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In this episode of The Speaker Show, Maria Franzoni interviews Penny Mallory.

Penny is a leading authority on Mental Toughness and the first and only woman to drive a World Rally Car. Penny shares how and why developing confidence, resilience, commitment and focus is critical in today’s challenging business and personal environment.

Penny knows how to compete and beat the odds, but she also knows top performance requires even more than sacrifice and maximum commitment. It also takes heart, insight and the courage to keep going and the refusal to quit. She gets it because she’s lived it.

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Episode #207

Why the mentally tough thrive

Maria Franzoni (00:15): Hello. And welcome back to The Speaker Show with me, your host, Maria Franzoni. In today’s show, we’ll be getting some advice on how to be mentally tough. But before we get started, let me remind you that The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau for the world’s most successful organizations, providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. My guest this week is going to share with us how and why developing confidence, resilience, commitment, and focus is critical in today’s challenging business and personal environment. Motorsport and TV fans know her as the first and only woman to drive a world rally car. I know her as my very good friend. Let’s welcome this week’s guest, Penny Mallory. Hello, Penny. How are you?

Penny Mallory (01:05): I’m so well, how are you?

Maria Franzoni (01:08): I’m good. Thank you very much. Indeed. I’m feeling mentally tough today.

Penny Mallory (01:12): Okay.

Maria Franzoni (01:12): The I have a good sleep. I think that helps. I’m sure. You’ll tell me that it does when we get a bit into this, but listen, before we do Penny, I know you very well, but there’ll be a lot of people out there who don’t, I’d love you to tell us a bit about your story and where you personally have had to be mentally tough.

Penny Mallory (01:29): So I didn’t know I was, but I was building my mental toughness from a very young age. So I came from a really messed up dysfunctional, weird family. And I didn’t know that was making me resilient and focused and stuff because it just that’s the effect it had on me. But I suppose once I’d left home, which was at 14 and I started building my mental toughness in homeless hosts and with my heroin addict boyfriend and all that nonsense. But I sort of followed my childhood dream to be a rally driver. And I, that’s where really everything I learned to that point started to work for me and helped me to achieve. Really looking back was I still can hardly believe what I did do. It was, I sort of made the impossible possible because I was too young, too female and too unconnected in Motorsport to be the first woman in the world to drive for in a world rally car.

Penny Mallory (02:25): I mean, that was just ridiculous, but I did it and my mental toughness kept me completely focused, completely determined. So in rallying it was incredibly useful, but of course it, a lot of the rallies are very, they’ve run over four days. So you have to be physically fit, mentally alert. It takes, it drains you of everything you can possibly throw at it. And I thought that was me at my most mentally tough until I got in the boxing ring. And I realized that I hadn’t discovered much at all about mental toughness because in the boxing ring and I’ve done two fights now, that was the most extreme, rapid development of mental toughness, that bounce back ability, the resilience, the courage, the confidence, everything are off the scale of every single one of those elements, but I’ve also run multiple marathons. I’ve done three in three days and then lots of endurance events.

Penny Mallory (03:23): So that’s another brilliant development of mental toughness. That’s sort of, I’m not gonna give up. I’m completely committed. However hard it gets. I will be resilient and I will keep going. And of course, I’ve run my own business for, 30 something is, gosh, they wouldn’t even want to work it out. And just anyone that works for themselves knows that will require certain skills and capabilities. So all in all. And there’s lots of other things, lots of little things that I’ve done, climb mountains, all sorts of things, that have all helped contribute to me building my mental toughness. But the truth is, I didn’t know I was doing it until later in life. When I discovered what mental toughness is all about.

Maria Franzoni (04:10): Brilliant. Fantastic. And actually I think running your own business is a bit like boxing. Isn’t it? You’re constantly hit everything up.

Penny Mallory (04:18): You’re picking yourself up again and going again. Yeah.

Maria Franzoni (04:20): Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, fantastic. I mean, and, you know, people know you and see your only tiny little thing, and to think that you go and be boxing and rally driving and wow. It’s very cool.

Penny Mallory (04:31): No one’s ever called me tiny Maria, but thank you.

Maria Franzoni (04:34): You are. You are.

