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Archive for the ‘Confidence’ Category

On Monday, a pallet of books arrived – a pallet of books – books requiring my signature. As I opened the first box and held my latest book in my hands I was overwhelmed with emotion. Looking at the cover, the shiny colourful apple graphic and running my fingertips over the title, Charismatic to the Core, I smiled with every part of my body – I’d done it!

This book has taken twenty years of research and experimentation and for the business community it will be controversial, thought-provoking and simply shocking in places. I have always believed that to get the best from ourselves we need to act as our own catalyst to facilitate continual breakthroughs. This accelerates our potential, our capability and our thinking. No one has ever been transformed by remaining safely in their comfort zone of knowingness. We owe it to the world to keep pushing our boundaries and to continuously  evolve to ever higher levels of consciousness.

Charisma is a unifying word and a gateway to understanding the universal principles of our existence and our futility in trying to swim upstream. Charisma is not a skill but a deep reconnection with who we are at our core. We are all just strands of pulsating energy connecting everything into a unified field. When you access your own charisma you literally access a universal field of possibilities.

My purpose in life was set when I was eighteen and my path has not been an easy one. Would I change it? Hell no! I have used every setback, every obstacle, every experience to define the guiding principles of an authentic and fulfilling life. So this book comes from my heart and is the legacy that I wish to leave to the world. My intention in writing this book is to give a clear understanding of my methods so the reader can improve their own charisma in a way that is easy, immediate and feels good. I want to create change as the reader reads certain words and phrases.

I envisioned a book that just by reading it, nothing would be the same again. Some people may experience this book as ‘too much’ because it stretches and challenges conventional thinking. Yet I didn’t write this book for it to be an easy read. You can’t change and transform your life if you play it safe and stick to the rules you unconsciously constrain yourself with. I know that the person who is ready for what they are about to read will resonate with the concepts, principles and theories. Personal and positive change is then inevitable.

Of course I’m scared, of course I’m terrified that I’ll be written off as ‘barking as a box of frogs’. Yet I knew at the start of this journey that this book needed to be an expression of what I truly believe. Whether it will sell or not had to be of secondary importance to communicating the truth of the learnings I had gathered along the way. I’m offering my heart on a plate. BUT my heart is still beating and it beats with a rhythm that calls and attracts those readers who feel curious, excited and ready for their next exciting adventure.

If you’d like to pre-order Charismatic to the Core and be one of the first people to receive a signed copy on the 10th September 2015 then I will send you a couple of my powerful charisma hypno-meditations as an expression of my appreciation. Visit and place your order – I wonder if you are ready?

This week I share my 12-month challenge to optimise my fitness, feel comfortable with my ageing body and see if I could conquer the demons from my past that had led me to unhealthy eating habits. Here is an honest account of what I achieved and how I did it.  There may be one or two suggestions that will help you with your emotional and physical well-being.

There I was, a year ago with a failed relationship and all the signs of middle-aged spread. I felt old and a bit past it. Sometimes life’s twists and turns can knock the stuffing out of us and I felt a faint but definite fear about growing old. Or was the fear about looking and feeling old? I realised that unless I changed my attitude towards ageing then this negative vibe would drain my life force energy. As a speaker on charisma, where energy plays a vital role, I need to be a model of excellence and walk the talk on everything I share with others. I totally believe that our body shows us the physical manifestation of the thoughts, feelings and beliefs we have consistently thought in the past. If I was feeling a fear of growing old then my body was going to accelerate this belief. Such is the power of the mind-body connection. If I looked in the mirror and wasn’t comfortable with my image then the audiences I speak to would not feel comfortable. The bottom line is that whatever age, body shape or appearance we have, if we are not at peace with this external persona then we unwittingly drain our charisma.

On 5th August 2014 I set myself an audacious goal – to get supremely fit and learn to appreciate my body. I had struggled with eating disorders in my past and was always trying some latest crazy diet. During my ‘Atkins’ phase I ate bags of macadamia nuts. Then there were the tablets that caused a rather unpleasant reaction if you ate fat. When I tried out different shake diets I started eating sugar compulsively and might consume a box of Fab ice lollies instead of eating a proper evening meal. So whilst some people might not see getting fit as an audacious goal, I knew that tackling the emotional issues behind my lack of fitness as well as the physical challenges would be tough and demanding.

The first painful task was to weigh and photograph myself – I needed a starting point. The scales persisted on pointing to a rather high weight regardless of where I placed the bathroom scales and the photos of me in black Lycra would take the edge off anyone’s appetite. Yet at the same time I felt strangely determined as I went in search of a commando style Personal Trainer – someone who would motivate and inspire me without being intimidated by my controlling personality. I joined a gym at my local Village Hotel and was introduced to Paul Cole.  He looked fit, tough and was exactly my age. He persuaded me to invest in a MyZone belt so he could see how much effort I was putting in. (Crikey – this was a bit hardcore!). He looked rather startled when my effort level shot up to 77% just by walking onto the treadmill.

The first few weeks were agonising – although Paul seemed to know exactly how far to push me each time and gave me such a variety of exercises to do so that I never knew what to expect.  Then he introduced me to indoor rowing and the sessions became hugely challenging. The more I whinged, the more deaf he appeared until it dawned on me that it was easier to just shut up and get on with it.

After an intense training period last August I was about to enjoy a spa break with my daughter Rose when my back went. Enter Steve Chalkien, sports masseur for hardcore sports fanatics. From the moment I met him I realised that the appealing image of relaxing massages surrounded by the essence of aromatic oils was never on the agenda. As he pummelled and prodded and dug his fingers into pressure points I had no idea existed I realised that there was no such thing as pleasurable pain. If I had wanted to complain I couldn’t because there was no way I could have got a word in edgeways! After the first massage I felt bruised, sore and slightly nauseous. “See you next week” he cried on his way out with a particularly wicked-looking grin on his face!

As the months rolled by my quest for fitness started to integrate into a routine and I began to look forward to going to the gym. My rowing was improving and I was lifting heavier weights. Paul gave me the nickname ‘Rocky’ and we started competing with a much younger friend of mine in different challenges. My sports massages felt easier to endure and Steve (who happened to be an ex marathon runner) even persuaded me to take up running. As if by teletransportation I found myself in a park every Saturday with 400 men, women and children running 5k before breakfast!

