Showing Up Professionally & Authentically: ‘How I Work’ EP31 With Nikki Bradley

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Nikki Bradley is a brand strategist and authentic messaging expert who helps businesses and individuals build their brands, which she says, is simply your reputation. With over 20 years of experience in marketing, she founded Nichely, LLC a brand strategy and business growth advisory firm.

How I Work, Episode 31 with Nikki Bradley (Nichely)

Nikki sits down with Josh Becerra to challenge people to think less about getting in front of more  eyes and more about how you’re showing up for the people that you’re already in front of. She also talks about the challenges and lessons she has learned from being a black woman in the corporate world and how to build your armor but keep your authentic self under it. Plus:

  • Having confidence: Sasha Fierce and red lipstick?
  • Ensuring your employees feel seen, heard, and appreciated
  • Rituals: celebrations, partnering, and gratitude rants

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Transcription: How I Work, Episode 31 (Nikki Bradley, Nichely)

Josh Becerra: Hi everybody, this is Josh Becerra from Augurian. Welcome to this next episode of How I Work. I’m super excited to be here today with Nikki Bradley, the founder and CEO of Nichely. Thanks for being here, Nikki.

Nikki Bradley: Thanks for having me.

Josh: Yes, so I’m going to read a little bit of your bio. Nikki is a brand strategist and authentic messaging expert specializing in helping coaches, consultants, and service-based businesses build their audacious personal brand. She’s the queen of guiding experts to bring out the biggest, baddest, dopest version of themselves so that they can show up as more of themselves to create greater impact, legacy, and wealth. She also works with organizations to empower their business leaders to become powerful brand ambassadors, position themselves as thought leaders and build their own personal brand. Again, super excited to have this conversation.

Nikki: Me too.[unintelligible 00:01:02]

Josh: Yes. I love talking about confidence, have confidence is the tagline here at Augurian, and it seems that a personal brand and confidence are intertwined, joined at the hip. Your Bio mentions that you help people show up as their biggest, baddest, dopest version of themselves. It takes confidence to do that, right?

Nikki: Yes. It does.

Josh: What are some of the things you tell people that they need to do to show up in this way?

Nikki: Well one of the things that I tell people all the time is that you’re the dopest thing that people just don’t know about yet.

Josh: Right.

Nikki: I think a lot of times we get in our head about thinking that number one, that not enough people know who I am yet or what do I have to do to get in front of more eyeballs? The truth is that you probably already are in front of enough people for you to grow into whatever it is that you want to be.

Josh: Yes.

Nikki: It’s just how are you showing up in front of the people that you already have eyeballs on? Have eyeballs on you. Are they seeing you. If you are the shrinking violet, then they’re probably passing right over you.

That doesn’t mean that you have to be this extrovert that’s all like in people’s face, but are you showing up with that level of confidence that like, “Yes, I’m a badass at what I do.”

Josh: Yes.

Nikki: I know my stuff. Not like, “Oh, please look at this thing that I do, I have this thing.” Like no, why wouldn’t you want to work with me?

Josh: Yes, for sure. One of the things that we talked about I brought up that I’d read this article about Beyonce and she has her like ultra persona or whatever that she uses to get into the headspace. I can’t remember the name that she uses though.

Nikki: Sasha Fierce.

Josh: Sasha Pierce. Yes.

Nikki: Yes.

Josh: What do you think about that?

Nikki: Oh gosh. I love that she has that. I actually use Sasha Fierce as an example when I’m working with clients. There’s one of the tools that we use for tracking, I use Sasha Fierce instead of saying Jane Doe, I use Sasha Fierce as that example for filling in one of the tools that we use. Because I’m always trying to put that like subtly implant that thought in people’s minds that no, that’s how you have to show up all the time.

Josh: Yes.

Nikki: Sometimes it may take taking on a different persona for yourself to get in that mindset, and if it works for Beyonce.

Josh: Well, and the thing is, you think of Beyonce and she’s like this superstar standing up on stage doing crazy things, and for her to have insecurities about what she’s doing, it’s like we all have those. If she can have them, then everybody can have them, and she has little tools that she uses to get by or get in the right mindset.

Nikki: She says she’s an introvert.

Josh: Wow.

Nikki: To think that somebody who’s an introvert can show up like that on stage. You would never think that, but that just goes to show you that even people who, like I was saying earlier, you can be an introvert and you can still show up in the most, the fullest version of yourself in your gifting.

