Nicole McLaren Campbell is professional Speaker, Educator and Entrepreneur. Driven by a passion for empowerment, she represented Jamaica at MIT’s Junior Summit and was selected to address then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at just 13 years old. She was subsequently featured in local and International Media including CNN and Nickelodeon and was chosen has one of 20 teens who will change the world by Teen People Magazine. She’s a graduate of the St. Andrew High School for Girls and completed her High School studies at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts before going on to earn an Undergraduate Degree in Economics from Princeton University in 2006. Nicole also studied at the Stanford University Summer Institute and the University of London where she earned a Master’s Degree in Globalization and Development. In late 2016, Nicole started the AIM Higher Foundation with a mandate to identify, develop and empower promising low income students so that they can too access and unlock their potential through access to tertiary education, her vision is to inspire youth globally to aim higher.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
- You can tell us a little bit about your company Aim Educational Services and what it is that you do and why do you think customer experience is important to that whole process?
- How do you feel about customer service/ customer experience as a customer yourself doing business on a regional level or internationally?
- Nicole’s book, Making It Count: The Tips on Unlocking Your Vision in 2017 and Beyond, some of the key points are fear, having courage to ask for what you want, procrastination and tuning into your purpose and staying motivated. How do you do all of those things for your team members?
- What are some important considerations that you would recommend to business owner they take into account moving into the online space in order to be successful?
- How do you stay motivated every day?
- What is the one online resource, website, tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
- What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
- What is one thing in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or people?
- Where can our listeners find your information online?
- What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell shared her journey and stated that part of it is making sure and trying to protect your motivation every single day as much as possible and being deliberate about your approach every single day and then wherever possible, try to coach your team in a similar way but also be very cognizant that as a leader/parent, you have to lead by example and that’s something she takes really seriously and so it’s about taking a deliberate approach and understanding yourself and how the brain works and how the human body works and then doing what you can everyday to get the most out of both of them.
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell shared that at Aim Educational Services, when she just started Aim about 7 years ago, it stood for Aspiration, Inspiration, Motivation, so Aspiration, Inspiration, Motivation is the meaning behind AIM and every single day they aim to empower students to unlock their potential and really chart an education and career path that’s fulfilling for them based on their interest and talent and customer experience is really important at AIM because how people feel about the service you’re delivering and from the minute they make contact with you on the phone or you make contact with them via email or an initial meeting to the very moment the service is actually delivered to even after – their feeling about how they were dealt with and the experience they had with each person that forms apart of AIM is really important. It’s important for them to deliver the endgame which is admission to college or scholarships but it is also important that the journey a family takes with them is one that they feel empowered during and feel great about. They don’t always get it right but the whole point is that as human beings, when we make a mistake we have to own that mistake completely.
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell stated that she made a pretty large blunder the other day and she is not afraid to talk about it because she thinks what everybody needs to understand as business owners and even as human beings as we try to do our best in life is that sometimes we fall short because we are not perfect, the most important thing in business as well as in one’s daily life is that when you fall short, be very quick to own it and to learn the lesson and ensure you apologize and take responsibility and then put in place what you need to try and ensure that it doesn’t happen again but instead a lot of people hide when they make mistakes or hide when they fall short and that puts a bad taste in the mouth of your customers. It shows your team that instead of taking on something hands on and taking responsibility and dealing with it that it’s okay to make an excuse or give a reason and then that will set the tone. It’s not always perfect and we do fall short but the idea is that when do fall short, own that and take the lesson and move on and apologize and try to make it right with that customer.
- Nicole shared that as a customer she has a lot going on, so she likes a service that is delivered in an efficient way where the communication is very clear from the get go and where she is really treated as somebody that is important, in other words, not that cavalier attitude but she likes when the service provider makes things easier for her. She doesn’t have an issue paying the bill or whatever it takes but at the end of the day as easy you can make it for her to consume/use your service is the easier it is for her. Make it possible for her to send somebody to collect something or send it to her or give her a reminder when she needs to get something done. The world is moving so fast so she thinks it’s also instructive to challenge business owners to put themselves in shoes of the customer because as a mother, wife, you’re running a business, you’re trying to be a great civic citizen and leader as well, there’s a lot going on and she puts herself in the shoes of her customers. She would say to her team, “I know we sent an email remainder about this but not everybody checks their email day.” Or in the same way she could miss an email, the customer could have missed the email too. They are college advising and helping families to chart the educational path of their child and they are tutoring and that means that the parent plays a significant role but AIM has to be responsible at the end of the day for the deliverable, so you can’t just say, “Well, I emailed the parent and they are supposed to now do this and they haven’t done so it’s their fault.” No, at the end of the day, she has to put herself in the shoe of her clients and say, “The same way I’m busy and I would really appreciate a text message reminder.” or “I would really appreciate if all the information is communicated one time instead of piece by piece.” It’s about continuous improvement.