All felt good as I smugly kept having ’secret feels’ of my taunt muscles and doing weightlifter poses in front of the mirror in my pjs. Paul (my PT) shattered that feel good feeling when he said “Rocky, given how much you train you don’t look that fit” He told me to give up wine and start watching what I was eating. That night my daughter suggested that I go along to Slimming World. I entered a world of strange conversations about star weeks and syns (don’t ask!). The regular weekly weigh-in sessions helped to keep me on track during the week and the pounds began to fall away.

During one of my charisma master classes I met a woman who would seriously give Wonder Woman a run for her money. Kim Raine is a vibrantly attractive nutrition and well-being expert with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. I signed up to her 12-week healthy eating programme in the hope that some of her vitality would rub off on me. OMG! No caffeine, no alcohol, no wheat, no dairy, no sugar and no processed foods. Hello – what exactly was I supposed eat? Kim’s instructions to de-clutter my fridge, throw out any ‘dirty’ foods (no this wasn’t a 9 1/2 weeks moment) and learn how to cook. My daughter found this strangely amusing given that I was dreadful at cooking, whilst my sister was less than complimentary about the ‘interesting’ photos of my culinary dishes I posted on Facebook. My period of eating ‘clean’ foods did encounter a few ‘Red Bull’ and ‘Haribo’ setbacks yet generally my body became like a temple and I realised how crap I felt when I didn’t eat well.

Most overeating is not about a lack of knowledge or a lack of willpower. Overeating from a metaphysical perspective is driven by a need to fill an emotional need. As a qualified hypnotherapist I created and recorded my own hypno-meditations blending four powerful elements that worked directly with my unconscious mind. It was a bit strange being hypnotised every night by myself yet it did have an impact!!!!

In the midst of all this health and fitness madness I discovered the joys of ‘pulling with coconut oil’ (not pulling in the ‘pulling guys’ sense, I mean gargling with coconut oil) body brushing and Nutribullets. Pro-biotics and vitamins replaced the empty wine rack and Evian unofficially took over product placement in my home. I was officially obsessed. Hooked on feeling healthy. Captivated by feeling fit and loving the surge of energy that I hadn’t felt for years.

So it’s now 12 months exactly since my ‘quest for a charisma body’ began. I have lost 25 pounds, I can row 2000 metres in 8 minutes 52 seconds and I have transformed my eating habits. When I notice my wrinkles in the morning sun, I  cheer that they represent an experience of my life that I’ve worked hard for. Each wrinkle is an intrinsic part of me and my life’s journey.

Some people climb Mount Everest, some run marathons across the desert. Some people win Olympic golds and some swim the English Channel. These are grand achievements yet as my own mini challenge draws to a close I feel proud of what I have achieved in a year. Tina Turner once sang “what’s love got to do with it?” so I’d like to sing “what’s age got to do with it?” I’m probably fitter than I’ve ever been and not a whisper of an eating disorder can be heard in my house. I realise that I abused my body for years, took it for granted and expected it to deliver high performance on low grade fuel. Just because I’m in my fifties doesn’t mean I can’t experience high levels of physical, emotional and spiritual fitness.

I can now stand on stage and speak with utter authority about loving and respecting the skin you are in. Because when you can love and appreciate every part of you, your inner essence shines brightly. So why not gift your body a little bit more love – you maybe surprised by how it shows its appreciation.

If you are interested in receiving suggestions for how you can improve your own health and well-being, Paul Cole, Steve Chalkien and Kimberley Raine have compiled their top recommendations. Simply email Emma Mattingley and she will send you a report summarising their top tips.

Have a great day!

On Saturday I was part of the judging panel for London’s Professional Speaking Association who held their annual Speaker Factor competition. I won this competition in 2012 and if I had been pitted against this year’s 14 contestants I probably would not have won. Watching 14 diverse speakers deliver a five-minute speech of their choice was enthralling, shocking, funny and deeply moving. When professional speakers speak from their heart about something thats important to them they create an intense engagement from their audience.

Sometimes a speaker’s purpose has been triggered by a trauma, an unbelievably painful experience and that speaker shares their personal story. Sometimes if their stories are too well-rehearsed or delivered with not enough emphasis on their audience or the ‘What’s in it for me’ then what should be a turbo-charged intensity morphs into amateur dramatics and the audience switches off muttering to themselves, “This is not Eastenders”.

On Saturday the judging panel’s opinions were divided, making it a close contest and a powerful example that different people have very different perceptions. You can’t please all of the people (or the judging panel for that matter) all of the time. There has to be a purpose behind the drama, a positive uplifting message behind the trauma or else we find ourselves embroiled within the theatrics of the ego. When speakers operate as independent silos rather than for ‘the greater good of their audience’ the audience will eventually stand up and complain. The speaker who gets so caught up in their own drama can forget why they are there. I found myself judging others and realised I did not like being ‘a judge who judged’. The audience who pursed their lips or wildly applauded in the knowledge that their reaction would impact upon that speaker knew their purpose; if they didn’t like what they saw they showed it, if they were entertained they cheered and applauded. Simple.

The charismatic Greek leader, Alexis Tsipras has shown defiance in the face of pressure and bully-boy tactics from the European establishment. When the Greeks voted “No” in a demonstration of people power and rejected the bailout offer they immediately plunged Europe into a place of uncertainty yet again. Tsipras is a man with a vision for Greece, a man driven by a purpose to protect and look after his nation’s wellbeing first. His style in front of the camera is relaxed and conversational as he uses words and phrases that are ordinary yet deeply persuasive. Is he a brave man? Did the voters who said “No” make a courageous choice? Whether you agree with Greece’s decision or not, Alex Tsipras instilled the nation’s heart with a sense of importance and purpose.

As 27,000 kilos of strawberries are consumed at Wimbledon this year, the people united to show their disdain for BBC’s new ‘highlights show’ Wimbledon 2Day. Clare Balding, whose former authenticity has been whipped up into a cream of diva, appears to be using Graham Norton as her role model (which works when you’re Graham Norton yet bombs disastrously if you happen to be Clare Balding). According to the Guardian, “the whole show is a mess” as it tries to be what it isn’t. Should it be like Top Gear or The One Show? Clearly it’s still wondering because this particular show has seriously lost its sense of purpose.