Penny Mallory (04:38): Well, but scales. The scales don’t say that, but anyway, I’ll just take the compliment then we’ll move on.

Maria Franzoni (04:44): Yes. Take the compliment, please. We’re bad at taking compliments, we women. So you mentioned that you really didn’t know until later in life what mental toughness was.

Penny Mallory (04:51): Yeah.

Maria Franzoni (04:51): Define it for me, what is mental toughness?

Penny Mallory (04:55): I now know that mental toughness is our ability to deal with stress and pressure and crisis and challenges and setbacks. So this is not a match over or aggressive notion by any means. Some really quiet people are incredibly, mentally tough. This is the ability to stay focused, determined, resilient, despite whatever is going on around you. And if you think about out it, if you’re able to manage the stress and pressure of life so that you don’t get beaten and battered by everything that happens, you are more likely to enjoy life, sort of it’ll become water off a ducks back to a degree. You start to see every challenge that confronts itself as an opportunity. You start to get really excited about setbacks because you want to actually discover the answer to this and what’s opportunities lie behind it. So, you know, if you’re really committed and focused and determined you, if you’re really mentally tough, it means you are more likely to have a relaxed, successful, enjoyable life. Because if you crumble and crack at every sign of stress or pressure, it, life is miserable when you just can’t cope.

Maria Franzoni (06:12): Yeah, I hear you. Absolutely. Although I think sometimes we all do have those times where we can’t cope. So, can you build that mental toughness?

Penny Mallory (06:21): Well, you’re right. All of us, you know, everyone gets stressed, everyone gets anxious a hundred percent. So the good news is that some of us deal with that better and it’s learning to deal with it better, finding new strategies, new approaches, which is why adversity and setback is incredibly useful because without it, we wouldn’t learn anything. So no adversity, no growth. I welcome adversity every day because I’m gonna find out something I didn’t know about myself or the world. So yes, absolutely. Every one of us can develop mental toughness. That’s what I work with people to do every day. And it’s really exciting and people are much more capable than they ever realize they are. And a lot of the people I work with, you know, I set them lots of challenges and I’m quite a practical coach. They discover that things really aren’t as daunting or as terrifying or as hard as they first thought. Quite often, it’s the thought of something that’s terrifying, not the actual doing.

Maria Franzoni (07:20): Can you give me an example of some of these challenges you’ve set now? I’m a bit curious now.

Penny Mallory (07:26): Oh goodness. It could be anything. So if somebody’s lacking confidence, for example, which is one of the elements of mental toughness, I might set them a challenge to do a presentation to the team or something like that. And they’re like, no, absolutely no way I can’t do it. I can’t do it. And then we, to break it down into little pieces, we do some visualization exercises. We do some breathing stuff. We do some, planning and preparing stuff, some, all sorts of little elements. And then they do a presentation to their team. And this is the most exciting bit of my job. The, when they let me know how it went and they say it was amazing. I was brilliant. I really enjoyed it. Everyone loved it. And they never thought a couple of weeks before that they were ever capable of doing it. So that’s sort of thing. It’s difficult to generalize cause everyone has different. They come to me with different things. They always change ’cause one day you might be feeling that you’re losing confidence the next day you might be feeling less committed. So it it’s a constantly changing scenario for everybody.

Maria Franzoni (08:35): Yeah. I know, I get that. Absolutely. And do you think that people who aren’t more mentally tough, let’s say have certain qualities or do they believe more in themselves and in their abilities?

Penny Mallory (08:46): A really mentally tough person. And by the way, you can be too mentally tough, which I’ll explain in a moment. But a mentally tough person will have a complete and utter faith in their own ability. They will see challenges as opportunities. They will be a hundred percent committed to everything they do and they’ll feel in control. And when you have all of those things lined up, you sort of feel that you could take on anything, but they all, every bit of those, for aspects that I just described, they will deep and they will peak and they will plateau and they will, you know, it’s just, it’s shifting sound the whole time.

Maria Franzoni (09:27): Fantastic. And you were gonna, I’m curious now, cause you said you can be too mentally tough, which I’m thinking really how?

Penny Mallory (09:31): Yes.

