Peak Performance for Small Business

Are you aware of the natural strengths that help you accomplish your goals?

Are you applying your strengths as you work on your business?

Stephanie Ann Ball is an extraordinary artist who coaches introverts and extroverts to boost their performance. She can also help you identify areas you should address to maximize peak performance across your professional and personal life.


Josh Fonger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Work the System podcast where we help entrepreneurs make more and work less using systems. I'm your host Josh Fonger. And today we have a special guest, we have Stephanie Ann Ball on the show. Stephanie has a unique approach to high performance. They can only come from someone who has sung the crowds over 10000 people with ease and aplomb. Stephanie combines her background in the arts with her adept knowledge of sales, customer service, administrative organization and management to help her clients accelerate their progress in their lives and businesses using her signature system. She helps owners of small and medium sized businesses achieve extraordinary results when they want to generate more revenue, improve their time management, focus, productivity, creativity and communication skills. All right, Stephanie. Well, I'm excited to dig into your system of performance, but before we do, you give us the background. How do you get the music and how does music translate into business performance?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:00:56] Sure. Sure. Thank you. Well, thank you for having me. First of all, looking forward to spending the next hour chatting with you. And so let's see. My background, as you mentioned, is in the music and vocal performance, to be specific. I grew up in a musical household. I was, you know, that kid who was singing in lots of church choirs and music around me all the time. And right around the ninth grade, I started taking private and voice lessons from a teacher who very wisely steered me in the direction of classical voice, which was something that I wasn't very familiar with at the time. So I fell in love with it right off the bat and wound up getting both a bachelors and a master's degree in vocal performance with an emphasis in opera. And shortly after I finished up grad school, I did the thing that most singers do. And I said, Yay! Finally, I've made it. This is gonna be amazing and I'm gonna get to travel the world and sing in wonderful places and it's gonna be glamorous and this and that. And that's not exactly how it went. I unfortunately, when I got out there, I realized that while I can write an amazing research paper and I could sing pretty well. I was missing a lot of the essential skills that one needs to be successful in a business. So I found myself another mentor who is fantastic. Her name is Carole Patrick, and she not only got my voice in shape and helped me learn how to sing like a professional for extended periods of time. But she also taught me all of the ins and outs of how to conduct myself as a professional and stay organized and stay focused and learn music quickly and really be at the top of my game and look like a professional at all times. So it changed my life, and once I got good at doing that, I started getting more performance photos than I had a full teaching studio. And before you know it, other people were asking me for help. So I did some extra studies and came up with my own system to be able to teach other people how to tap into their skill set and use it to their advantage to reach their goals faster.

Josh Fonger: [00:02:53] Well, so now before we get into all the business stuff you teach with regards to performance. Tell us about most of us are not performers like tell how a challenging performance you had to overcome.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:03:05] Sure. So this was actually fairly recent. This was last year. Just a year ago, I got a call from a conductor, a colleague of mine who needed a soloist to sing at the Easter Sunrise service at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. And so if you haven't heard of Red Rocks, it's this big, beautiful outdoor venue that sits in the mountains and it's outside and it seats about fifteen thousand people. And the Easter Sunday service is traditionally a packed service. It's very popular. And it's also livestreams across the entire world. Not only was I ever against, you know, fifty thousand people in front of me, but people online watching me. It was close to the performance, so I didn't have a lot of time to learn the music. The Sunrise service started at about 5:00 in the morning. So the call time was at 3:30 a.m. and it was about 20 degrees outside that day in an outdoor amphitheater. So I I had to learn it fast. I only had I had, I think, two rehearsals with the group. So not a lot of time to get it right. It was freezing cold and I was very tired because it was in the middle of the night. So I had to pull out every piece of my training to work through the stage fright and the nerves and to stay focused despite the fact that I was shivering and all these things. But I managed to pull it together and it was one of the best experiences of my life. So.

Josh Fonger: [00:04:26] Wow. So now let's get to the translation of that, too. You know what us entrepreneurs have to deal with every day. So how do you.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:04:34] Yeah,