- She stated that she was reading a book called Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth and it’s talking about how people can be in a job for 20 years but they get the same one (1) year of experience 20 times as oppose to 20 significant years of experience where you’re growing and improving every year and that’s a deliberate thing that you have to keep in mind as a person but also as a business owner, your business shouldn’t be at the same stage this year as it was last year, you shouldn’t be doing things in an identical way. How can you make the experience better? They keep looking, they have management meetings every week with their team and they have strategic meeting every two weeks and she’s really about that because it keeps them focused on the fact that it’s all about constant improvement and really making sure that they are flexible to change because they are dealing with Generation Z kids. They are dealing with parents who are generation X and so they have to communicate with them in different ways because both of them are customers. Whereas the email might work for the parents, maybe it’s a What’s app that’s working for the student or maybe they need to be delivering messages through an app instead, it’s just this constant idea of How can I make this experience better for customer? How can I make the deliverable of this service actually happen and not just say, “Well, I did my part” but how can I constantly try to provide support and empower her customers and understanding how the different users or customers receive and process information and what different things prompts each sector to action. You can’t treat the student the same way or try to communicate with the student the same way you would with the parent, so it’s trying to be sensitive to that and making sure it’s a customer centered business.
Nicole stated that based on her team, how they are structured, they have part-time college consultants, part-time tutors, they have a core full-time team of 7 people and everybody else is part-time. They have 15 part-time tutors and 7 invigilators and then they outsource things like accounts and other administrative; they have 4 part-time college consultants, so the team is just under 30 persons.
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell stated that key is to grow her team members and the company and part of it is now insistence on a weekly management team meeting, all members of the full-time core will meet every week. It’s leading by example; nobody wants to hear their boss preaching to them every week so she would try not to preach. They have a book club now and every month somebody gets to choose the book and so she is deliberate with her choices because she’s trying to sneak in the coaching and inspirations through the book club even though they don’t know it. Nicole tries to impart a lot of what she learn in the daily day to day, like when she makes an error she tries to own it 150% so that they can get from her no excuses, things like that are important. She arranged a Vision Board Workshop for her team in the past and now they are due another one, she brings in inspirational person to lead their strategic sessions and to work with them in terms of business coaching because that’s really important, so part of it too is that they see her everyday so she not doing all of that coaching work herself but to also introduce external people who can help with that. There’s nothing better than leading by example and then trying to make sure that just from the way they set their vision and the things they talk about every week and different situations that comes up in the office with clients or with students that the idea of it is all possible, removing obstacles, focusing on solutions and not problems, these the things that they really do on an everyday basis in various ways and she tries to be very deliberate about that. The other thing is that she tries to look for opportunities for them to grow just as the same way she seeks opportunities to grow herself.
- Nicole stated that just the other day she was talking to her assistant about an online course that she wanted to do and she recommended that he also take it because based on what he is interested in that it can be a useful skill set, so that emphasis on continuous growth and improvement where she try to share these opportunities as they come up and be deliberate about the different types of exposure and experience she wants them to have internationally every year, so they are looking all around for those opportunities all the time.
