Monday, December 19, 2011

First Impressions Matter

You could lose your next sale before you have even uttered a word!
90% of people have formed an opinion about you in under 60 seconds.
They think they know you:
  • Your age
  • Your experience
  • Your knowledge
  • Your level of intelligence
  • ….. and they are assessing if they trust and respect you
You cannot stop it; we are programmed to check people out.
So successful people stop and think about the impression they want to make. Take people like:
  • Richard Branson
  • David Cameron
  • Barack Obama
  • Boris Johnson
  • Ghandi
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
All different characters, in different cultures, with a different impact - it’s not an accident – their impact is planned. A sales person should stop and think carefully about the impression they want to make. Think of words you would want to say about you. For example:
"He’s professional, approachable, dynamic and I trust him. He will be honest with me."
"She’s bright, experienced, focused and I respect her knowledge and trust her judgement."   

First impressions can be broken down into 4 core areas.
Ø Appearance - How you look.
Ø Voice  -  How you speak
Ø Content – What you say? How you listen?
Ø Connection  -  How you connect with your ‘customer’

Never, ever underestimate the power of your first impression. When you find your innate style, the one that fits you and your values, you will be amazing. You will connect with 80 – 95% of people.
When you meet someone for the first time, the human senses are heightened. The visual sense takes over and looks intently at everything it can see - height, size, clothes, expressions, eye contact, and movement. Everything that someone sees as they look at you delivers a message about you. From your hairstyle down to the tips of your shoes - your pen, your pad, your telephone, they all carry a message. The way you walk, your handshake, your posture, your expressions and the way you use your hands, all tell someone else about you. Are you sending out the right messages for you?
The auditory sense listens for the sound of the voice, the volume, the speed, the tonality and use of the pause.  All the information is being processed in milli seconds and the kinaesthetic part of the brain is coming up with its answers about how it feels, about what it is seeing and hearing.
All that information is taken deep inside the unconscious mind and is evaluated against our values, our experiences.
So it is a difficult process and you are not going to influence and connect with everyone. But there is a huge amount you can do to improve your personal Impact and ensure you are projecting a better First Impression.

Simple Actions you can take now:
1.         Reassess your business wardrobe
  • Invest in clothes that ‘say’ what you want to ‘say’ and create the right First Impression
  • Hire an experienced and qualified Image Coach
  • Clothes are an expression of who you are
2.         Improve your Voice
  • Hire a Voice Coach if you know you need one - 80% of people do not like their voice.
  • Practice your spoken message
  • Strengthen and deepen your voice
  • Use the pause for maximum effect
  • Emphasise key words
  • Your voice is your greatest tool

3.        Improve your Body Language
  • Smile – it costs nothing, but means everything
  • Breathe deeply to calm nerves
  • Eye contact – don’t stare people out but pace their eye contact.
  • Match Body Language energy with your customer

4.  Learn to connect on a Social Level
  • Ask some open questions
  • Get to know the person you are meeting
  • Find a common interest
  • Take Time to connect on a deeper level
  • Find out their values

5.   Listen carefully and remember what they say
  • Make notes after if you have to
  • Listen for their values, trust, honesty, integrity, fun?
  • Listen for their vision of success 

…. and remember it takes just 60 seconds to make or break that first impression – make sure you get it right!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Your first Impressions

Did you see the photo last week of Willie Walsh (BA) and Michael O'Leary(RyanAir) - one looked very smart, very professional, on the ball, focussed and alert whilst the other looked crumpled, tired, down trodden,resigned and a failure.

It was a serious issue, serious meeting at the Stock Exchange against the government and yet one looked prepared and one certainly did not.

90% of people form an opinion about you in the first 60 seconds.They judge how you look,how you speak, how you act and form opinions based on that information.You cannot stop it happening,it is part of human behaviour. All you can do is manage the message you are sending out.

