Nicole Hatherly Makes Shift Happen

business coach communication john cunningham member spotlight people development Jan 20, 2022

By John Cunningham

Nicole Hatherly is a natural connector and storyteller. She is in the business of value, reputation and impact. She lives in Sydney, Australia. She serves as a Global Brand Strategist, Leadership Strategist, Profile Expert, International Keynote Speaker and Facilitator, running her own Brand Strategy Agency called Brand True North for organizations around the world. Last year she also launched Brand Your Way, with an H2H (Human to Human) focus. 


Her mission is to ignite over 20k Professional Experts and Thought Leaders by 2025 to align their vision, articulate their value and amplify their voice to make an impact and create a legacy that makes shift happen! 


John Cunningham  

Hi Nicole, thanks for meeting me today.


Nicole Hatherly 

Hi John, I’m excited to be speaking with you.


JC Tell me about yourself and your company.


NH So the organization is called Brand TrueNorth.

Brand TrueNorth was born out of my expertise and understanding of thought leadership around branding. My background is 28 years in marketing, brand acquisition in direct marketing, digital publishing, and building big social communities. And most of my time was in corporate. So I had, again, the privilege of learning from the best of the best and being in on the best training opportunities, and being at the coalface. And one of the best ones, I was in advertising at Leo Burnett for eight years. I was a suit. I was an account director. And I was one of the five or six people on the pitch team. So we would pull the pitch together for everyone who we wanted to win business for. And why I was on there was that I'm creative with words. What I realized is I have this gift of being able to articulate value. 

And so when we were pitching, whether it was a new drink on the market, or an Acer computer, or a Subaru, or JC Penney’s insurance, whatever it was that I was working on, or trying to win the business of, I could laser focus: see, understand, and articulate the core value of that product or service or business or brand to the audience effortlessly.  

I'm really, really good at writing cards, John. Ever since I was a kid, I would have these profound Tolstoy-like times. I would write cards to my little friend at school, and I would know exactly the words to say if someone was in grief, or if one of my little friends didn't have their lunch. It has just been this thing that I know exactly how to add value in that moment with words.


JC That's such a sense of empathy. That's just amazing.


NH Yeah, empathy and articulation. So I always seem to say the right thing at the right time. When I was in corporate, I guess I was a human, in this machine of branding big businesses across the globe. And I was really, really good at it. 

But what I did four years ago, when I founded Brand True North, was use all of that goodness. And then I turned from being a human branding big business across the globe to being in the business of branding incredible humans across the world. To make shift happen. 

I use the same techniques and tools, which have been an absolute vaulted secret, for people. Brand True North became that. I work more with business owners and entrepreneurs and also executives to align their vision and articulate their value. The same way as I would with a big organization, but I did it for good. I did it for the impact and the legacy and I did it for brands who are on purpose. So the tagline for Brand True North is Designing Brands on Purpose

A lot of brands are created by default, or business is born out of a product or service or a need, but a brand comes last. So it's the horse that usually is behind the cart. What I do in brand strategy is actually work in the area of brand led business strategy. So I'm still a business strategist, but it's brand led business strategy, which means we lead with value, reputation and impact. That will sell you all the stuff in the world. 

I am a global brand strategist. I'm also a leadership strategist based on being an executive leader for so many years. And that's all about communication, value, reputation and impact. It's the same thing. And so really, working with business leaders and thought leaders and founders and entrepreneurs, to position their brands for maximum impact, but also their signature brands, their brands, their personal brands, for the same impact.


JC Wow! You have had so much success. Why do you need MorningCoach®?


NH Oh, because there needs to always be a rock for the rock. My success is because of MorningCoach® and because of a couple of other communities I've been in and out of, but MorningCoach® has been an anchor for me the last 16 years. So I guess the biggest overall understanding, benefit, and  gift that MorningCoach® has given me (and I know you'll understand this being in there for so long too, John) is first I heard from JB, then I understood, then I came to know, and then I believed - that I was ‘in the top 1%’. And that changes everything.

