It is our pleasure to introduce Stephanie Jiroch, a visionary entrepreneur and the mastermind behind the Story Leadership Institute.
Stephanie has built her career by fusing the power of storytelling and leadership into a force for change. As the founder and CEO of the institute, she spearheads the creation of a new breed of leadership development and brand story consultancy.
Stephanie and her team work tirelessly to help business leaders and purpose-driven organizations articulate their ideas, motivate their teams, and create compelling brand narratives.
Their unique approach hinges on the understanding of story as the universal thread that ties humans together and the belief that purpose lies at the heart of every story.
Leveraging these insights, they have developed a proprietary brand story framework that has transformed the way entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives communicate their visions.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Stephanie Jiroch: My name is Stephanie Jiroch (rhymes with “oh my gosh”) and I’m the founder and CEO of Story Leadership Institute, a premium leadership development and brand story company.
In a nutshell, we help business leaders and purpose-driven organizations effectively communicate ideas, motivate their teams, and create brand narratives that inspire and engage others to act through our proprietary brand story frameworks and coaching models.
Prior to SLI, I founded a boutique marketing agency that supported startup founders in developing and implementing digital marketing strategies to support their fundraising and customer acquisition goals.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Stephanie Jiroch: Our work hinges on two important factors. First, that story is the unifying thread that ties humans together. And second, it’s through story that we find purpose (and humans are purpose-making machines).
Understanding the psychology of story, we’ve created a brand story framework rooted in both purpose and success. We pride ourselves in coaching and supporting entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives in communicating meaningful stories that support the impact they – or their business – want to make.
When our clients find success, we know the ripple effect this has within their homes, their communities, and the generations to come.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Stephanie Jiroch: I recently recorded a podcast on this very topic, let me summarize that here.
In my experience, employee retention isn’t necessarily only about the perks or office space. We’ve worked with quite a few organizations in developing a strong internal brand story that is used from onboarding throughout an employee’s tenure at the company.
Creating a strong story that each member of the team (including leadership) embodies, creates a shared value system that engages and motivates team members to be and do their best. When it comes to quiet quitting and The Great Resignation, people are flocking away from companies that don’t incorporate strong stories into their company culture.
At SLI, we consistently engage and invite our team to take part in our storytelling process. By collaborating and creating a sense of ownership among team members, the story deeply resonates and opens the doors for communication and understanding.
Here is a two fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Stephanie Jiroch: The book that by far influenced me the most, to this day, is The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I read that book at a pivotal moment in my life where I was unsure on how best to proceed. I was young and scared to try or do things that I dreamed of doing.
The Alchemist spoke to me – as I believe it speaks to so many readers – and reminded me that each of us has a path or destiny to fulfill. It’s by leaning into these callings that we are able to reach our full potential. And when we get comfortable and “play it safe” is when we begin to bargain our joy for complacency.
As an avid reader, I love to gift books that expand the mind and challenge growth. 4,000 Weeks and The Motivation Manifesto are usually two of my favorite books to share with friends and family.
Four-thousand Weeks really tears apart the idea of linear time models and the human inability to ever live fully in the present. The Motivation Manifesto is, to some degree, a personal declaration.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Stephanie Jiroch: Recessions. Emerging technological advances. Market fluctuations. There is always something at play and being a business owner, its essential to be flexible to sustain success. The real challenge aren’t these external factors.
For as long as humans have documented their time on this planet, there is always something at play. The real challenge, then, is how we respond to these challenges. Emerging technology is a great example.
The latest in A.I. software is all everyone can talk about. Some are saying jobs will be threatened and whole industries disrupted. Others are saying it’s inevitable. The challenge here isn’t the technology – technology is rapidly shifting our experience of this world every day for the last 200 years. The challenge is what we do.
Do we bemoan the ending of jobs and industries or do we look for new opportunities in new sectors? Do we jump on the Train of Negativity and scroll through endless “what if” threads on Reddit all day or do we get to work learning the advantages A.I. can bring our company or team?
Now, tech is just an example. By no means do I believe we need to jump on the A.I. wagon. What it boils down to – no matter the external obstacle – is how we meet it.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Stephanie Jiroch: Consumers have fundamentally changed their buying and shopping behaviors. From what I’ve seen, consumers require more value-based brand messaging and engagement than ever before.
Whether that’s through influencers, guerilla-style marketing, or simply rebranding, consumers are smarter than ever and demand a more authentic buying experience. We’ve seen this at Story Leadership Institute as more startups, brands and companies come to us for help with their brand story.
Our clients want to connect more deeply with their audiences and they’re understanding the value of long-term loyalty as many markets get more crowded and consumers have more choices.
My best advice, as always, is lean into your story and what makes you special. By doing so, you attract customers that align with your mission and values. The more you consistently share that story, the more brand affinity and loyalty is fostered.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Stephanie Jiroch: If I could pick one business superpower it would be Listening! I would love to have the power to listen in on the conversations and trends happening across social media and to synthesize that information in an instant.
Social listening is such a valuable element to a brand’s success and if I could do that on a mass scale in less than a second, I would love that!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Stephanie Jiroch for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Stephanie Jiroch or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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