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Mental Fitness Matters: Transcript

We gathered mental fitness coach Graham Whiley and two clients of The Executive Mindset in a zoom-room and had an open discussion about mental fitness coaching.

If you're wondering if coaching can work for you as a business leader then this transcript of our discussion is a must read!

You can view the full 15-minute discussion here:

Coach: Graham Whiley, Mental Fitness Coach, The Executive Mindset

Client: Ffrancon Williams, Chief Executive, Adra

Client: Sarah Davies, Professional Services Director, Pennington Choices

Host: Emma Donovan, The Executive Mindset


EMMA: Welcome to this discussion today. My name is Emma and we are here to introduce you all to The Executive Mindset, to further your understanding of our mental fitness coaching and hopefully this discussion will help to answer any questions that you might have about what the coaching entails and whether it could be of benefit to you as a business leader.

I am delighted to be joined today by three, very successful business leaders - all of whom have completed the mental fitness program from The Executive Mindset. So, I will ask each of them to introduce themselves and tell you a little bit about their own job role and coaching journey.

Firstly, let me introduce Graham Whiley, over to you Graham…

GRAHAM: Hello, I am Graham Whiley, Director and Mental Fitness Coach at The Executive Mindset. I have been coaching business leaders for over 20 years and have many thousands of hours coaching leaders and their teams around the world, and I have had the great pleasure to work with both Ffrancon and Sarah recently, and I am here today to have a discussion with them about their experience of our mental fitness program.

EMMA: Thanks Graham. Next over to you Ffrancon…

FFRANCON: Hello, I am Ffrancon Williams, Chief Executive at Adra, a Housing Association based in North Wales, and I have recently completed the intensive 6-week training program from The Executive Mindset and am now continuing the 12-month program. I am here today to share with you all my mental fitness journey.

EMMA: Thanks, Ffrancon. And finally, over to you Sarah…

SARAH: Hello, I am Sarah Davies, Professional Services Director for Pennington Choices, and I have also recently completed the 6-week intensive programme and am now continuing with a further 3-month programme.

EMMA: Thanks everyone. So let’s kick off with our first question which is for you Graham: Having been a coach for so many years and having helped many executives, CEO’S and senior managers, what made this particular coaching different and propelled you to launch The Executive Mindset?

GRAHAM: I was struck by the way the research and science combined a whole series of coaching and life skills into a single operating system to help everybody cope better with life’s challenges. Seeing first-hand the impact it had on me and then on coaches, I became determined to share this with as many executives as I could.

EMMA: So, it was the science behind this coaching that really resonated with you. Interesting, thanks Graham. Next question to you Ffrancon: Had you completed any other coaching in the past and what did and didn’t work for you about that coaching?

FFRANCON: I have completed a number of coaching exercises over the years and had benefit from all of them. They have tended to concentrate on coaching solutions to particular work related matters whereas The Executive Mindset coaching is very different in that it focuses on your mindset, and in particular any negative thought processes you have which have held you back or limited your overall performance in some way.

EMMA: So really around your mindset, very interesting. Sarah: When you first discovered mental fitness coaching what was your initial reaction?

SARAH: I was really curious. It resonated with me and made sense. The concept of exercising your mind to strengthen it, build resilience and improve performance really interested me. I also liked the scientific element – distilling lots of really complicated and difficult (for me!) to understand neuroscientific and psychology concepts into a set of practical tools for change.

EMMA: Great, thanks Sarah. And next to Graham, For the benefit of viewers who haven’t heard of The Executive Mindset - Can you please explain what mental fitness is and describe your coaching program?

GRAHAM: Our Mental Fitness program is based on the work of Shirzad Chamine. It starts with an intensive 6-week course that helps you recognise what is creating stress and negative emotions and gives you new skills to reduce that impact. The results are a transformation for people.

Being based on scientific research and distilled into simple terms with bite size daily exercises, this is a real world, down to earth operating system to help you improve relationships, avoid conflict, reduce stress and improve your performance. Frankly these combine to help you enjoy a more positive life experience without turning you into some very strange person. After the 6-week program we build on this foundation to tackle your most important career and professional goals to help you perform at an even higher level.

EMMA: and Graham, when it comes to goals, is your coaching program only aimed at achieving work orientated goals?

GRAHAM: In principle yes, but often these goals spill over into your private life. For example, developing skills to handle your work/life balance is a very common coaching goal. Better time management and improved Emotional Intelligence benefits every aspect of your life.

EMMA: Thanks Graham. So Ffrancon, why did you begin mental fitness coaching and what goals did you want to achieve?

FFRANCON: Some years ago, I completed NLP coaching training which I have since been putting into practice. This mental fitness coaching seemed to be a natural progression to that, and I liked the emphasis on mindset, and practical tools and techniques to address negative thinking and to think more positively. I also felt that it would contribute to my development as a leader at this particular point in my career.

The goal I set myself was to be less anxious, waste less time worrying about things and hopefully improve relationships and just be generally happier as a result.

EMMA: What great goals Ffrancon.And Sarah, Same question to you… why did you begin mental fitness coaching and what goals did you want to achieve?

SARAH: For me it was about creating more space. I have a very full life – and I don’t want to change that but making sure I am firing on all cylinders – in every aspect is important. And to do this, we need to prioritise rest and have moments for ourselves. The structure of the programme helped me to achieve this – we don’t have to be actively ‘thinking’ every moment of the day – learning how to be present and mindful was crucial.