Regardless of whether you are a professional speaker, a politician or a television programme everyone and everything benefits when connected to a purpose in life. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stated “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”.We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time. So when you ask yourself the question, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” you can find better answers by asking “hat can I do with my time that feels important to me?” If you are not living each day with excitement, energy, and passion, then you are not living your life in a way that is true to your life’s purpose – you will not be living your life authentically.

How important is it to our self-respect and to those around us that we remain resolute to our purpose and true to our beliefs even when it’s easier to go along with the majority? Well, imagine experiencing every day feeling a constant, inner excitement about life, that sends a humming sensation direct to your soul.  When you discover and live true to your life purpose in the highest possible way, your soul will “sing” in a way you’ve never seen before. You feel in a state of effortless flow and life’s challenges begin to take on an extraordinary significance as an important part of your journey. A friend and mentor of mine recently shared her own purpose in life – she is here to light the way for others. My own purpose in this lifetime is to bring a spiritual message to the hard-nosed world of business through my teachings about charisma. Why are you here? Ralph Waldo Emerson the great American essayist, lecturer and poet who led the transcendental movement in the mid 19th century answered this question with a beautiful elegance: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

What are you living for? What is keeping you from living fully for the thing you want to live for? Does the organisation that you work for have a clearly defined purpose that you feel aligned with? In your career, do you find importance, purpose and meaning within your everyday work? In your relationship, do you understand why you are with the person you are with? What drew you to each other? What keeps you together?

As you reflect back on your upbringing, what did you learn from your parents that defined your path and the person you are today? What if you have been sent to live the life you are living for a reason? What if your presence has real significance in the world? If so, what would it be? You possess qualities and gifts that only you have and when you express these gifts in a way that is authentic and from your true self you contribute to a cause greater than yourself.

My greatest wish for you all is that you find the courage to live your life with purpose and on purpose so you are able to fully connect with the meaning of why you are here. When you discover your life’s purpose simply give your heart and soul to it because this is the greatest gift you can give to humanity.

This week I collected a beautiful elm coffee table that was made especially for me by a gifted carpenter called Jim. I am tired of mass produced furniture and have developed a bit of an obsession for the old and secondhand. My home is a mishmash of weird, eclectic and interesting pieces so when a friend of mine told me that her husband is a carpenter, I couldn’t resist commissioning him to create a coffee table. From the first moment I met Jim he exuded a calm energy and I instantly felt that anything he made would be crafted with real dedication and would be a labour of love. I was right. Jim chose the wood himself and several emails were exchanged to check various tiny details that I hadn’t realised were so important to the table’s overall look and feel. It was an education.

A week ago it was officially ready to come and live with me. I can’t stop looking at it with a soporific smile on my face. This piece of furniture feels incredibly precious. The detail, the craftsmanship, the dimensions – there is even a natural shape of an angel in the grain of the wood! So as an extremely satisfied customer I have become a true champion of Jim’s work.

Sometimes as organisations grow it can be difficult to instil each employee with the values that the business has built its success upon. When Jim worked on producing my table he worked with heart and soul showing a true passion for the work he was doing. As businesses continually strive to grow, evolve and improve the way they do business, a metric of customer satisfaction has emerged  – Net Promoter Score. Many of you are already aware that this measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or service. So whilst Jim would almost certainly receive a 10 out of 10 from me, (I’m an enthusiastic evangelist about Jim’s work), how easy is it for organisations to embed Jim’s level of passion for his work into their hundreds or even thousands of employees?

Regardless of the processes organisations implement, engagement, a sense of purpose and a commitment to deliver excellence are emotional responses.  Most people are instinctively driven to make decisions based on their emotions and then use their mind to work out the how rather than the why. If a task, a job or a career does not contain personal meaning or a sense of strong purpose then we activate our inner zombie and start operating on auto pilot. Without meaning or purpose we disconnect emotionally and hand over our power to our mind – the place that seeks to control and dominate your every thought.

How often have you found yourself doing something that was mind numbingly boring? How many times have you been beavering away on a task whilst a little voice inside your head is questioning “what’s the point?” How many nights have you awoken in the early hours feeling anxious about your job or stressing about things you need to do? Everyday millions of employees worldwide are going through the motions and doing what they need to do to receive their monthly pay check. How do you inject a sense of passion and purpose into the hearts and minds of people who find themselves on a hamster wheel – too busy to even pause and reflect about how they are feeling or why they are choosing to do this. Opting for going round and round instead of upwards and onwards.

If employees have forgotten how it feels to have passion and desire they unwittingly inject their emotional greyness into the energy of their organisation. This contaminates their internal and external customers with a sense of apathy at best or toxicity at worst. You can’t teach customer service excellence unless you turn on the heart of the entire workforce. When employees are tuned into their emotions they find it easy to tune into other people’s emotions, including their customers’ emotions.

I have just had a meeting with an organisation who attained an impressive 80 per cent Net Promoter Score in 2014 (source: Retail Banker International October 2014) and are way out in front of all the other financial institutions. Julie Barnsley, Head of Commercial Deposits for Metro Bank passionately shared “We hire for attitude and train for skill” – as just one of the reasons behind the bank’s phenomenal success in such a relatively short time. The energy on the busy banking floor in the Holborn Branch was fresh and lively with magic money counters (free service to everyone including non Metro customers), dog biscuits (pets are part of the family) and lollipops for children (or adults who are young at heart).
Vernon W. Hill II is the brain behind this fast growing bank that likens itself to a retailer first who wants raving fans not customers. He has turned the traditional banking model on its head as he encourages staff to surprise and delight. Julie told me about when a member of the customer service team ordered and paid for a cab for a couple who had just opened an account on their way to the theatre. Another story of flowers given to a man for his wife’s birthday. The energy of Vernon’s vision has been cascaded through to the heart of the organisation. Having sat spellbound by Julie for an hour I’ve made a ‘note to self’ to open an account with Metro.

