Meet Stephanie Hester, Founder/Speaker, Writer, Artist – The Remarkable Woman from Raleigh, NC
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally.
Like most women I wear many hats: wife, mother, daughter, volunteer, host, and on and on. But I make my living as a speaker, writer, and artist. I have also recently launched a company called The Remarkable Woman.
I have been speaking and hosting team building workshops for over 20 years and have worked with Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 companies including IBM and Genworth Financial. I have also been a keynote speaker at regional and national conferences.
The second edition of my first motivational book Choose a Better Life: Common Sense for Uncommon Living was published in the Fall of 2013 and I have another in the works. I also write a blog that is read in over 40 countries.
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in September 2013 and have been speaking out on Living with PTSD ever since. I began painting as a way to help me process my PTSD and I am honored to have my art displayed in homes and businesses across the country.
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place? What was the inspiration for your company/project?
In everything I do, speaking, writing, creating, my heart is really about connecting to God (on a personal level,) living my true life, and providing something of value to help others do the same. By this I mean that I want women to understand that their value is not in what they do or achieve, it is simply in being themselves. They are inherently valuable and don’t need to DO anything to be worthy.
What I most enjoy about what I do is hearing feedback from other women. For example, I give a talk called The Power of Play: Igniting Your Soul and Balancing Your Life. After every session women approach me and say, “I never knew I was allowed to play. I am going to start doing X right away.”
It brings me so much joy to know that women are starting to realize they are worthy of a fully joyful and abundant life.
I started speaking and writing (and eventually founded The Remarkable Woman) for a few reasons. First, I wanted women to know they were not alone in their struggles. We all have struggles and we all have battles to fight. We all have a story and a past, but we all also have a future. Secondly, my life is being transformed because I am finally letting go of the “shoulds” and “oughts” and living as my true self. I want women to know they can do the same.
Tell us about any new projects you have coming up (or recently completed).
The biggest project is launching the new business. I have operated under a different business for many years, but with the understanding of my true self I have been able to let go of the things I was not passionate about and really focus on what I was created to do. It has also allowed me to separate out my personal brand (StephanieHester.com) from my business (The Remarkable Woman.)
The other major project in my life right now is raising awareness of the fact that civilians suffer from PTSD. In fact, according to the National Center for PTSD roughly 10% of women will suffer from some form of PTSD at some point in their lives. It’s an amazing statistic.
Along these lines, I am also raising money for my PTSD service dog. We recently rescued a wonderful dog, I named him Truman, who was a stray in a high-kill shelter. He is currently being trained as my service dog. Not only is he getting a new life, but he will give me a new life also.
What is a typical day like for you?
The only thing “typical” about my day is the way it starts. I try to start every day with time to myself. Time to journal, focus, pray and get ready for what is to come. I also try to fit in some exercise in the mornings.
After that, it’s more of a typical week. During the week I will:
Write – work on my blog and make progress on my book;
Continue to refine my business plan for The Remarkable Woman based on new information and/or connections;
Network – because of the PTSD this can be a bit of a challenge, but I take as many meetings as I can and reach out to others who may share synergies. This is true for every facet of what I do. I look for other businesses who may be potential partners, for organizations looking for speakers, and for opportunities to talk about my art;
Get the word out about Truman and how Living with PTSD can impact a life (I have done many radio interviews on this subject;) and
Paint – because painting is such a huge part of my life I try to paint several times a week.
Tell us about your community involvement – what you are passionate about outside of work and home and why/how you participate?
Because we recently moved across the country I am finding new organizations in which to get involved. I am currently getting ingrained with a few organizations that support the military, especially the struggles the men and women face after they come home. One of these organizations is the Governor’s Working Group, a group of representatives from organizations all over our state that come together to find ways to better serve these men and women.
Prior to moving I was on the Women’s Guild for a non-profit that used abstract art as a tool for helping those experiencing stress and trauma in their lives. We took our workshops to the military, women’s shelters, children’s hospitals, and more. I am working to bring these same type of workshops to North Carolina.
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
There have been two major risks I’ve taken in my career. The first was in 1999 when I left my position as Vice President of an outplacement firm and started a consulting practice with my husband.
The second was in September 2013 when I went public with my struggle with PTSD. There are a lot of misconceptions about PTSD and a tremendous amount of stigma attached to any diagnosis that falls under the heading of “mental illness.”
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
My inspiration comes from people whose lives are touched because of what I do. After a seminar or workshop, it’s the women who come up to talk to me that encourage me to keep moving forward. It’s the women who take time to share an email, who have found comfort or encouragement in something I’ve written that inspire me to continue being open and vulnerable.
As for role models, none of them you would know by name. They are the people like my 66-year old friend who works as a receptionist at a car dealer. Every day she goes to work giving the people she serves her best. They include my friend who gave up his comfortable job as an accountant to pursue his dream, and make a successful business, of working as a clown teaching kids special skills. My role models are the everyday people who give of themselves and are pursing their true lives.
What do you do to keep yourself sharp? What one thing have you done in the past year that has made a significant difference in your life/your business?
I take supplements and watch with I eat. That may sound funny, but I’ve found that my food intake plays a huge role in my brain’s ability to function. This is especially true with my PTSD.
I also make a conscious decision to play – to take time away from work to enjoy my family, friends, and life. If I get too focused on work I am not good to anyone.
Paring down and focusing on what I am really passionate about has made a huge difference in both my life and business. When I focus on the things I really enjoy, and the things where I have talent, I find life is so much more enjoyable and I am so much more effective.
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
There is so much I’d like to learn, but I think the thing that seems to be most central to my life/business right now is continuing to grow in the confidence of living MY true life. I don’t want to be swayed by what others think I should be doing or what they think is best for me. Not that I don’t value good advice, but other peoples’ agendas for my life are not of interest to me. I want to continue in this vein and become even more confident is saying, “No.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I will be continuing to do what I’m doing just on a larger scale. With my service dog Truman by my side, I will be speaking in venues of thousands, tens of thousands. The Remarkable Woman will be growing at an even quicker rate and training women to believe in themselves, allow them to change their lives and the lives of people around the globe.
And of course, there will be an incredibly high demand for my artwork.
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
I paint and create. My art truly is an escape for me. I tell everyone I paint to heal, to communicate, and to celebrate.
I also spend time with friends and family. I love to laugh so anything that allows me to do that is good.
We are part of a small group of friends who meet once/month to share food and good conversation. Each month we have a potluck, rotating houses, trying new recipes. It’s always a good time.
Whenever possible I love to get to the beach. The ocean is incredibly relaxing to me and helps give me perspective on life.
There are also three sports team around which I will adjust my schedule: The Anaheim Ducks, the Seattle Seahawks, and the USC Trojans.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?
I can be reached in the following ways: