Gaia Van der Esch

Gaia Van der Esch

Managing Director, 3Zero

Gaia van der Esch was nominated for the Forbes 30 under 30 a few years ago and is currently the Managing Director of 3ZERO, an organization working to make the world three zero: zero exclusion, zero carbon, and zero poverty. Gaia is the author of the soon-to-be-released “​​Leading Our Way: How Women Are Re-Defining Leadership.” 

Gaia discusses the moment she knew she was a natural-born leader, how her desire to make a difference guides her career decisions, her evolving perspective on leadership, and her three pieces of advice for leading visionaries.


[00:56] – Dino introduces his guest, Gaia van der Esch of 3ZERO.

[03:07] – Gaia shares her background growing up in Italy, her humanitarian work, and her rapid rise to leadership positions.

[08:18] – How a focus on gender equality led her to write a book on leadership (releasing soon).

[09:44] – Gaia shares her current role 3ZERO, what the organization stands for, and her vision for a better world.

[10:43] – A natural leader.

[13:04] – Gaia shares a story about the logical thing she did that led to a promotion for her and helped form her opinion of what leadership is about.

[15:59] – The gradual realization of her dual motivations: Gaia shares the importance of comprehending global issues and creating a positive impact and how her desire to make a difference guides her career decisions.

[17:30] – Building her self-confidence while recognizing her leadership traits.

[20:13] – It’s not about me and my profile: How people with values and skills can engage in meaningful roles that transcend profit-focused motives or self-centered interests.

[20:38] – Mission-driven and not afraid to speak up from an early age.

[23:02] – Gaia shares her innate drive for impact built from an unchanging core motivation and

[24:27] – Gaia’s evolving vision of leadership.

[25:47] – From task-driven efficiency to a facilitative role, Gaia shares how her leadership role has grown to encompass emotional authenticity, team empowerment, and fostering an ecosystem for collective success.

[28:13] – Dino shares the common challenge high-performing individuals have when they are thrust into a role with different cultures and working methods.

[29:50] – Recognizing her role as a change-maker.

[32:30] – Facing the challenges of being a leader and a visionary while steering your organization toward a unifying vision.

[33:45] – Dino asks Gaia to share her advice for leading visionaries.

[34:02] – The one question Gaia asks herself to stay aligned with her vision.

[35:24] – Recognizing when to shift your efforts elsewhere.

[36:53] – How to adopt a strategic approach to the broader organizational dynamics to be a more effective change-maker.

[37:49] – Gaia shares the behind-the-scenes of her upcoming book, set to release in a few months, and focuses on how women are reshaping the definition and practice of leadership.

[38:43] – Changing the rules of the game: Gaia encourages listeners to consider updating the rules of leadership.

[40:08] – “Leadership isn’t confined to job titles but is an attitude that can be exhibited at any level.”

[42:30] – Gaia introduces the concept of “circularity leadership” rather than hierarchical (Gloria Steinem).

[42:49] -The purpose of leadership and ensuring everyone has the freedom to be themselves and enact the change they desire in today’s complex world.

[43:09] You can preorder Leading Our Way: How Women Are Re-Defining Leadership now (releasing January 2024). You can also connect with Gaia on Instagram or LinkedIn.

[43:57] – Gaia shares the instrument she used to play at a high level and how music helps her to listen, discover, and express her emotions.

[46:14] – How being in nature helps bring balance to her travel-filled life.

[47:02] – Gaia shares the Italian phrase (and the English translation) from her childhood that still drives her crazy today and why.

[48:19] – The dish that helps Gaia keep her Italian grandmother’s memory alive.

[51:24] – If you enjoyed this episode, share it with your friends and family, leave a 5-star review, and subscribe on your favorite listening platform so you don’t miss any episodes. You can also follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram.

Contact Dino at:

Websites: or


Other links for Gaia:


Instagram: @gaiavanderesch

Authentic Leadership For Everyday People / Dino Cattaneo

Dino on LinkedIn:

Podcast Instagram: @al4edp 

Podcast Twitter: @al4edp

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Leading Our Way: How Women Are Re-Defining Leadership