EMMA: So, both sets of goals are really focused on your mindset, great. Ffrancon, tell us how did you find the coaching? Was it easy to fit into your busy week?

FFRANCON: The programme is supported with a great App which is easy to use, regularly refreshed and contains great content. It prompts you to carry out some exercises every day, which although they take less than 10 minutes in totality out of your work day, they did prove challenging to complete especially in the first few weeks of the programme because they require you to find time to “think and reflect”. What that taught me, though, was that my work diary was far too busy; I was taking on too much and could not have been that efficient. I really needed to schedule less work items into the workday and to do them well and have thinking and preparation time scheduled into the day. I have changed my approach now and am getting a lot of benefit from having done so.

EMMA: What a great result. And Sarah, at what point during the program did you begin to experience the biggest change?

SARAH: It really was within the first week. The PQ exercises make you stop at certain points within your day and pause. Although they were only 2-minutes each usually – the impact of taking that moment was quite powerful. And there really were no excuses not to be able to fit it in.

EMMA: Thanks Sarah. Graham, we are hearing some great feedback here. Having coached many other participants through the program, can you tell us any other success stories that stand out for you?

GRAHAM: Hearing people say astonishing things always stands out…

· I am now a better parent than I have ever been.

· I have done something I never thought I could.

· If only I had known this 20 years ago!

· Our team now has a much more positive culture, it has been completely reborn.

· I am definitely more chilled with difficult people

· and best of all ‘Even my wife noticed!’

I am the luckiest person – I get to see these transformations first-hand.

EMMA: How fantastic, that must be so rewarding. Now, back to you Ffrancon, did you achieve the goals you set out at the start? Were there any surprise outcomes for you from the program?

FFRANCON: Yes, I have achieved my goal in that I feel more relaxed and I would also say that I am experiencing a far better work/life balance now than before starting the program. I suppose the surprise outcome for me is that I can put “bad days” down to my indiscipline of not following the (PQ) techniques on those days….

EMMA: That’s great news on achieving your goal and also shows that its best to continue practicing the techniques daily to maintain your mental fitness. Thanks, Ffrancon. And Sarah, you were coached by Graham as part of a pod - What was that experience like?

SARAH: The pod was great. Being able to share our experiences and talk through how we were all doing was one of the highlights for me and really helped to keep me accountable. We all had very different goals, but people were really open and honest, and we learned together.

EMMA: What a positive experience for you Sarah. So, Ffrancon, do you think that others around you have noticed a change in you personally or in your approach since you’ve had coaching?

FFRANCON: I think they have. I am often told that I look less drawn out and tired than before the programme started. I am also more tolerant of circumstances and people which previously stressed me.

EMMA: So, a physical and mental change... that’s great. And Sarah, how do you plan to use and to maintain your mental fitness now and in the future?

SARAH: Consistency is really important for me – but not perfection! I’ve signed up to another three months so that I can make sure I build in and embed the positive habits I’ve learned through the course – on my own.

EMMA: That’s wonderful news; creating a new routine and habits is what it’s all about. So, Graham: I know there must be some sceptics out there. What would you say to someone who thinks they are already successful, mentally fit, doing a great job and don’t need any coaching?

GRAHAM: Scepticism can be a very healthy dose of reality; it can also blind you to opportunity. This program is for people who recognise their own opportunities for improvement – be that in tangible skills or ways to handle life – and really want to take those opportunities. Typically, this program benefits people who are keen to develop themselves – to be the person and live the life they choose.

EMMA: And Graham you are so confident in your coaching that you guarantee it - can you tell us about that please?

GRAHAM: Simple. If the 6 week program does not have the effect we say it will – there’s nothing to pay – when you feel you have travelled as far as you want with the following coaching program – stop with nothing more to pay. In short, the guarantee is you only pay for the outcomes you want.

EMMA: Well, there you are, a fantastic guarantee. So, Ffrancon Did you ever feel like stopping the coaching?

FFRANCON: I never felt like stopping the coaching during the 6-week programme; I do tend to finish what I start out to do, but I did contemplate whether to continue with the coaching between one 6-week programme and the next. I’m so glad that I carried on, though; you are trying to reverse habits that have been formed over many, many years during this programme so you need to keep the momentum going and keep on practicing what you learn to get the greatest benefit.

EMMA: Absolutely, it can take time to reverse those long-formed habits. And Sarah, would you recommend The Executive Mindset coaching to others and who do you think can benefit from it?

SARAH: Yes absolutely. We can always learn and do better – it’s great to open your mind and this is a really practical way of improving resilience and building mindfulness into everyday life.

EMMA: Thanks Sarah. Well, it’s nearly time to wrap up our discussion, so the final question goes to you Graham - Why should everyone at home contact The Executive Mindset and begin their own mental fitness coaching program?

GRAHAM: Because it’s the first step to the life you choose to live.

EMMA: Fantastic! Thanks Graham. Well, that was a really insightful discussion. I know that coaching is a very personal experience and I’d like to say thank you to each of you Graham, Ffrancon and Sarah for taking the time to share your coaching experience with us today.

I hope everyone watching found that a useful conversation and that you have gained a greater understanding of mental fitness and how our coaching could benefit you.

If you are interested to learn more, you can check out our website where you will find detailed information about our program, our coaches and how to get in touch - you can even make an appointment online for a free, no-obligation session.

The website once again is or you can email

So, thank you everyone once again for watching. From all of us, Goodbye.

GRAHAM: Goodbye


SARAH: Goodbye



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