Each Friday, a person who is making bold moves, living well, nurturing their creativity, following their passions, and making magic will be featured on Bold Living Today.
Today’s interview is with Stephanie Blake, PhD., APR, from Blake Communications. I was fortunate to form a special bond with Dr. Blake when we both served on the planning committee for the Women Succeeding Symposium. Dr. Blake’s passion, focused energy, and creative talents allow her to connect and build sustainable business relationships. I was greatly inspired by her leap to start Blake Communications. Plus, she rocks the best shoes!
You recently started your own company. Tell us about it?
In July 2011, I left my tenure-track position as assistant professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs to launch a strategic communications firm, Blake Communications. While I love teaching, I found the tenure-track world to be too limiting in terms of defining professional success. So, I decided to construct my own professional reality by combining full-time consulting with part-time teaching.
At the heart of my business is the desire to strengthen relationships and create better understanding among leaders, organizations and groups of people. While this is partially done by outwardly communicating, it’s only successful with effective listening. Ultimately, the listening should drive the strategy and communication methods. Although my background and interests center on working with creative industries, education institutions and nonprofits, I’ve remained open to taking different types of clients. Most of all, I love working with entrepreneurial companies willing to take risks and looking to use communication to help expand and evolve their businesses.
I can hear your excitement coming through! What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is striving for balance, mainly balancing administrative duties, business development and delivering services for clients. Surprisingly, I enjoy the business development most of all. Not surprisingly, administrative duties are my least favorite. Although it’s a challenge, I am loving the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of business ownership.
It sounds like business development taps into your creative genius. What has been your biggest success?
Taking the risk to start my own business was the hardest step and is my biggest success. I was fearful about stepping off a path that felt expected and took years to carve. It took me some time to wrestle those fears out of the equation and realize staying put would be more detrimental than taking a risk. I also realized I wouldn’t lose anything; I took it all with me. The sense of freedom and happiness that followed was instant and is immeasurable. I believe once you start allowing your intuition to guide decisions, a lot of the fears subside and success comes more naturally.
That is beautifully stated. So many of us (and yes, I have been guilty of it) stay put because we are trapped in fear.
If you had to start this process all over again, what one thing would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’m inclined to say I would have started earlier – had the confidence and motivation to change paths sooner. But, I greatly value the experiences I had before making the change. More importantly, I value the people I met (like Kanesha!) through my academic path who continue to inspire and support me. Any misstep or mistake along the way has been a great learning experience, and I try to embrace the mistakes and grow from them, rather than regret them. Same days that’s easier than others, of course.
Thanks for that shout out! As I mentioned, you have been an amazing inspiration for me, as well. What six words describe bold living for you?
I love this list!
More about Stephanie:
Stephanie Blake, Ph.D., APR, communications consultant, has nearly 15 years of experience practicing and teaching strategic communications. With in-depth knowledge of communication planning and implementation, along with a strong background in research, Blake brings a unique combination of practice and theory to all professional projects.
In her last position, Blake was assistant professor of communication at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs where she developed a strategic communication program for the department and taught courses in public relations and mass communication. Blake also has worked for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival and Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc.
Blake serves on the board for the Public Relations Society of America, Colorado Chapter and on the Denver Art Museum’s CultureHaus board.
Blake received her Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Minnesota, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, an M.S. in public relations from the University of Denver and a B.A. in English from the College of Wooster.