Innovation, passion and purpose combined with the freedom to delight and surprise has created a truly engaged workforce who simply love their job and are attracting fans in their droves. So if you are interested in learning how to create growth in a no growth world buy the book – Fans not Customers – because like its author (Vernon) it’s packed with passion and enthusiasm spills from every page. It also helps that Vernon happens to be very authentic and charismatic. He appears to have effortlessly won the hearts and minds of his employees, stakeholders, investors and the British public. Everyone appears to genuinely love and admire him. He is doing to banking what Richard Branson did and is continuing to do to transatlantic travel.

When we do the best we can with what we’ve got and we do it with positive intent we energise the object or person at the receiving end of our attention ( this is why being really present with your partner is so important). I read about Buddhist monks who send love to chocolate and it tastes out of this world (see their website). If you speak kindly to plants they’ll grow more quickly – ask Prince Charles or Matthew Bent, owner of Bents Garden Centre who conducted The Great Plant Experiment. When children grow up in an environment of love and encouragement they thrive and their sense of self worth strengthens every year. If you lavish people with heart-felt attention they feel incredibly special – it’s not rocket science it’s just good old fashioned service with a smile.

The environment, the culture and the ethos of an organisation either sabotages or supports the growth of its people. Happy people perform better, achieve more and spread a positive emotional contagion to everyone they meet.

Inspired by Jim and Vernon I decided to spread some positivity by surprising and delighting 10 people and here is what I did:

  1. Chatted to Wayne a really lovely homeless guy who I sat next to in Holborn – he usually feels invisible
  2. Gave up my seat on the train to a woman who was half my age but looked really exhausted. I just said “please take my seat you look like you’ve had a tough day”
  3. Left a message on the windscreen of my neighbour’s car that read ‘have a nice day’ with a big yellow smiling face!
  4. Praised the car park attendant at West Malling Station for the flowers he plants and nurtures all year round to give some colour to the commuters  who bravely brace themselves for another daily squashed journey to the capital.
  5. Sent a text to a friend of mine who is going through a tough time, telling her all the reasons why I appreciate her friendship
  6. Tidied my twenty year old daughter’s room so she can enjoy her return from holiday (this really was a labour of love especially in these recent hot temperatures!!!)
  7. Polished my new table again and really enjoyed looking at the beautiful grain in the wood (this made me feel good and the wood certainly gleamed its appreciation back to me).
  8. Gave Mindy (my Yorkshire Terrier) 20 minutes of tummy tickling – she looked as if she was in some heavenly place with glazed eyes and tongue hanging out
  9. As a Reiki Master I sent positive intentions of love and healing to a friend of mine who has just had an operation (hope you felt the positive vibes Tammy)
  10. Sent one of my meditations to a couple of clients, who feel very stressed at the moment due to lots of organisational restructuring, with an email – hope this helps.

I must confess I feel the glow of giving without expectation of receiving anything back and some people appeared genuinely affected by by gestures. Even though my daily work talks about being mindful, present and positive this exercise really affirmed why it’s so important.

So crank up the music, loosen your tie or kick off your heels and ask yourself this question “what actions can I take today that will cause 10 people to smile?” If we all set this as a daily intention can you imagine how much love we can collaboratively create in this world.

Have a wonderful day!

It’s been an extraordinary week. I am on a plane destined for Barcelona then onto Gerona to deliver my charisma masterclass to 30 leaders from the oil industry. The booking came from a client who I used to work with when she was at Shell. I am really excited about meeting her again because I remember the passion she gave freely to each new project. Together we became obsessed with delivering life-changing experiences that would remain in people’s hearts forever. This speaking job coincides with my birthday meaning that my pre-birthday week has been crammed with wonderful gifts and celebrations that have been intensely magical. I have an eclectic group of friends who have really spoilt me this year. I received exquisite gifts of Angels (not the real ones) pearls and powder blue jars of starfish (again not real ones).

Then, on Friday evening my daughter Rose called me into the lounge and started playing a CD.  I instantly recognised the smokey tones of my daughter’s voice and was instantly mesmerised by the beauty of the melody. As I listened to the lyrics I wondered where she had found such a perfect song, it could have been written about us ……… it had been. Rose had composed a song for my birthday that she had sang and recorded at my sister’s studio. Strange how the abundance of musical talent in my family missed me completely! This song is the most special present I have ever been given. I was overcome with a feeling of love and gratitude.  This song reflected the close, intense and sometimes stormy relationship that Rose and I share. As the last notes faded away to leave a silence of heartfelt emotion, we heard tiny little chirping sounds from outside our front door. We found a bird’s nest in one of our plant pots. Inside we discovered half a dozen tiny baby birds with open beaks, emitting a continuous high pitched calling, reminding the world of their hungry bellies. Watching their brave selfless parents fetch them an endless supply of wriggly worms despite our presence – was a breathtaking experience. I felt my unconditional love for my daughter expand as we shared this Disney like moment together. A perfect evening that I will always remember.

I enjoy looking for hidden meanings and the significance of different events that occur in my life. I have trained myself when experiencing adversity to look for the positive lessons learned during some of my darkest hours. My desire to live in an utopian world and this quest for eternal bliss often eludes me. The happy endings that you can depend on whenever you watch a Disney movie are all the sweeter because of the hero’s or heroine’s turbulent journey. As they wrangle with enchanted spells, ward off wicked witches and prove that good always triumphs over evil, we know with betting certainty that the girl will get her man in the end. Even Disney feels compelled to put the stars of their movies through some traumatic events. How did Snow White cope with the knowledge that the wicked queen plotted her murder by the woodsman’s axe as well as by a poise end apples? (Have you seen my Big Apple Experiment that shows the impact of toxic thoughts?) How impressive was Cinderella’s resilience when she lost her father and was treated like a slave by her stepmother? Princess Aurora grew up in a climate of fear as her parents sought to keep her safe from the negative intent of Maleficent.

These dramatic roller coaster moments make a much more interesting story and it gives the characters the opportunity to unleash their hidden strengths. Like a glorious Phoenix rising from the ashes of ruin – we all possess the ability to transcend from the murky depths of despair into an ocean of white healing light. Most of us have long since understood that real life is not a fun filled adventure where we feel safe, calm and supported. We  have tough times as well as good times. As Frank Sinatra put it so succinctly; “That’s life”. Yet when the tough times keep on coming and you’ve blunted your sword after slaying another fire breathing dragon, do you find yourself craving a life without struggle – like a chocoholic on a yoga retreat?

