Nicole Malachowski

Col. Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret.) defies stereotypes. Yes, she was a jet fighter pilot, but if you think you know her based on that, you’d be wrong. A leader, a combat veteran, the first woman pilot on the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, a White House Fellow, and an inductee into both the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame, Nicole’s distinguished 21-year Air Force career exceeded her wildest dreams. But the dream came to an end when a devastating tick-borne illness left her struggling greatly to speak or walk for almost nine months. An indomitable spirit, Nicole fought back against overwhelming odds and prevailed. Drawing on stories from her career and personal life, Nicole inspires audiences to rethink the challenges they face every day. She urges them to go beyond resilience and become resurgent. Nicole empowers people with three key beliefs: failure and risk is the price of entry for achieving something great; sometimes you need to yield to overcome; and her personal mantra – “Nobody wants to lead a scripted life.”

Presentation Description & Topics

Harnessing Headwinds of Change

In flying, headwinds slow you down. At their worst, they cause you to change your plans and impact the effectiveness of weapons in combat. Headwinds demand that pilots be resilient and resourceful, literally on the fly. “Headwinds are the perfect metaphor for the change impacting organizations and individuals today,” says 21-year Air Force veteran Nicole Malachowski. A former fighter squadron commander and mission-ready pilot in three operational fighter squadrons and the first woman to fly on the Air Force Thunderbirds, Nicole has the perfect message to inspire audiences to think differently about the headwinds of change they face –organizationally and personally. Drawing on her extraordinary Air Force career, Nicole offers lessons on leadership, followership, and overcoming adversity. She weaves storytelling with breathtaking video from the cockpit of her jet as the Thunderbirds execute precision turns, rolls, and loops –all just 36” from one another at 400 mph and just 300 feet off the ground. Nicole’s keynote helps audiences ignite their own indomitable spirit in order to succeed far beyond what they might dream. “Failure isn’t fatal,” she says, “it’s the price of entry if you want to achieve something great.”

Pushing The Envelope: Being the Best when it Counts

What does it take to be the best? The individuals and teams who achieve at the highest levels have one thing in common: they push the envelope and go to the edge of boundaries. They accomplish as much as possible and do it to a standard of excellence. Pushing the envelope is an aviation term for taking an aircraft to the maximum limits of its abilities. In the business world, pushing theenvelope means knowing yourself –certainly knowing your limits –all while using every bit of your ability to maximize your performance, be your best and be consistent. As a combat-tested fighter pilot and a member of the military’s most elite group of aviators (1 in 2,000 USAF pilots become Thunderbird pilots), Nicole Malachowski inspires audiences with lessons learned from a distinguished 21-year career –giving them the courage to push the envelope in their own lives. That means using inevitable failures to launch to the next level…preparing for turbulence, because change is unrelenting, and it is hard, but you must anticipate it…trusting in teammates’ skill and precision, while developing your own…and being mindful of the over-control that leads to performance malfunctions and mutes achievement. Nicole’s presentation provides an unforgettable and practical roadmap for individuals and organizations looking to make the most of their talents and efforts.

Breaking Barriers: Conquering Self-Doubt and Cultural Paradigms

Every great accomplishment involves breaking barriers –both culturally and within. Nicole Malachowski is a trailblazer who succeeded in a traditionally male-dominated career field: the world of the fighter pilot. As uncomfortable and risky as stretching the limits of yourself and your surroundings might be, Nicole tells audiences there’s no reason to allow that to dictate your goals and aspirations. She became one of the first women to fly a modern-day fighter aircraft, the very first woman to fly with theAir Force Thunderbird aerial demonstration squadron, and she was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame. She is relatable to women and men with a fascinating narrative of exactly what it took to be a woman vanguard and break tradition. Nicole offers actionable tools and real-world lessons about pursuing her dream, making choices, all while building a family and achieving success in a career where few women had gone before. Nicole inspires audiences with a message rooted in her personal mantra –“Nobody wants to lead a scripted life.”

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Hear what others have to say

“We had the best conference on Friday and that was in large part due to Nicole’s talk. She was amazing and I have heard so much positive feedback from the crowd.” –Colorado Children’s Hospital

“Nicole Malachowski shares a powerful message of perseverance and resilience. She is able to connect with her audience by being deeply authentic and vulnerable in her story telling. We related to her on a personal level even though our individual stories and experiences differ greatly from her own. We all have challenges in our lives and how we choose to face those headwinds of change will be a little less daunting by taking Nicole’s lessons and putting them into practice.” –Director of Operations, Memorial Hermann Healthcare System

“Nicole left our entire audience in AWE and for the remainder of the conference she was a reference point for conversations and motivation in how we could develop plans to overcome challenges of our own. If you ever have the opportunity to see or hear Nicole speak it is a must see event that will not disappoint!!”–Member, Board of Directors, National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange, Inc.(NCTUE)

“Nicole was amazing and stole the hearts of every woman in the room. She got 2 standing ovations and there were lots of tears shed. She took questions and stayed through the break to take photos and gave hugs to many of the women who lined up to meet her. You can’t imagine how impactful it was in a room of 100 professional economic development women.”–Women in Education

“It takes resilience to be the best.” We were honoured to have Col. Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret.) speak at our Breakfast Session, Harnessing Headwinds at the ANCC National MAGNET Conference this morning. Nicole’s message was inspiring as she discussed strategies you can leverage to increase resilience when faced with overwhelming challenges and adversity.–Senior Vice President, Elsevier

“She was a home run!!! We loved her!” –Golden Corral

“Nicole was a tremendous inspiration to our members. Her story of conquering a multitude of challenges demonstrated how to overcome adversity. Nicole was able to engage with our audience and they left with a real sense of empowerment. I would highly recommend Nicole to any audience. Many of our contractors said she was the best speaker we have ever had.”–CEO, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)

“She was INCREDIBLE! Thank you!” –Global Business Travel Association

“I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that Nicole was an absolute home run. I know her message made a profound and lasting effect on many of my colleagues, including me. Plus, she is just so nice and human. It’s really special. I’m not sure how I will top her for future events!” –PURE Insurance

“Colonel Malachowski is an inspiring, authentic speaker and leader. She speaks from the heart as she tells a story of determination, grit, attention to details and service to others.”–Raymond James & Associates

“The conference attendees raved about your presentation and were truly able to relate to all that you shared.I very much appreciate you creating a unique presentation for us based on our discussions. The emphasis and importance you placed on all players and how important each individual is to the “Wingman Contract” came through loud and clear to everyone at the conference!”–HM Health Solutions

“Nicole was PHENOMENAL! One of the best speakers we’ve ever had. She was down to earth, had a powerful story and really cared about adjusting her message to fit the audience. If there are ever any groups in the AHA looking for a keynote, I will highly recommend her to them.” –American Hospital Association (AHA)