Meet change management specialist, Esther De La Cruz. With over 20 years of experience helping organisations across four different countries manage change, Esther has developed a passion for making the complex simple and finding creative yet strategic ways to humanise change in the workplace. Through her business Esther Leader of Change Pty Ltd, Esther creates transformational change success for medium to large organisations by uniting employees behind a common goal and creating an environment of trust, transparent communications and teamwork. Below we chat to her about her entrepreneurial journey so far.
Q. What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Esther: My first thought about working independently was when I was in my early twenties and I realised I wanted to find a way to work and give back at the same time. I realised my skills were focused on corporate life and I liked doing what I was doing, but I wanted to also raise funds for creating sustainable change in less fortunate communities.
I also later realised I really wanted to do meaningful work I was good at, rather than do things that someone asked me to do (as in working for a boss) and so I wanted the freedom to pick and choose what I was working on and how I would approach the work. This first led me to contract and when I became clearer on my purpose (about 8 years ago) I wanted to learn how to grow my own business around my purpose.
Q. What was your biggest startup challenge and how did you overcome it?
Esther: The biggest challenge I find is striking the right balance between working “in” your business as well as “on” your business. What I mean by this is that the work with my clients often trumps the work on my business, such as defining my goals, creating content, and developing new ideas and strategies for helping solve new problems.
Q. What are your top 3 favourite online apps, tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Esther: Xero – Xero helps me with my invoicing, keeping track of my expenses and revenue and following up on any outstanding invoices with great ease.
Calendly – Managing time is a key success factor when you run your own business and this tool helps me to set aside time in my calendar for networking, talking to potential new clients by creating set time blocks to allow people to book coaching sessions, meetings or free consults with me.
Hootsuite – I used to use it, I don’t at the moment as I have a Virtual Assistant who helps me with this at the moment. However, I really like that this easy-to-use tool can help you plan and execute your posts very efficiently. You can block a day to create a lot of content and plan it out so that it would come out in the right order, at the right time, and on the right social media platform without you having to touch it again.
Q. What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
- Knowing how your brain works best at different times of the day. For example, I’m not creative first thing in the morning. I’m much better with transactional tasks in the morning and deeper thinking in the second half of the morning and meetings in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I’m most creative at night, particularly between 8-10 pm at night I find I get a surge of creativity. Knowing when I’m most productive and at my best with different types of work helps me not to get frustrated with myself or try to push through unnecessarily, I know it will flow a lot better again a bit later or at a different time altogether.
- Having a prioritised to-do list for the week and also at the start of each day. If I don’t have a list of priorities for the day, my day can go in all directions and it makes me feel a bit lost and not productive. I also use a planning board with post-it notes: TO DO, IN PROGRESS and DONE, it’s a great feeling moving the cards and seeing what I’ve achieved for the week.
- Say no and/or ask questions to impromptu meetings and requests to determine urgency. I’ve come to realise how incredibly finite time is and with my priorities in hand I can now better push back on sudden requests and demands that might be urgent for that person but in the bigger picture aren’t that urgent and therefore can be planned a bit further out. This also links with setting boundaries around where I spend my time. For example, I’m never available for work between 5 pm and 8 pm, only if it’s absolute fire. During that time I focus on being with my family, making and having dinner together and being there for the kids’ bedtime routine.
Q. Who are your mentors and inspiration? and what knowledge or insight did they give to you that was valuable?
Nadia Taylor – I sat on a charity board with Nadia about 10 years ago and we’re still in touch now. I’m incredibly inspired by her as even though she runs a very successful global packaging business with her husband, she also runs a successful and charitable foundation and always has time for giving back to more vulnerable people. She also never flies business class, always the economy, she’s humble and generous and that’s who I want to be. In addition to all of this, she also has raised two children who are also doing well as young adults now.
Nadia has taught me that kindness is everything and to treat everybody the same way.
Andrew Bycroft – Ever since meeting Andrew Bycroft at the Key Person of Influence entrepreneurial course, Andrew has been sharing his wisdom with me, answering my many questions and fuelling me with his belief in my skills and purpose. He’s been my mentor ever since and still is, while we now also partner together as part of iResilience.
Andrew has taught me many things, but the one thing that stands out is knowing what your customer really wants, what makes them want to jump up and take action and describe it in their words rather than your own (expert) terms.
Q. What does your perfect day look like?
Esther: Getting up, saying good morning to the family and then having some learning time with a cup of tea.
Connecting with some people both virtually and in person if possible, having some meaningful conversations about solving today’s challenges.
Going for a long coastal walk with my husband, followed by lunch.
Doing some coaching work in the afternoon and then having dinner with the family, followed by a relaxing night in with a glass of red wine in hand.
Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Esther: Being able to afford to buy our first family home in Sydney.
To keep up to date with Esther, follow her on LinkedIn, or get in contact via Esther Leader of Change to begin facilitating successful change within your organisation today.