Esther Jacobs aka ‘No excuses lady’ is a speaker, author, book writing mentor, and digital nomad. She is referred to as the ‘No Excuses Lady’ because she gets things done, whatever the circumstances. She helps others to live and work location independently. Jacobs is the author of the books How to Write a Book in a Week, Digital Nomads, and What is Your Dream?.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up in The Netherlands. My father was an entrepreneur, my mom came from a family of small grocers, where each penny was counted. That shaped my decision to focus on abundance instead of scarcity. 

Their divorce and me leaving the house at 17 put me in a ‘survival mode’, which has served me well: I learned to be independent, not be distracted by emotions, and to deliver results; a really ‘masculine’ approach to life.  

When I reached my forties, I realized that I had to learn to thrive, not just survive and that I had to develop my emotional side and my ‘feminine’ energy as well.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

This balance between masculine and feminine energies. Doing AND being. Using my brain AND my intuition. Being more in the now, being more in my body. Another lesson I have learned from the many injustices I have encountered is “choose your battles wisely”: being right is not the same as being acknowledged for being right.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Doing what other people tell you. Having goals imposed by others (society, family, peers), forgoing your own dreams to be ‘in service’ to others. Trying to ‘fit in’ instead of living your full potential.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I have had two whiplashes, caused by two car accidents, leading to two burnouts. At those times I was ‘too busy’ to deal with it, only making things worse. I have learned the hard way that it is better to listen to your body whisper instead of waiting for it to scream at you….

I am actually writing a book about this: ‘Light your fire, without the burnout. Energy management for passionate people.’ 

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I keep reinventing myself. I turn any challenge that happens to me into an opportunity. I have learned to use bricks thrown at me as stepping stones. I see opportunities where others see obstacles.

From charity projects (raising €16 million in ‘obsolete coins’ during the Euro introduction, without any experience, network or budget), to a relationship with a playboy (I wrote the book ‘Have you found your Mr. Wrong yet? About this experience), to participating in the European Survivor reality TV show (provided lots of interesting insights for my business keynote presentations), to getting fired from my home country for traveling too much (Wrote two books about location independence and the Digital Nomad lifestyle). I write books about all my adventures and after more than 30 books now also help other people to share their stories and lessons in a book with my practical Reverse Writing method.

What is your morning routine?

I don’t have a routine. Every day is different. Which enables me to listen to my body and focus on what I need that day. I travel a lot, am always in different locations, so respecting my body is high on my list of priorities. I hardly ever wake up with an alarm clock. Sometimes I do a workout, sometimes I go swimming or for a walk in the park (whatever facilities are available at that location). I love my oatmeal breakfast (oatmeal, coconut milk, chia seed, banana, cinnamon). I am most creative and productive in the morning, so I try not to have meetings or other distractions so I can get some work done. 

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

Energy management. Not trying to use my ‘turbo button’ all the time. Trying to BE next to DOING. (and not putting ‘being’ onto my ‘to-do-list’ Listening to my body, respecting my energy, and allowing time for recharging. Balancing my ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ energies. 

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

In the bigger picture: I try to focus only on the things I can influence, and not lose energy and become frustrated by trying to change things that I can’t.

Practical: recognizing the moments when I am ‘sharp’ to get my creating done, moments when I am available but not particularly bright for productivity, letting myself off the hook when I am not productive.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss: this legendary book showed me that a different way of life, as a location independent entrepreneur, is possible.

A Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela inspired me in a way that bitterness and victimhood (however justified) is not a solution, but forgiveness and moving forward is.

My first book What is your excuse? opened the door to me as an author. I wrote more than 30 books since and have invented the Reverse Writing method to help other people bring their books to life.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

They call me the ‘No Excuses Lady’ because I get things done, whatever the circumstances.

Uncertainty has become my comfort zone. My secret? Focus only on the things you can influence. Work with what you have. That is why I like this quote so much:

“If you really want something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse…”