WE Magazine Women in Business Interview with Esther Stanhope, The Impact Guru

Tell us about your business…

I am an international confidence speaker known as The Impact Guru!  As a former live BBC producer, I use my 27 years of experience in broadcasting and business to help women leaders from global organisations speak with more confidence and impact (when they secretly hate public speaking!).

I was at Deloitte when they called my ‘presentation and pitch’ sessions ‘personal impact’, hence The Impact Guru.

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

Being a business owner means – FREEDOM, having a voice, courage and confidence.  The one thing that I underestimated though, was how brave you have to be to run a business.

I became an entrepreneur in the first place (7 years ago) because at the BBC I could see I was in danger of getting stuck on a career path without room for my wings to spread.  I loved it, but I needed change. I had an itch to scratch.

After having 2 children I wanted something fresh and I got a new lust for life and a taste for business!  I’ve always been a good sales person and I realised I wasn’t always maximising my talents at the BBC.

I also realised that people in business really needed my skills – the ability to communicate with confidence and charisma!

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

I’ve always admired Richard Branson because he’s a bit leftfield and tries new things all the time.  I met him once when I was a reporter in the late 90s and he was one of the most generous ‘celebs’ to interview.  He totally understands his audience and I also know he’s a nervous public speaker (I used to be a terrible public speaker before I made it my job).

He’s the perfect example of how to fail and move on, I love that.

I totally respect anyone who has gone out there and made it work. From Karren Brady to Deborah Meaden & Joanna Lumley for her fun and laughter. (I’ve interviewed Joanna Lumley a few times and she’s exactly what you’d expect!  She used to smoke and say ‘sweetie’ a lot, very Ab Fab)

My business coach, Kim Duke, founder of Sales Divas has had a huge influence on me. Her support and encouragement has helped me move forwards each day. She’s changed my life and my confidence.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

"Woman in Business Esther Stsanhope'Touring the USA last year from NY to Maine and speaking at the most fantastic events for Women leaders and Young African Leaders was the most rewarding and inspiring thing I have ever done professionally.  The feedback was off the scale – I loved it, they loved it, and it didn’t actually feel like work at all.

Some of the young Africans were politicians and doctors working on projects for their governments to provide water and medical facilities for their country. They called me ‘Madame Esther’ we still follow each other on social.

I helped them speak with more confidence and they really appreciated all my tips!

What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

“Put your big girls knickers on and grow your business to the next level” (That’s from the wonderful Claire Mitchell – Founder of The Girls Mean Business).  What she means is this….

“go on…step outside your comfort zone, take a deep breath and do it!

What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

Speaking!  Without a doubt, when you are physically visible on a stage, you can make a game changing impact on your business and your career.

Just like my clients have discovered, it’s like meeting 100s of people intimately rather than one at a time.   If you are the one at the podium at the conference, people look up to you and see you as the expert in your field.  It gives you the edge over your competitors and what my clients have discovered, it attracts people to you.

It’s a way of kissing 1000s of frogs at the same time rather than one at a time.

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

(Sticking with the animal theme)

“Be the turtoise not the hare” do one thing a day to move your business forward. That’s what my business coach, Kim told me when we first met in 2013.  Whether it’s a new client email, a newsletter, a blog or a post on linkedin, one thing is better than nothing.

You are playing a long game, you don’t need to rush and try to climb a mountain every day.  Everything in small chunks.  That has kept me going.  I’ve spread the ‘one thing a day’ word and I still have clients and fellow business owners come up to me and say – “yes Esther, I’m still doing my one thing” .

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?

Oh my goodness, yes lots of handy tools I use for business.  Here are my personal TOP 4….

My Business Coach, Kim Duke, Founder of SalesDivas.com has been the best investment I have EVER made.

My Virtual EA, Claire is BRILLIANT. She does my diary and sorts out my social media posts and newsletter.  She runs Miss Virtual EA.

My branding agency gave me a massive brand boost. Patrick at LMPP Studio is funny, talented and totally gets you when you want to spruce things up with fantastic illustrations and ideas.

And if course Xero, for automated accounting – OMG – totally brilliant.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

I’m right in the middle of writing my book ‘The Perfect Pocket Survival Guide to Glossophobia’ (fear of public speaking).  So please do feel free to send me your personal public speaking tips, I’ve gathered quite a few now and it’s going like a train.

I’m on a roll and that’s due out next year.

The Barclays Women in Leadership Conference in September is going to be massive! They are one of my clients and we managed to get Dame Helena Morrisey DBE as the keynote speaker.

Sharing a stage with one of the most successful business women in the country is quite a buzz.  She has  9 children, yes, 9 children and she’s the co-founder of the 30% club. They launched in 2010 with a goal to achieve a minimum of 30% women in FTSE 100 Boardrooms.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

After a minor health scare last year, I’ve taken up weight training at the Gym & Yoga!  I also try and do a ‘Headspace’ everyday.  I used to smirk at people who were into ‘that sort of thing’ you know? Meditation and mindfulness, but I’ve come to realise it’s REALLY important to take some time to breathe and think.  (I would never ever have said that even 3 years ago!)

Cooking chocolate pear pudding & watching movies with the kids, 12 and 8, and my other half, Adam, is also a family tradition.

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

Getting my book published and launched – yeay!

You want to write a book on … ‘The Perfect Pocket Survival Guide to Glossophobia’ (fear of public speaking).

When I work with clients, particularly women in the city & entrepreneurs – no matter what the sector – most business women tell me they absolutely hold themselves back because they hate….

Public speaking or bring in the spotlight
That feeling that all the eyes are on them
The fear of going red or breaking out in a rash (one client at Deloitte wears a scarf permanently)
“That moment” when you introduce yourself around the boardroom table – some call it “creeping death”
Worrying they’ll screw it up (One senior surgeon got her doc to prescribe Diazepam)

I have hundreds of stories of women who avoid speaking to more than 8 people at a time!

And the funny thing….that used to be me!

As recently as 5 years ago, I too avoided the spotlight or ‘speaking’ to a large audience and now it’s my job!

So the more I heard stories of downing glasses of wine, taking Valium and avoiding the town hall like the plague, I felt compelled to write an easy-to-fit-in-your-pocket survival guide for women to give them HOPE….courage and confidence…

Easy tools they can use immediately
Demystify ‘The Fear’
Formulas and tricks the pros use

Plus it’s short, easy to read and fun!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Yes as Susan Jeffers’ book says ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. If you’d like a taster of my confidence tips and tricks on how to nail your next speech, presentation, meeting or job interview….please do contact me esther@estherstanhope.com and we’ll send you our free.

Learn more: www.theimpactguru.com