Interview with Penny Mallory | Podcast | MFL Global

Maria Interviews Penny Mallory

This week Maria interviewed Penny Mallory as part of her podcast series.  Penny is one of the most successful women Rally Drivers and the first woman in the world to compete in a World Rally Car (the Formula 1 of Rallying). As a motoring expert, she has presented many high profile TV shows including the hugely successful Channel 4 show ‘Driven’, ‘World Rally Championship’, ‘The Used Car Roadshow’, ‘Accident Blackspots’, Discovery’s ‘Classic Car Club’, ‘GMTV’ and ‘The Road Show’ amongst many others.

 

Maria:

So, today I’m joined by Penny Mallory. Penny is one of the most successful women rally drivers, and was the first woman in the world to compete in a world rally car, the Formula 1 of rallying. As a motoring expert, she has presented many high profile TV shows, including the hugely successful Channel 4 show, Driven, World Rally Championship, the Used Car Roadshow, Accident Black Spots, Discovery’s Classic Car Club and The Roadshow. Penny is a qualified performance coach and is the author of the book Take Control of Your Life, where she uses her driving successes as analogies of how you can transform your life. Penny is also the creator of the innovative Malory Band, helping wearers to lose weight and keep it off forever. Welcome, Penny. How are you?

Penny Mallory:   

I’m, good. I feel great, thank you.

Maria:  

Super. Thank you for joining me. So, most people when they’re children don’t wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to be a rally driver,” certainly my career’s office when I went to see them, my career’s officer, never said to me, “Maria, why don’t you become a rally driver?” Where did that come from?

Penny Mallory:

Well, strangely, it did happen when I was child. I think I was, probably, six years old, and I saw something on TV and there was some rallying, and I just thought, “Oh my God, that’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen, I’m going to be a rally driver.” But you know, I suppose what we do is, as kids, we all have a dream to be an astronaut, or a nurse, or a train driver, and life gets in the way, you just put that idea on the backseat and you get on with life, and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t pay it any much more attention until my chips were really down in my teens, and I decided that I had nothing to lose, I was actually going to be a rally driver. I don’t suppose it would have ever happened had my life been more straightforward and simple, but it was the downward dip that I had two choices, to give up or do something crazy, so I did.

Maria:  

I mean, it’s interesting, because you’re very open about the fact that you had quite a troubled life as a youngster and you share that, and it could have gone completely the other way for you. What is it that helped you get over that troubled childhood?

Penny Mallory: 

I think I grew up being incredibly independent from such a young age, because my mum was very ill and a very dysfunctional, weird family setup, so I was such an independent thinker and looked after myself effectively, so it didn’t feel like it was a big thing that was going to phase me to go off and change my life and be a rally driver. It sort of felt like part of me. It was normal for me to take myself off and do stuff, so it didn’t really feel like I was doing anything extraordinary, it’s just me, and I still, unfortunately for my partner, remain today ridiculously independent and strong willed. But it was just a mind-set thing really.

Maria:

Fantastic, and we’ll talk a bit more about mind-set later, because that’s one of the things that you cover with clients, but I want to stick a little bit more with driving. I’m not going to let you off the driving bit, because it is fantastic what you achieved, and when you were driving, you were driving all sorts of cars very fast, in crazy places, and I’d love to know now, what car do you drive now?

Penny Mallory: 

Oh, God, do you know what? I haven’t actually got a car at the moment. I’ve just built house and I sold my fantastic car to pay the builder, so I’m borrowing a car at the moment. It’s not me, it’s not what I would choose, but it’s just a rubbish little hatchback. But, do you know what? I’ve driven everything you can think of, so a little bit of me is over that, so it feels quite fun to drive something pretty rubbish now, but next year, or this year, I’m going to get a proper car again.

Maria:       

And do you have any points on your license?

Penny Mallory:        

Yes, of course I do. Who hasn’t? I think I’m down to six. But I don’t get points when doing 120, I get points for doing 34 in a 30 like everyone does. You just get caught for the silly, slightly over the limit stuff.

Maria:       

So, after racing, you went on to present, as we heard earlier. How did that happen? What was the path for that?