So you know, the different ways that JB will say this, you're here, you're showing up every day and that makes you a rare breed. And it's hardly that I've missed a day. If I'm traveling or I've fallen off the MorningCoach® wagon, then I'll binge those. So I'm always up to speed. So showing up every day is the 1%.


JC Many people I’ve met over my career in training just roll out of bed and go do their jobs, regardless of how successful they are. But the ones who are the top of the top realize you need to work on it. They realize that we all need mentors and coaches regardless of how successful we are.


NH If I look at my life with MorningCoach®, it's exactly the same as Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie Sliding Doors. I don't really remember how I found JB, but it was on iTunes and it was with my iPod, my fifth generation iPod.


JC I remember having to load up my iPod every morning before I left the house. I had a Shuffle, so you never even knew what was coming next (because it did not have a display).

NH I got on that train, and looking back, I think if I didn't jump on the JB train, I would be doing life by default. What it does is waking up every morning we get to do life by design. And it's those micro shifts, right? It isn't one big thing. One day I was doing this. And the next day I did that. It’s these micro shifts that matter. Now there is a whole community behind you. And I understood from the early days of MorningCoach® about posture and presence, about showing up, about that core confidence that isn't loud. And about that discipline of just showing up every day. I'm successful because of the foundations I lay in micro shifts that have bolstered my belief through repetition.

So fundamentally, what's changed? The two biggest impacts are the sliding doors: jumping on the MorningCoach® train. And that fundamental belief that I am that 1%. It’s not an ego belief, that is very much a privilege, so I've got a responsibility with that as well.


JC Responsibility. I like that word. Because, in order to continue to be the person that we want to be today and in the future, we need to continue to focus on making those micro shifts over and over again.


NH It's like a parent, when you're growing up and thinking that you don't fit because you're not this enough, or you aren’t that enough, and a parent going, okay, baby, you're perfect. Go out in the world. Don't change yourself for the world, change the world for you. MorningCoach® reminds me that I'm okay, perfect just as I am. It's that consistent voice. it wouldn't be the same if MorningCoach® was once a week or once a month. It’s the every day which creates the micro shift from the inside out.


JC How does the shift in the MorningCoach® programs benefit you?


NH So the benefit in the shift is I can see the ascension model, I can see how I can actually visualize how it all fits and that gives me an understanding of where I fit in to it all. JB was going around and around in circles because people weren't activating. Now JB is able to breadcrumb for us. So he's moving forward, but you didn't always know where the trail was. So he's now blazing the trail and leaving breadcrumbs and it's like, oh, there it is. I'm much more certain of my position and my value and what I can give, and also what I can learn and leverage from MorningCoach®. So that's what it gives me, certainty.


JC How about the community, have you checked out? Discord at all?


NH Yeah. I'm in Discord. I'm loving Discord. It works for JB because that's how his mind works. It's got so many different compartments. He wants it to be agile and so it's just perfect. I'm in the Habits one. I'm alcohol free, so sharing in there as well. And finding my little places in the big matrix of that is fun.


JC How do you think that adds value to the program?


NH It adds immense value because it’s brought it into a third dimension. It's brought it to life. So, in the first dimension, JB was just talking to me in my ears as I was running through the bush. That was incredible when iPods came out. You could put people in your ears and they were talking to you. So that was the first dimension. The second dimension of MorningCoach® for me was Get It Done, Now, knowing people were going through there. And knowing that MorningCoach® wasn't for everyone, we closed the doors and just pulled it around us and we were the people who were in that. Now I could actually quantify people. I could get to know people and understand people, not just have it ‘out there’. The third dimension is Discord, bringing it into the third dimension. So the first dimension was MorningCoach® is something I listen to. The second dimension is MorningCoach® is something I do. Third Dimension is MorningCoach® Discord where I live and hang out.