Start by stopping and thinking about what is your brand,what do you want people to think about you? Professional, trustworthy, credible, dynamic, edgy? What are the five key words to describe you and your business?

People can fail to connect on many levels and often fail an interview before they have even uttered a word.So what more can you do about your first impression?

Start with your wardrobe - how do you look? Do your clothes match the words you described your self as?Are you sure? Ask for feedback.Invest in a professional wardrobe that accuratley represents you.Invest in an Impact Coach

Improve your delivery - develop your breathing.Your voice is your greatest tool.Deep breathing is essential to a great voice.Practice, record yourself speaking.Get your elevator pitch perfect.Pause,think ,listen to what is being said and never interrrupt.Invest in avoice Coach.

Body Language is essential.Lowering your breathing calms your body language down.Your body language should align with the words you are speaking for people to believe you.Posture,deportment and alignment is vital.

Listening to the other person is critical.Connect on every level you can to build the rapport because you may never get another chance if  you don't.

As an experienced Impact Coach in Global Multinationals I know it is always the person who thinks,prepares and demonstrates integrally who they are who is the most successfull.

You are the deliverer of your message - make sure it's congruent with who you really are to be successfull

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stress in the City

Stress - it's always been there and I think it always will be there.

We need a certain amount of stress to function well because our brain and our bodies have the 'fight or flight' response - we just need to know how to use it.

The problem with a lot of people in senior management is that they think they are invincible. They think their IQ is enough. They think EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is 'soft and fluffy stuff'.
However, it has been proven that what makes success is 66.66% EQ and 33.33% IQ - proving that we need both to be successful and healthy.

EQ starts with fully knowing and understanding yourself - self awareness is vital. If you know yourself - your strengths - your triggers - your stressers - your gaps - your vision AND your emotional responses - only then can you manage yourself and lead others to success.

In my experience, senior leaders try to be great at everything. They won't admit to feeling vulnerable and feeling the fear - they think it's a sign of weakness - when actually, I believe, it's a sign of strength. They often don't delegate well and therefore, don't spend enough time with the people that can help them - their team, because they think they should be able to operate effectively alone.

It can be very lonely being THE one in charge.

So what are the signs? The fears and concerns mount, self-management is poor, their behaviour becomes erratic, communication may fail, they may go quiet and they may become more controlling at work and at home!

So what can we do?

We can take the time, we can be brave and we can be courageous - and ask them - what we can do to support them. Organisations can provide coaching support for every senior leader, so they can share their needs with a qualified coach.

What can the leader do?

Learn to self-manage, know when you need support, be prepared to ask for the support - and - take time off to renew your energies!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrating Success

The Launch of ‘Tranforming Teams’ (#TTeams) was amazing last night. I just loved every second – it was a real celebration.
It was awesome to see so many people from different organisations connecting, sharing and learning together.
The mix of public sector with the multi nationals – seeing people there from the media, marketing, legal, accountancy and recruitment was amazing and proved that we can always learn and at some level we all have a lot in common.
The themes united the group, they found that many shared the same issues, they heard about the differences in their leadership styles and businesses.
By being open to listen to others who are ‘different’ and from different backgrounds we can learn so much – and make an even bigger difference – when did you last do that?
My VIP speakers were inspiring, everyone listened to their ‘journey’s’ of development to where they are now. I couldn’t help remembering when I first met them and worked with them – how different they are today. How they are bringing the leadership personality alive to make a difference in the bigger, wider world. I thought back to some of the challenging moments we had together and how they took those challenges and did something with them.
A huge thank you to my VIP speakers – I can tell everyone how they ‘should’ lead better – you told it in an authentic way – as living proof ‘that this stuff really works’!
The evening had a great buzz – everyone learned something which they can use today to be an even better leader. Transforming Teams will help them – it is a guide for your career.
One exercise we did was to ask everyone to think about one of their greatest mentors/leaders they have ever had – who was yours? Who made the biggest difference to you? What did you learn from them? And once they had shared that with the table – we asked them - what do you want your leadership legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
Start now or you may have your ladder against the wrong wall – painting the wrong window.
Now do this with your top team – go on be courageous.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Transforming Teams – How do you do that?