Penny Mallory:            

Well, fortunately for me, because I was a freak, a girl driving in rallies, and I had to do a lot of publicity for my sponsors, people became aware of me, and somebody once said to me, “You should present a car programme and I hear Channel 4 are looking for someone for a new show,” and I thought, “Well, that sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t know if I could do it,” but I contacted the production company and they gave me a screen test, and, bang, I just got the best job in the world presenting Driven, which went on for some years and became, actually, one of Channel 4’s flagship shows. It was a really big success, so … And that world of working in TV suited me so well. I can’t operate in an office. I need to get outside. I need everything changing constantly, meeting new people, going to new places, so filming a car show was perfect, because every day is different, and the people change, the locations change, and it just sort of keeps me interested and excited.

Maria:      

Did you have to learn new skills, or were you a natural?

Penny Mallory:     

I had to learn to remember lines quick, and so I developed a technique where I could knock out a piece to camera in one take, and I became a bit of a one take wonder and it was my thing. I was very proud of it actually. Where everyone else was messing up their lines, I always nailed it every time, and the production company love you when you do that, because it saves so much time and money. So I had to learn very quickly to remember what I was going to say and get it out in one go.

Maria:    

That’s really useful actually. Any tips you can give us?

Penny Mallory:      

It is a really useful skill, and I helped my children actually through their exams using this memory technique, and it’s really word association, or putting a picture to the words, so you make a storyboard in your head and you tell that story. So, rather than trying to remember a word, followed by a word, followed by a word, you become much more natural by just telling a story and then, if you get stuck halfway through.  The end of one sentence I could associate with the beginning of another with picture, or letters, or something, so it meant that I … I mean, it does keep you really on the ball, because, if you’ve got a long piece to camera, you’ve got to be able to string it together. So the technique, it worked really well for me.

Maria:     

That’s really useful. That’s a good tip. Thank you for that. And throughout your life, you’ve always been into health and fitness, and I think you’re a bit of an adrenalin junkie as well. You’ve done, not only rally driving, you’ve climbed mountains, you’ve run marathons, but the thing that I’m most struck by is the fact that you went into boxing. I mean, that is crazy. So what happened there?

Penny Mallory:

Well, okay, so I’ve always loved boxing, it’s always intrigued me. Something about the brutality about two people in a ring. I know I shouldn’t probably be interested in that, but it does fascinate me. I read about Muhammad Ali having this thing in his head called Future History, where he would visualize his fights, predict the outcome, and he was 90% right, and I thought it was such an amazing skill that I was going to try to use that skill in the same arena, in boxing, so at 42! What was I thinking? I went to the gym … I mean, I’ve always been doing fitness, but I said to my trainer, “Don’t “boxing train me”. Train me to fight.” And, after 11 months of 5 o’clock sprints up hills every day, getting super, super fit, and I’d never been so lean and mean really, he said, “You’re ready to fight.”

So I got into the ring with a girl of 21, half my age, and she was built of stone. She wanted to kill me. The first punch landed and I had to re-think everything in a thousandth of a second. This was going to be the longest six minutes of my entire life, it might as well have been six hours. But it worked. The techniques that Muhammad Ali wrote about, that he used, I used and it worked, and a lot of that is what I speak about as well. How it’s so easy, it doesn’t cost you anything, to adopt this way of thinking, and it can change your performance completely.

Maria:      

That’s amazing. And, actually, you’ve entered into the speaking part very nicely. How did you get into speaking? Where did that come from?

Penny Mallory:    

Well, when I was presenting TV shows, somebody said to me, “Could you come and speak at my Rotary conference?” And the average age of a Rotary audience is quite high, and I thought, “There’s nothing I’ve got to say that’s going to be of any interest to these people,” and I said, “No, you’re all right, thank you, it’s not my thing.” And they said, “Please, please, please,” and I said, “All right then.” So I did this conference. It went down brilliantly, and somebody in that audience asked me to speak at another thing, and then, in that audience, somebody else went … And it just snowballed, and, suddenly, I became a speaker. I had no plans to do this, and I suppose, over the, gosh, 12, 13 years I’ve done it, I’ve managed to hone my message quite well now.

