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Nicky Taylor: “Everyone is unique”

The impact of COVID alone without any of the additional challenges that companies face on a day to day basis clearly demonstrates the importance of resilience. Both organizations and their employees need the capacity to anticipate and respond to change not just to survive but also to thrive and evolve. Resilient employees build strong connections […]

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The impact of COVID alone without any of the additional challenges that companies face on a day to day basis clearly demonstrates the importance of resilience. Both organizations and their employees need the capacity to anticipate and respond to change not just to survive but also to thrive and evolve. Resilient employees build strong connections and relationships with others, creating win-win outcomes.


As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicky Taylor.

Nicky is a Published Author and Relationship & Behaviour expert, based in the UK. She and her husband Mark are the only couple in the world together to have achieved the prestigious titles of Master Trainers of both NLP & Hypnosis.

As a couple, they have changed thousands of people’s lives across all continents using their easy to learn, practical and empowering mindset and behaviour tools.

Nicky has a passion for Making THE Difference and assisting everyone (everyone who wants to!) reach their full potential and lead meaningful and fulfilling lives through their coaching and training programmes.

Nicky is co-creator of NLP+®, Personal Evolutionary Coaching and the Be More series of podcasts. Her first book Be More Kid, co-authored with her husband Mark Taylor and broadcaster and Entrepreneur Ed James was published in November 2020 by Wiley Capstone.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s so interesting to find that even though you may have had a number of careers, which on the surface can appear quite diverse, they are usually connected in some way.

For example, I started my career working in a laboratory. Five years later I joined the government, transferring to various departments as I advanced the promotion ladder, these roles ranged from helping clients to sort out their unemployment benefit and coaching them back to work, right through to being a Special Projects Manager, rolling out a major national multi-million pound IT project — and a Criminal Investigator and Business Analyst in between. I also ran my own Image Consultancy, before becoming Director and co-founder of the Coaching and Training business — The Taylored Life Company.

When I examine my motivation for carrying out each of those very different roles, it has always been about making THE difference.

I believe I have a real knack for getting to the root of something, seeing a path for change and being able to assist that to happen in a simple and straightforward way.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

2009 was the year that Mark and I took our NLP trainings, which for me at that time were for my own personal development and to assist with continued promotion. As planned, by the end of 2009, we found ourselves in Sydney Australia training as NLP Trainers.

In 2009 we also created the Training company mainly for Mark to develop, with the intention that I would assist as and when available. It was also a great plan B if anything happened to my job.

Looking back, how very differently it all turned out!

At that time I was a Senior Officer with the government, this was the level of seniority that I had set out to achieve right from my very first day of working there, back in 1985.

Interestingly, I later realized that I never actually had set myself a goal beyond that goal.

Less than 4 months after qualifying as NLP Trainers in Sydney and returning to the UK, Mark and I were involved in a road traffic accident on my way to work. It became apparent relatively quickly that what seemed like a minor collision had more serious implications than first thought.

Within seconds, I went from being an independent person, flying around the UK on a weekly basis for meetings, to needing to be cared for.

From the head injury I sustained, various issues unfolded which at their worst meant I was unable to cross the road alone and several alarming incidents in the kitchen meant I couldn’t prepare any food or do any cooking or cleaning as it was just too dangerous. It was almost three years before I would be able to drive again.

Nine months after the accident I began gradually returning to work, yet I was incapable of carrying out even the simplest of tasks, not even remembering how to turn on my computer.

After several failed attempts to return, my government career ended after 28 years of service — all as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time…

…or at least it would have been very easy to think that — yet, it was actually the start of a whole new chapter of my life and an even greater opportunity to be a leader of change than ever before.

The opportunity has allowed me the privilege of assisting thousands of people across the world to make changes and lead better, more fulfilling lives — and in order for me to be able to do that, my first step was to start with myself and my own recovery back to full health.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Mark, Ed and myself just released our first book in November 2020, published by Wiley Capstone which is really exciting. The book is called Be More Kid and has already been a number one best seller on Amazon.

