The entrepreneur’s life is never easy, but it does have its good moments. Whatever you have gone through, the key to creating a life of positivity is to own your story, to accept that whatever has happened in your life throughout the years is part of who you are. This powerful message rings clear as Esther Wildenberg, CEO and co-founder of Codebreaker Technologies, shares her colorful story with host, Michael Silvers. Esther’s journey is has been a constant search for her true passion. Jumping between very diverse careers, she finally found her life’s joy in entrepreneurship. Esther is a busy woman, what with her business currently going through a major shift and a newborn to take care of, but all that hustle doesn’t get in the way of her commitment to live a happy and fulfilled life. This conversation is full of the lessons that she gathered in from all those years and a peek at what the future holds for her and her company.
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Own Your Story: Living The Hard But Rewarding Entrepreneurial Life With Esther Wildenberg
We won’t talk about what’s going on now because everybody’s heard about that on every show. It’s not going to mean as much in years to come but there has been a shift obviously in 2020. I read something that said, “Why did I buy my yearly calendar in 2020?” We’ve all learned to shift and do things differently and make a difference in a change in how we do business, which some of us already did. There’s this amazing woman on with me. They had shifted part of their business already. In a way, this became a natural transition. The way she builds business and the way she looks at things from a higher perspective, this is going to be an amazing episode because she’s also been on many stages and transformed many human beings and lives out there. Without any further ado, I’m going to let her earn the right because you guys know how we do it on the show. Let’s give it up for Esther Wildenberg. How are you, Esther?
I’m doing amazing. Thank you.
It’s great to have you on. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
First, I’m from the Netherlands, born and raised in The Hague. My career was mostly in Amsterdam. I’ve been traveling around the world since I was fifteen years old. I’ve seen all continents, many countries, many cultures, and many languages. I’m a world traveler as they say. I met my wife Cheri Tree years ago in Amsterdam at a speaking engagement. I bought her program and I became a student, then we fell in love. As they say, the rest is history. I live in the United States since 2014. That is who I am. I’m a Dutchy so they’re very direct. My career is diverse. I don’t want to go jump too far back, but I started my career as a dentist. I never liked it from day one. Sometimes you please your parents and you realize that’s not the way to go. A lot of people do that because I didn’t know what to do. When I was in it, I’m not a quitter so I finished it.
I already knew after year one that I didn’t want to do it but I still did five years of it. Get your degree and get started. After six months, I ended up in a bad accident. I started my whole career as a dentist and then everything fell apart. A very long hospital, I stay in a wheelchair, three years out of business, out of life, out of everything. It shifted my mindset and my way of looking at life. I wanted to do something fun. I started to work in the fitness industry like working in gyms. I worked for Fitness First or Global. I was a general manager there. I thought I’m not going to have my career in the fitness industry. I love working out but that’s not my passion. I want to do a little bit more. It’s not the wrong industry but not for me. I ended up in corporate.
I was one of the youngest CEOs in the Netherlands at a financial services company with 800 consultants, but I realized I’m not a 9:00 to 5:00 person or a corporate person. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. In 2008, when the market collapsed, I decided to build my own consulting company and be a broker for consultants in IT, finance, and HR, to help them to work on projects. At that time, there’s a lot of outsourcing happening and I had a flourishing business in 2008, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12. The other part of me started doing leadership retreats to Spain four times a year. I had the business side and then more of the satisfying side fulfillment on helping people to step into their power and lift their potential in a form of a whole week locked up with me but I still do until now. That’s in a nutshell who I am.
One thing that we talk about is overcoming the things that happen in our life and things come up all the time but it’s the decision you make afterwards. I tell the story of a coach. Many years ago, I coached an Olympic athlete but her first career to get there was going to be in gymnastics and she broke her back. It was all those years of rehab but never giving up the dream. She did the things she could do. She went to beach volleyball and made the Sydney Olympics, but it’s what that decision that you’re going to make and how are you going to get there. That’s what you did. You made a decision to continue on because after that massive injury and with that life, you could have just sheltered away and say, “Take care of me. I don’t want to do this anymore.” What got you out there and what kept you moving?
