8 minutes with Esther Stanhope, the confidence coach
Confidence is somewhat like electricity. You may not use it all the time, you may not know how it works, but when you need it and it’s not there, it can leave you in the dark. Although we all lack confidence from time to time, The Impact Guru – more formally known as Esther Stanhope – shares why she loves boosting women’s confidence and just how she manages to do so.
Hi Esther! Could you start off by telling us about your amazing career in showbiz?
My background is in broadcasting, so I’ve been all over the TV and radio industry from my 10 years at the BBC – I’ve interviewed amazing celebrities, such as Madonna and George Clooney, but I guess you can say that my main role has been creating and nurturing talent. I began to have an obsession with understanding what makes people charismatic, because although I was behind the camera, and very competent at my job, I never felt like I was confident.
What made you want to leave this behind and become a confidence coach – or The Impact Guru, as you’re better known?
I can remember the moment I decided to leave the BBC very clearly. An agent had asked me to “give an author some personality”, to help him feel more confident and comfortable on live TV. I didn’t realise it at the time, but that’s what I was doing with most people. It wasn’t planned, and I wasn’t using cognitive behavioural therapy or techniques like that, but I was pretty good at it. I spent half the day with him, and he went from zero to hero in a matter of hours. After speaking to a few friends, I realised that improving others’ confidence is not only a skill I have, but it’s exactly what the business world needs.
So have you always been super confident?
The first time I was asked to speak at a women's network event, I almost died of fear. Now, I’m in my comfort zone when I’m speaking in front of an audience of hundreds of people, but it definitely hasn’t always been like that. It came with a lot of practice and constantly stepping out of my comfort zone, but I also found that my passion for helping people outweighed my own fears. Even now, I still have moments when imposter syndrome strikes when I feel like I’m not good enough.
How do you deal with those feelings and tackle days when you don’t feel confident?
A lot of it comes with experience. But when I feel afraid, I know it’s because I’m stretching my comfort zone, which is a good thing! Confidence is like a muscle – you may do something to grow your confidence one day, like public speaking or trying something new, but that feeling will drift away if you don’t keep practising it. So when I feel imposter syndrome or a lack of confidence, I remind myself that I need to keep stretching my confidence muscles.
That sounds a lot like your 80% perfect club. Could you tell us more about that?
Yes! The 80% perfect club allows you to do online coaching in your own time, while sending littler missions that will stretch your confidence every Monday. It’s a reminder to do something different to make you feel good, such as speaking up in meetings or paying extra attention to your body language. It’s a confidence booster – a little jab.
It came to be once I realised that there is a 60% issue. Men often only need to be 60% sure of themselves to seize an opportunity, whereas women usually need to be 100% certain. So that’s why I’m telling women to stop being perfect – let’s just go for 80%, because we’re never going to be completely perfect as there is no such thing!
Why did you decide to specialise in helping women with their confidence?
As Michelle Obama said, you can’t be what you can’t see, so I wanted to make sure that women have the right role models. I’m talking about typical women with a career, a busy life and kids, not just confident women on TV. Your inner confidence is self-belief, and if you don’t have much self-belief, it can be really hard to grow your confidence – but it’s my mission to get more women speaking up and believing in themselves.
What advice would you give to those who are just starting the journey of growing their confidence?
Firstly, I would say don’t worry about what other people are doing. It’s so important to get on your own path and learn what’s best for you. Comparing yourself to others can just make you feel like you’re not good enough, or that others are always doing better.
I would also say don’t worry, because everyone else feels like you! The best thing to do is just to dive in and face your fears head on. Feel the fear, stretch your comfort zone, and keep practising.
Finally, I would say embrace failure, because when you fail, you learn something new. I try to do something badly, because it’s a reminder that if we fail, everything will be alright, and we won’t spontaneously combust.
Esther’s top tips on how to look, sound and feel more confident
Want to look, sound and appear more confident? Esther shares her tips that spell out ‘POSE’:
Oomph. Show off your energy to ensure you keep your audience engaged.
Speech. Speak up by raising the volume of your voice and leave tiny pauses between sentences, rather than filling them with ‘erms’ and ‘ahhs’.
Eyes and teeth. SMILE! Think, eyes and teeth and you will appear more engaging and friendly immediately – plus you’ll feel better (there’s science behind a smile).
For more information on the 80% Club, click here and get your first month free!