Josh: Yes. Can just be super authentic so I know that you said something about, you have something in your drawer that’s akin to this. Why don’t you tell us, tell the listeners a little bit about that.

Nikki: I do and I just pulled it out right before we went on because I was like, I’m not wearing makeup today, but I always keep an assortment of red lipsticks in my drawer because when I put on my power red lipstick, it’s like my light switch turns on that I’m– it’s just like how some men will wear a red tie. Just like a power tie. If you look at any presidential debate or anything like that, you’ll notice, just count how many of the men are wearing red ties because it’s considered the power color.

I keep probably at any given time, at least seven or eight different red lipsticks in my drawer because I can just put it on really quickly and it immediately just changes my energy if I’m about to do a sales call, if I’m about to do a meeting where I want to show up more powerfully, if I’m about to do a video. Anything like that, it just changes the energy of how I want to show up.

Josh: Yes. I love that. I love that and one other thing that I remember you saying when we were talking about this is you said, and I love this, you said, “Babies don’t have a confidence problem.”

Nikki: Absolutely not.

Josh: Even like when you’re talking about introverts versus extroverts, I just wonder, when do we become, like at what age do we really start figuring out that we’re introvert or extrovert? But anyway.

Nikki: That’d be interesting. Now you’re making me want to go look that up. I’m sure somebody’s done research on that. I’m going to have to find that out, but yes, babies don’t have a confidence problem. They come out and they just start screaming at the world like, “I’m here, take care of me.” They don’t stand in the mirror and look at how many roles do I have? They’re just like, “Oh, I’m so fun.” They play with them. Yes. They’re sitting there looking– they’re fascinated by all of their yummy chunkiness and we sit there and we’re like, “Oh, look at my butt.” They’re like, “Oh, look at my butt. It’s cool.”

Josh: Yes. It’s all new to them, right? For sure.

Nikki: Yes. It’s all fun.

Josh: Yes. When it comes to like personal brand, there was a story that you told when we were prepping for this, where you talked about how as a black woman you had to have a reckoning with the corporate persona that you built up. You should tell the audience a little bit about your history in corporate America, because I think that’s interesting, but then if you could talk a little bit about personal brand and a little bit about your experience reckoning with that corporate persona of yourself. I thought that was really cool.

Nikki: Quick background on me, so I started out my corporate career in management consulting. Went into working for various companies in operations, marketing, sales, project management. I really landed in running national sales teams and building brands. I would be managing sales teams and going and selling these multimillion dollar deals to large corporations, Fortune 50 companies, federal government agencies.

I would walk into the room with my team, who most of the time was a group of men, and the client would ask questions and they would look to my team members, assuming that one of them was the lead. Then my team members would look to me like, okay, how do we answer this? Then at that point, that’s when the people sitting across the table would be like, oh, she’s the one in charge.

It just was something that I just came to expect. As a result I took on some mannerisms and some almost like armor to just move in that type of environment. One of them was, I had a corporate voice so that when I would be on calls, I could command a certain level of respect.

Josh: Sure.

Nikki: Even the way that I dressed was a very corporate type of a dress, which is not the way that I dress now. Even right now I’m wearing some earrings that I would not have worn in corporate. I never wore braids in my hair in corporate. I just started wearing braids for the first time this summer, and if you were to ask any black woman, when I tell them that now, they’re like, “What? How is that even possible? You’re how old and you’re just wearing braids.” I’m like, “Yes,” because I didn’t think it was appropriate. I couldn’t wear that in my corporate job.

Now there are laws against that. You can’t be discriminated against for your job with that, but back then, you could not be up for promotions or things like that.

Josh: Right.

Nikki: Anyway, I brought some of those things over into my business where I do a lot of video, and my husband used to tell me that he would go into a different part of the house when I would do my video because he said he didn’t recognize who I was. He was like, “You do this voice when you go live,” and I couldn’t stand it. He said it was like nails on a chalkboard, because I would carry that over. I was not being authentically me, and it took me a while to shed some of that corporate stuff and really start being me.

Josh: Well, good for you. I know that Brene Brown, you know who Brene Brown is, I’m sure.

Nikki: Yes.

Josh: She’s always writing about authenticity. One of the things that she does, the analogy she uses is, you got to let down your armor. You got to get rid of your armor to be your most authentic self. Yes, of course, depending on who we are and what our background is, and how we look, depends on the armor that we sometimes have to show up in certain situations with. It’s so cool that you’ve transitioned out of corporate, you’re doing your own thing and you get to lay that down and own your true self, and all that authenticity that comes along with it. That’s awesome.