How to work together to ensure success – spend quality time together.
Build the Trust
Teams who don’t trust their leader will never succeed.
Teams who don’t trust each other will never succeed.
So what breaks trust?
§  Leaders who say one thing and do another
§  Leaders who gossip about their team to their team
§  Leaders who ‘set’ team member up against each other
§  Leaders who don’t give feed-back
§  Leaders who don’t give feed-forward
§  Leaders who don’t mentor or coach
§  Leaders who don’t acknowledge strengths
§  Leaders who don’t take responsibility
§  Leaders who don’t celebrate success
§  Leaders who don’t allow people to say what they need to say
§  Leaders who don’t encourage open debate
§  Leaders who don’t listen
§  Leaders who don’t include their team decisions
It’s the same in every relationship – we need to talk about ‘things’ that matter, talk about concerns, our fears, our workers.  We need to know and understand one another’s strengths, the support we need, talk about our challenges and share ideas.
There is no trust if there is no conflict management and there is no conflict management without trust.  People will not open up, share issues and concerns or challenge each other if there is no trust.
So the first thing to establish in your team/organisation’s relationship is trust.
How do you do that?
§  Share about yourself – be open
§  Laugh about yourself
§  Be interested in others
§  Take the time to get to know ‘who’ people really are and what motivates them
§  Take the time to get to know each other
§  Socialise and have fun as a team
§  Be a part of the team
§  Create a 'Shared Vision'
§  Focus
§  Bring the spirit of the team alive
§  Motivate and inspire
§  Include them – you can do this with your families too!!!
Everyone has to have the conversation – say what they need to say to the right person in the right way to understand.
Seek to understand.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

So David Cameron says Leadership is important...

I say it’s not just important it is absolutely vital to our survival. It is the only thing that will turn our country around… and the global economies.

I was also struck with the amazing self-leadership shown on the UK Pride of Britain awards last night. Amazing true examples of ordinary people doing the extraordinary. So how do they do that? What makes them different?

Well what we know (if we really listen to what they are saying) is that they never ever give up. They are determined, they accept what they cannot change (losing legs/blindness etc) and they focus on what they can do.

Take your life/career now and apply these 2 different sets of questions:

A              What are the problems/issues you have?
                What is wrong with your life/career right now?
                How long has it been this way?
                Whose fault is it/who is to blame?

B              What do you want?
                What is your vision of success?
                What resources do you have now to help you?
                What 5 actions are you going to take now?

Great self leaders don’t stay stuck in a problem, they don’t blame others and dwell on all the problems with society etc. They do something about it, they take action and they never give up.

Self-leadership is about you and it will be because of you, you succeed or fail.

So decide now and do something about changing what you want to change in your life/career today.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Impact is Critical

All great leaders have amazing impact – something about them exudes gravitas.  What is it that makes the difference?  What makes people want to work with them, be in their team and work in their organisation?
Impact is subjective, almost intangible at times – but we know when we have been in the presence of someone truly inspiring.
Impact is present both on the ‘outside and the inside of us’.  Leaders who have gravitas are authentic and have integrity are ‘at one’ with themselves.  So what is it when you break it all down?
Outside – what we see on the outside is a person who is at ease with themselves and others.  They connect immediately, they are interested in you, they seem to have an incredibly range of probing questions to ask that make you stop and think.  One question can change a mind set and they know that.  Their body language is congruent and energised.  You come away from them feeling inspired and motivated not drained and negative.  What do they do to be able to do that?  They connect directly with you at a values level, they cause you to think further ahead than now, they probe what you learned from the past .They seem to be able to help you see what you are great at and what you could develop – they give you so much without saying too much. They are interested in you.
They remember the small things about you.  They remember you had a holiday, they remember to ask how you are.  They have amazing new stories.
They are confident.  They know their strengths and they know how to use them to have the best effect.
They don’t try to be anyone else.
They know where their ‘gaps’ are, what they don’t do well and they are always open to learning.
They laugh at themselves – they are not defensive.
They know and understand the impact of their emotions; they welcome them and use them to inspire.  It’s ok to feel the fear.  It’s ok to feel the frustration.  It’s ok to be angry, as long as you are angry with the right person in the right way. That is an art and they have that art.
They pick up all the nuances and are flexible in their behaviour and are open to learn from you.
You are important to them!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Leadership starts with you, it’s down to you and it is up to you...