When I was in the hospital, I was in the ICU for a month. I had two near-death experiences. That helped me realize how beautiful life is and that I was here for a bigger purpose and not just having a job. You don’t need a near-death experience to realize that there’s a lot to get out of life. Getting out of it, I was 23 years old and I realized I didn’t want to end up being like, “This is life and I’m not going to work. I cannot play sports.” All the doctors told me all those things like, “You cannot play sports, you cannot have children, you cannot work full-time, you’re going to be disabled the rest of your life.” That’s not going to happen in my life.
You’re not going to tell me what’s going to happen in my life. I am going to write my own story and I did. It was not easy because people by default go easy in fear and anxiety. My whole family and the people around me were all pushing me. “You have to stay in bed. It’s okay to not do this. It’s okay not to do that.” It’s not okay to not be okay. I want to be okay. I worked hard. At that point when I was in the hospital, I started reading a lot of books and do work on personal development, becoming a better person, growing, evolving, and learning from the masters out there. It started right there in the hospital because I had so much time to think. I needed some books to distract my brain and get in another mindset and then take action as soon as I was going to get out of there and move into the world again. That was three years. Trust me, it was a long journey.
That’s very impressive because that is a long journey and you kept moving forward. What was one book or what was one thing that you read back then?
The first book I remember I was reading in the hospital that stuck with me even now was The Four Agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz. I still refer to it a lot because people take things so personal all the time. I love that whole section about don’t take things personal. If we can learn that, then a lot of things become a lot easier. It creates confidence that when you’re not attached to what people think or have to say about you, then be you. People like and people don’t like you, and that will happen the whole journey of your life. I loved the book until now.
For the readers, Esther has been on major stages. What’s the largest stage you’ve been on and in front of how many people?
Most to get there were 20,000 people.Own your story. Only then can you have a real connection with people and build long-term relationships. Click To Tweet
Esther has been on these major stages and a lot of people have a fear of being in front of that many people and doing your business that way. Part of what you said though, is you have to get up there and you want to do the best for the audience but you can’t worry if they like you or don’t like you. Can you talk a little bit about that being on stage, what that’s like and how you get through some of that fear?
It was not easy because as a child, I didn’t even want to talk in the classroom. I never wanted to be in front of the room, I didn’t want to raise my hand. I was always like, “Don’t pick me.” Those tests that you had to do a presentation in front of the room, I hated it. I had to get over it. It was not easy because I’m one of an identical twin. My twin sister back in the day was way more outgoing than I was and that’s a turnaround. I’m now the one on stage and the outgoing one. That’s an interesting story itself, but it has been a step by step process by doing the things that you like. That became the most important that I love what I do and the topic I talk about. I own it. I live it. Not just to talk about it because there are a lot of people who can talk great and great speakers but they don’t live what they have to share. When you live it, it’s your lifestyle so that creates confidence. I started these small rooms of 10, 15 people, but 20,000 people are much easier than fifteen people.
It’s funny that you say that. Some people get more nervous even on a one-on-one because there’s that instant feedback.
I hear a lot of people say the same thing with Zoom because you’re staring at yourself all the time. You have to love yourself to be able to do presentations on Zoom because you’re focused, your energy is basically in the screen instead of when you’re on stage, it’s spread out. The energy is centered so you have to be comfortable with yourself to deliver something powerful online.
It’s true. We tell people too. For those of you, Esther can powerfully not only take you from where you are to where you want to go but she’s been in many different businesses that she understands what it’s like being an author, being on stage, and how to communicate. How many Zoom calls are you doing a week? I don’t even know, but you’re doing training for thousands. Esther is somebody you definitely want to work with and you want to get to know better. At the same time, when you’re doing the Zoom people, you can move.
