I chatted to a woman of many talents: Actor, Life coach, Writer and Speaker, Nicky Raby on her exciting career so far. I saw Nicky speak at Stylist Live in 2018 and walked away feeling inspired as I’m sure many others did.
In our chat, Nicky shares how she brings realness to the world of Instagram; and when the turning point came for her to embark on her life coaching career. We speak about some of the recurrent obstacles her clients face in pursuing their passions. Her podcast ‘Dreaming and Doing” which is featured on the top 100 business podcasts on iTunes, provides steps to help us do just that!
Photo credit: Nicky Raby
I watched you speak at Stylist Live last year, how did this opportunity come about for you?
I had been aware of Stylist for a long time, and so I wanted to get on their radar. Bizarrely, I interviewed a friend of mine for the podcast and she told me the exact person I needed to speak to. So, I emailed them and I went to pitch for them and it went from there really. Quite often Stylist are ahead of the curve so you have to have an angle and purpose to your talk. My talk was about screwing resolutions and not having to do stuff by January 1st! There is such a pressure for us all to be living our perfect lives and I’ve really realised that there is no such thing as perfection. For me, perfection is quite stifling – it stops me in my tracks and doesn’t help me move forward.
If you have a story to share and an idea, you need to give it space to grow and nurture it.
Do you think Instagram plays a big part in depicting the “perfect” life?
I feel the perfection is starting to crack a bit. And if I’m spending time on there I really want to come away feeling good and I need a call to action from it. I have to use Instagram quite carefully. I try to keep checking in with myself: why am I here, what am I using it for and what am I here to do. Sometimes I will show photos of myself having a disco in my kitchen with my son. You know, part of me is thinking, ‘oh no there’s washing up in the background!’ – but actually, the clients that I attract need to know that I’m real.
You began your acting career over twenty-five years ago, tell us about how that’s been for you.
It’s been over twenty-five years now and it’s been a real mixed bag. It’s wonderful when you’re working, however, you’re not necessarily equipped for those bits in between. There was an expectation that when you were working you were successful and when you weren’t you were just a piece of crap left waiting for the phone to ring. You weren’t feeling the power you had as an actor, or as a woman at that time.
It took a lot of my twenties for me to find that rhythm and that ease of acting in my life. But also be available for it. Even if you’re in contractual work, it’s not always back to back. There’s not always an emphasis on helping you to figure out the behind the scenes stuff that supports the acting.
It’s about creating that safe space for people to be open with their experiences.
Instagram: Nicky Raby
When was that turning point for you when you decided you wanted to get into life coaching?
It was before my thirtieth birthday and I was working as an agent’s assistant. I lost a couple of grandparents in quick succession and I was in that place of wanting something more. I went on a free strategy course and it became obvious that this was the next step. I realised that it was flexible and exciting and it would support my acting career.
From that, I wrote a book and shared that journey of a coach, an agent and an actor. Then the speaking and the writing came from there. I guess that’s what my thirties has been really: trying to figure it out and trying to piece bits of the creative puzzle together.
I get my coaching clients to delve into what is really going on.
You’ve mentioned that at school you weren’t given the option for this kind of career path. Would you say schools now are more open and encouraging to different career paths?
I would hope so. Because otherwise they’re going to ostracize so many people from the workplace. I interviewed a woman on my podcast called Hannah Feldman who created an app called Kidadl. She was talking about growth mindset, and was saying that we haven’t been programmed to have that growth mindset, because we’ve been filed into different boxes from school.
It’ll be interesting watching my son and baby number two go through the school system and see how they’re supported and nurtured. But also I know I need to make sure there’s lots of points of reference as his parent. My partner and I want to show our version of the world as well and keep conversations open with lots of questions.
You’ve coached over 1000 clients, what would say are some of the recurrent obstacles that people have?
There’s a lot of confidence stuff, imposter syndrome, permission. Like, can I really do this now I’m this age; or shouldn’t I have figured this out by now. A lot of people ask me, ‘Is it ok for me to feel like this?’ And I say, ‘if you feel it, then it’s ok’ (unless you’re committing a crime!). I think we’re programmed from an early age to follow the leader and just put one foot in front of the other.
