red.]. And currently I'm working on the book “Creative Webinar Methods”. The next two topics are already fixed and a new publisher is also set.

bv: Is that stressful for you, or is this mixture just right for you?

ZK: It's not as if I only write while writing books. In my online seminars I write scripts like crazy and lead the exchange in the forum. I experience an effect similar to that of writing books. It's a creative frenzy that I really enjoy.Thousands of ideas come to me. I'm a trainer with all my heart and soul. I keep inventing new methods and keep writing books about them. I'm just getting tired of traveling around to the seminars. That is why I am now giving alternative seminars in my online academy. You can't make a living from specialist books. Writing a bestseller novel would of course be nice, but I can't think of anything because it won't ignite at all!

I've learned that you can make your dreams come true

bv: You have been working as a freelancer for many years. Can you retire soon? Or do you even want it?

ZK: If I retired now, my pension would not be very high, even though I have always paid up. There is this terrible sentence “I have to work until I fall in the grave.” That sounds threatening, but it is reality. That's why I'm just creating another mainstay for myself, namely my Oaze Online Academy, in which I not only offer seminars myself, but also other trainers, and where I also rent rooms. And when I'm in Turkey I will continue to write books, but maybe from now on as e-books.

Even if I had a lot of money or got a big pension, I would continue to work now. It just makes a big difference that I know I have to, whether I'm old or sick. But I am determined to change something about the situation.

bv: Speaking of Turkey - you have achieved what many text workers dream of. You go to Turkey several times a year for a few weeks and write your books there on the beach. How did you do that?

ZK: In order to implement that, you first have to be clear about what you really want and then admit it to yourself. I used to only be there for two weeks on vacation, but I had already decided to spend more time in Turkey at some point. And one day I thought about exactly how I could actually do it. Of course, this can only be done step by step. But it taught me that you can make your dreams come true, that it really works.

bv: How did you even find niches for this in your tight schedule?

ZK: I blocked my time from the start and put my seminars around it. And then I also work there on site and give seminars there [“Orient Express for professional fulfillment and orientation”; Note d. Red.]. I have expanded that over time. Last time I was there for 40 days in spring and 40 days in autumn. You really just have to dare to dream about them, allow yourself to have such wishes, see what leads you in the right direction, make clear decisions about them. And suddenly all kinds of doors open.

bv: Thank you very much for this interview!


(First published on "Writing as a Profession" on 02/22/2015.)