If your team, organisation or business is not high-performing then remember that – it is down to you!
It’s no good blaming everyone else, everything else.  It is time to stop and think about how you’ve caused this to happen – because until you do, nothing will change.
So accepting this ‘place’ right now and taking some time with yourself is a great place to start. You must take responsibility and accountability for transforming yourself and your team now. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Are you ready to look deep inside?  You will need to be able to access your true leadership personality. The one that will make the difference and change the future.
We learn how to lead from other leaders – so start with thinking about your greatest leader – the one that made the biggest difference to your career or life so far.  Who were they?  What did they teach you?  What did you learn about leadership?  Also think of one of the worse leaders or teachers you’ve ever had and what did you learn from them?  What did they teach you?
Write down and get very clear on what you have learned about leadership from all of your experiences.
My greatest leaders were my parents.  My mother was the eternal optimist, always wanting to try new things, experiment, highly creating, energetic and intuitive.  My father was a problem solver, always calm and considered.  He was adept at analysing and solving the problem.  Without upsetting anyone he was firm but fair and challenging in his questions.  A great debater.  Our parents are often our greatest leaders – what did yours teach you?
Aim to be the best version of yourself you can be.  Improve your self-awareness.  Great leaders know themselves inside and out.  They know their triggers/suppressors - what are yours?  They know and understand why they feel the way they feel – do you?
They are seen as confident but not over confident.  You will not inspire confidence unless you are confident.  They are confident because they know what they are great at. What their core strengths are – what are yours?  Every leader will have different strengths and that’s ok, that’s what makes you unique.  There is no one perfect model for being a great leader – everyone is different – but great leaders do have a few common strengths – they are all trustworthy, honest and inspirational.  They are integral, they do motivate and they do listen, hear and understand you.
They use their strengths.
Using your strengths is vital to being a great Leader
Take one of your strengths – mine is I am very courageous and determined – nothing will stop me and no one will stop me.  Now feel what it feels like to use that strength.  This is the ‘Strengths surge’.  When I feel that determined strength my breathing is low and deep, I feel very strong inside – all the way through me – my brain is very focused.  Then I get started on what I am going to do – what about you – what is your Strengths Surge and what does it do for you?
Being honest with yourself and taking responsibility for yourself and your results – what could stop you?  How could you stop yourself?  Every human being is plagued by self doubt at some level and in some way, shape or form at some time in their career.  Great leaders don’t let that stop them – they know how to turn that into success.  Self limiting beliefs drive self limiting behaviours – how do you stop your own success?
I know there is a part of me that will try and stop me ‘you won’t be able to do that’, ‘they won’t be interested in that’, ‘they will have heard it all before etc’.
It’s the ability to be able to ‘switch off’ the negative self-talk and turn it into something more positive and achievable that makes the difference  between a great leader and one that is not as good.  Take the time to analyse your self-talk and turn it around before it stops you.
Transform yourself – be the best version of you, you can be - then you can transform your team.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Strange Sights

I wonder who they work for and who they are trying to influence.  It amazes me how some people dress – do they think about what they are saying about themselves?
I can’t believe they look in a mirror before they leave for work.
Have they even showered?
Have they washed their hair?  They certainly don’t look as if they have or even bother about what they ‘look’ like.
Don’t they know they are being ‘judged’ all the time? 
Impressions are made in seconds and last – it’s very difficult to ‘undo’ or change a negative impression.
I wonder what difference it would make to their world if they bothered...?