Josh Fonger: [00:04:34] And what is your systems? Because that's an experience that's learned that most of us just don't experience. So how do you translate that to help entrepreneurs?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:04:42] Sure. So my system is based on five pieces. And these are the five biggest things that were the most pivotal for me when I was figuring out how to actually run my music business well. The first thing is you have to get really clear on what you want to do and why you want to do it in the first place. Because if you're missing that clarity piece, it's very easy to get distracted. And make the wrong choices and procrastinate because you aren't sure what to do. So once you have that, you can actually start to create a plan for yourself that's really effective. And after the clarity piece, I work with my clients and I help them figure out exactly how they work the best in terms of all of those little details that you don't necessarily think about. Are you introverted or extroverted? How do you process your energy? And are you setting up your workday around the times of day when you know you're the most productive? Do you need to be in a co-working space? Do you need to work by yourself? That type of stuff. And once we know all of those little details about how you process information, you can streamline how you approach your entire day and get more stuff done and also boost those areas that are perceived weaknesses and figure out how to turn them into strengths so they're not holding you back anymore. I work with a lot of people who have trouble with things like being disorganized and just generally not being able to keep a schedule together. So once we get that piece in place, I can help them go, OK, this is going to be the best organizational system for you. And from there, I move into talking about productivity and how to apply all of those things to actually how to get the most valuable things done without feeling like you're busy all day, just doing a bunch of stuff that's not getting you anywhere. So those are the first three things clear to you looking at your strengths and weaknesses and then looking at productivity and the last two pieces of the system that I teach. Talk about creativity first, because creativity is the other side of productivity and it can help you with all sorts of things from problem solving to just figuring out how to rest and recharge in a way that's meaningful and get out of your own way a little bit. And lastly, I teach people about networking and communication and the importance of building long lasting relationships, because sometimes we entrepreneurs get stuck in our little bubble. We're all talking to a few people. And, you know, it's important to be able to make sure that you're contributing as much as you can and creating meaningful relationships with as many people as you can; want to come across, So.

Josh Fonger: [00:07:06] What I want to do the next few minutes here really going to go a little deeper into each one of these things to see, you know, what would that mean for an average business owner? So let's say you have a company and let's say you run a hair salon. And how would you start with businesses say, hey, you know what? Stephanie can help me out. I'm just not getting very far in my business. I want to get farther, saw you perform. How do you work with them to make sure that they get the biggest impact?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:07:35] Sure. Well, the first thing I'd ask them is what do they want? So if you look out, you know, a few years, what kind of impact do you want to have left on the people that have come across you? But also, what do you want your life to look like? How much do you want to be working? How much money do you want to be generating? All of those little things and will inform the choices that we make. I tend to ask my clients a lot of questions, which some of they love, sometime it probably annoying. Aww, there she goes again. But the more of those little details I can get from people, the easier for me is to help them uncover what they want and how to make it happen.

Josh Fonger: [00:08:13] Yeah, well,that's perfect you need to know what you're building before you start building, right? That's for sure. Well, I want to go to the next one. I think it was getting clarity or introvert vs extrovert. But how do you, how does that work? I mean, does it matter if you're an introvert or an extrovert based on how you're going to work as an entrepreneur?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:08:30] Yeah, I think it absolutely does. And this is something that I have to check in with myself with frequently. So I am an extrovert through and through. I get a lot of energy just from being out and around people. And it's not that I don't like spending time by myself because I do. But what I've noticed in the past few years is that if I go to many days in a row just working in my office by myself without talking to people, my energy levels start to dip my brain. I start to get brain fog and I lose focus. My motivation starts to dip. I start to get tired. So it's actual physical symptoms that come up. And it was my husband who was the one who noticed it. He was out of town on a gig. My husband sings opera as well. And he was gone for like a three week stretch. And a few days went by and we were talking on the phone and I said; Gosh, I'm just so tired and I haven't been able to get anything done for two days. And it's so unlike me and I don't know what's going on. And he goes, Well, honey, have you have you seen any one? Have you benn just you just been holed up in front of your computer? And I went, oh, OK. You're absolutely right. It's my energy levels. I've just been totally mismanaging my energy by trying to refill it myself. So if you're a person who does need a boost from being outside and being around people, you have to find a way to build that into your schedule. Conversely, I have a couple of clients who were very introverted. And so I said to them, OK, we need to build your schedule around a lot of breaks. And with one in particular, she's got me a little bit. She said, OK, I'm going to do exactly what you said. And I had her build in a 15 minute break just to be by herself and be quiet before and after every activity she had to do, every task she had to do. I had her track it for a week and at the beginning she said, this is impossible. That's too much time not doing anything. But then at the end of the week, she said, I don't know how you did it, but I have never gotten so much done in my life. And I said, it's because we manage our energy properly.

Josh Fonger: [00:10:28] Wow.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:10:28] Yeah, it's those little things like that. But once you know how you're wired internally, we can really make a huge difference.

Josh Fonger: [00:10:34] So then you get the strategy, you get your the way you work and be the environment, the organization of your schedule setup. And then after that, it's on to productivity. So do you have certain productivity tips, tricks, hacks, like tools? What do you really focus in on that?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:10:52] Yes, absolutely. And I think I'm the struggle that a lot of us have, especially if you are trying to spin a whole bunch of plates and do a lot of things yourself. It's very easy to get sucked into that trap where you're feel like you're making progress, but actually you're just staying really busy doing a whole bunch of things that aren't getting you anywhere. This is a concept that's popular with a lot of high-performance trainers. It's just to figure out the handful of things that are going to bring you the most impact and only do those if you have to funnel it down and start with breaking down a really big project into just a few categories. You'll start to find that even the little things underneath it go into one of those big major categories. So if you're always doing something that points you at getting the big thing done, you're gonna be making progress and that are what it is and it will help you avoid distraction. I'm a big fan of outsourcing and delegating and just not doing so much of things that I don't want to do. So, if there's something that I can take off my list. I love it.