With the internet we’ve been much more exposed to other possibilities. Now, you can get access to people sharing their stories which is great, but with so much access you can feel like you should be doing more. The more element of it can be quite stifling and people don’t know where to start. People say to me, ‘I’ve bought these three journals’ but unless you have that tangible action you know you’re going to follow it’s pointless in a way.
It’s almost like you’re sitting in the car and not turning on your engine.
Instagram: Nicky Raby
Do you find that men and women differ with their cases?
Generally my coaching clients are female but my workshops can quite often be mixed. I tend to find a lot of the men are more talkative in a public situation and have no problem asking a benign question. I think women are more fearful of being vulnerable or of getting it wrong. This comes up a lot. We don’t want to look silly. And also this imposter syndrome. I’ve done a few workshops for Digital Mums and we had so many comments of women thinking, ‘but someone else already has a blog on parenthood’. I get my coaching clients to delve into what is really going on.
You’re a mum and you have your career. How have you found juggling both? And how have you found society’s view on women wanting both.
There’s a great campaign called ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’ where the founder, Joeli Brearley brings light to the fact that so many mothers that have had to leave the workplace because suddenly they’re pregnant and there’s not room for them at the table. For me, it’s made me bolder in my decisions and it’s made me more of a driver in terms of my own career. Becoming a mum, gave me a superpower moment of, I’m not here for the bullshit and I’ve got stuff to do. I think that energy got me jobs, but also I’ve got lots of strong females in my life who will champion me. Now that we’re in a digital world, it means that so many mums can still work and run their businesses from their phones.
Do you have a favourite episode to date on your podcast ‘Dreaming and Doing’?
There’s too many to mention! The ones that I really love are the ones where people come and are willing to share and be vulnerable, and the whole purpose of their chat is to make other women feel good. I also love it when episodes go on a different tangent that I’m not expecting. I’ve done over 100 episodes and now that people are familiar, they feel much safer. It’s about creating that safe space for people to be open with their experiences.
Instagram: Nicky Raby
For any Burnt Orange readers out there who are looking to pursue their passions but need some guidance on getting it going, can you share any tips on how they can get started?
The first thing I would say is, get your ideas out of your head onto a piece of paper. You can also speak into your phone, draw it, create a vision board. It’s like having your shopping list in your head, which isn’t as effective as having a shopping list in front of you.
The second step I would say is, get yourself in a mindset of feeling really good. When you feel good and when you look after yourself, you allow that space and time for your dreams. I don’t necessarily get my best ideas when I’m in a routine or sitting at my desk all day. I know I need to shake things up and feel inspired. As an entrepreneur you can feel like you need to put in more hours in the day in order to feel more successful. But you have to be in the world and know what’s going on.
If someone’s done it before, then you can do it too.
What do you have coming up we can look out for?
I release two episodes a week on my podcast which I’m loving. I’m also developing some brand new online courses which I’m excited about. Lots more talks this year, I’ve been speaking at MTV and various other places. I’m also having a baby in August! And there’s book idea that I’m working on. So, lots of stuff cooking but also realising that I can’t do all the things at once, as always!
Well, it’s inspiring because you make it work!
There’s never going to be a perfect time where everything feels all lined up. You do learn by taking action and trying things out and experimenting. My goodness if you’d seen my first website – I think it came in a box. It arrived in the post with a DVD and you had to download it!
I would say that probably in the past two years I feel I can confidently say what I do and really own it. Which is a big bold statement for a girl from a comprehensive school in the north of England. And that I’ve found my rhythm finally, which isn’t to say it’s easy all the time but there is a sense of relief.
Photo credit: Nicky Raby
Fun & random questions
What do you like to do to switch off?
Take long baths… sleep is beautiful and I also like having really long meals with people round for dinner or with a cup of tea and some cake.
Favourite place to get your thoughts on paper in London?
I have a membership at Century in Soho. Not that I’m earwigging (maybe a little bit shhh) but I always sense that people are doing big deals and pitching and it’s a buzzy place.
Is there a role model who either is inspiring you or has inspired you?
One person who always comes up for me is Victoria Wood. I’d never seen women like that on the TV before; she was talented, and witty and smart. I loved watching her career progress as a powerful woman at the table, but in a quiet way. She was somebody who really moved me.