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Mimi Nicklin: “Belief and passion”

If I meet or talk to just one person every day who finds value in my message or data, that’s enough. I have been lucky that for five months now I have met at least one of these people every day. This gets me up early and keeps me up late. My goal is to […]

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If I meet or talk to just one person every day who finds value in my message or data, that’s enough. I have been lucky that for five months now I have met at least one of these people every day. This gets me up early and keeps me up late. My goal is to elevate the discussion surrounding the Empathy Deficit in our world and to encourage more people to consider empathy as a business and community changing skill we all have access to. We are industries of people, for people, and our ability to connect with each other is our ability to win. With empathy levels in consistent decline for thirty years, it is time to stop and consider the impact. Not only for team health and business profit but arguably for the future of our civilization.


As a part of our series about Inspirational Women of the Speaking Circuit, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mimi Nicklin.

Mimi Nicklin is an Author and the host of the ‘Empathy for Breakfast’ breakfast show as well as the Secrets of The Gap podcast. She is an experienced marketer and communications specialist, and a well-known empathetic leader.

For over fifteen years she has been working across the globe with her clients to drive stand out creative interventions that lead to business and culture change. Driven by the pursuit of bringing conscientiousness to the role and impact of Regenerative Leadership, with a desire to make the world of work a more empathetic, valuable and sustainably healthy place to be, Softening The Edge is Mimi’s debut book.

Having lived and worked in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Dubai, Mimi’s approach changes organisations from the inside out, focusing on cultural, behavioural and mindset change. She is a natural coach, writer and creative mind, and has held roles as diverse as Strategic Director, Vice President and Creative Officer in some of the world’s leading advertising agencies. Her passion for balancing humanism with capitalism, drives her commitment to leading the practice of Regenerative and empathetic leadership, as well as her ‘principles of people’, into organizations and communities worldwide.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in the countryside in the south of Britain with a sister, two dogs and a very grumpy cat. My life was a quintessentially country life; living in a small village where we bought our food locally, went to school down the road and saw more cows and sheep than we did people!

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

In the summer of 2018 I sat with a business coach who asked me a question that changed the way I saw the business world. She encouraged me to consider reframing my leadership intuition (an approach I had been comfortable with for many years) instead to business ‘empathy.’ This provocation begun two years of studying the academics and power of empathy and to the discovery of the depth and reach of the Empathy Deficit in our society. The truth is that I never thought about becoming an author until I wrote my current book, Softening the Edge, but once I identified the reach and impact of the severe empathy gap globally and started to write, I couldn’t stop. My passion for the subject and for the realistic change that we could be leading means that I feel that this book wrote me, rather than the other way around.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My arrival into my last role running the regional arm of a large global advertising agency in the Middle East was certainly an interesting journey. Navigating Arab culture as a single mother, facing a region where fees are often paid cash in hand and motivating teams over long summers where the heat rises above 118 degrees gave me many a mountain to navigate my way around. The role I took on resembled very little of what I expected when I arrived in this new region, and I found myself turning around a broken business in a market where I knew no-one, had no network and had no business contacts to leverage. What was an incredibly stressful and lonely process, with immense personal sacrifice, however led me to putting into practice a set of Regenerative Leadership practices as a test case that ultimately changed my life. I set out to prove that putting a focus on people beyond profit could and would lead to business turnaround and this became a career defining passion for me. (And yes, it worked, and I tell the story of that turnaround journey in my book.)

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Accepting a meeting on the 122nd story of the tallest building of the world whilst being afraid of elevators! When I accepted I clearly didn’t know the meeting location but wow, what that an extremely long way up. (I made it, just!)

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My gosh there have been so many people that have supported me wonderfully, but of all of them Konstantin Popovic (KP), CEO of Grey Group, Singapore stands out as a career changing leader. KP and I had a rocky beginning — we had experienced very different backgrounds until we met — but the adaptation to seeing the world through KP’s lens was ultimately extremely powerful for me. I learnt how to navigate complex business negotiation with resilience and how to prioritize immense challenges that appear to be of equal importance but never are. I learnt the true meaning of loyalty and it is one I will always carry.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

It’s always easier said than done but I have learnt that the fear of failure is always worse than the failure itself. In failing we learn, and in learning we grow. Ultimately as humans we were born to thrive and to continue to grow; without this we bore, lose momentum and lack in inspiration. Balancing the potential for failure against the potential for stagnancy makes you realize that the risk of potentially failing is the far less scary option.

