First Woman Thunderbird Pilot, Fighter Squadron Commander, Combat Veteran, Career-ending Tick Bite Left Her With 5 Chronic Illnesses and Unable to Fly.
Col. Nicole Malachowski, USAF (Ret.) knows what it means to achieve greatness and defile stereotypes. She captivates her audiences with an authenticity of someone who has led exceptional teams. She has overcome overwhelming challenges and adversity.
Nicole was a jet fighter pilot and the first woman to pilot on the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron. She is a combat veteran, a White House Fellow and an inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame. She even has a Star Trek Federal starship named after her called the USS Malachowski (NCC-1619).
She has a distinguished 21-year Air Force career but that ended when a tick-borne illness left her struggling to speak or walk. She prevailed for almost nine months, beating the odds. She leaves audiences empowered knowing that failure and risk is the price for attempting something great, that you must yield to overcome, and that no one wants a scripted life.
Nicole was honoured with The White House Fellows Foundation and Association 2019 IMPACT Award for demonstrating both remarkable achievement and transformational contributions in her field, as well as a sustained commitment to the White House Fellows program. She also held two high-level staff assignments at the Pentagon.
One in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD P&R) and the other was the Secretary of the Air Force Office of International Affairs (SAF/IA).
Nicole was responsible for resources totaling over $1.1B and the execution of a $119M annual flying hour program.
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 the envelope 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 the Air Force Thunderbird aerial demonstration team, 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.”
“As we know, Nicole Malachowski is amazing; and our members now know it, too. I know she is one of your top speakers already but just know she may be the most inspirational speaker I have ever hired. Our attendees could not stop singing her praises at our reception following the presentation.”
American Boiler Manufacturers Association
“…she was the absolute ‘best’ speaker we have ever hired. With that, the leadership from Major Account Summit have asked, how do we give her a bonus? She was that good.”
“I want to thank you so much for being THE highlight of our Women in Specialty Pharmacy luncheon last week! Your keynote address was one of the most empowering and impactful that I have ever heard. Our attendees could not stop talking about how fabulous you are and I think the line of folks who wanted to meet you and have their picture taken with you is a testament of how well your message resonated with our attendees.”
National Association of Specialty Pharmacy (NASP)
“We cannot thank YOU enough for bringing your inspiring, moving, profound, vulnerable, INCREDIBLE story to our team. If your ears have been ringing it is 120 people saying you were the absolute highlight of the whole offsite. And many told me you
were the BEST speaker they have ever heard. [And these people hear a lot of speakers.]”
“Rarely have I found an entire room of business colleagues all so incredibly inspired and engaged by one speaker! Nicole’s story has the power of relating to all businesses as well as the individual journeys we are all on. Nicole’s compassion, determination and kind spirit shine through in every aspect of her presentation. The outpouring of support, after two standing ovations and many tears, made it clear her message resonated with everyone in attendance. We look forward to Nicole joining us for future conferences and highly recommend her for anyone looking for a truly exceptional experience!”
Cetera Financial Group
“I have had the pleasure and burden of hosting speakers for major corporate and client meetings (40-7000 attendees) for the last twenty years. I refer to this part of my work as a burden only because when you chose a speaker who doesn’t hit the mark, it can have a significant impact on the experience, efficacy and ratings of an event. But when you chose well, it’s magic. I’m writing to you today to let you know that you, Nicole Malachowski, are magic! You are easily in my ‘top-5 of all-time’! In addition to be an excellent public speaker in manner, tone and approach, your presentation was stunningly inspiring, moving and motivational. And it wasn’t just a feel-good session. Every person in the room left with business and life-tools to use and share. But most of all, each and every one of us left the room with a more grateful heart. For me, this is the home run of home runs as we attempt to bring some light to the lives of our employees and clients. Thank you for being the amazing woman and role model you are, for your service to our great country and for sharing part of yourself with us. I, too, wish you blue skies and tail winds.”
First Allied and Cetera Advisors