Inspirational Woman: Mimi Nicklin | Author & CEO, Freedm

Mimi NicklinMimi Nicklin is a globally recognised millennial thought-leader on empathy, CEO of inclusive creative agency Freedm and author of Softening the Edge.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am, first and foremost a mother to the most amazing 5-year-old citizen of the world and secondarily a bestselling author, advertising agency Creative CEO and empathy advocate. I fill my days trying to balance all four! I run the agency Freedm which is a global virtual creative branding agency with an HQ in Dubai. We built the agency to create freedom for creative minds all over the world, as aligned to the UNESCO Goals for Sustainable Development, and we spend every day building up our clients’ brands by connecting them to stories that sell, created by talent from all walks of life. Today the largest airport in the world, Dubai Airports, are among our clients and we are proudly growing month on month to prove a virtual models can build brands and lives. Alongside that I consult and create with clients and teams all over the world on the role of empathy in organisations and teams, looking at how the empathy deficit is impacting society and the workplace and how we can overcome it. I do this via my platform

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes, and no! I always knew I wanted to be in advertising. My dad was an adman and following in his footsteps was a natural calling for me. Not only because he is my hero and I wanted to be just like him, but because ideas and writing seemed to be my obvious destination point. So, inherently I knew where I was going and as a student at university I clearly planned my entry into the industry via one of London’s top three graduate programmes. In that way this was entirely planned however, after that, I followed the opportunities openly and fluidly without a plan. I have lived on five continents and have moved every three years for the last fifteen to ensure I could always take the opportunity that found me. My secret has always been to be entirely open and curious about opportunities when they arise and to never be too hooked on the place but instead to focus on the vision and the journey of the next chapter.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Well given the context of the last three years I would think that there is no leader on the planet that hasn’t overcome substantial challenges to make it this far!  My move to Sri Lanka however, as part of founding my two current businesses, has been a twelve month long challenge and sees me currently living on an island in economic crisis surrounded by protests, 13 hour long power cuts, a petrol shortage and a gas crisis! I believe however that true opportunity is only found in challenge, and that excellence was never born out of a comfort zone. It is with that belief that I approach all the bumps, that at some time feel insurmountable hard, and turn these into opportunities to thrive. Running a remote business from home without any power or WIFI, in 35 degree heat and 85% humidity, is just one of them!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Without a doubt the bestseller status internationally for my book, Softening The Edge. I never expected this and to this day it surprises me that words that I wrote have been read by so many eyes. It is very humbling and I am proud I made that happen in the context of the COVID world it was written and published in, as a single mother in a locked down Middle Eastern market, all alone. Proof that where there is passion there are options.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I think my optimism and my empathy. The optimism gets me through the toughest of times and I am a great believer that with time comes solutions. When I face something that I have no idea how to solve, I decide not to. I make tea, I optimise my outlook and time, and I wait.

Secondarily, my empathy has allowed me to connect with and understand people all around the world equally and with a deep sense of intuition and passion. There are no goals that cannot be achieved when you work together and true inclusivity can only be gained if you first understand each other.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I have mentored many people and have a great commitment to doing so. As leaders it is our duty to share our wisdom and experience to those who have yet to gather it themselves. It is only in that way that we can lay the path for those behind us to be far more successful than we ever were.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I would stop separating women out into women’s only groups and forums and focus on integration and inclusion instead. I believe that these separately formed groups only marginalise and segregate further.  If we continue to alienate men in these critical discussions and engagements, and close the doors to the other 50% of our workforce, we are systemising the problem without building the alignments to create change.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I would tell her to value patience and resilience beyond all else and that the leaders who can master the tenacity to do both will find a path to success. Patience is our greatest virtue.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to build my empathy work further into the developing markets in Asia and Africa and to truly use the platform to impact youth, education and healthcare – industries that can make huge strides towards our future balance of humanism and capitalism by doing so. I am also writing my second book and launching into a new season of my podcast The Empathy for Breakfast Show. Its busy but I am happier than I ever have been.

Softening the Edge: Empathy: how humanity’s oldest leadership trait is changing our world

Empathetic influence is this decade’s most critical human and scientifically validated skillset. The ability to connect authentically as people has the power to not only change our business environments, but to change the shape of our world. This insightful book will undoubtedly inspire and challenge you in equal measure. It will show you how to successfully harness your emotional intelligence to influence and genuinely connect with people on a deeper level. Softening the Edge will help you to future-proof and evolve the way you do business.

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