Stephanie Kunkel is a Founder, Author, and Speaker
She is a perspective shifter dedicated to empowering and inspiring change makers to lead with love and intention. With a mission to equip everyone with the necessary tools to embrace understanding, Stephanie’s journey into inspired entrepreneurship began when she discovered the disconnect between corporations and employees. Stephanie’s unique approach is in fostering connections and enabling clients to embrace concepts that enhance mental well-being. She firmly believes that true leadership is not about teaching as an authority figure, but rather creating a collaborative space where individuals can thrive, resulting in stronger leaders.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
Stephanie grew up just outside St Louis and was raised by her extended family and her single mother in rural Missouri, seeing her father every other weekend. She was loved, and while they weren’t wealthy, or always of the best spirits, her needs were always met. In middle school Stephanie and her mother moved to Central Florida where they stayed and attended High School. Where Stephanie began to battle migraines and depression. After Graduation she spent some time in Tennessee before moving to Wisconsin where she finally sought help for her depression in 2013. She now lives with her two children, boyfriend, and VERY energetic dog and runs her business from her home.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
In 2016, I realized that I was not the only one who was really struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges in my company.. and I found that one of our largest stressors was the company itself and the clients we worked with (which were also large corporations. The way our highest leadership teams and the clients they worked with were running the show… Far removed from the day to day and not understanding how their decisions impacted us. As I looked at the world, I started to realize that each corporation was like that, each government agency was like that, and I realized that this was not how I wanted things to progress. Change needed to happen.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I believe that we must stand together, not separate, we must stand alongside each other, ask for help and support each other to ensure that we succeed… When we do that, we cannot fail. I think if the women of the world took note and realized that we are powerful by ourselves… AND that we have the capabilities to stand together, united, and create a worldwide community, we could change the world and shape it the way that we need it for everyone to thrive. We can shift the perspective of the world toward a more nurturing and caring society.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
I believe that so far, many of the women who have gotten to the top have done so by “bumping” shoulders with male counterparts. They’ve done so by muscling their way there and I am grateful to them. They have earned our respect for carving out a path and showing us it can be done.
However, I know there is a better way… We don’t have to continue to perpetrate the same tired culture to get to the top, If we want to make change, we need to create waves and ripples, to sing in harmony. The right harmony and the right frequency can break the glass too. I titled my book “Perspectives Through Broken Glass” because in part, of the hard things we must go through to reach the ceiling, the internal fights we must fight, but also in order to illustrate that we can punch through the glass ceilings. That said, there is a reason they call them glass ceilings. Because they ARE breakable. They’re not bulletproof glass, they are just glass. I might even argue that they’re not glass at all, that it’s an illusion, That we’ve been conditioned to see the glass, when it’s not there at all.
What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
The most important thing that I have learned in my personal life is that Perspective is everything – and the perspective that I have right now will change from second to second. Our brains are creators of art, not just in the physical but in the creation of our memories and of our understanding. Perspective is all we have at any given moment, it is fleeting and it is never constant, and any idea of a solid perspective is an illusion. Lastly, that perspective is only our own – we cannot change someone else’s nor can we make them experience ours, because we will never experience theirs. All we can do is seek to understand, but sometimes, that’s enough. I will live my life with intentional and loving openness so that I can have a fulfilling happy and empowered life. I will do this by setting my focus, connecting with what’s around me mindfully, and challenging other leaders to seek out other perspectives so that they can then help their followers to have fulfilling, happy, and empowered lives.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Grit is something everyone is born with. The energies of the planet have “grit.” I know this to be true because a plant can break concrete, and water can carve stone… Grit is not about “toughness” or “consistency” as many motivational speakers today would have you believe, but instead is about understanding. Grit is about steadiness, but also flexibility… it is about faith – but not of the spiritual or religious kind… but instead a faith in yourself. When you wake up with a vision, and you KNOW that its the path for you… and you can see that the path is overrun with trees or branches, rocks, and stones… but you choose to walk it anyway, you must first understand why. Having a vision is not enough.
What is the reason that you choose to walk the path? Not simply the surface level why “because I want to succeed, or because I want to make money.” No, but because something deep within you has a need or a calling. When you dig deep and you uncover that emotional feeling that gives you a physical reaction – that FEELING is the determination that will ensure your success… When you have a day where you are exhausted and you want to throw in the towel, and give up.. That emotional response and the motivational grit behind THAT will keep you going.