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell stated that this year 2017 is when AIM really plans on expanding its online presence and to do more work remotely with students all over the world, so far they have had students from almost every Caribbean country, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and St. Lucia as well as United States of America, Canada and United Kingdom but those have come from word of mouth, they are looking to establish more of their presence in some of these countries to do more online work. With students they work online with, the idea is that to make sure that they are kept in the loop and don’t miss out on any opportunities that face to face students have, the challenge for them as with any business owner trying to do more online is to make sure that the experiences are as similar as possible to what a face to face experience would be like, making sure that the software they are using actually works, making sure that when it’s time for their meeting there’s no internet problems and the call dropping and they feel like, “Oh my gosh, if I was there in person then it would be a better experience.” It’s about making sure that they have the same access to group sessions, so looping them in via video conference, making sure that they are getting the same communication and having the same number of meetings as much as possible and that it feels intimate and that might involve them getting 1 or 2 more extra online one to one meetings than you would someone who comes in face to face but whatever it takes to make that happen then you have to do. The beauty of it is that most of their communications are done online so it doesn’t feel that much different from a face to face but it depends on the business you’re in, examine the business you’re in and try to see how you can ensure that the two (2) experiences are similar in terms of the deliverable.
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell shared that she believes in full disclosure and authenticity as much as possible so she doesn’t maintain motivation every single day. She stated that it is not that she doesn’t try every day but sometimes you sort of don’t get there for whatever reason, what really counts is that sometimes you’re not 100% feeling it, sometimes you feel “pop down” for whatever reason. She stated that at the moment she may have a sinus infection coming on or the flu and it makes her really tired and when she has low energy, then she can’t do anything as well as she normally could and what that means for her is that she has to understand her body at that point and maybe she needs extra sleep for example which she managed to get. Sometimes she doesn’t feel 100% motivated, ready to get the world. Yesterday was very hard for her to even get through what she had to and what she had to end her day early to get some rest and so that would help her for the next day where she is not 100% but she is not where she was the day before. When she is feeling low on energy, she prays about it and does as much as she can, understanding that she is not 100% herself but she will be and not being too hard on herself about it or worry about it too much because sometimes it’s the worry and anxiety that kills us.
- As business owners you always feel this pressure to lead by example so you don’t want to have a meltdown but at the same time you have to take care of yourself and show your team that it’s okay to care of yourself because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t bring a 100% to your job, you’ll just be sitting at your desk and you’re not doing anything, productivity all the way down. It’s very important in staying motivated to know your body and know when you need to pull back a little bit but her system is to just develop really good habits around her eating, her exercise and her sleep, those 3 things are very important, the minute any of these 3 start to slip then you know it’s danger zone, disaster, productivity cut down so because they are important, she tries to develop good habits and plans around them. She stated that for her food, she try to make sure that it’s prepared two (2) days in advance so that she knows what she is packing to eat and she doesn’t have to get stuck being hungry wondering what to eat and then possibly making a low energy food choice. What she likes about habit is that it cuts down on the work your brain has to do and she likes that because her brain has to do really important work during the day, for example, she pick out her gym clothes the evening before because at the time she wakes up in the mornings to go the gym, she doesn’t want to be making any decisions and thinking too hard about anything, she just want to go and so she get into the habit of exercising which powers her up, gives her energy, gives her a feeling of discipline that can carry through the day, gives her a feeling of winning she feels like, “Oh my gosh, Nicole you can do it, you have so much will power, you’re such a winner.” She tells herself all these things.
- She stated that prayer is important to her, every day she is praying and thanking God for things that have happen, things that haven’t happen yet, for opportunities, she’s thanking Him for the people in her life, for her family, for love, thanking Him for a thriving business where all her visions are being realized and for the different opportunities that are coming her way. The food, the exercise and the sleep are the 3 things that she really tries to build a habit around and feeding her spirit with prayer everyday and that’s her routine that she finds is key for helping her to be motivated.
- The other thing that is important for her is being really clear about her objectives, not just for the year but for the week because when she feels like she doesn’t have clearly established objectives, then there is so much going on that she feels overwhelmed and when she gets overwhelmed, she also gets worried, anxious, depressed and so she try to plan out her days according to her highest objectives and goals for the year overall.
Yanique stated that she loves the fact that Nicole spoke about eating properly, sleeping and also ensuring that you exercise because those are 3 things for you to be optimally productive and in the society that we live in currently, she doesn’t think that 90% of Jamaicans are doing those 3 things in a habitual practice and that’s probably one of the reasons why organizations are not as productive as they could be because the companies are the people, if the people are not healthy, they have all of these diseases that many of them that we contract from poor eating habits like hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes, then they are going to be affected by the quality of work that they put out in the organization.