Penny Mallory (09:32): So you’ll know people like this, somebody will spring mind as I describe the person who is so focused and so, determined and committed that they actually stop listening to everyone else around them. And that’s a nightmare. One, that’s a nightmare for everyone else around them because they feel that they don’t matter. They don’t count. Their opinion is worthless and their of no value. So it’s useless for building a team if you are too focused and committed because you are unreadable. Nobody can get near you. You’re intimidating. You’re dogmatic, you lack empathy. So you can be too high up this spectrum if you’re not careful. So, the perfect sort of balance would be really empathetic, take a great listener, but have it however, being very focused, very determined and committed, but without excluding the people around them. And I guess, you know, that’s, that’s just the story of any great leaders, isn’t it? Would have those qualities, but it’s that mental toughness as well, that even if you’re not in control, you look like you are and people believe you are because they need you to be in control if they’re not.

Maria Franzoni (10:44): Fantastic. And yes, you’re right. I almost wrote a list of people. And there’s been a couple of times when possibly I have been a bit about a couple of things, but anyway. Hey, let’s digress us move forward. So you mentioned resilience as well when we spoke. I mean, I think some people confuse resilience with mental toughness, but they’re two different things. Yes?

Penny Mallory (11:07): Well, they are two different things. And to a degree, resilience is part of mental toughness, but the academics, and I’m not sure that the nuances of this are terribly important, but mental toughness would be, I’m going to do it because I want to. Resilience would might be, I’m going to do it because I have to. And that’s actually, if you think about it, a very different scenario, but you know, I don’t wanna get caught up in the pedantics of it, because if you can recover quickly from difficulties and setbacks, you are resilient, you are mentally tough. And that’s the important thing is being able to recover quickly when you get knocked back or knocked down.

Maria Franzoni (11:47): Brilliant. And speaking of recovering, we can hear, you’ve got a little bit of a cough there. Would you like to grab some water or are you okay?

Penny Mallory (11:54): I’ve got a cup of tea here.

Maria Franzoni (11:55): Sorry. Have a quick slur. That’s okay. Now I could hear you struggling there with your voice and, it’s important that, it’s important we’ve still got a voice by the time we

Penny Mallory (12:03): I did.

Maria Franzoni (12:04): You’re good. Wonderful. And speakers have to look after their voices because it’s your instrument, isn’t it?

Penny Mallory (12:09): Yeah. But there was a big football match on last night and might have shouted a bit too much.

Maria Franzoni (12:14): Ah, yeah. So at the time that we are recording it’s morning after or the afternoon after the day before.

Penny Mallory (12:20): Yes.

New Speaker (12:20): When Italy beat England. I’m very sorry about that. Everybody I had predicted it, but Hey, I’m very sorry. Let’s not, let’s not dwell. Let’s not dwell. Let’s be mentally tough about it.

Penny Mallory (12:30): Exactly. We bounce back from that one. Won’t we?

Maria Franzoni (12:33): Okay. So people can improve their resilience and improve their mental toughness. That’s absolutely a fact. Yes?

Penny Mallory (12:40): Oh, 100%. You are more resilient today than you were before the pandemic hit. You know that and everybody probably, or mostly, will be more resilient. More mentally tough than they were a year ago. We’ve all had to develop it. We don’t know we’re doing it, but every one of us will have developed in some way. We just never sit to reflect on it, but you are more mentally tough now than you were when you’re 20, when you were 20 or 30 or 40, you are always developing your mental toughness. We all are.

Maria Franzoni (13:11): Brilliant. So it’s true that the older you are the wiser you are. Yes?

Penny Mallory (13:17): Mostly.

Maria Franzoni (13:19): So let, let’s imagine I’m Gareth Southgate now and you need to help me to bounce back and regain momentum. Did you see what I did there? I took the question and I made it relevant. What advice would you give me to get my team back to being resilient bouncing back and being, and regaining our momentum again?

Penny Mallory (13:38): I would say just stop. Just stop, stop, stop, stop. And just zoom out a bit here. What’s actually going on. And do you know what rather than asking or trying to find the answers to all sorts of things you just step back and ask, what is the real question here? That is a much more powerful way to start moving forward. What is the question I’m trying to answer by finding all the answers. So it’s about stopping, stepping back refocusing prioritizing, and you do that by asking what is actually the real question I trying to answer here.

