Our Office Hero series shines a spotlight on the unsung hero of the office. You know who they are. They work their magic behind-the-scenes, making it all come together without a hitch, and selflessly enjoy enriching other people’s lives. They are Administrative Professionals, Office Managers, HR Coordinators, Small Business Owners and the like. They plan countless events in a year while juggling the demands of a jam-packed to-do list. They have a passion for rocking events the same way we do, and we enjoy hanging with our kind.

Our hope is that over time, we will have honoured countless women and men while creating a space for thought provoking conversation, event stories, best practices and maybe even a few laughs.

We’re proud to introduce this month’s Office Hero, Esther Sarlo.


Name: Esther Sarlo

Position: Facilitator, Speaker & Coach

Company: Stand & Deliver! Workshops


Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a small town girl from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, who loves living in a bit city! I love culture: the arts, music, dance, and I’m passionate about body-mind-spirit. I also love travelling the world—in 1998 I packed up all of my belongings into a storage unit, became homeless, used a friend’s address on my passport and went abroad. I travelled to ten different countries in six months, and I loved the whole adventure of it. I enjoyed meeting a diverse range of people and observing and experiencing different ways of life right up close.


I’ve had an eclectic and varied work life—I initially planned to work with youth and pursued a psychology degree. All through school I supported myself with administrative jobs in a variety of settings—from public companies and government agencies to high profile private sector businesses. The skills I developed and honed in those contexts have stood me in good stead throughout my life. In the next phase of my career, I worked as a Youth and Family Counsellor for close to 20 years, primarily with the Vancouver School Board. While I loved the kids and families I worked with, there came a time, though, when I decided to express my creativity differently in the world. I explored a number of different paths as a musician, freelance writer, and an event manager. To this day I still have my hand in all of those things in some fashion or another. A few of the events I’ve produced have included live concerts, an African music and dance festival, and a holistic wellness trade show and speaker series focusing on animals. Through a variety of circumstances, I find myself splitting my professional life into two categories: sales and building Stand & Deliver! Workshops. I unequivocally love the transformational work we do with our Stand & Deliver! Workshops to help people at all levels of communication develop the ability to speak more authentically, feel great while they’re presenting, and knock their presentations out of the park! It is so fantastic to watch people integrate and put new skills to use immediately in our two-day workshops. It truly is a life-affirming and awe-inspiring privilege to be doing this work in the world.


What’s one modern day convenience you can’t live without?

Having travelled the world, my consciousness around the importance of water has profoundly shifted from something that I take for granted to something that I appreciate daily. I am grateful for fresh, clean, available running water—to drink and to bathe in! The significance of available clean water cannot be overstated.


Once in the office, what’s a positive thing you do each morning to get your day started off right?

One of the things that I have adjusted in my life is how I eat. I drink green juice every morning and I have experienced a whole body shift because of it. I continue on a wonderful, nutritional journey and am so appreciative of a new level of health and vitality!


What’s going on in your company right now that’s cool?

Stand & Deliver! Workshops as a company is in an interesting transition at the moment. The company was founded by Bill Chalmers and he has been doing this for over thirty years. As a speaker in demand all over the world, people who heard him speak would ask how they could work with him and learn to do what he did. Stand & Deliver! was born and it has evolved from a five-day workshop into the two-day workshop it is today. I am proud to be a co-facilitator of this work as we move the company into its next phase of being.

The world is very different than it used to be and we are finding ourselves at a really interesting and challenging place of discovering the best ways of getting this incredible process out to people who need it the most. Our favourite people to work with are those who know they have something to say and are either already out in the world saying it—and need to step it up from good to great, or people who need help to get out there and start saying it. Every one of us makes presentations every day. We help you, in any context and situation, to show up as your most authentic self, feel at ease, and connect deeply and clearly from the heart. There’s no substitute for clear, authentic communication—in ANY industry, but especially in event planning. The success of your daily work depends on it!


Let’s talk about events and get your Sage Advice:


How many events, and what kind, are you asked to plan each year?

Annually, we run three Level 1—Stand…Speak…Soar Workshops in Vancouver, one or two in Kamloops, and one in Vernon. We also run two Level 2—Prep…Polish…Present Workshops. Both of these workshops are two-day adventures where you experience and integrate what it’s like to speak clearly, easily, and powerfully. We also have a half-day workshop called Manage Meetings Masterfully. Who doesn’t need to learn how to run shorter, more effective meetings?

If you could hire any famous band for a gala, who would it be?

I would hire U2! No question.

If you could hire any speaker for a training session, who would it be?

Truthfully, I would hire my colleague Bill Chalmers. He is one of the best speakers I have ever heard.

What is your biggest challenge when planning an event? And why?

In a self-produced event, getting “bums in seats”—getting people to commit and attend—is the biggest challenge. Of course, this is assuming that everything else is in place and you have meticulously planned all other aspects of the event. There are all kinds of strategies and techniques for captivating people’s interest and offering value. And, you must be crystal clear on who is your target audience and what they want. However, since the world continues to change so rapidly, you just never know what is going to grab the public’s attention!

How have you overcome that?

Offer something great that your audience wants. Persistence. Planning. Connecting. Collaboration. And there’s no substitution for word of mouth. When people share what they like, others listen. We’re still working on this aspect of the business.

What has been the coolest highlight in an event that you’ve planned or attended?

When I plan events, the highlight for me is watching people participate. I am all about creating events where people don’t just sit and observe. It feels like we’ve become a society of watchers and not participators. As human beings I believe we crave hands-on, ‘feet-on’ participation! Participation and engagement is what connects people, and when people are connected, that’s when the magic happens. That is what I love about the Stand & Deliver! Workshops. We’re all about experiential participation!

What’s the most important thing you’d share with others about planning an event?

Do what you say you’re going to do. That is my definition of integrity. To the best of your ability, only make promises that you can fulfill and don’t spread yourself too thin. When you’re planning an event, it is about organizing, being prepared, being clear and specific, and doing what you say you’re going to do. Lastly, have fun! Put on events that you would enjoy and would love to attend. Thank you…and enjoy your events!

Say hi to Esther on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Tara Boddington

Tara Boddington

With a decade of experience planning corporate and promotional events for top brands as well as sponsorship activations at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and 2010 FIFA World Cup, I have a passion for transformative environments and experiences. I want to live in a world where emails are short, obsessive attention to detail is seen as an asset not an annoyance, and libraries are cool places to hang out (yes I like to read actual hard copy books). I am also the Director of Sales and Marketing at Eventsage.

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