Slowing down to notice then experience the genuine natural beauty around us, gives our heart a brief respite from the gruelling rat race we know as life. A sense of freedom ensues when we escape the tight constraints of a web spun from a stunning array of deceptions: “I thought this job would make me feel financially secure”, “She was the woman of my dreams where did it go wrong?”, “Is this it? Is this all there is?”. The frantic speed of life causes the racing thoughts in our head to triumph over the truth in our heart.  It’s when we pause and take a deep breath can we  create the potential for a Disney moment. A child’s bubbling laughter, the cool crisp feel of freshly laundered cotton sheets or a rousing piece of classical music that soothes your soul stirring ripples of unadulterated bliss that last for infinity. Imagine connecting to a Disney moment every day for the rest of your life? Imagine the gigantic leap in your awareness as you connect with the abundance of vibrant beauty no longer hidden in your world. If appreciation and gratitude became stronger within you, what reverberations would be transmitted into every aspect of your life? What really matters to you?  What really matters in life?

Matter is only energy vibrating at a certain level. When hydrogen atoms gravitate together and reach a certain density then the heat generated forms a star.  What if the density of your positive emotions caused the star within you to shine more brightly? You are the star of your very own Disney movie and regardless of where you are in  your journey, your happy ending is assured if you stop judging yourself too harshly. The expectations  you have about your life may sometimes feel like a whip that chastens your ability to feel validated, significant and worthy. Happiness doesn’t have to be a quest because it’s an emotional state that  you can access at any moment just by noticing the beauty in your life.

Many of us live such busy busy lives that multi-tasking has become the latest must have skill for the discerning go getter. Anything that will triple our capacity with what we can physically achieve in each twenty four hour period becomes desirable until the day when time travel is invented. In the past I have been addicted to busy-ness as it stimulated an adrenalin rush that enabled me to complete volumes of work. Somewhere along the way I forgot what it was like to just be. Life became complex. The simplicity of enjoying small pleasures slipped away like grains of sand disappearing  in the gentlest  breeze. Too busy to cook I would say. Too busy to exercise, too busy to meditate. Too busy to enjoy the subtle nuances that can only be experienced once our senses have been awakened from a hundred year slumber. When fate steps in and kisses us with a passion for living our life in the moment, then we become open and receptive to the universal flow of life’s inherent beauty. Just look around you – beauty resides wherever you might look if you pay attention to it.

My plane is making its descent into the sunny climes of Spain………..

I have just arrived in Gerona sitting high up on a rock looking out onto the vast sparkling Mediterranean Sea . Despite the hour it is still gloriously warm and the sun’s fading heat competes with a gentle yet persistent breeze that calls my attention to this pure gold Disney moment. I smile because I remember that we are human – we do the best we can with what resources we have. Maybe sometimes we strive too hard? Maybe sometimes we should allow ourselves to press the pause button and surrender our senses to the joy of simply being alive?

When you are being you, when you are completely present,  you add colour and depth to your life. In the same way that animators give birth to a whole new story, maybe you might allow your story to unfold in it’s own natural and beautiful way.

You don’t have to shout or show off to be charismatic because charisma is an authentic power that lives within us all. When you are being true to who you really are inside you shine. As your charisma starts to flow you switch your cells into a growth operating mechanism that strengthens your immune system, increases your confidence and expands your awareness. Charisma can be likened to the same state that top class athletes experience – The Zone

You can’t teach charisma, certainly not in a conventional way because the moment that you try to teach an individual a charismatic behaviour that is out of alignment with the essence of who they really are at their core, they will come across as fake, superficial and devoid of charisma altogether. I clearly remember the excitement and nerves surrounding the launch of my first charisma seminar in November 2008 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I was about to deliver content and exercises created following two decades of research – it felt very personal.

Here I was on this dark blustery November morning about to teach business leaders how to become more charismatic!!! My approach was inspired by the rebellious world of Quantum Physics and the miraculous reactions caused by the discovery of Epigenetics on cellular healing. As I trained to become a Reiki Master I started to appreciate the vital connection between energy and charisma. Paul McKenna, who I met during an appearance on a well known breakfast show in 1992 introduced me to tools that work at a deep level. The unconscious mind plays a vital role when transforming attitudes through charisma. Whilst I was strongly convinced that my unusual approach to developing charisma worked, it was a rather surreal experience to stand in front of a bunch of discerning business people and introduce them to ‘ a world of woo’!

I spent 5 years testing my methods at The Globe with hundreds of business leaders from all types of organisations and it proved to be a period of accelerated change as my blueprint was relentlessly tested, assessed, adapted, refined and improved. In the early days I remember introducing a couple of exercises and realising that I definitely wouldn’t be running those again!!!! Yet the impact of these two days was visible and dramatic. So much so that I employed the services of a Royal photographer who specialises in photographing well-known charismatic people. He photographed people throughout the event witnessing their powerful transformation.

It feels like a cliche to say that many attendees reported that their lives have been irrevocably changed and the impact of these two days endures. I recently posted a request on Facebook to ask people who had previously gone through my programme to share what they gained in one sentence and was inundated by responses that included:

“Totally inspired”

“Completely changed how I feel about myself”

“My life is completely different now”

“Confidence to communicate more clearly with others”

“A rare a unique opportunity to make sense of who you really are”

The better you feel about yourself and others improves your performance at work, it improves your relationships with your family and it improves your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. I have evolved this programme into a powerful Charisma Retreat held in beautiful venues for a small number of people. Delivered with the amazing Corah Clark who is, in my opinion, one of the UK’s top Transpersonal Therapists and supported by one of the UK’s top Cultural Architects – Karen Bellamy.

2015 Two-Day Retreats:
Monday 23rd – Tuesday 24th March at Down Hall Country House Hotel, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire
Monday 18th – Tuesday 19th May at Didsbury House Hotel, Manchester
Monday 19th – Tuesday 20th October at Down Hall Country House Hotel, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire
Monday 16th – Tuesday 17th November at Didsbury House Hotel, Manchester

Book your place before 20th February and receive our Early-Bird rate of £1250 PLUS VAT.