Maria Franzoni (14:17): Well, that’s good. That’s very deep and philosophical. I like that. So actually I think you’re leading me into my next question. I think I probably know the answer now, but I’m gonna ask anyway. So, how important is goal setting and how should we go about it? I think you’re gonna say to me it is.

Penny Mallory (14:33): Well, I know for sure that some people will avoid goals and targets, like the plague. Not everybody is motivated by goals and targets, which is why lots people either are in sales and ought to be or will avoid that sort of area of work all day long because sales targets and goals can expose you as a fraud. They could expose you as inadequate, goals could be really scary things for some people. However, I’m actually very goal orientated person, you know, cause we’ve worked together. And if you set me, you set me a task, I take an enormous amount of pleasure in delivering the goal. I love, I really enjoy goals, but because it focuses my mind because when I have a very clear goal, the distractions fall away because I’m really thrown down this sort of laser focus of the goal.

Penny Mallory (15:37): And for me, that’s just in enormously useful, which is why I’m motivated by goals. But it’s really important to remember that not everybody is. And the other thing is when you’re working in a team and if a leader just makes the assumption that everyone is motivated by by goals. They won’t understand that, you know, that maybe there’s members of the team who will be motivated by something else and identifying that is far more important than pushing and pushing and pushing them to do something that’s actually demotivating them. So is everyone in your team focused and motivated by goals? Maybe not. Maybe you’ve making some assumptions here. So that’s always a really good question. When I’m working with teams that we try and understand each other a bit better, what motivates each one of us, ’cause it would be different. But your question was how important is goal setting? For some of us really important for some of us, we just run a mile from setting goals, but on the whole I would, you know, as you and I know we work very well to goals, they focus my mind and remove distractions.

Maria Franzoni (16:44): I mean, for me, I think you need to have a sense of direction don’t you and a goal gives you a sense of direction. Otherwise it reminds me of, I, this is show my age here, but it does remind me of the Monty Python sketch, where they all set off from the same point, but they’re all running in different directions because nobody knows where the finish line is. So for me, I think the goals, goals are important. And I also think that if you have a goal, if you don’t have a goal, should I say you probably aren’t going to, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe I shouldn’t say, but I think people who have goals tend to be more successful than those who don’t. It’s a terrible thing.

Penny Mallory (17:18): If you took the football analogy and you took the goals away, literally the goals, you would just be cooking a football around a pitch with no point to it. So you can immediately see why a goal would be important because we have to do this thing over there in order to be successful, to win. So for you and I who are goal orientated people, we, I totally get the value of a goal. I just think it’s important to remember that some people aren’t like that. We just assume they are. Yeah. But yeah. Take the goalpost. Take the actual goal of a football pitch and you’ve just got a very, very boring nonsensical thing to watch. Haven’t you?

Maria Franzoni (18:04): Yeah, you’ve just moved the goalposts. Brilliant.

Penny Mallory (18:08): Yes. Get off the football theme.

Maria Franzoni (18:10): Let’s get off the football theme. Let’s talk about business. Okay. So if you fail or your business fails, should you persist or do you accept it and rethink, is it a bit of both? Is it, does it that’s a big question, right?

Penny Mallory (18:22): Well, it is, but in a funny way, it, I’m gonna give you the same answer that I gave you before, which is stop. Just stop, ask yourself the real question here, because refocusing, prioritizing all that stuff is going to give you the answer probably as to whether you persist, whether you give up, whether you change direction. And if you fail or your business fails was your question. There is an opportunity in every challenge.

Maria Franzoni (18:54): Oh yeah.

Penny Mallory (18:55): It really is. So we mustn’t forget that. So when I, when we talk about things, failing, I, to me, I’m like, ah, no, I just wanna stop you right there because there’s an opportunity here. We just haven’t uncovered it. So there’s lots more to that question than just accepting something, rethinking something. It’s a bigger thing. There’s stuff in there. There’s gold in there. You just gotta get it out. Yeah.

Maria Franzoni (19:17): Yeah. So it’s like, you know, when the door closes a window opens.

Penny Mallory (19:21): Yeah. Right.

Maria Franzoni (19:21): Something like that.

Penny Mallory (19:23): Yeah.

