Lori Stephenson

Life Strategist, My Big Sky

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Lianna Harrington

Who is Lori Stephenson, could you please introduce yourself?

Hi! I’m Lori Stephenson. I’m a self-employed coach, facilitator and speaker. For the last 17+ years I’ve focused on helping people lead more effective and fulfilling lives. My areas of specialty include: student coaching, career coaching, leadership development, emotional intelligence and communication. Prior to self-employment I was a Senior Manager with Accenture  (a consulting firm). I had a global position focused on talent development. It was here I connected with my belief in potential and in helping individuals connect with theirs.

What is your business and when did you start?

My Big Sky is one part of my coaching business and it started about 8 years ago.  The focus is to help students be more prepared for their post-secondary path and longer term career decisions. I love helping students clarify direction by understanding themselves better. When I’m not coaching students, I coach others. I’ve been doing this since 2003. I specialize in personal and professional effectiveness. I design and facilitate leadership development programs and a wide range of ‘soft’ skill courses such as:  emotional intelligence, coaching and mentoring, listening, effective communication, teamwork, etc.

What inspired you to start your business?

As a career coach I’ve worked with hundreds of professionals. Over the years I met few adults who loved what they did, or could understand how they came to do it.  This dismayed me. I decided to see what would happen if I started career coaching with individuals earlier in their journey. High school seemed like a great spot to start. My Big Sky helps students (and their parents) understand how to think about their interests, strengths, motivators and needs and apply that to education and longer term careers. Through this understanding they are more confident in their decision-making and will be more satisfied in the long-run.

What were the challenges in the initial stages of your business and how did you overcome them?

In the early days, the student coaching was more of my side hustle. I helped family and friends as favours. I think the biggest challenge was putting a more formal structure and process to programs and the business overall. I don’t naturally create order and was unmotivated to figure out how to do a website and market the programs. My passion is the delivery of the programs and the support for the students. Fortunately my partner and I found a wonderful brand, social media content and marketing administrator who put together all the behind the scenes pieces. She introduced systems, tools and much needed structure. She joined the group 3 years ago and with her support we increased efficiency and visibility.

What motivates you about your business?

It’s simple. I am motivated to help. I love helping clients recognize that it’s their life, so it’s their choice. They can’t make a mistake. The more they understand the factors that help them be motivated, interested and supported, the more confident they will be as they face decisions not just in education but throughout their life. No one teaches us how to think about careers. No one teaches us how to manage them.  My Big Sky creates an early foundation of insight on which they can build.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

My advice comes in the form of these tips:
1. Don’t think you have to have all the answers or do it all yourself.  Figure out the parts that are more naturally yours and outsource the rest.
2. Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect your business will be either. Measure the small wins and little steps forward. Celebrate along the way.

Interesting fact most of the people do not know about you?

I am a prairie girl at heart.  I was born in Saskatchewan.  My Big Sky is named for the love of the wide expanse of sky that is so freeing and limitless.

The best business advice I ever received was…

 Ask for help, even if you think you don’t need it. Take breaks and take care of you. Being self-employed can be all consuming. We won’t ever be done so stop expecting to be.

My definition of success is…

Creating a life where I am in alignment with my core values of:
– helping others
– personal growth through challenge and change
– playing and learning

If I could go back in time when I started my business, I would tell myself to…

Trust myself. Outsource faster. Don’t worry what others are doing.

Three books I recommend for entrepreneurs are…

These are books for anyone – not just entrepreneurs.

Atomic Habits by James Clear
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

My personal tagline is…

Your Life. Your Choice. Be Brave.

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