Through self-development, people often look to become new people, completely discarding their old selves. We take a different approach. We believe that we all have magnificent resources inside of us that we have had since we were children, we have merely lost touch with those resources and just need to be reconnected.

For example, if you think of the resilience, persistence and determination it takes for a young child to learn to walk.

We also completely believe in ourselves as kids and believe in our capability to be anything that we choose, it’s just a matter of time.

Roll on a number of years and how very differently the majority of people think and behave. Often full of self-doubt and lacking in confidence.

Be More Kid shares practical tools to unlearn unhelpful habits that we unknowingly adopt as we become adults and reconnect with the positive resources that we had when we were kids.

The three of us co-authors also share lots of personal stories throughout the book, demonstrating that we all have problems in our lives. We want the book to inspire as many people as possible to take steps, even if they are small ones, to lead more meaningful lives — and we show them how to start to do that.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

One of the topics that we speak about in our book Be More Kid, is the grown-up trap.

We get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids then find that we need to earn more money to pay for it all. Then there are the vacations we want to take, the nice car, kids schooling — so we work longer hours and travel farther afield to get a better job with more responsibility to be able to pay for everything.

As a result, work becomes the focus of life, long hours, stress, a job they don’t enjoy.

People feel tired and demotivated, stuck in the grown-up trap, they can’t see a way out until their house is paid, their kids are grown up and they retire — and by then they know they will have missed the best years of their lives.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

According to the 2017 Gallup ‘State of the Global Workplace’ report, 18% of employees are actively disengaged in their work or workplace and a further 67% are not engaged, resulting in 7 trillion dollars in lost productivity.

The study states that in business units where employees are highly engaged, 21% higher productivity is achieved. Engaged employees are ones who are highly involved and enthusiastic about their work and their workplace.

Unengaged employees are psychologically unattached to their work and their organization. Putting time but not energy or passion into their work.

An actively disengaged employee isn’t just unhappy at work, they are resentful that their needs are not being met and act out their unhappiness. On a daily basis, disengaged employees potentially undermine the accomplishments of their engaged co-workers.

Both Gallup and Queens School of Business demonstrated that disengaged workers had a 37% higher rate of absenteeism, 49% more accidents and 60% more errors and defects.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

Research clearly shows that increased company productivity, profitability and employee well-being are achieved when employees are highly involved and enthusiastic about their workplace.

Employees are often skeptical of programs to drive culture change as they feel they cannot relate to them and therefore do not have the motivation to fully participate.

Be More Kid is one of the very few concepts that everyone can relate to — after all we’ve all had the experience of being children and we all have the experience of having adopted unhelpful traits and habits as adults.

In order to create the Be More Kid philosophy we carried out extensive research with both kids and adults, identifying the differences in attitude and behavior.

Be More Kid takes the knowledge and experience of being an adult and combines that with the positive resources that we have lost touch with from when we were a kid. Adopting the Be More Kid philosophy brings benefit right across the board for organizations and employees.

The four components of the Be More Kid philosophy are Playful, Passion, Present and Purpose, these components together with the fifth trait of Resilience summarize resources that kids have from a young age and the resources that we often lose touch with as adults.

The summary below details the five areas falling within the Be More Kid culture that provide a framework for improving company work culture and the benefits of each:

PLAYFUL

Companies who incorporate playfulness into all that they do attract employees who want to be innovative and creative — and because the company encourages this, they are happy people and give one hundred percent to their work. Being playful diffuses tension and stress and is a powerful tool for building high-performing, engaged teams improving relationships and communication.

PASSION

When a company is able to ignite the passion within their employees they become highly motivated and enjoy being at work, productivity and well-being is therefore enhanced. Enthusiasm within a workplace is contagious, generating a cycle of continuous improvement.

