Michelle Ray

Leadership Strategist and International Keynote Speaker

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Michelle Ray is a highly sought-after international business keynote speaker, consultant, author and educator who demonstrates a deep understanding of importance of self-leadership in business and in life.

Born in Australia, Michelle began her career in the media industry during the recession of the early 80s. She was once told by management that she "didn't have what it takes" to succeed in the business world.  Despite a lack of mentors, Michelle was inspired to move up the management ladder to self-employment; creating her own successful international business. She believes that leadership is a state of mind and helps individuals at any stage of their career to master personal leadership, that is, the ability to take charge of oneself first in any situation. Michelle speaks passionately about self-actualization, the importance of outstanding leadership in the workplace, and the roles of positive communication and influence.

Michelle uses an interactive approach to inspire and captivate the imagination of her audiences. Michelle's first training, speaking and consulting company was established in 1995 and subsequently established the Lead Yourself First Institute to help individuals and organizations take the initiative in the face of change and economic uncertainty.  Michelle also offers in-house business seminars and consulting for leadership development, understanding changing demographics, communication and improving workplace relationships.

Michelle is a "Certified Speaking Professional" (CSP), the highest-earned designation in the speaking industry. She has been listed in the "Who's Who" of Professional Speakers, and was awarded the "Presentation Mastery Award" from the Vancouver Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. Earlier in her career, she was recognized as the top speaker in Canada for the world's largest international public seminar company. Her style has been described as refreshing, uplifting, entertaining, informative and amusing with a common sense message.

Her book, "Lead Yourself First", is now available.

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Speaking Topics

The Power of Personal Leadership... Attitude makes the Difference

We each possess the ability to profoundly impact other people by the manner in which we conduct ourselves. When we go out in the world with a happier disposition, we impact others positively. By our own demeanor, we create an energy force that has the power to change attitudes and change lives. We should never underestimate our own personal power! This humorous, highly energized and insightful presentation offers a deeper understanding of the power of positive thinking and personal initiative, as well as specific tools to implement when faced with our own "stinkin' thinking." Audience members experience a memorable, popular keynote that illustrates how to become the leader of themselves in order to make a difference in their professional and personal relationships.


The Most Challenging Team to Lead is a Team of One

What is "leadership:" the influence you have on others? The respect you get from your peers? Your ability to implement a business strategy? The number of sales you make? Or the number of friends you have on Facebook?

Over the course of her professional career, Michelle was hit with two deep recessions that brought her face to face with the true meaning of leadership....the challenge of leading oneself. From an administrative assistant during the first recession to working her way up to management for 23 regional radio and TV stations...to helping the largest cinema complex in the southern hemisphere increase revenue when everyone else's budgets were shrinking... to dressing up as Cat Woman to teach her team what it really takes to win business during an economic downturn... Michelle knows that the true test of leadership is how you lead a team of one.


Operation Cooperation: How to Build Outstanding, Collaborative Workplace Relationships

Teams within every type of organization grapple with the challenges presented by differing values, attitudes and expectations present in today's business climate.  "Operation Cooperation" offers you a winning strategy to build an outstanding workplace culture in which everyone is empowered to communicate, collaborate and connect. Our external professional relationships are compromised when the spirit of a unified team is lacking. Participants will have the opportunity to refocus, re-energize and be reminded of the value of collective wisdom... prerequisites for outstanding team relationships.


An Attitude of Gratitude... We Appreciate Your Business

The Customer Service revolution is still in full swing! Is your front line staff committed to an "attitude of gratitude" for the business your customers provide? Are they giving a gold-medal performance with every customer experience? No matter how high-tech our workplaces become, our organizations will always be about people, and the first point of contact with a customer can make or break the relationship within seconds. Therefore, great service starts with leading ourselves. Is your team set up to go beyond the extra mile? The theme of this exciting keynote address or workshop is based on the reality that almost 70% of customers take their business elsewhere due to an attitude of indifference!


Leading the generations: Adjusting Attitudes in the Multigenerational Workplace

The notion of having one job for life holds little appeal for the new generation of workers. Unless organizations are willing to invest in their people emotionally and financially, the best and brightest will unashamedly seek opportunities elsewhere, leaving you scrambling to replace them. In this context, employers must be willing to rethink existing hiring, mentoring and training. In this fun and informative presentation, participants learn the secret to motivating and retaining our workforce to create outstanding intergenerational workplaces. Despite the volatility of the economy and the job market, we can develop an outstanding workplace culture by focusing on what is within our control. Develop an unbiased viewpoint and flexible approach with exceptional interpersonal skills and specific methods to keep team members engaged, productive and satisfied.


Recent Publications by Michelle Ray

Lead Yourself First


"We continue to receive rave reviews from everyone who attended both of your sessions! You really WOW-ed everyone with your personal, passionate, and effective take on Customer Service! Many thanks for making such a fantastic first impression on our team here at RBC." RBC Financial Group

"Michelle spent the day sharing life-skills for problem solving during disagreement, and my only sorrow is that she wasn't there to teach me those skills 25 years ago... She is hands-down the best speaker I've heard, and her message resonates with me still - it has been of benefit to me in every interpersonal relationship I have." Northern Alberta Operating Room Nurses Association

"Michelle gets her message across in a positive, unique and humorous way. Everyone in the room was engaged and the number of people who commented on the quality of her delivery was excellent. Her use of humor to get her point across is masterful." Australian Industry Group

"...to put it simply, Ms. Ray surpassed all of our expectations. Her presentation was interactive, humorous, fast paced, informative and deeply moving... I cannot recommend Ms. Ray more strongly for any organization looking for someone to stimulate and move both the mind and the heart." Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

"A combination of hilarious and brilliant. Michelle teaches valuable lessons that are extremely wise." Canadian Payroll Association

"From your opening remarks to your conclusion... you kept the audience entertained, energized and happy... you exceeded our expectations." KPMG LLP

"You took the time to learn about our group in advance and to customize the material and this made all the difference. We laughed, we cried, we learned and you left us wanting more. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive...(You) leave participants with skills that can be utilized not only at work, but in their personal lives as well." The Supreme Court of British Columbia

"I received an overwhelming amount of feedback that raved about not only the relevance of addressing the topic of the leader within, but also the engaging and meaningful delivery that you presented...I am looking forward to using the tools and message that you presented us with and have to admit that I immediately took one meaningful point and wrote it on the white board in my office!" Halton Catholic District School Board & CUPE Local 5200

"Your expert advice, combined with humourous anecdotes and entertaining props held our attention throughout the entire day. This was evidenced by the standing ovation you received at the end of your presentation. In fact, over a month has passed and we are still receiving compliments about the Professional Development Day." Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board & CAW Local 2458