JC That's what a community is all about, having a place where you can hang out and interact with people. There are people who are where you want to be. it's just a matter of asking questions and participating. Then, you're going to get some help. Likewise, each member has valuable knowledge and experience to share.


NH Absolutely. And it's very much the network effects. So the phenomenon of a network and you are part of MorningCoach®, everyone will give you everything and that's the network effect of being part and that's what we build up.

As we grow, the network effect is, for example, if anyone's traveling to this beautiful place, Gadigal Country or better known as Sydney, Australia, anyone who's a member is welcome in my home. You know, that's the network effect. it's a family effect. So I really love watching the phenomenon of how networks grow.


JC What's one of the roadblocks that you have overcome recently?


NH Getting out of my own way for impact. So it comes back to that intention of being fearless. There's overwhelm and there is fearlessness. Overwhelm is when we have too much on our plate for our mental capacity to really be able to manage, and then fear is that be overly careful state. And so the biggest thing I've overcome is really quietening those two down and putting them in their corners. I can actually literally visualize overwhelm is in that left-hand corner there (and fear is in the right-hand corner) like Rottweilers. They would be loud and I would listen to them. And now I've got them trained. So I think that that was one of the big things to overcome. And I've done that over the last four years. I’ve been able to reduce that overwhelm and that innate fear that we have which holds us back. You know, that's the imposter syndrome and who am I? And can I really do that? It’s all those questions. They are at a different volume for everyone. And for me, I realized that I can turn those down and just move with more confidence and more ease through things. 

And so what decreasing the volume did for me, is it allowed me to create a whole new arm of my business called Brand Your Way. So I've got Brand True North and Brand Your Way. Brand True North is the B2B side, business to business. Brand Your Way is H2H, so instead of B2C, it's human to human. And so really putting in place programs, I've got my Articulate Your Value program that moves  into my Mastermind. And that was the biggest thing that I got over my biggest roadblock last year. I was probably too busy with overwhelmed or too held back by the fear. Who am I to do that? 


JC How did you do that? 


NH I stayed awake and aware for the last year or two. So COVID played a big part in that. We've got this one precious life, and also going alcohol free. Really not having the distractions of other layers on top of how I'm feeling. What I did was take out all the layers of exactly how I was thinking and feeling and operating. And I really got to look at that. I worked to eliminate the distractions. 

I realized that's just the distractions were taking me away from how I was really feeling. So when I was feeling a little overwhelmed and a little fearful. I’d go out and go shopping with the girls, or go see a movie. Then we'd go and have cocktails. Rather than sitting in those feelings and really inquiring. I learnt to look at the situations and take the distraction out. And I just sat in the stuff and felt all the feelings. It was okay. They actually passed. I was able to let things go. That's huge when we're talking about business. Because it was when I was overwhelmed that I would just go off and distract. That didn't help the overwhelm, rather than just getting the work done or sitting in there and going, Hey, do I really have to do all of these things? Hey, how do I feel about this? Hey, why does this happen? What do they really need? Am I over engineering it? So for the last couple of years in lockdown in Australia and being alcohol free, because that was a slippery slope just being a room away from the ‘home bar’. My commitment was to stay awake and aware. That slowing down and questioning was the biggest hurdle that I've gone over in the last year. Sitting with stuff, being awake and aware. Not being distracted, but being focused. Then I realized how cool not having hangovers was. Yeah, then realized I didn't really ever like the taste of alcohol, anyway. And it's not something that really works for me. So it's not hard to give up something that doesn't work for you.


JC What's one piece of advice that has really stuck with you?


NH Raise the profile. it's so interesting, I was in advertising. And it was all about raising the profile. I was an executive manager, and I had a team. My direct reports were fantastic. Yet, I would have to remind them when they had to go and speak to the board or present something about leadership, they would get nervous, and I would remind them to raise their profile. So it was always this understanding of know your value and share it, raising that profile, keep raising that profile. And I guess  that's the best business advice that has stuck with me. However, and wherever we can, genuinely and with great generosity, keep raising that visibility, raise that value. That's the best thing. Don't shrink back. Raise the profile.