PRESENT

Being present increases concentration and accuracy. Encouraging employees to notice and acknowledge how they are feeling assists with addressing stress and promotes well-being. Being present improves communication and builds more effective relationships. Employees are more adaptable, enhancing their ability to respond rather than react

PURPOSE

The importance of an aligned purpose between employees and their organization can never be underestimated. Common purpose gives direction and meaning. In a global study of nearly 500 executives, 80% believed that a strong sense of purpose drives employee satisfaction and affects an organization’s ability to perform. The Gallup poll referred to earlier showed 9 out of 10 employees would be willing to take a pay cut for more meaningful work.

RESILIENCE

The impact of COVID alone without any of the additional challenges that companies face on a day to day basis clearly demonstrates the importance of resilience. Both organizations and their employees need the capacity to anticipate and respond to change not just to survive but also to thrive and evolve. Resilient employees build strong connections and relationships with others, creating win-win outcomes.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

According to Gallup, on average, Americans work 137 more hours every year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours than British workers, 394 hours more than the average German worker, and 499 more hours per year than workers in France.

The US is one of the few countries, and the only industrialized nation, that doesn’t have laws that cap the maximum number of hours that can be worked each week.

The US is also the only advanced economy in the world which doesn’t have government mandated paid vacation days or holidays. Which means that, according to CBS news, 1 in 4 workers don’t get any paid vacation entitlement at all.

Although it varies from employer to employer, the average US worker receives around 10 days paid vacation per year with around 55% of employees choosing not to take all of their vacation days. Compare that to the UK where full-time workers have a statutory entitlement of a minimum of 28 days paid annual leave per year.

This propagates a culture in the US where overworking is the norm and with more than half of the workforce in the US being unhappy, 18% of employees actively disengaged and a further 67% not engaged, this culture isn’t a healthy one either for employees or organizations.

In order for any culture to change there are a number of mind shifts that need to take place. In the case in hand, even though many employees do have vacation days that they are entitled to, 55% are not taking all of those days.

There are various studies that have been carried out highlighting the concerns and reasons behind not taking leave days and those reasons need to be addressed individually. Whilst at the same time changing the overall culture within the US.

The overall culture needs to be fostered that it’s not only acceptable to take time away from work, it’s actually healthy to do so and it is the expectation of companies that assigned time off must be taken. Doing so will boost both productivity and profitability, along with the enhancement of the physical and mental well-being of employees.

The Be More Kid philosophy provides a relatable framework to assist with the acceptance that it’s okay to take time away from work, to play and to have fun and this can only be of benefit to all concerned.

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

It’s interesting how my leadership and management style has changed and evolved over the years as I have understood more about the psychology of people and their behavior, these are topics that we now teach in our Training courses.

I believe that being flexible and adapting your leadership or management style is key, the Law of Requisite variety tells us that the person or system with the most flexibility controls the system.

Everyone is unique. Even individuals themselves have different needs at different times and so limiting your leadership or management style restricts your proficiency as a leader, lessening the prospect of achieving either their or your outcome.

The expertise of being an excellent leader is having the ability to adapt to the needs of the person in the moment, utilizing the most effective approach.

For example, one of our employees becomes overwhelmed easily, particularly where technology is concerned, therefore the management style that most effectively assists them to achieve their outcome and develop their knowledge and skills is a supportive leadership style. Yet, there are times when an autocratic leadership style is necessary and at other times a hands-off approach is needed depending upon the circumstances and the outcome required.

Likewise, one of the Coaches that I mentor often requires a transformational leadership style because it is appropriate to their goal of becoming a leader themselves; however, this can change according to what is required in order to assist them with specific areas of development and growth

For me, a true leader is someone who can adapt their own management and leadership style to bring out the best in others.

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?

When I was in my second government post I had a manager called Chris Leng. Chris was the first person I worked for who really took an interest in his staff. He took the trouble to understand what was important to each member of his team, what motivated them and what each wanted to achieve. He then helped each individual create a plan of how to accomplish their personal goals.

