They say life begins in your 40s, and for Esther Stanhope, it couldn’t be more true. A mum of two, Esther had spent her 20s and 30s working first as an entertainment reporter and then as a very successful radio producer at the BBC. But while she enjoyed her work and reaped the rewards of her career successes, it wasn’t until she hit 40 that she really found her groove.
“I say that 40 is when I unleashed myself on the world,” laughs Esther, whose two children were in primary school when she launched her business, The Impact Guru, teaching others how to be confident and charismatic leaders. “I took the step to go out on my own and learnt so much. I allowed myself to own my personality and stopped doubting myself and thinking I wasn’t good enough.”
Before launching her own business, Esther was much happier being out of the spotlight. “I was a producer for the BBC and I was very confident helping others be brilliant: I launched the Vanessa show, interviewed some of the biggest celebrities in the world from Brad Pitt to Madonna. What I didn’t have was the confidence to stand up myself and take centre stage,” she says.
“I realised a lot of people feel like me – people in business, women in business who needed to be confident but didn’t know how, so I decided to try using my skills to help them learn to be brilliant. It felt so great to help, to get that call and hear that they’d nailed it after learning what I’d taught them – that the interview, the presentation, whatever it was, they’d really smashed it. And when people started asking me to speak at conferences, the desire to help other people was suddenly more important than my own insecurities.”
Once she dared to put herself in the spotlight, Esther realised that she was actually really good at it. “I finally allowed myself to be fabulous,” she says. “It’s all down to confidence. Before that I didn’t have the confidence to understand what my talents were. In my 40s I suddenly realised I wasn’t in competition with anyone else. I didn’t have to be thin enough or beautiful enough. I’m quirky and that’s great. I’m a little bit mad (in a good way!), and I’m glad I am. I also know my weaknesses; It’s OK that I’m not the most organised person in the world. I have my strengths – I’ve got a good sense of humour, I can be funny, I’m well intentioned. I learnt to celebrate my talents and my differences and came to terms with the fact that I’m not perfect.”
Having worked with hundreds of women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, Esther now knows that age is nothing to fear. “Ageing is different these days – people aren’t sitting in tweed suits, reading books and retiring quietly. Rock stars are dying of old age – Mick Jagger is still gigging in his 70s. People in their 60s can be just as cool and trendy and full of life and passions as they were in their 30s.
“Age is all about attitude. There’s no reason not to be skipping along like a 20-year-old in your 40s or 50s. I like learning, growing, and it keeps you feeling young. I also appreciate everything more now. I’ve had health issues that put everything in perspective – I’m thankful and happy for everything I’ve got. I’ve found my groove and it feels great!”
For Esther’s top 3 fab free video tips to make you look, feel and sound more confident click here. She’s helped bankers and top ranking company board members to find the confidence and charisma to pitch, present, get promoted or network, and can help you too.