For places booked after 20th February the price is £1500 PLUS VAT.

What’s included:

  • 30 minute one-to-one session using a blend of energetic realignment techniques
  • High levels of additional support with Karen Bellamy and her team
  • Charisma Retreat materials
  • Access to Informal Learning Resources and Charisma Chat Zone
  • Post retreat charisma meditations written and recorded by Nikki Owen

Complimentary call with Nikki Owen
To ensure that our Charisma Retreat will meet and exceed your expectations we offer a free complimentary telephone call with Nikki Owen so you can learn more about what to expect and discover how you personally can be helped. To schedule this call please contact Emma Mattingley by email or by phone on 01732 617816. We tend to manage our lives intellectually – in other words we get stuck in our heads, keeping ourselves preoccupied with juggling an assortment of activities and responsibilities in order to manage the surface of life. We all eventually reach a moment at a certain age when we feel ready to start listening to our intuition and allow ourselves to follow what we feel in our deepest self. It’s the most intelligent, powerful, brilliant, authentic and sane choice we can make. If you feel ready to take this step that elevates you from your head and connects you to the ebb and flow of your heart then we look forward to hearing from you.

Coombe Abbey is a majestic and imposing castle nestled in the rolling undulations of the borders that unite the Coventry and Brinklow countryside. A stunning and breathtaking venue for a gathering of Fellows from the Professional Speaking Association. When I walked into the imposing entrance I was instantly catapulted back in time to 12th century living of isolated monasticism, royal plots and family curses. A musty and surreal historical presence oozed effortlessly from every nook and cranny. Centuries of whispered ancient secrets created an atmosphere pregnant with paranormal possibilities. I  felt emboldened by the mesmerising energy of such a wonderful yet dark building. No wonder castles are becoming the venues of choice for those seeking to hold business meetings with a difference. They add a real gravitas to any occasion that announces your importance like a fanfare of trumpets welcoming you back into the deepest fold like a crusading knight in shining armour.

I suspect it was around the age of four when I fell in love with castles. Fairy tales enthralled me as I listened to my grandmother telling me about beautiful princesses who lived in magical kingdoms. Despite the omnipotent power of the obligatory wicked stepmother or the ugly witch, every story ended with a ‘happy ever after’. The gorgeous princess (beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside) always got her man who was a brave and fearless prince who had risked his life to find her. The princess would be whisked away to an opulent castle surrounded by her heart’s desires whilst she continued to sing with creatures in the forest, undertake tireless charity work and was loved by all who knew her. More than anything I wanted to be a princess and live a magical and enchanted life.

This adolescent desire has never really left me. It was a harsh shock to realise that princes also have intense insecurities and their ability to slay a few dragons and keep me safe was outside of their remit. I needed to sharpen my own sword and embark upon a crusade into the big wide world. There is nothing quite like a bit of adversity to build your castle walls. A failed love affair, a career that breaks your heart or a boulder of responsibility that sucks joy from the magic of your life. When we are hurt we activate a primal need deep within us that erects a protective wall so tough that NOTHING can hurt us again. Over the years our walls often thicken and grow at such an alarming rate we begin to lose sight of who we really are inside.

The illusion of safety inside these castle walls is strengthened by a heavy drawbridge, aggressive archers with a penchant to aim their arrows where it hurts and a moat so deep that monsters lurk in its muddy depths. Having felt under attack for so long, we view most things as an advancing enemy force who wants to invade our personal space and take from us. And so we wait. Feeling safe. Feeling protected. As our supplies of food, water and emotional nourishment become depleted, we start to worry frantically about our future. Did we stockpile enough? Should we have been more frugal during the good times? Can we last until the point of our natural death? When all supplies have finally dried up, some of us still choose to stay where we are, stuck inside these thick oppressive walls as we live in hope that our ‘prince’ is just around the corner. Besides we are too frightened to venture out into the unknown – we have forgotten what it’s like.

There comes a point in everyone’s life that when faced by the probability of a slow and painful death, we may decide to let down our drawbridge and ride off into an adventure to reclaim our hidden self. Surprisingly, ‘the enemy’ is never as frightening as the controlling tyrant we had envisioned for so many years. Surprisingly, ‘the enemy’ is often a little bit like you. Surprisingly, ‘the enemy’ wants what you want – to feel safe, to feel loved and to live a life that has meaning and purpose. A mind at peace, a mind not focussed on harming others, is stronger than any physical force in the universe. When you realise that ‘the enemy’ is a projection of your shadow self you accept that you truly do possess all the resources you need inside to attain whatever you want. Your life’s circumstances do not define who you are, they reveal the essence of who you really are inside. If we strive too hard for the ‘happy ever after’ we lose sight of the magical land we are blessed to inhabit. Every second of every minute of every hour is a sacred gift that we can cherish or disregard. Protective walls don’t stop us from getting hurt, they stop us from enjoying the exhilaration of life.

Regardless of whether or not my Prince Charming ever rides in and carries me off into the sunset (good job that I’ve joined Slimming World or he might find me a heavy burden!),  I am determined to pull Excalibur from the rocks and begin to love and accept my own inner demons for what they really are.

I have been given a beautiful string of real pearls by a lady called Sylvia that I have only known for 6 months. It is one of the most moving gifts I have ever received. The necklace belonged to her late mother and she told me that she felt drawn to give them to me. As I tried on the necklace, I was reminded that pearls are created when sand gets inside an oyster and irritates it. The oyster suffers greatly as this exquisite jewel grows more beautiful at the expense of the oyster’s pain. There is real truth in the expression ‘the world is your oyster’; the irritations of your life develops your inner essence, defining the person you are today. However, this feels too simplistic and doesn’t honour the suffering that we witness around the world on a daily basis. Sometimes when I read the news, witness the pain of another human being or when I’m feeling the struggle in my own daily life it is difficult to see a ‘pearl’ in the midst of such enduring darkness.

Life gives you whatever experiences are most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. You possess within you a Universal Intelligence that is the biggest ‘pearl  making’ laboratory in the world. The same Intelligence that grows trees from seeds, that lets birds fly, that waves the ocean and gives birth to new stars. Your pain and your suffering is giving you the opportunity to experience a higher version of you.