Chris used his knowledge and expertise as a leader to suggest ways to develop each of us in the way that we needed to be developed, he also stood up for us if he felt any of us were being treated unjustly by the rest of the office.

Chris was the first person who really believed in me in the workplace and he put me forward for promotion based on my potential rather than requiring years of experience, despite it being frowned upon by more senior Managers who did their best to dissuade him, but he stuck to what he believed in.

There were twelve employees put forward for a promotion board, me included. Each of them had years more experience than me in post.

Thanks to Chris’s mentoring skills, I was the only one from those twelve who passed the promotion board that year.

If he hadn’t believed in me, I wouldn’t have gone on to have the confidence and tenacity to continue to successfully apply for promotions throughout my government career, always rejecting any suggestions that I should be in post a certain number of years before I applied, giving me faith and confidence in my own potential.

Many years after we traveled along separate career paths and had lost touch, we reconnected on LinkedIn back in 2013. His message to me was “I always said you would do well.”

We all need a Chris on our side!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

When we are encountering challenges in life, there is a tendency to think that we are the only ones who have problems. That everyone else’s life is perfect.

I personally have experienced how challenging it can be to have to go into work each day and perform when it feels like a battle to even get there.

I spent many years looking for ways to be able to think differently, I wanted to stop the constant doubt in my head, questioning everything that I was doing. I read hundreds of self-help books and attended dozens of courses and seminars yet nothing gave me the answers that I was looking for.

When I began my NLP journey I finally found techniques and a mindset that got the results that I had been searching for. After working with thousands of people over the years, we have now developed and honed these skills, creating our own techniques to achieve maximum results.

I have used my success to not only help individuals but also train coaches so that they in turn can help others. The quote attributed to Mother Teresa captures it perfectly ‘I alone can’t change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples’.

I am motivated to help as many people as possible to learn tools to change their mindset, so they don’t have to spend as many years as I did looking for answers. Our book Be More Kid is another vehicle that assists us to achieve this. The wonderful messages that we are receiving, demonstrate that we are making THE difference and bringing goodness to the world.

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

“Blinkers on and focus” is the quote that I most often say to myself and the one that I find most helpful.

There are many distractions that can impact on our ability to stay on track. If you’re having a challenging day (or a challenging year in some cases!) it’s not always easy to pick yourself up and take that first step, or keep going when life gets tough, I have experienced this personally. It can feel easier to do nothing, yet that doesn’t help.

‘Blinkers on and focus” reminds me to block out any negative distractions and to focus on the task at hand, as only by continuing to work through challenges one step at a time will you get to the other side.

You are a person of great 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Throughout my working life I have found that mindset is the difference that makes the difference between those who lead successful meaningful lives and those who underachieve.

Depending upon how people deal with issues that involve negative emotions and how they address their own limiting beliefs, determines their success — i.e. whether they see challenges as an opportunity to grow and evolve, or they hold back and accept their limitations as a reason to become a passenger in their own lives.

Therefore, I would like to see some of the courses that we currently deliver adapted and included in the curriculum for all schools. This would enable young people to fully understand themselves and the way that they think, resulting in an appreciation of why everyone’s model of the world is different, leading to a much greater tolerance and acceptance across all cultures. Just imagine the positive impact this alone would have.

By teaching within schools the practical tools for releasing negative emotions and understanding how to get to the root cause of problems, this will really empower youngsters and encourage them to believe in themselves, developing resilience for when times get tough. This in turn will have a phenomenal impact on the opportunities that they create for themselves and assist them with achieving their full potential.

Over the longer term, people will lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives, which seems to be lacking at this current time.

Teaching the mindset for success to everyone regardless of their background nurtures talent for the future and perpetuate the good in the world.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

Be More Kid is published by Wiley and is out now

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