Maria Franzoni (19:23): How important is routine in order to sort of build your mental toughness and you know, when dealing with disruption?

Penny Mallory (19:31): I think for most of us very important, but not for everybody. I’m discovering this, the more people I work with and the more mental toughness coaching I do, that everyone does require different. Different things to motivate them. But for me personally, routine is massively important. But if I have too much routine that demotivates me, it’s a balance. So I like to know what I’ve got to do to achieve something. But if you make it too samey, I start getting bored and I lose interest. So it’s a fine line, but I, but then I’m a funny one, Maria. So I don’t know that my, the way I operate is anything to go by. But for a lot of people, the distractions can be taken away by routine. And disruption can be taken away by routine. So it can be enormously helpful.

Maria Franzoni (20:29): Okay, cool.

Maria Franzoni (20:30): So. But with regards to decision making then, should we make big decisions if we aren’t feeling particularly mentally tough or feeling particularly resilient, you know, and we might not have a choice perhaps to make decisions?

Penny Mallory (20:43): Well, there is a, there’s a camp that will say if and doubt do nothing. And there’s a camp that will say no action. No action is worse than an action. I’m in the, gosh. My mom didn’t was, was pretty unhelpful, really not very good as a mom, but the one thing she always said to me, which I never forgot is, went in doubt to do nothing. Just stop, step back. I think this is what she was saying. Refocus, you know, reframe everything, just take it all in. And the universe will sort of, it will fall into place. So sometimes actually just taking a breather and making no decision can be really useful, but I don’t like inaction for too long because action will take you somewhere. If action doesn’t really serve you too well. So it’s a bit of a, I’m answering the, your question with two opposite answers. But I think trust in your intuition is really important here. ‘Cause most of us probably know really, if we’re honest are real deep intuition, which is the one thing we can rely on and very rarely do. It’s sort of giving us the answer. It’s giving us a nudge and we tend to ignore our intuition quite a lot. So I think tuning into that a little bit more can be really helpful.

Maria Franzoni (22:03): Brilliant. Brilliant. Remind me the four things that make up mental toughness. You said to me, you said, commitment, focus, resilience.

Penny Mallory (22:11): So the four, I mean there’s, there’s lots of aspects of them, but having feeling in control, right? And that’s not just in control of your life, but in control of your emotions. That’s a biggie, this commitment, you know, I have a theory that commitment is a complete thing. It’s not a 99%, it’s you are committed or you’re not, there’s no degrees of commitment. It’s ill or nothing. It’s a switch. Challenge, seeing challenges as opportunities rather than threats and learning from everything that goes on and then having a genuine confidence in your ability, like a really deep, deep confidence that I know I can do this. I don’t need anyone to tell me. I can ’cause I know I can, but it’s also confidence in dealing with other people, interpersonal confidence, speaking up and speaking out, even when you know you are absolutely right, but you just dense speak up immensely tough person. I’m gonna say it because I believe I’m right. I wanna be heard. And what I’ve got to say is important. So those are the four aspects.

Maria Franzoni (23:15): I’m glad I checked with you cause I’ve got them wrong. So it’s control, commitment, challenge and confidence.

Penny Mallory (23:19): Correct.

Maria Franzoni (23:19): Fantastic. Fantastic. You have however, talked about focus on several occasions in the answer to these questions. So I have a question for you here. How do you stay focused? I’m easily distracted, especially if there’s some bad news on the television or you know, something happens. I can find it very hard. Have you got any tips for me to stay focused?

Penny Mallory (23:42): I have some exercises. There’s an online exercise that I don’t get people to do, which I can’t do it on a podcast. But prioritizing is a really good way to start. You, a lot of people will be distracted because they choose to be sounds

Maria Franzoni (24:01): Yeah. When I’m doing my accounts. No, no, it’s true. When I’m doing my accounts I’ll be distracted very easily. Yes.

Penny Mallory (24:06): Correct.

Maria Franzoni (24:07): Yes.

Penny Mallory (24:07): If I’ve got to do my account, I will go rather go and clean the toilet. I would, I will find things to distract me in order to avoid the one thing that actually needs doing. And you know, it’s often been said that, we, oh, I’ve completely forgot what I was gonna say then.

Maria Franzoni (24:26): You’re helping me focus.