I try not to talk about me too much. It’s more about you in the audience and what I’ve learnt, but challenging you to think about the way you operate, you perform, and sharing, basically, a lot of the tips that I used when I was driving. Some of the amazing people I’ve worked with, what skills they have that make them the best, because we can all adopt them, we just often choose not to, or don’t think we can. So the speaking thing has become such a passion now, because I get to share this fantastic stuff with an audience, and, hopefully, leave them with a feeling that, “Crikey, there’s so much more I could be doing that I’m not.”

Maria:       

And, actually, it’s not just speaking, because you train as well, workshops, master classes, consultancy, you do more than just deliver a speech, so that you can help a client actually change behaviours.

Penny Mallory:   

The keynote, of course, is 45 minutes of a bit of a firework show, and the frustration, I suppose, as a speaker is that that’s it. You’ve left the audience and you don’t have any more interaction, so what I really enjoy is that, sometimes small groups, sometimes one to one coaching and workshops that can really get a little bit deeper into the mind-set of individuals. When you’ve got several hundred people, you can’t do that, you have to speak quite generally, but the workshops and the coaching sessions give me a great opportunity to dig deeper with that and have more of an impact.

Maria:       

One of the things you don’t talk about in your speaking, or at least I haven’t heard you talk about, and it’s actually a big deal, is the fact that you are also an entrepreneur, and that you created the Malory Band.

Penny Mallory:   

I’m not keen on the word entrepreneur. I just had an idea and decided … I’m not very good at having an idea and doing nothing about it, I’m a bit of a doer.  So I had the idea and created Malory Band, which is just the most simplest thing ever, and it got onto The Daily Mail online a couple of years ago and went absolutely ballistic around the world. I was selling … I think I’ve sold to six of the seven continents, thousands and thousands of these things, and they’ve hopefully helped an awful lot of people to be much more conscious about what they’re eating, how much they’re eating, it improves your posture, so it’s been quite a fun journey, but entrepreneur? I don’t feel comfortable with that term. I’m just a doer.

Maria:     

Except you have created a product, and for those who haven’t seen it, it’s a band that goes around your waist that you wear, that so, if you’ve eaten a bit too much, it’s going to get a bit tight. If you’re not sitting up properly and holding things in properly, it’s going to get a bit tight. I’m glad I wasn’t wearing one over Christmas. I think it would have been very uncomfortable, but it’s a really simple idea, and yet it will remind you every single day, all the time, because you can wear it all day long, all the time, can’t you?

Penny Mallory:        

It’s just a soft cord that’s adjustable that you wear under your clothes. No-one would know you’re wearing it. It’s actually been used by ballerinas and dancers and all sorts of people for decades and decades, but nobody’s ever created one fit for purpose, so ridiculously simple, very effective. Some people hate it, I have to say, and they just don’t like that feeling, but, for an awful lot of people, it’s really had a massive impact on their weight loss, so lovely feeling that I’ve been able to help people do that.

Maria:            

It is a great thing, because we have got a problem with our weight, all of us do, all of our lives. So the other thing I wanted to ask you, which I think would be really useful for our audience is to know, when somebody brings an expert like you in, when a client brings you in, what can they do to get the best out of your time with them? What advice would you give them?

Penny Mallory:          

Okay, so the process that I engage with a client requires unzipping the soul, really. Just being really open, really honest. We do tend to lie to ourselves and have that inner voice telling us things that we choose to believe, because it makes life easier for us, and I want to undo all of that. Strip back the nonsense in somebody’s head, and really get to the open, honest, authentic person, because that way you can start to really change the way they operate, change the way they start to think, and that’s where the difference comes. I mean, all the sports people I’ve worked with, they train hard, they’re incredibly determined and committed, they have great opportunity, but they would never have got anywhere without the right mind-set. It changes everything, and that’s the bit that intrigues me. It’s intangible, isn’t it? I can’t see in your head. I can see how fit you are, but I can’t see inside your head and what you’re telling yourself, and that’s the bit that makes the difference. Not just in sport, but in every area in life, so that’s what I focus on.

Maria: 

Well, Penny, it’s been fantastic talking to you. I really appreciate your time. I’m going to go out and get myself a band, and- Make sure I stay fit and healthy, and thank you very much.

Penny Mallory:  It’s been a pleasure, thank you.

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