Nick Elston is Professional Speaker focused on helping people deal with Mental Health and Wellbeing issues. Nick tells The Industry Leaders how he's helped big clients like KFC and talks to us about why 'failures' are essential if we are to get the most out of life.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
A breakdown! After having experienced Mental Illness, namely OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as a child, which then morphed into GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder), I ran on high anxiety into my adult life. After years of sustained burnout, I broke down in 2012.
Speaking was my therapy, then my passion, then my career, but it's all still very much a mixture of those things even today. I've been described as a 'BIG man, BIG heart, BIG story, BRUTAL honesty', and I use everything I have to inspire others to create positive change in their Mental Health.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I'm a Professional Speaker, delivering an inspirational message around Mental Health and Wellbeing - driven by my own 'lived experience'. That can be on stage, in an organisation, in a boardroom - even schools, universities and prisons.
I also run workshops, seminars and sessions on different elements of the topics that I cover. I also create unique Mental Health engagement strategies for clients such as KFC, where I host 'KFC TV', a product I created to reach all of their staff through a video podcast series. Alongside these projects, I help other people to speak through the 'Nick Elston Speaking Academy'.
What gets you excited about your industry?
What excites me most is educating audiences and clients on how we can positively impact our Mental Health, knowing that we all have all of the answers we will ever need - we just need to ask ourselves the right questions. When we do that, we then need to get out of our own way!
The way that I deliver is very different from any other Mental Health or Wellbeing strategy out there because I'm not a solution; I'm not a 'fix'. I focus on driving true engagement - because unless you get engagement - absolutely nothing changes!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I get most of my motivation and inspiration from Country Music. I love Country Music! With that in mind, the advice would be 'Every storm runs out of rain' - a mantra I share after every talk and something that sees me through periods of adversity. It's also a great tune by Gary Allan - check it out!
What, or who inspires you?
I get my inspiration from the time I have lost, the mistakes that I made, my perceived 'failures'. In reality, they were lessons, they were signposts - because, without my toughest times, I wouldn't be doing what I am doing now and having the most exciting, wild ride!
So, that's what drives me: the desire to find love and happiness in the journey - even when it seems all is lost. You are never, ever done - the power is always in the comeback!
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Working in the Mental Health space can be 'heavy', especially as I share personal experiences and stories about my own past. If I'm honest - I focus on general personal development - reading, listening, watching, learning - without necessarily immersing myself in the wider opinion.
Mental Health is a subjective, emotive and reactive area for a lot of people. Of course, if I am tailoring content for a particular sector or industry, I will then focus on researching that - but generally, I like to keep the blinkers on and just run my own race.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Of course, it has to be my Mental Illness and poor Mental Health, which led to prolonged burnout and subsequent breakdown. However, without that - I wouldn't be doing something that I love right now. It's the reason that my strapline is 'Forging People'.
In life and business, we can allow our adversities and our challenges to define us negatively for the rest of our days. Or, we can choose for them to forge something better, something beautiful, something powerful, something that wouldn't have existed without you going through your 'stuff' in the first place!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Great question! I think that, like a lot of people, I'd ensure that my family would all be secure. I would set up funds for my niece and nephew. I would turn what I do into a business, an organisation with partners who can deliver with the same ethos and ethics that I have, who have a passion for creating true change and delivering a genuine, authentic message.
That's still the plan, with or without £10m!
Finally, I'd buy a place in Nashville, Tennessee - my spiritual home!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
What I call 'recovery' is huge for me. It looks different for different people. For me - how I rest, recharge and recover is;
- Switch off social media
- Only allow family and close friends' calls
- Walking - especially in nature
- Gaming - particularly 'open world' games
- Football - I'm a Bristol Rovers fan (hence the grey in the beard!)
- Disconnect from the laptop
- Quality time with my wife, Claire - and Tula, our Shih-Tzu!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That some people would stop using Mental Health as a sales tactic. I've seen so many people change their titles from 'Sales Trainer' to '*insert Mental Health condition here* Sales Trainer'!
Also, after a career of working in Sales, Account Management and Partnerships in my corporate life, I believe that the Wellbeing industry can be MUCH more competitive, precious and mistrusting than anything I experienced in B2B sales!
So, my wish is for an attitude of increased collaboration and less ego!
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Well, I'm biased - but my podcast is 'The Forge Ahead Show' which re-launches March 2021 - it's where I bring you the storytellers, the people that have gone from adversity to excitement - sharing their REAL journey with us - warts and all!
In terms of recommended reads - I wholeheartedly recommend;
The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters
How to be Human by Ruby Wax
Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
How should people connect with you?