JC That's great. I find people who have imposter syndrome don't think that they're worthy. I often say the reason that you have this opportunity, and that you're doing what you're doing, is because people value you. So if you have the value in yourself as well, then, like you said, you're raising the profile, and you're showing that this is where you should be, and this is what you should be doing.


NH Yeah, that's our job to show up and to keep raising the profile of whatever you're passionate about.


JC What's a book that guides you?


NH One that I have read over and over. In fact, I’ve read it four times. I can visualize the four moments in my life that I've read it. I swear John; it has felt like reading a totally different book each time because of the different message I've got out of it. And that's Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by Dr. David Hawkins. It is brilliant how he addresses getting out of your own way, and I guess that's the pivotal point in keeping those Rottweilers quiet. So Letting Go is pivotal, but probably in the last two years, the book that has meant a lot to me is The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer. And really, this understanding of removing the thorn from your own arm. And if you haven't read The Untethered Soul do, and get to the point where you've got a choice, you can keep the thorn in your arm, and create a brace. So no one touches the thorn and pull yourself away from society. And, you know, don't go to don't go to bed with anyone who could touch it. Or you can just take the thorn out. It's up to you. 

At the end, it gets quite religious. And there's one piece which is about Tao, which is about the ability to stay in the middle, and not be at the two extremes. You're in the middle, John, like a sailboat, you've got the winds, and you've got the sails and you've got the ropes and you've got the rudder. And you use those to control where you are. And to stay within that, you use all the forces that are trying to push you to both extremes. And you use those forces against each other to stay in the Tao, where you are an untethered soul. That's the core of being fearless. That's the core of letting go and just walking forward. It's the core of raising your profile. It's the core of keeping the fear and the overwhelm at bay. It all comes down to the art of tao. Those two books work together beautifully, because they're both about letting go.


JC Anything else that you'd like to talk about before we end today's interview?


NH I was thinking, well, how did I come through and about my first jobs. My first job actually was in my dad's pharmacy , But my first real job, whilst I was still in high school here in Australia, was when I was 17, 18, 19. I was a professional cheerleader for our NRL, which is like the NFL in America. So it's big. 


JC Kind of like the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders of Australia?


NH Yeah, it's big stuff. And it was big money and a baptism  of fire being thrust into the world of professional cheerleading, and now I'm a cheerleader for professional thought leaders.


JC Tying it all together.


NH I've been a cheerleader all my life for my inner circle for my clients. I'm the biggest cheerleader of their thought leadership. So I actually became a professional cheerleader, then a professional leader, executive leader,  a thought leader and now  a cheerleader for professional thought leaders. And it's like, Ah, I've always been a cheerleader. It's just changed from football to thought leaders.


JC As a coach and trainer, I sometimes feel that one of my important roles is to be a cheerleader and believe in people, even when they don’t necessarily believe in themselves. I always go back to my mission statement, which is Leave People Better Than You Found Them. And it's something that I learned in university, studying radio and television. When you borrow equipment, or when you rent equipment, return it in as good of a condition or better than it was in when you first got it. I'm like, well, we should do that with people too.


NH I love that. I think the difference between what it looks like on the outside and what it feels like on the inside is sitting in it for a while, and we're not people to fake it until we make it. Actually, there is turmoil inside sometimes. But it's that responsibility of showing up and that we have a responsibility to others and to manage what's going on inside, so that we can make our impact on the outside.


JC Yeah, exactly. I start my day with a prayer of gratitude. I'm so glad to have my health, and I know that I'm here for a purpose. Let me have the strength, oh God, to make one person's life better today.


NH Yeah. Well, you've totally made my life better today. This has been an absolute delight. Thank you, my friend. Thanks so much.

JC Thanks a lot. I was really looking forward to talking with you today.

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