What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

If I meet or talk to just one person every day who finds value in my message or data, that’s enough. I have been lucky that for five months now I have met at least one of these people every day. This gets me up early and keeps me up late. My goal is to elevate the discussion surrounding the Empathy Deficit in our world and to encourage more people to consider empathy as a business and community changing skill we all have access to. We are industries of people, for people, and our ability to connect with each other is our ability to win. With empathy levels in consistent decline for thirty years, it is time to stop and consider the impact. Not only for team health and business profit but arguably for the future of our civilization.

Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?

Belief and passion. If you believe your words and are passionate about sharing them, the rest becomes far less of a hurdle. If you can find something you are truly driven by and then look for ways to open up opportunity to talk about it, you cannot fail to be empowering and inspiring. People resonate with human potential and passion. For example, whilst I have always been good on a stage (I work in advertising so that was a pre-requisite!) now that I speak about empathetic influence the feedback I get is far more effusive. It’s as if the topic completed me and now my energy leads the content.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

I truly believe in Neuro Linguistic Programming & coaching as an extremely powerful way of helping people reframe this fear and I would recommend anyone looking to overcome a barrier might consider an NLP Coach in their area. Even just a few sessions will help you totally redefine the fear and get you up and sharing with the world.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. That EQ is a far more critical skill to hone that a technical skill ever could be. Cracking the ability to work cross cultural teams effectively and with humility is a highly demanded and specialist skill.
  2. That you cannot do everything yourself — it took me well over twelve years of my career to finally realize that showing vulnerability by asking for help nearly always fast-tracks your progress. People love to be asked when you genuinely see their skills and input as a support.
  3. That ‘specialism’ is a dying art — in my industry we are pushed by traditional stereotypes and systems to ‘choose a discipline and stick to it’ — yet today the world needs range. People with wide craft and experience, that can create three dimensional solutions, will be the future leaders of flexible, creative and dynamic organizations. Headhunters and recruiters still cannot work out how to put me in a box that fits the specs of today but it is only recently I realized mine are skills to be proud of and not to shy away from.
  4. That speaking your truth can never be the wrong decision — clients and colleagues respect those that have a differing opinion for smart reasons. I sat through so many meetings, for so many years, not truly saying what I saw.
  5. That choosing how to dress, and what you wear, is part of your own personal brand. For the longest time I stuck to corporate dress to fit in but in recent years I realized that my style is part of my confidence and ability to speak up. Feeling truly comfortable creates authenticity and in todays world of ‘fake’, being the real ‘you’ matters.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Thank you! I am about to start writing my second book which looks at curiosity as the next decades most critical skillset. It builds directly as part of the practice of empathy, because the reality is enquiry drives understanding, and yet it is a skill we so rarely see taught. I believe we can elevate the conversation around curiosity, creativity and emotional intelligence to true corporate and commercial gain. I am also working on a new business journey that sees me taking an exciting new path to truly discover empathy within humanity, but this is still highly confidential!

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I believe deeply in Self Empathy as a critical part of practicing empathy for our own health and wellbeing. I see Self Empathy as involving three components: firstly being kind toward yourself rather than picking up on the harshly self-critical habits that the world propagates today, secondly the ability to frame imperfection in terms of the shared human experience — very rarely are mistakes or failures ours alone as individuals, but are areas we have jointly found to be unproductive — thirdly, remaining curious about ourselves and being diligent about our own state of wellness and how we are seeing and responding to our context. Research strongly supports the idea that self-empathy enhances motivation, and many studies show that people who are self-empathetic are less likely to be depressed and anxious, meaning their state of mind is also more conducive to risk taking, innovating and growing.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love Theodore Roosevelts quote “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” I use this widely to support of the conversation surrounding empathetic and Regenerative Leadership. I just love how accurately it reflects human nature and our deep-rooted desire to be seen, heard and cared for in a pro social society. We were born to thrive together.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I wrote my book, and record my show and podcast weekly, with the goal of encouraging more people to consider the power of empathy in our workplaces and communities. My vision is of a stronger, kinder, more connected post Covid-19 world. A world where the discussion around empathetic influence can be a beacon of change and a driver of our uniquely human ability to inspire people and more deeply understand them. I drive this movement in hope and with a vision for greater performance happiness and health for humankind.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Ahhh, imagine that! Without a doubt it would be the Obamas because this conversation was originally, and continues to be so deeply, tied to their own belief and outlook in the world.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Absolutely. @miminicklin across Instagram and LinkedIn, and @miminicklinleadership on Facebook. My breakfast show can be found at www.empathyforbreakfast.com and my podcast, Secrets of The Gap, is across all major podcast platforms. My book is available now on Amazon.com.

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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