Who do think these jackets belong to? An Elton John impersonator? A cabaret performer? A magician? 

You may be surprised to learn that they belong to a senior executive in a conservative government organisation. 

That man is David Reynolds the CEO of the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) in South Australia.  

 I first saw David speak on the importance of personal brand in 2019 when he wore his blue sequined jacket. As soon as he stepped up on stage I thought, “Hmmmm, what’s his story?”

So, when I bumped into him at a social event, I took the opportunity to ask for a catch-up over coffee to find out. 

What he shared with me was raw, open, and unexpected.

David told me how he started his career as a shy, introverted young man who was too nervous to speak up at meetings. He was fearful of embarrassing himself and in hindsight he realised that he suffered from imposter syndrome. He told me he had to train himself to speak up at meetings and one of the techniques he used was positive self-talk. Before he went into any meeting, he would say to himself:

“Be strong,

Be proud,

Be clear,

Be loud.”

He would repeat this over and over again and eventually he was able to stretch himself outside of his comfort zone. 

As his career advanced, he asked himself “What kind of leader do I want to be?” He uncovered three important elements of communication:

  1. Nobody will listen to you if you are not interesting
  2. People will zone out in two minutes
  3. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

David bought his first sequined jacket in 2017 for the DTF staff recognition awards. His thinking was “Let’s have some fun and pretend it’s the Logies.” He now owns 10 jackets and keeps them in a cupboard at work.

David’s Jazzy Jacket Takeaways

1.  It’s okay to have fun in fact it’s essential. 

    • David believes “If we’re not having fun were not doing it right.” 
    • Having fun reduces stress and when people relaxed it enables them to produce their best work

2.  A manager needs to be seen to be approachable. 

    • A big part of David’s role is to understand other people and their jobs. He didn’t want to be seen as ‘Another guy in a blue suit.’
    • Wearing a loud jacket increases his visibility
    • David’s jackets also serve as an icebreaker “By looking approachable people will happily come to me to chat, it’s hard to feel intimidated by somebody wearing a Christmas jacket!”

3.  Nerves are normal

    • David is still nervous before every presentation. His nerves start 45 hours before and he has now accepted them as normal
    • David believes that we all suffer from imposter syndrome at some point as “We are all doing stuff we’ve never done before.”

4.  Stories matter

    • Over the years David has realised that it’s about stories, not data
    • He makes it his mission to collect interesting stories 
    • He also likes collecting interesting tidbits to share with his audience
      • Here are a couple:
        1. Which dollar note has the most drug residue on it?
        2. Why do we produce 7x more $100 notes per head than our NZ counterparts? (See below for the answers)

5.  Leadership is about finding yourself and amplifying your brand

    • David spent many years watching other leaders and learning what to do (and what not to do!)
    • “I started watching speakers and noting down what I did like and from there I developed my own style.” 
    • David realised he needed to step up and model the behaviour that he wanted to see in others

David Reynolds perfectly captures my thoughts on presentation skills and leadership. These are no longer ‘nice to have’ ‘soft’ skills, they are essential skills that may not come naturally, but if we take the time, and invest in ourselves we can all become the engaging and influential leaders we wish to be. 

David, I look forward to your next Jazzy Jacket big reveal!


The $50 note has the most drug residue 😲
The pension in NZ is not means-tested so there is no need to hide cash!. 😁)

Sharon Ferrier
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All Good Presentations Start With a Confident Speaker

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