Nikki: What’s fun now though is, a lot of my clients who come from a corporate background, some who are still in corporate and have started a business on the side or are doing both simultaneously have some of the same challenges that I did.

Josh: Sure.

Nikki: Even those who are still in their corporate jobs, they want to be able to show up more authentically in their jobs as well, but they don’t know how to do it. It’s fun to get to help them to just be more of who they are and know that it’s okay you can do that and still progress up in your job and build a brand and a business doing it as well.

Josh: Yes, that’s very cool. Switching gears a little bit. I know you believe that everyone on team or in a company is like a representative of the brand, right? They’re brand ambassadors.

Nikki: Yes.

Josh: You recommend companies help their employees elevate their own personal brands. At Augurian, we’ve done this pretty recently where every single employee now has a page on the website where it has a link to their LinkedIn profiles, but then we also have added any blog content that that person has written, goes on that page or any wins that they have with our clients that they’ve developed or created also goes on that page.

We’re building this kind of personal branding pages for each of our employees, but what I know is that there’s a whole bunch of debate out there, or that there’s a lot of leaders who are scared to do this because they feel like, “Man, if I show the world that I’ve got this amazing person in my company, they’re going to get poached.” What’s your experience or what do you believe about companies helping their employees elevate their own personal brands?

Nikki: I’ve always thought about it in the perspective of the people. Like you just said, the people that work for you, they’re your brand ambassadors, not just externally, but even everyday when they’re working for you. The way all of their interactions that they have with your clients, with your customers, they are representing you. Number one, you want them to feel seen, heard, and appreciated. That is one of the biggest drivers that we’re seeing right now for the whole quiet quitting that’s happening, and people leaving to start their own businesses and all of that.

I’ve had so many conversations with people just in the last few months where they’re at their job, but they’ve checked out. A big part of it is just because of this. They are feeling like they’re not being valued at their companies. The places where I have seen people totally in it and not even thinking about leaving are the places where they feel seen, heard, and valued. The common thread that I’ve seen at those companies are where the company is investing in their education, at the organization where they’re elevating that person for their expertise, where they are investing in sending that person out on behalf of the company and because of their expertise, and all of that goes to building them up for their knowledge, as a thought leader as well. That goes to building their personal brand.

It’s so funny, it even just made me think about this whole being a brand ambassador. I was mentioning to you right before we started recording about how I had an experience today with a shopping experience. It shifted my perception of the brand that I was shopping with because of the experience I had with the people who were delivering my items today, my Thanksgiving shopping, and this was just at the grocery store.

The experience that I had with the people who were bringing out my groceries was, now this is not somebody that you would think about as far as building a personal brand for. I’m not saying that you need to build a personal brand for them, but I’m just showing you an example of even down to the people who are handling your customer service, they’re brand ambassadors for you.

My experience with them shifted my perception of the brand. These are people who we think about the service industry, those are the people who are the least likely to feel seen, heard, and valued.

Josh: Sure.

Nikki: They’re representatives of the brand, so if you think about your-


Josh: Give them last smile, their face-


Nikki: That’s the last smile.


Josh: -with the customer.

Nikki: Exactly. If you think about your best people in your company, if they’re not being seen, heard, and valued, and they’re the ones that you are having as the face of your company, talking to your clients, if they’re not feeling it, think about what that could mean as far as your bottom line, how they’re interacting with your customers, and then what your customers are then thinking about your brand and how that could shift.

Josh: No, I totally get it. It is amazing how one simple interaction can change the whole game. It’s like you could have had good experiences for time and time again, but then one time can really make that difference. I do like the thought of, “Who is it that’s out there interacting with the customer and how are they impacting the brand?” Right?

Nikki: Absolutely.

Josh: Another thing that we talked about is, you’re a big believer in rituals. Thinking about teams, we do a Monday meeting every Monday where our team– we’re 30 people, so it’s not a huge company, but we talk about our weekends and then we give kudos to one another. There’s time for people to say, “Hey, kudos to you for handling that situation or for doing this pitch, or whatever it is.” We do that every Monday here at Augurian, but I know you’re a big believer in rituals, so what other kinds of rituals do you think are important for teams in particular?

