Nicole Ryan

Nicole is the founder of Alex’s Adventure which is a programme that aims to educate post-primary students on substance misuse and the real-life effects our choices can have. Nicole is an expert in her field and has been facilitating drug education workshops for over 3 years. She has a Certificate in Substance Misuse & Addiction Studies and a degree in Engineering.

Under what conditions do you get your best work done?

Truthfully I am a pressure worker – I work best under tight deadlines which is not always the best but I am good at motivating people and giving it my all. I write everything down in a journal, I am very traditional that way but if I don’t I will be sure to forget it.

Have you had a mentor and if so how did this person impact you?

I have a few mentors, I don’t think I will ever not have mentors because nobody can start a business alone and there are some amazing people out there that will help you if you just ask. One of my mentors blossomed from a review panel he was on, we didn’t converse initially but I connected with him on LinkedIn and we met for a coffee. This mentor has been so invested in my vision that on the really hard days it keeps me going. I never imagined that a coffee meeting would turn out this way but I am so thankful it did because without his guidance I would not be as successful.

What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

Micro-managing. This is definitely one of the worst things that some organisations do. You cannot create leaders if you are constantly micromanaging all of their tasks. I also know of some organisations that become bitter if an employee leaves their organisation to pursue their own thing which I think is wrong. As a boss, you should be happy that you have done everything right to inspire somebody to go out on their own.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to be bolder sooner and start taking risks. Before I set up my own business I had my whole life planned out and was never big into steering away from that but as an entrepreneur, I learned that in order for me to achieve something great I have to push myself out of my comfort zone.

If you were designing a leadership program for schools what would you focus on?

As I design drug education programmes for schools I have a slight insight into this – I would focus on building their resilience and teaching them how to fail – this is always key for me. It builds great leaders that are not afraid to fail, failure is good, great in fact and it should be encouraged. In school, we are thought that failure is a bad thing but every single great leader out there has failed if not once then a few times and it’s how they came back from that failure – that is what made them who they are today.

If you had to name three characteristics of great leaders what would they be?

In my opinion, it would be Resilience, Passion & Open-Mindedness. There will be times where you will get knockbacks, it’s having that bounce-back ability that will ultimately determine if you win or lose. Having passion is critical – in today’s society people buy into people and if you can bring that across in what you are doing – it will not be easy to fail. Having an open mind is so valuable whether it is with your business, how you structure it, ideas from others or even simple things like getting back some critical feedback – everything is a learning curve with the right mindset.