Penny Mallory (24:29): Yes. Oh my goodness.

Maria Franzoni (24:31): I’m not distracted by toilets.

Penny Mallory (24:33): Oh yeah, no. I was gonna say the one thing, you know, you have a to do list and there will be something that always goes from today’s to tomorrow’s and tomorrow’s to the next days, cause you just can’t face it. There’s always one of those. That’s actually the thing you you’ve gotta start the day you, so this is my challenge to you tomorrow. The one thing that keep moving to tomorrow is let’s do it first tomorrow because it probably have the most impact. It’s probably the most important. And if there’s some uncomfortable about it, uncomfortableness about it, there’s a reason. But we often put off the most important thing instead of prioritizing it. So yes, we get distracted sometimes because we choose to, so that this is about discipline and that’s a big aspect of mental toughness is having that discipline. And self-awareness, I know I am avoiding this. I know I am allowing myself to be distract so that self-awareness is really helpful and not pretending and lying to yourself. And identifying the priorities really.

Maria Franzoni (25:35): Oh goodness. I’m gonna lot like you very much in the morning when I tackle that task, I will be thinking,

Penny Mallory (25:40): But you will be really pleased you did because you’ll think, oh, that wasn’t so bad after all. I’m really glad I did it. And if it doesn’t go to, well, at least it’s off your to-do list. Okay. So you only win

Maria Franzoni (25:51): I’ll message you. I’ll message you.

Penny Mallory (25:52): Good.

Maria Franzoni (25:53): Penny coming back to mental toughness. Can you measure someone’s mental toughness?

Penny Mallory (25:57): Amazingly, there is an online assessment that I put people through. It’s phenomenal. This assessment’s been developed over 30 years where I can measure your mental toughness in the four areas we just spoke about. So whatever you think you are, the assessment is too clever. You can’t, you can’t cheat it. And you know, it’s not to catch you out. It’s to give you, a snapshot of where you are, how you are today. And it would be different tomorrow and it’d be different yesterday, but it gives you a snapshot which when I’m working with people, whether it’s teams or individuals, it gives me a picture of where you’re feeling, what you’re feeling, how you’re feeling, where you’re at with life. And it gives us a great starting point to start coaching and developing. So yes, the answer is absolutely yes, you can measure somebody’s mental toughness and it is the most phenomenal assessment. It is a psychometric test and I’m not a big fan of psychometric test, but this one is different and I highly, highly recommend anybody that’s up for it to just get, get in touch because it’s a quite an eye opener. I’ve never had anyone do it ever, who has said this isn’t phenomenal.

Maria Franzoni (27:10): Brilliant.

Penny Mallory (27:10): And actually really is.

Maria Franzoni (27:12): I know that because you put one of my team through it.

Penny Mallory (27:14): That’s right. I did.

Maria Franzoni (27:15): Yeah. And, she came back to me and said, she thought she knew herself very well. And then she got this psychometric test and she said, actually it was so accurate in a way. It was it, you know, she wasn’t what she was expecting, but it was absolutely spot on.

Penny Mallory (27:28): Yeah. It’s so clever.

Maria Franzoni (27:30): Yeah. Very clever indeed. Fantastic. So we’ve been talking a lot about individuals and individual mental toughness, but clearly if you are working with an organization and you’re trying to help them, they want the entire team to be mentally tough. Would you get an entire team to work together and in as a mentally tough team?

Penny Mallory (27:49): Exactly. So imagine a team and this isn’t hard to do, to imagine a team of, let’s say 20 people who are under incredible stress and incredible pressure to deliver some insane target in a ridiculous deadline. And that’s happening all over the place right now, in order to do that, you’ve got to be working incredibly tightly together, which means you’ve gotta know each other incredibly well. You’ve got, I’ve got to know your strengths and weaknesses because I need your support and you need mine. And that means, so I’ve been working with teams over the last sort of two years now. I’ve put everybody through the mental toughness assessment. So I know where we’re at, but then you can put those assessments to say 20 of them through another machine. And it spits out a mental toughness score for a team. So they might appear to be super confident, but the truth is they’re not quite as committed as you thought they were or whatever.

