Nicki Hoyne returned to her home county of Kilkenny in 2013 to launch her business but not before she gained huge experience in sales, marketing and brand management abroad. She worked in London, Dublin and Australia with brands such as Nintendo, Diageo, Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein. Inspired by her entrepreneurial family and her desire to create her own brand she opened online store My Shining Armour in 2014. The name represents herself and her customer – someone who is fearless. My Shining Armour is not just about cool products but about giving you butterflies when you open your package. Nicki’s sharp eye for the next big thing has seen her nominated for several awards including Image Creative Businesswoman of the Year 2017, Best Online at the Xposé’s Frockadvisor Awards 2017 as well as in four separate categories in the 2017 SME Awards. In 2017 she achieved a lifelong goal of designing her own handbag collection, launched pop-up stores in Kilkenny, Dublin and London and gave a TedxTalk. My Shining Armour has shipped to 38 countries on 5 continents and appeared in Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Grazia magazines.”
Can leadership be taught? If so, how?
I think leadership, like entrepreneurship, can be in a person’s DNA but I do believe you can learn to lead. Experience teaches us a lot, a good leader has the knowledge and experience to teach and guide others. They are a good listener, collaborator and treat people with respect. A leader is made in the value they bring to others and not in how they want to be perceived.
What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?
A leader can be a manager but a manager is not always a leader. A manager is more dictatorial in their approach and is results driven as they are accountable to others above them. A leader takes a more collaborative approach, guiding and including those they lead to achieving as a team.
The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?
I think education and empowerment are key. Be open to new experience, other opinions and perspectives, listen more than you speak and fail, fail over and over again. It is the best way to learn. With knowledge comes wisdom and that’s what I believe makes a great leader.
What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?
Allowing their ego get in the way. A leader with ego will lose the ability to lead as they will lose the people they are leading. Own your mistakes.
What advice would you give to someone dealing with a high-pressure situation in their life or work?
Have perspective, we all get stressed out but it’s important to stop and see it for what it is. Will it matter next week, month, year? Probably not. Take the emotion out of the situation. Being calm and looking at the facts can bring clarity and make it less overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. The most important thing in life is to be happy. If you focus on doing the things that make you happy you will be exactly where you are supposed to be whether that is climbing a mountain, building a home or being a multi-millionaire. If you’re happy you win the game of life! If you’re not happy maybe its time to walk away. You tried it, it wasn’t for you, move on to something else.
What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?
I love to hear people’s stories; you can learn a lot from others experiences. There are always nuggets to take from every book, conference, meeting or podcast. I love entrepreneur biographies and I think everyone should read Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In”. It is a game changer and really asks you to think about the role you play in making our world more equal and therefore more successful. I love Podcasts. I listen to lots. “How I Built This” is brilliant and I like Gary Vaynerchuck’s straight talking. I love a good conference. SXSW & Inbound were fantastic. Its great to meet likeminded people, see what’s new and hear what the thought leaders are saying. Be picky, they can take up a lot of time, make sure they’re relevant to you and have a decent lineup.