It’s okay to move. They don’t like it when I say I move around. Have you ever been to a university and a professor doesn’t move and they just read from the book? You don’t want that. You want people to have motion and movement. Pretend you’re Italian, if nothing else. Move around and move with your hands. Make it fun for the audience and that’s huge nowadays. That’s a tidbit. For our audience and The Mentor Studio, whether it’s in business, life or working out, whatever it is, what are three things they can take away from this and they could use it now?
I realized over the years, with such a busy company and the things we do, I have my first call at 7:00 AM with Dubai. My days are long and we have a newborn.
Congratulations on the newborn baby.
What did I learn along the way? I have a great day if I start with what I call Esther time. The best time I do it is I have to be outside in nature. I live in Laguna Beach. I go to the beach with my dog, Polo, and I do my beach walk and play with her. She’s swimming and do my meditation. I come home and do my Peloton bike. Most of the time I also read about 10 to 15 minutes. It can be a book, something I research, then a hot shower and get dressed nicely. I don’t want to hang out in my shorts, t-shirt, and camping out in my home. I want to look still nice behind my desk. For me, what I suggest is that you start with you time.
Take time for yourself, go outside, meditate, and exercise even if it’s walking with your dog. If you don’t have pet, just walk up and down the street or go to a park. Wherever you live, outside sets you up for the right energy and that’s important. Most people don’t create that time in their schedule. I told Cheri, normally I don’t do any calls before 10:00 AM. The reason is because if I don’t take my time, then I never get it at the end of the day, that never happened. By starting at 7:00 AM, I already know I’m going to end this day with no Esther time.
It’s okay when it’s a day but I try to build those in every day. That’s one. Two, this is probably my Dutch opinion. Speak your truth at all times because that makes life a lot easier. You’re not here to be liked and loved by the whole world. If you speak your truth, you’re respected. That doesn’t mean that all is going to the business with you or all going to hang out with you. You don’t want that anyway, but when you’re very authentic, vulnerable, speak your truth, you show up the same at work as if you’re at home, show up the same onstage as offstage.
That is one of the key things you can do right away. How you show up on Zoom, on social media or when you’d meet people in person. That’s you and your story is who you are. You own all your story. Whatever happened in your life, that is you and it’s who you became through the years. That’s who you are now. You have to be proud of that because if you cannot own your own story, then you can never attract people to work with and expect that they’re going to be the one sharing everything about their life. That’s where the real and long-term relationships happen. That are some very important things for me in my life.
That’s great though because I love the thing about speaking your truth whatever the situation is, especially that me time in the morning too, or that time for yourself. For everybody out there, what is your routine? With The Mentor Studio, you’re learning from people who have been successful in many different ways and at the same time have learned a lot of lessons because things have crashed. That would have been one of those questions but Esther already addressed that. Look what happened in her life early on with her career and she kept moving forward. That time for yourself is critical and that makes a big difference. You have a little one so there’s no way to predict this. If you look at your business life in the next five years, where would you like yourself to be?Being an entrepreneur is has lots of ups and downs. Having a strong sense of self-love is essential to thrive in this journey. Click To Tweet
We’re doing well. The market expansion, expanding of our ecosystem being more known by not just the small business owner, entrepreneur, network marketer but also to big corporations and big organizations. I want to give back. I want to start our own foundation and help children in need. I want to stop bullying. With better communication and understanding, we can do a lot in school systems. We’re already in some universities and we actually see that when they apply what we teach them, the suicide rates are going down. I’m passionate about the next generation’s help. I’d been bullied as a kid because I had an identical twin. She said, “Why are you getting bullied?” You’re an identical twin and because people didn’t know who is who and people get frustrated, kids get frustrated.