Nikki: I think celebrations are a huge thing. When I heard you say that you do the kudos, I think that’s a really big thing. Every time I’ve worked with teams, that’s been something that we’ve baked into the sauce. When I had sales teams, we had a huge like cowboy dinner bell like you would see at a ranch. Every time there was a sale that was made we would ring the dinner bell and it wasn’t just the sales team that would do it, we would have anybody that was related to winning that customer sale got to ring the bell.

If it was somebody in customer service that worked with the client to resolve an issue that helped to build rapport with the client, then they got to ring the dinner bell, because that meant everybody got to eat. If it was someone in operations that helped with getting the delivery out to that the customer raved about and helping us to win the sale, they got to ring the dinner bell.

All of these things helped to get buy-in from the entire company, and makes it not just like for department specific, but also brings in everybody for the buy-in that [unintelligible 00:21:07] when one person wins or when one team wins, we all win. I think sometimes we create these practices and silos, but we forget about how it affects everybody. That’s one of the things I think is a great way to look at, okay, if we’re creating a ritual here, how can we make sure that everybody sees it or feels a part of it? That’s one that I really think is a great one to do.

Another one that I really like as far as rituals for teams are anything where you can partner people up. I think for me now as an entrepreneur I have personal rituals that I enjoy, but when I do programs with coaching, we do a lot of accountability partner work because I think that there’s power in partnership. I give them sometimes things to do, practices to do when they work together because I think that there’s power in partnership.

If there’s things that you can do with people working together even in teams of two, like when you get together, here’s something that you can do to start out, like your team meetings, even if it’s like a manager and the person that’s on their team to start your meetings out, and ritualize that too.

Josh: Yes, I love that. You talked about personal rituals. You have a few of those for yourself, so can you give us a couple of those too?

Nikki: I start my day with meditation and gratitude. Before I even roll out of bed, there’s gratitude. I call them gratitude ramps. I literally lay in the bed and I see how long I can go, just going on a rant of gratitude.

Oh, I’m so grateful that the sun is shining this morning, that I’m not going to have to go and scrape my windshield this morning. I’m so grateful that my bed feels so good, even though I’m about to get out of it, it feels great this morning. I’m so grateful that I get to take my daughter to school this morning and then we get to have a conversation on the way to school. I’m so grateful that I have clients that pay me and I don’t have to chase money. I’m so grateful– I just keep going and see how long it can go.

Josh: Love that.

Nikki: Sometimes I can go up to like 5 minutes and you just see how long you can go. Then I get out of bed and you’ll be amazed at how that just sets your day off because a lot of times we’ll wake up and the first thing that we think of is, okay, what do I have to do today?

Josh: Yes, the hardest thing I got to do today.

Nikki: The hardest thing I got to do today, or checking the phone for emails or social media or what’s on the calendar. I don’t look at any of that stuff in the morning.

Josh: Do the gratitude rant. I love it.

Nikki: Do the gratitude rant

Josh: It’s got to be like a muscle, because I can imagine I could try to do that tomorrow and I might get to 30 seconds or something and then after a month of doing it every day, you probably could get to three, five minutes of it.

Nikki: There were mornings when I would do it and I would fall back asleep trying to do it.


Josh: Then you don’t have gratitude for your alarm clock, which can be hard for anybody. All right, cool. We’re running out of time, but there’s one question I love to ask all my guests at the end. It’s basically who’s influencing you today? Are there authors or podcasters that you’re paying attention to or that are like challenging your beliefs or inspiring you? Can you name a few?

Nikki: Well, right now I am going back and reading The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

Josh: Okay. Which is different from the 5 second rule when food falls on the floor.

Nikki: Yes, not that one, but it is all about doing the things that you don’t really want to do, but that you should do. Basically counting backwards from five and launching yourself into action. I’ve been actually using it with my daughter as well because she is whereas I will jump out of bed, I’m a morning person, she is not and so it’s been helping with her as well.

I also really love A Happy Pocket Full of Money. It is a book that is all about shifting how you think about, how quickly you can make the things happen in your life that you really want, but specifically about money, but really anything else.

Josh: I love that. I’d never heard of that one. I’ll have to check that out. A Happy Pocket Full of Money.

Nikki: A Happy Pocket Full of Money. Yes.

Josh: Who doesn’t want one of those.

Nikki: Yes.

Josh: Well, that’s awesome. Well, I think that’s a good way to end this conversation. We’re all going to go out and try to have a happy pocket full of money. I really appreciate the time today, so thank you so much for being here, Nikki.

Nikki: Thanks for having me.

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