Many of us believe that our purpose here on earth is to seek and find happiness. We do what we do today because we crave success, however we define it, and the future becomes our salvation. I spent 15 years of my life sacrificing the present moment for the promise of future wealth, future relationships, future health and well-being. Working crazy hours, not taking time to invest in my intimate relationships, too busy to eat healthily. Leveraging my assets, accumulating debt, building my overheads to a point that just to stand still was too expensive for me to contemplate. Yet my mind was fixated on some obscure point in ‘my future’ when I could relax and enjoy myself. During a particularly intense 15 year period I encountered set back after set back. Business losses, toxic relationships, a failed marriage, money worries and a breakdown as I began to rebel against the relentless pressure. My spirit has always been a fighting one yet there were times when I felt a deep down weariness as I cried out “can I start again please?”.

As I’m writing this I’m smiling. I  recognise that this frantic treadmill that I chose to place myself on was not the best way for my heart. When you let go of trying to resist the natural ebb and flow of your life and accept the present moment as if you have chosen it then that peace you feel is the energy vibration of your consciousness. It is our ego mind that likes to judge whether something or someone is good or bad. If we can simply accept that our difficult experiences are like grains of sand designed to build the pearl within us then everything starts to feel easier.

Humanity is not destined to live happily ever after because it’s in its struggle and pain that humanity evolves. If we were all to exist in a utopian world of bliss then how could we learn and grow? It is in the struggle that we begin to find our inner beauty, our inner peace. It’s  only when we experience moments of darkness do we have a context to experience the light that shines brightly within us.

In my charisma seminars I conclude with a story that I have adapted from the book Illusions, written by Richard Bach, that I’d like to share with you in my own words:

Once upon a time there lived a village of starfish at the bottom of a great ocean. The current of the ocean swept silently above them all, young, old, rich, poor, good, evil – the current going its own way, knowing its own, true, powerful self. Each starfish in its own manner clung tightly to the rock face and coral because resisting the current was its way of life and clinging was what it had learned from birth. Yet after awhile, one starfish cried “I’m tired of clinging! Though I cannot see it with my own eyes, I trust the ocean knows where it’s going. I shall let go and let it take me where it will, for if I keep clinging on I shall surely die of boredom”. And the other starfish cried “Fool! That ocean that you worship will throw you smashed and tumbled against the rocks and you shall die quicker than boredom”. But the one heeded them not and taking a deep breath he did let go and was at once smashed and tumbled against the rocks. Yet because he refused to cling again he was lifted from the bottom of the ocean until he was hurt and bruised no more. The starfish at the bottom of the ocean,  to whom he was now a stranger cried “look a miracle – a starfish like us but he flies!”  But the one in the current said “I am no more a miracle than you. The ocean delights to set us free if only we dare to let go. This life is our true adventure.” But the starfish at the bottom of the ocean kept crying “it’s a miracle, a miracle” and when they looked again he was gone. They were left alone to creating legends of the miraculous flying star.

When I look at people around me, those that I work with, those I pass in the street, I see pain, suffering and sadness yet I also see courage, strength, creativity and compassion. We are doing the best we can in a world that at times, delivers cruel harsh blows. When you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolves and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you embrace every difficulty as a tiny grain of sand destined to shape your greatness then you start to accept the roller coaster of your life with peace and serenity.

Every time I put on this beautiful necklace of pearls – I see an ocean of wisdom and growth within each one.  My thanks to Sylvia for this exquisite gift who inspired this blog. up, how did your parents deal with issues and difficulties? Did they encourage you to talk honestly and openly? Did they tend to explode with anger, shouting obscenities in the heat of the moment? Did they chose to pretend that everything was normal and refuse to discuss anything in preference to sweeping any uncomfortable issues under the carpet? Each of these responses will create an internal build up of emotions that affects the energy and emotional stability you possess as the adult you are today.

The Volcano – when an individual demonstrates explosive reactions to situations that appear out of proportion to the actual incident this usual signals they have buried negative emotions  that have been triggered. I completely disagree with the old saying “sticks and stones may break your bones but words can never hurt you”. The emotional intensity behind angry words can create just as much damage as physical abuse. The husband that shouts at his wife, the father that threatens his children, the man who seeks to control and dominate by using intimidation and power. Do you know an individual who dominates discussions and is on ‘loud transmit’ appearing oblivious to the reactions of others? Have you encountered someone who uses put downs and sarcasm to entertain even when their words are cruel and cutting? Growing up in an environment of violent outbursts (even if these outbursts are more often verbal ones) tends to create children who either grow up believing that it’s acceptable to control and dominate others or children who grow up to become habitual people pleasers.

The Glacier – when an individual refuses to discuss matters or uses ‘the silent treatment’ to show their disapproval. This type of passive aggressive behaviour is also extremely controlling and children may often feel they are walking on egg shells around this type of person. The mother who refuses to discuss any disagreement in the belief that her opinion is always right. The wife who blames her husband for past mistakes and demonstrates icy coldness towards him. The woman who has become embittered and hardened by life causing her to become inflexible, critical and judgemental. Do you know people who refuse to forget the past mistakes of others and bottle up their anger and find fault in everything everyone says or does? This refusal to discuss issues in a fair, open and equal way is also very controlling because it fails to honour the other person’s perspective and creates a silo mentality. “I don’t want to discuss it any more so let’s just forget it” – more negativity is pushed under the surface increasing the pressure even further. What are these people so scared of? Children who grow up with a Glazier tend to either close down emotionally and erect their own icy boundaries or will  crave approval from others.

The Mountain – when an individual speaks openly and honestly from their heart whilst seeking to truly understand what the other person is saying. This strengthens and develops mutual respect and creates a solid foundation for relationships. The father that asks their child for their opinion, the mother who actively listens to their daughter. The parent who allows their growing teenager the freedom to make their own mistakes and choose their own path. The individual who is genuinely interested in other people and celebrate diversity and the wonder of uniqueness.  This behaviour demonstrates that all peoples’ views are valid and that there is no ‘right or wrong’ way only infinite ways of thinking and doing. Children who grow up in an environment of Mountain behaviour will be strong, resilient and possess high levels of confidence and self esteem. They will view others through the eyes of compassion and curiosity that conveys respect and genuine interest. These people will naturally create a feeling of calm strength in others and prefer to ‘empower’ rather than wield ‘power’ over others.