Bullying is the easiest way. We all have been bullied or we were to bully. If we can teach kids to communicate and understand that people are different and that it’s okay, I think we can impact the world. That’s my passion and I’m very anxious to be involved in stopping the sex trafficking that’s happening because that hurts my heart. I cannot even explain how sad that is and it’s outrageous. The numbers are crazy and there is not enough exposure and highlighted now. Other things are more important to certain people. I truly believe we have to change the agenda of what’s most important in the world, but that’s a big task. I’m not saying it’s going to happen in the next five years, but that’s where I’m driving from the inside our business forward.
You know I talk about being of service and the events that I run. There’s always that of service component within anything that I do. I love to know that because I know you guys are too. You get into the build mode and you’re going and going. You look at what’s that other side and how am I being of service to other people. Yes, my business is. There’s a bigger picture and that’s what you painted, that bigger picture. Can you talk about while being an entrepreneur what it means to be of service, how that can change one’s perspective, even on the days you don’t want to get up and do it again?
I have those days too, but I learned along the way to shift that right away. Why I’m in this mood? I am tired. With a newborn, I wake up twice a night like, “That’s okay.” It’s okay to be tired, go to the beach and get over it. I learned to spank myself. As an entrepreneur, it’s an interesting journey. There are a lot of ups and downs. Getting a strong self-care and strong self-love is the basis of everything. Moving forward, that’s an interesting question. It’s strong to as old times be you. It’s easier said than be done because there are so many influences. I don’t care what people think of me. People comment a lot of things about me like I’m gay. I’m a women-owned company. I have a Dutch accent. I can keep going on and on. I don’t wear makeup. I have all these comments coming to me all the time.
You cannot be attached to what people say and do. That’s a very short answer to your question. Self-esteem and self-love are the key things in anything in life. As an entrepreneur, the things that have been hard is being the pushdowns. People taking advantage of you, taking your money, taking the things you do out there in the world to do good. As an entrepreneur, you just sit back up again. Quitting was never an option in my life. I had to learn that mindset is not something I was born with because if I look at my family, they’re all quitters. They all have a poor money mindset. I had to work on all the things. It’s possible if you want it, then you make this happen. I made it non-negotiable.
I was going to change the legacy of my family and change how they are operating. I will be a great example for my nieces and nephew. Now I have my own child that everything is possible. As an entrepreneur, it is hard. I’m not going to say it’s easy. It’s not easy. If it will be easy, everybody will be a millionaire. Just own it that it’s not easy. I say something, “It’s hard. Why am I doing it?” I think about back in the day when I had my 9:00 to 5:00 job and it’s like, “No, I don’t want to have that again. That’s not going to happen.” You go back to the pain. “What hurts worse than the pain I’m feeling in this business?” I always go back like, “What hurts worst? The 9:00 to 5:00.”
I don’t ever want that again. Remember cubicles? Even offices, I don’t want it. You’re right. Is that because you have a little one now, nieces, nephews? We do that for our family. You have a little one and for me, my grandkids become this legacy piece. I get up because I look at them and I’m like, “What world am I leaving them?” I’m sure you’re having that even more now than you ever did before.
My heart expands a thousand times since he was born and I had no idea because people said, “Your life is going to change. Your heart is going to be bigger.” We will see. Of course, he’s there. He was ten weeks early on top of it. It was also very special to have those ten weeks bonus. That’s how we look at it and then six weeks in NICU. It creates a whole different perspective on everything we do. That’s why I became even more passionate about how can we help young kids instead of helping the entrepreneurs and business owners and big corporations. My real passion is helping. The education system is still totally messed up around the world. It’s everywhere ever. I got taught many years ago, they get the same content now. It’s not good. We have to teach them communication and you have to teach them entrepreneurship. We have to teach them relationships and real things in life. If we could add a little bit flavor to it, then I’m going to be happy. It’s not an easy journey but I’m not going to leave this planet until at least I reached some impact.