- Nicole shared that one of the tools she can’t live without is Solid, it is an app that tracks all your meetings and allows you to type the meeting notes in while you’re having the meeting and then you can key it as an action item. As soon as she opens the app, it shows her all her action items out of all the meetings and nothing is as good as the satisfaction she gets from ticking them off as done so she knows three (3) more pieces of research that she has to do, so it’s exciting. Asana is very important for her team at work because it gives them an awesome way to track where all their students are in their different programmes. When you’re advising a student for 3 years in terms of College planning, there are different things you need to do for them and that you need to remind them to do for themselves to create an awesome, winning College Admissions worthy profile, “So I need to remember to research summer programmes for Robert, I need to remember to remind Robert’s mom link her friend that does Environmental Planning because he might need a two week internship.”And things link that. If they don’t have Asana they are basically lost. Asana is really good when you have a team and everybody needs to see what everybody else is working on because sometimes they have students who in their College Placeme programme they might also be doing tutor and those 2 things need to speak to each other. For her home team, she has Wunderlist, it is a great app, and her team at home wouldn’t need Asana as it is a bit much for what they need. They need things that can help them keep track of the grocery list, for example, one of her housekeepers at home is in charge of the putting the things that they need from the supermarket on the app on the tablet that’s in the kitchen and whatever she gets she crosses off so that Nicole will know, “Oh, there’s no more Almond Milk at home.”She wasn’t able to get it from wherever she normally gets it from, so if she has time she can stop and get the almond milk and cross it off the list. She stated that there are small things that lead to a woman being confused, she finds herself responsible for most things having to do with the home and then her husband is responsible for most things having to do with the outside of the home. Making sure to keep the outside intact, he’s in charge of all the building projects and all the decorating. While she’s in charge of making sure that everybody has good things to eat, the Wunderlist also helps her as she has two (2) children in school and a stepdaughter and sometimes all three (3) of them needs things for projects at the same time or they have Valentine’s Day project and things they have to make and do and it becomes overwhelming, small things becomes big things if you have a lot of things going on, so she try to organize down to the very last detail and Wunderlist is wonderful.
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell shared that one of the books that has had a super impact is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth which is beyond amazing. She stated that there is this other book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg which has been phenomenal and then there is another book called No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracey which has been really phenomenal. As well as Nicole’s book Make It Count: Tips on Unlocking Your Vision in 2017 and Beyond.
- Nicole shared that the big thing right now is that they are working with a really awesome, amazing, inspiring business coach and she is really excited to see just the results they will have out of this accountability because that’s really important for business owners no matter how inspired and on top of things you are, there is nothing like an external party to keep you accountable and what she like is for the team as she is the one who is keeping everyone accountable in their weekly meetings, so it’s good to have somebody else to keep all of them accountable. She hosted their strategic retreat. She really excited about that because really knowing that this outside accountability visionary influence will really cause them to aim higher this year.
- Nicole shared that listeners can find her at –
Snapchat – nicmccampbell
- Nicole McLaren-Campbell shared a few quotes and stated that one thing that she think is really important and she has really being understanding the value of it recently is that, “You have got to be focused, not only as a person but as an entrepreneur.” She got it from Grit and sometimes the Lord knows what she needs to hear and He keeps sending it in all different ways and she said, “Okay, Lord I get it.” And it’s focus, you might be good at a number of things and you might like a number of things but you can’t pursue them all and be an expert in them all and do all of them to the level of brilliance with the level of impacting the world you might want to have. In the book Grit, Warren Buffett did an exercise with someone and made them write out 25 Career Goals and tick the 5 that are most important to their life where they know what they are and what really drives you and once you tick the 5, cross out the other 20 and focus exclusively on 5 and don’t allow the other 20 to distract you from the 5 core ones that you know are of most importance to you. “Do less with more focus” and really get clear about what your 5 are.
- The other one is for when she feeling really tired, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Sometimes it gets hard and you’re tired but at the end of the day, if you manage yourself properly you can get it done and sometimes you need to rest. She stated that she also says this one, “Everything begins and ends in your mind.” You have to really force your mind to go further than your present circumstances if you want to change your present circumstances.
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg
- No Excuses!: The Power of Self Discipline by Brian Tracey
- Make it Count: Tips on Unlocking Your Vision in 2017 and Beyond by Nicole McLaren Campbell