Before entering the sales world, Esparza mastered a different art. Certified in 58 different styles of massage, Esparza walked out of high school and into massage therapy school. After that, the leader went on to play football at East Los Angeles College. Other highlights from his collegiate years include working with the women’s swim and dive team as a massage therapist and working with future Olympians on the University of Hawaii’s swim and dive teams. After family and financial constraints forced Esparza to drop out just two semesters shy of his degree, the leader wasted no time at all. He immediately picked up two jobs, one at an airport and one at a paintball park. “This is where I truly learned about corporate work,” says Esparza, “It took three and a half years to hustle my way up from a baggage loading guppy to a team lead and supervisor.”
Esparza went on to manage travelers with Air New Zealand, where he revamped the training program and turned a gross profit of $3,000 to one million dollars in a single month for the company. In his charge, the on-time departure rate went from 43% to 99% in just six months. “We did something unheard of,” says Esparza, “mind you, 80% of my team was made of people who had never worked on or seen an aircraft at ground level in their lives.” Unfortunately, his career in the air travel world was cut short by a seniority-driven lay off. “This is where I learned that I was just a number to them,” says Esparza, “I knew then that corporate America is not for me. I am more than just a number.”
While we may not be dealing in luggage and boarding passes at OLN Inc, Shawn Esparza has brought that same sense of leadership and growth into his work here. “I think I bring a lot to the table, but one big thing is my ability to create personal relationships with my customers and my team,” says Esparza.
“I am independently motivated. I chose this path to be a better version of myself. I’m passionate about my goals and in turn, I have seen my team grow as well. I want my team to see that even a dummy like me can get it done.”
Humble as ever, Shawn Esparza has prioritized growth every day since the start of his career. “Personal growth is important to me,” says Esparza, “advancement at OLN Inc is nice, but I am committed to growth in every part of my life.” During the hiring process, does Esparza look for that same commitment in future leaders? Not exactly. “Grit is the most important thing to me when hiring,” says Esparza, “I look for people who are not afraid to get punched in the mouth by life. I look for people who can pull their face out of the mud and smile.” This simple job requirement goes hand-in-hand with his personal leadership style, which can be summed up with one word- understanding. “I need to understand their why,” says Esparza, “once I know a person’s true motivation, then I relate their growth to it as best as I can.”
We’ve spent some time praising Shawn Esparza, but no career comes without small failures and obstacles. What makes a successful leader is how you move on from those little failures and the ways in which you respond to criticism. Esparza’s policy on criticism? “I welcome it,” says the leader, “there are times when I may get annoyed or disappointed by a criticism or a failure, but I humble myself quickly and reanalyze.”
In the future, you can find Shawn Esparza crushing goals in the OLN Inc office and paving his path up to consultancy. Beyond that, Esparza says you can find him driving a Tesla down the highway -just give him a few years.