Why Can’t People Communicate?

Some people just can’t communicate effectively.  Why are some people so negative about everything? Whatever you say they reply with an issue, problem, or negative statement.  It is exhausting and demotivating.  Why not think positively and why do people not say what they think?  Why do they say everything else and hope you get the hint?
We are not mind readers.
We don’t know what you are thinking (unless you say it).
Why do we make assumptions from everything people say and have the ability to change the meaning?
Communication – be very aware of how you are communicating and the effect it is having.

Body Language – Tells the True Story About You

We are born with total freedom to be ourselves – why does that have to change?
By the time we are teenagers our body language changes and we can ‘look’ very negative, unless we stay very aware of how we are using our bodies.
Every day I see people who are neck and head down almost laying in their chairs, frowning – it makes me feel concerned - tapping their pens, tapping their feet, stroking one leg continuously – what is going on inside them?
Why allow yourself to become like that?
Take a look at your body language and ask for feedback.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Founder and Master Coach

Nicola McHale (formerly Ross) has over 25 years experience as an Executive Coach to Global Organisations. Her depth of knowledge and integrity mean that she has strong relationships with senior leaders as they drive sensitive and dramatic change across their business.

As a successful coach, Nicola demonstrates flexibility, adaptability, the expertise to pace the
individual/organisation, the ability to call on a wealth of experience; plus a strong tool-kit of models and techniques that can be used to intervene when normal conversations become abnormal.

Nicola developed Vi’s ‘Inside out and Outside in’ approach which has enabled leaders to achieve outstanding  Customers, Employee and Shareholder results rising year on year:
‘Our philosophy model means that, when working with an individual, team or organisation from deep on the inside - It then enables that depth of understanding to manifest itself on the outside too.  The way the individual or company then behaves ensures transformational change,  it will be change that lasts, change that is authentic and this will always lead to success.
That is why Vi is different.’


Nicola has worked throughout the world with leaders as they move organisations and roles. They say that her knowledge and experience has been instrumental to their career progression and that is why 100% of Nicola's business is by referral. Her extensive experience delivering across Europe, Asia and the US have given her the ‘edge’ when working with 'Global Organisations' who need to drive sensitive transformation and be the best in the markets they operate in.

Nicola has an ability to work through abstract scenario building in the absence of concrete facts and decisions, to enable ‘the coachee’ to determine  outcomes that would be mutually beneficial for both the individual and the organisation.  Examples of this type of expertise are given when a company is considering new roles, there are changes to an organisational structure, there is a more dramatic career change, or indeed an organisation is changing completely.


  • Established Vi International In 1988 and developed into an International business delivering in Europe, Asia and the USA.
  • A regular supporter of Young Enterprise working alongside American Express.  
  • Nicola has guided her business through two recessions with a first class record of achievement.
  • Developed the ‘Inside Out and Outside In’ approach.
  • Achieved Preferred Supplier status with many large organisations.
  • A motivational speaker and Master Coach.


  • Board and Senior Leadership Development.
  • Executive Team Development.
  • Executive Presence.
  • Stakeholder Development and Management.
  • Emotional Intelligence.
  • Women In Business.

Over the last 25 years Nicola has worked alongside Presidents, Vice Presidents, CEOs and General Managers and has partnered companies like: ABN/ AMRO, American Express, Diageo, LBG, NHS Trusts, Microsoft, HSBC Insurance Brokers, Virgin Atlantic, SCB and many more.

Nicola will prepare you and your company for unknown eventualities and  decisions over which you have little or no control. By recognising the positive outcomes and opportunities that these changes could represent, you are significantly better prepared to work through the change curve quickly and then lead an organisation towards its new goals and company objectives.

To contact Nicola directly please email