During my one-to-one sessions I am continually amazed with how many of my clients are affected by the past and also present behaviours of their parents. Smart, successful and together (well, they look ‘together’ on the surface) people will revert to childhood programming around their parents. Trying to create a positive change by working within the constraints of the conscious mind will often result in failure because these parental issues were not installed within your adult self they were installed  when you were a child and growing up. Often the quickest way to transform your life is to help your younger self find peace and acceptance of past traumas and difficulties. There are a number of high impact techniques that will help you to do this including Matrix Reimprinting, Timeline Therapy, EMO trance and Hypnosis.

As a parent myself I am mindful of the impact my behavioural choices have on Rose my twenty year old daughter. Sometimes in my desire to help her, my behaviour can appear to her to be very controlling. My maternal instinct causes me to want to wrap her in cotton wool yet I know that she needs to develop her own resilience and cotton wool blocks the definition of her own inner strength. Sometimes I’ve lost my temper and been a Volcano. This immediately causes her to either shout back or withdraw emotionally. Other times I’ve used the silent treatment until the hurt in her eyes causes me to feel ashamed of myself. Despite my imperfections as a mother – I am always prepared to say sorry and to talk and discuss issues, problems and difficulties that Rose or myself have.  My intention for Rose is that she feels free to walk her own path knowing that she has my unconditional love with her every step of the way. I don’t want her to feel obligated towards me and if she wants to spend time with me that’s wonderful and if she doesn’t then that’s ok too. Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs on the planet because of the emotional connection of intense love mixed with your own past programming received from your own parents whilst you were growing up.

So what does this have to do with charisma? I believe that we are all born with an abundance of charisma within us. Parental programming, our environment and traumas, hardship and tough times unwittingly trigger a primal need to protect ourselves. So we put up a wall, then another wall and another until we have built so many walls we have lost touch with who we really are at our core. When we act in a way that is out of alignment with who we truly are inside we appear fake, superficial or not genuine. This blocks our flow of charisma. When we feel safe and are brave enough to dismantle our walls then we reconnect to who we truly are inside. This is when we are at our most charismatic.

In my own life my most important value is to be true to myself and I have learned to speak out from my heart. I find it impossible to act as if everything is normal when it’s not. I struggle to do superficial chatting because the other person fears we uncover a contentious issue. I have let go of the need to ‘fix’ everyone I meet because trying to fix others presupposes they need to be fixed! I value people who are authentic, compassionate and non judgemental. I try really hard to live my life reflecting these values and sometimes I get it a bit wrong. Yet if I keep these values awakened within me then maybe my behaviour will create mountains in the minds of others.

Years ago BT launched an advertising campaign based on the principle that ‘it’s good to talk’. The ability to speak out with kindness and sensitivity enables those around us to grow and flourish. The ability to listen beyond words to the views and opinions of others builds connections, respect, understanding and in parental relationships – deep unconditional love. I remember reading a beautiful book by Dr Wayne W. Dyer that said something along the lines of “How others treat me is their path: how I react is mine.”

Extensive research and numerous studies examining the benefits of charisma confirm that people with high levels of charisma are happier, healthier, enjoy more success in their chosen careers and possess increased resilience to the challenges and difficulties that life presents. If the advantages of charisma are so appealing, why then do the majority of organisations shy away from developing the charismatic potential of their leadership team?

There are people who subscribe to the theory that charisma can not be taught, you either have it or you don’t. Other people perceive charisma as a form of psychological bondage that poses an inherent risk for their organisation. I remember when our Business Development Director had a meeting with a major High Street Financial Institution. During the presentation he was a little surprised when their HR Director asked: “Do we really want charismatic leaders?” Charisma can trigger a strong negative reaction because of the legacy left by disgraced and selfish charismatic leaders. Remember the public outcry about the former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin? The media publisher, Robert Maxwell?

Even when an organisation’s charismatic leader has proved to be an asset to the organisation, what happens to the business after the leader has moved on? How would the public and investors of the Virgin Empire react if Richard Branson cut his connection with the Virgin brand? The former CEO of Sainsbury’s – Justin King used his charisma as well as other attributes to create a tripling of profits during his ten year tenure. Yet on the day he resigned almost £400 million pounds was wiped from Sainsbury’s share value. Little wonder that corporate competency frameworks rarely feature charisma as a desirable leadership competency.

The corporate prejudice against charisma pales into insignificance when looking at the impact of charisma on a nation when used with evil intent. Historical writer and documentary maker Laurence Rees produced a disturbing 3-part series -The Dark Charisma – based on Adolf Hitler, an awkward, dysfunctional man who developed a level of charismatic attraction almost without parallel in history. Hitler shows that charisma is highly dangerous when possessed by a megalomaniac. Adolf Hitler was without question an extraordinarily charismatic presenter. Certainly in terms of his rise to power, his personal charisma was one of the most effective tools that he used to tap into the collective psyche of the German people.

The Harvard Business Review published an interesting view from Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic , international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing. Dr Premuzic argues that, amongst other things, charisma disguises psychopaths, distracts and destructs, and is responsible for ‘downgrading leadership to just another form of entertainment’. Whilst I disagree with much of Dr Premuzic’s article, it is well written, and certainly mirrors the distrust that the business community seems to have about charismatic leaders. This sweeping generalisation that some individuals may use their charismatic presence inappropriately, often prevents corporations from taking charisma seriously. Whilst I concur that charisma can be used for good, or for evil – that distinction need not prevent an individual or their organisation from benefiting from what is a genuine competitive advantage. As with any attribute, there is a mantle of responsibility inherently implied for the charismatic leader.

Today most leaders, acknowledge that a charismatic leader appears to effortlessly attract loyal and supportive ‘followship’. Charismatic leaders attract more publicity and more attention from outside groups as well as exerting a strong (albeit invisible) bond with their organisation’s workforce. Numerous studies and many different credible research sources show that Charismatic leaders, outperform their non-charismatic peers by an average of 60%.