Penny Mallory (28:43): And then I work with them over a period of time. It’s usually 12 weeks and I retest them or reassess them at the end and it’s never, ever not gone up. So it’s wonderful. So I do individual stuff and I do team stuff, coaching with them. And it’s phenomenal. But it’s really, it’s about understanding, you know, I didn’t know Sarah lacked confidence. I thought she was really confident. Now I know, I can deal with it. You know, we can work together better because I can help maybe help her with that. And I’ve gotta bear that in mind when I give her this project or this task. So it’s about the teams getting a much clearer and deeper understanding of each other, which rarely happens if I’m on, because most people will wear a mask and show what they wanna show rather than it, them being a little bit more vulnerable, but a team that is really strong and really productive and really gonna manage that stress and pressure and deliver insane targets. They’re gonna have to be a little bit vulnerable to get just getting that little bit deeper is the secret, which certainly is in my experience. It’s just that most people are too scared to do it.

Maria Franzoni (29:54): Yeah. And you know, I can see that and getting to know each other a lot better and sort of focusing on these four areas and those topic areas, I think that’s really, really valuable.

Penny Mallory (30:02): But that it, it all comes down to trust. Cause if you’re going to be that vulnerable with a group of people, you have to, you have to feel, and you have to have that culture of going on or to start to develop it of immense trust, really incredible deep, immense trust. That’s when really the magic starts to happen.

Maria Franzoni (30:19): Absolutely. And I imagine also it will build trust going through the whole process.

Penny Mallory (30:23): Absolutely.

Maria Franzoni (30:23): It will build greater trust and real cohesiveness in the team.

Penny Mallory (30:27): Yeah.

Maria Franzoni (30:27): I think it’s very exciting. So here you are. Here’s my challenge to you then. So that’s a 12 week program that you work with people. Can you really help people be more mentally tough in a 45 minute, one hour speech?

Penny Mallory (30:39): It seems I can, I’m get really good feedback. I mean, what I do is I challenge people to think about stuff that maybe they haven’t thought about before. So I don’t really tell people anything in my keynote. I ask them questions of themselves so much more powerful and stuff really lands because they can’t avoid answering that question in their own head. I do tend to offer certain tasks, to each, to all of the audience and whether or not they do them. I’ll never know. One of the challenges is nasty and people do tend to tell me about that one, but yes, there’s, I give them ideas. Now I give them tasks, but I ask them challenging questions. And that kicks off a process. There is only so much you can do in 45 minutes, but certainly my aim would be that I touch a bit of them that they didn’t expect, that they’ve had some thoughts and some light bulb moments that don’t leave them because I don’t want to do a 45 minute keynote and they’ve forgotten about me an hour later. I want it to stay with them, not me, but I want the message, the thought, the challenges to stay with them and to question themselves that’s my intention. And in my intention, of course, is that they change something that they take some kind of action.

Maria Franzoni (32:03): Lovely, fantastic. Listen. We’ve rapidly run out of time. So I’d love you to leave us with what your next challenges? You must have one.

Penny Mallory (32:11): I’ve always got one on the go. My most immediate challenge is to, I’ve just been commissioned to write another book. I’ve got to write 365 ways to develop mental toughness. So obviously it’s tip of a day, which is actually gonna be quite a challenge because I think I’ve got loads, but whether or not I’ve got 365 where yet to find out. So I’ve got a couple of months to do that. And of course the timing and that goal, you know, I will deliver on this date and I will write this many per day, which is that’s how disciplined I have to get. I should be able to do it. But yeah, that is to answer your question. My next challenge.

Maria Franzoni (32:55): Fantastic. I shall check in with you and see how you’ve got on.

Penny Mallory (32:58): I’m sure you will.

Maria Franzoni (32:59): Fantastic. Well Penny, thank you so much. Really enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot. I hope you’ve had a good time.

Penny Mallory (33:05): I’ve really enjoyed it. I can’t believe the time has flown.

Maria Franzoni (33:08): It has indeed. So all remains is for me to thank everybody for listening to The Speaker Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating on Apple, it’s Apple Podcast now, it’s not iTunes anymore, is it? And you can keep up with future episodes on the Speakers Associates website, which is ( or an Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, or your favorite podcast app. And see you next week. Bye-bye for now.

Live interview

Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.

As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.

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