It’s funny you say that because you but you still have a long way to go. Don’t worry. You’re not going anywhere because you haven’t backed a lot of people if you look at some of the work you’ve done. It’s great because the other thing too is you did shift and your company shifted. You were moving that way anyway. Virtual is the way it is because even as everything goes back and eventually it will, it always does, the world readjusts. What we’re trying to train and let people know is still have that virtual component, whatever kind of business, store or whatever you’re doing. Have the virtual component, have the membership site, have the things that create passive residual income so you’re not always stuck in this rat race. The entrepreneurial world is awesome and it’s hard like you said. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror every day.
Even when you have people around you on the same journey, it’s one of those things but it’s the best thing I ever did. I know you guys are loving everything and it’s got the other side. You have a little one that will take that to the next level. I wanted to thank you for being on. This is awesome that you’re willing to take your time because I know your schedule. If everybody knows, this is a couple of months, but this is worth every minute of it. Esther knows, she’s not busy to be busy. She’s creating this dynasty with Cheri. Now you’ve got a little one to be right there behind you. It’s awesome. Any last words before I let you go? How can they connect with you? If somebody says, “I need to know more about what she’s talking about.”
For those of you who are on, don’t forget to go to TheMentorStudio.com. Check out the other episodes we’ve done. I’ve done so many I don’t even know who I just did. Coming up, I’ll be talking with Jim Britt, who I love dearly. We need to get him on more stages again. He was Jim Rohn’s partner. For those of you who don’t know what any of that means, they did train Tony Robbins to do what he does. This Jim’s personal development from many years ago, but he’s still brilliant at what he does and what he teaches. Also, we’ll probably have Todd Fisher on, Carrie’s brother. We’ll go back and talk some entertainment at that point. Thank you, Esther, for being on. This is great. You are an amazing inspiration because of what you went through, how you continue and you still live life fully. Have a great day every day and then you have the other days that you get through it.
It’s very short. I learned that it’s a choice how you show up and how you move on. I can be sad if something happens or I can be not in the mood, but then I learned to turn that switch. Switch to a different direction. I don’t want a day like this, this is exhausting. It’s not going to do any good for anyone. Take a cold shower, go on your Peloton bike, do whatever it takes. You’re the one who can turn it around and it’s a choice. Everything you say, you do, how you show up is a choice. I learned a long time ago when you’re positive and happy, life is so much better.
I agree with you. I am there with you. This has been a pleasure. I’ve known you for a long time and I’ve watched you and your company grow, the stage work grows. You jump on the stage and own that stage. Please send my love to Cheri and the little one. For those of you, it’s been a treat to have Esther on. For myself, The Mentor Studio, and everybody reading, Esther, thank you so much. For those of you reading, go check out other episodes. We also have a YouTube channel. I want to thank everybody for being on whether it’s your morning, afternoon, or evening, whether it’s 2020 or 2024, and you’re reading this. Have a great day. Connect with us and we’re there for you.
Thank you so much, Michael. Good luck, everyone.
- Esther Wildenberg
- The Four Agreements
- Facebook – Esther Wildenberg
- Esther Wildenberg – LinkedIn
- YouTube channel – The Mentor Studio
About Esther Wildenberg
At 14 years old my parents told me to become a Dental Hygienist/Dentist, so I did. An accident changed my life and my career. My passion for people and business has put my career on the fast track to massive success on a global scale. My decision to pursue a career in the business world led me to becoming one of the youngest CEOs in my industry. Then I chose to build my own management and consulting company.
In 2013, I became a licensed and certified B.A.N.K. trainer with Codebreaker Technologies, a U.S. based sales training company that was expanding in Europe. By the end of that year, I had become the number one salesperson in the world and was offered the position of International Sales Director for Europe. In 2015 I was promoted to EVP of Global Sales, and then to President of the entire company.
Today I’m the CEO and focused on working with top companies and organizations that are implementing B.A.N.K.™ to significantly increase their sales revenue & results. I work directly with the Founder, Cheri Tree, to source top speakers, coaches and trainers in multiple industries that want to become certified and licensed to teach B.A.N.K.™ in markets around the world.
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