Today’s Notable Young Professional is Sahra Esmonde-White, who always knew she wanted to work in the field of health and launched the Essentrics workout after switching her career path after a few years working in the pharmaceutical industry…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I work every day to turn the Essentrics workout into an internationally accessible and recognizable fitness brand. We currently have a series of Essentrics DVDs, a TV show on PBS in the US and we train professional athletes, actors and models. While my title on paper is CEO, I mostly take care of business development and marketing. I spend about 75% of my time at the office and the rest of the time actually teaching Essentrics classes to a few key clients including the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, Toronto-based actress Sarah Gadon, and British model/actress/entrepreneur Lily Cole.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Health is one of the most important aspects of human life. I have always known that I would work in the field of health. After University, I began working in pharmaceuticals, thinking I would make a difference in helping people gain access to medication (as a health economist I worked to have drugs covered by the government). After a few years, however, I realized that I wanted to do something more personal and natural – plus take advantage of my entrepreneurial character and willingness to take chances. At the time, my mother, a former ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, had created an incredible workout that was proving beneficial for everyone – from older women to young Olympic athletes. I knew we should share it with the world in a bigger way.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day is receiving all the testimonials that people send in; we receive at least 5-10 per day from all over North America. It’s motivating to know we are changing people’s lives and in such an accessible and affordable way. Everyone, no matter their income level, should be able to be healthy and feel good. The challenge as a small business is to keep up with international growth, maintain the quality of our teachers worldwide, and increase awareness of the technique – all on a small budget.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I am very aware of how a healthy, balanced body should feel, and the kind of daily energy that is good energy. When I notice that my energy is too hyper and adrenaline-driven, I know it’s time to take a break. In the past I would use that adrenaline-charged energy to work harder, whereas now I understand that it’s a sign to slow down.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
For the Essentrics brand, in five years I see our studios thriving in every major city, and additional sports teams adopting the technique to enhance their performance and reduce injuries. Personally, I see myself more involved in public policy related to the health of our country and citizens. In my opinion we currently have a universal sick-care system in Canada rather than a healthcare system, and we should put more emphasis on preventative measures. Canada is a leader in health and should be more proactive in creating a society that puts its dollars into preventing disease rather than paying for the treatment of disease.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I’m quite shy and more of an introvert, so becoming the face of Essentrics was traumatizing for me. Making DVDs, teaching huge classes and doing press caused me a lot of stress at the beginning! However, it made sense for me to become the spokesperson because I know the technique so well, and I truly love what it can do for people. Doing this has helped me overcome my fear of public speaking and has made me more comfortable in my own skin.
What does success look like to you? Does money = happiness?
Success has always been about our ability to share this healthy technique with the world. The more people practice it, the more successful we feel. The more testimonials I receive from people whose lives have been changed, the happier I am. Money is a bi-product of that success, but not the goal.
Most memorable milestone:
I have been terrible at celebrating or recognizing milestones; we just keep moving forward! However, Essentrics turns 15 this year, which is a great feeling for us.
Advice for young professionals:
Believe in what you do and be ready to stick with it long-term. Don’t be afraid to work for free in order to gain experience and showcase your skills.
Where is your favorite place to wine dine in your city and why?
When you wine and dine, you want your guests to feel appreciated and noticed. Two places which follow this rule in Montreal are: Barbounya and Joe Beef .
When you’re not working, how do you love to spend ‘me’ time?
When I need genuine “me time” I head to my grandmother’s garden outside of Ottawa, the Esmonde-White House. She had a gardening TV show on PBS for 17 years and it’s truly a magical place where I can disconnect from the noise in my head, and connect with nature. It clears my mind so new ideas can flow.
Favourite place to travel and why?
Rome would be at the top of my list. It’s a living museum; you can wander for hours surrounded by history. The food is pretty good too.
One Love – Bob Marley & The Wailers
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I would be in public health policy or creating health-related TV programming.
Do you support any charities? Which, and why is that important to you?
I recently became the foster mother to two orphaned baby elephants named Ziwa and Lima Lima, as well as a baby rhino named Solio, who all live at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. I try to support animal rights and have been deeply disturbed by the poaching of elephants for their tusks and rhinos for their horns.
What is Notable to you?
People who approach their work with passion and heart.
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#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)