Author, 'You've Got This, Mama'
Stephanie has built a successful career as a leader in the non-profit sector. Driven by her compassion for others, she entered the philanthropic world, raising money for those in need. Through her leadership and strategic direction, she has increased capacity across community, higher education, and healthcare organizations to affect positive change in the lives of others. In her own development, she has learned alongside colleagues in the United States, Europe and Asia. Whether in the boardroom, downhill skiing, galloping on horseback, or wearing her children’s favorite hedgehog print apron in the kitchen, Stephanie is in her element. Of her many loves and experiences, her greatest joy (and challenge!) has been becoming a mother to her two incredible daughters, Leah and Claire.
What are you most proud of professionally? And why?
My fearlessness of change (not fearless in general…rollercoasters, wearing pale yellow and bungee jumping = a hard pass) and a willingness to, not only be open to it, but excited about seeking it out where I can. Far too often, for too many people, fear of change drives decisions and so we see this play out in both professional and personal lives. “What if it’s the wrong choice? What if it doesn’t work out? How will I put the pieces back together if it falls apart?” It can be absolutely paralyzing for people and organizations and can become a common theme when considering whether to make a change, no matter the size or significance. I’ve always been reminded of Jim Rohn’s quote, “If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.” Although I’ve adapted it in my own thinking to being less about ‘not liking how things are’ and it being more about always being interested in making things better (full disclosure…this philosophy leads to contentment issues).
The questions I’ve always opted to ask instead carry a different theme, “Is this the best that we can do? How can we make it better? What can we be doing differently?” It is without a doubt this trait which has supported me in taking on different roles, facing challenges head-on, unapologetically cutting out unproductive traditions, and trying new things within the organizations I’ve joined. It has truly led to some of my greatest accomplishments and experiences.
What was your greatest stage of growth? What made it a shift for you?
I’m really pleased to say that life has thrown enough curve balls(it’s these gems for which I’m most grateful and have taught me the most), as well as presented some pretty spectacular opportunities, that there is no one single ‘ah-ha’ moment. At the risk of sounding cliché, there’s a chance to grow and change every day. What determines whether we do or not is how skilled we’ve become in looking around, listening to others and asking ourselves where do we fit and what can we be learning through those moments.
What's your deepest learning from this past year? How did/will you apply it?
The most remarkable was really just affirming what I learned years ago…say yes. And not in the way Jim Carrey’s character did in Yes Man (2008), but rather, don’t give into the urge to say no, simply because it’s a hell of a lot easier and requires less work than saying yes (*self-righteously wags finger at lazy ‘no’ people). People can come up with endless reasons to justify their ‘no’. By contrast, over on the non-lazy side of the fence, 0 to 1 reasons are often enough for a ‘yes’. Zero? But shouldn’t we always have a reason to say yes? No. Not always. Sure, often we need to ‘begin with the end in mind’ and most of us, wisely, take this approach with the majority of things that come across our desk. But sometimes, you just need to say yes, try something new, move forward, for no other reason than to say you did something to see where it would go. My recent such ‘yes’ that fits into this ‘no reason’ bucket was accepting the invitation by a Toronto-based publishing house to be a contributing writer to, “You’ve Got This, Mama” a book being launched this spring. I had never been published before and I really didn’t know how it would all unfold…so yes to a new experience!
Some of the richest experiences of my life were as a result of saying yes to something that didn’t have a clear path, defined purpose or expected outcome. All were adventures that enriched my life in unexpected ways and in equal significance to any other more thoughtful or planned ventures. Say yes. Some of your greatest adventures, friendships and professional achievements depend on it.
Who's inspired you, directly or indirectly? How have they inspired you?
I’ve never had to look far for inspiration. Every interaction within a day will present people with qualities worthy of modelling or people who we make a promise to ourselves to never develop such similarities. Everyone has something to offer, good or bad.
What would you have done differently?
Does it make me a know-it-all to say very little? For most of us, we all want to be doing and experiencing more. I am also a member of this group, but I always follow that specific wanting with two thoughts: 1) I’m not dead yet. This year I’ll carve out time for new experiences, as will be the case the following year, and 2) while there are many things I would like to be doing, none outweigh my past experiences in value to the point that I wish I had done one particular thing in replacement of something else. After all, it is all of my past choices, not just some of them, that have led to the present…and I wouldn’t change any of it.
Mother of Two, Writer, Water and Mountains Addict, Self-Indulgent Travel Bug Sufferer, Cookbook Collector, Hedgehog-Print Apron Fashionista