Josh Fonger: [00:11:54] So it's an elimination too. It so send you to you clarify each separate thing you do, put into the buckets, make sure they're the ones you're working on, are all aligned with things, have the biggest impact that one thing. And then those are. That makes sense and that is the creativity. So that's when I kind of wonder is for a little while because it's a new concept. I haven't heard people talk about this much as this idea of cultivating creativity and how that's going to actually boost your success. How do you how do you go about doing that?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:12:23] I love creativity and it's fun for me right now because there's all sorts of research that's coming out.

[00:12:28] LOST OF SIGNAL

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:12:30] It's about a lot of numbers and things like that. And sometimes you can hit a wall. So if you give yourself a break to just go do something kind of fun and shake it up, listen to some fun music, holler, read a story, something like that. All of a sudden, oh, my gosh. I know exactly how I can solve that problem. And it's something that I didn't even think about before.

Josh Fonger: [00:12:52] So making sure to build in creativity time. Otherwise, you're just not going to get there.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:12:59] Yeah, absolutely. Plus, it gives you a break like it's fun if you make sure that when you're taking those pauses to rest and you're being very intentional about doing something that stimulates the creative part of your brain, it's much better for you than just zoning on the front of the TV. That's a little bit more like hitting the pause button without actually recharging yourself. But if you do something else that fires up some different synapses in your brain, it's going to give you a better result.

Josh Fonger: [00:13:24] So it would be like a good thing for an entrepreneur to do at work, like you're in the middle of the workday?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:13:29] Well, what do you like to do? What's fun for you?

Josh Fonger: [00:13:32] What's fun for me? Usually. Usually my breaks into the playing with my kids and my kids at home with me. So.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:13:38] That's actually great. Great kids are so creative and they know exactly how to fire up there imaginations.

Josh Fonger: [00:13:44] I've got something going on, sees a jump in the pool or draw s picture.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:13:48] Yeah. Yeah. That's actually a perfect one. So use those play breaks to tap into your inner child a little bit and just have some fun and, you know, be really present during the moment and see how recharged you feel afterwards.

Josh Fonger: [00:14:03] Well, cool. So then the next thing is network and communication. What is, you know, how do you help the entrepreneur accelerate that performance?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:14:14] Yeah, I think a couple of things. The word networking is very scary for a lot of people. You know, we've all been to those networking events where you just sort of standing around and people are asking you what you do and nobody's sure how to answer. And then people just start handing out business cards that you don't really know what to do with. So I love to teach my clients how to be really intentional about their networking and their communication skills and approaching everything with an attitude of service. If you go into a situation asking people how you can help them and asking how you can be of service to them, you will start to see the quality of your relationships change. You'll build our network faster and people will be more interesting, interested in them staying in contact with you. And eventually that all comes back around. Obviously you can't help everybody, but you can, you know, give people the sense that you are willing to help them if they need something or at least point them in the direction of someone who can. If it's not a way that you're able to serve them effectively.

Josh Fonger: [00:15:18] With a. So with a business owner. They running their company. They're busy working with hours. Should they build in networking as part of their weekly or monthly schedule if they really are just going to head down and trying to grind out and grow their business, or how do they prioritize networking? Because it sounds like it's a long term, long term kind of thing. You're not going to necessarily make more money by doing it in the short term.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:15:44] Right. Yeah. One hundred percent. You have to build it in. And I know it's hard because we are and we're trying to get a bunch of things done. But if you're not out actively meeting people and cultivating those relationships and talking about your product or service, eventually your leaders are going to dry up. So, you know, part of it is that idea of you have to be out in front of people and connecting with people to make sure everybody knows that you're there, even if you're doing a lot of online leads gen and things like that, it does help to get out of the community. And plus, it's fun. And, you know, it's always nice to be able to connect with like minded people who can give you a boost when you need it and all of those wonderful things. So, yeah, it's important. Put it in your schedule.

Josh Fonger: [00:16:27] That's actually one of the main reasons why I was I did this podcast. When I got started with it as, my wife was like you need to go to more of these events. And it's like, you know, just so much easier if I decide to podcast and monetize it, if I do this and this, so.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:16:41] Yeah there you go, its perfect.

Josh Fonger: [00:16:41] This is kind of like my efficient way to make, met great people and learn and do the whole thing at the same time.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:16:48] Yeah. Well done.

Josh Fonger: [00:16:49] Yeah. So far so good. So this is a question that you and I chat about before we got started today because, you know, you and I both do, do coaching. And I would probably say that maybe 70, maybe 70, 30, a male to female, as is the clients I coach owners of companies. And for you, is flipped. Right. It's mainly female. And I'm assuming there's there's things that are missing. There's things that I don't know about that you might know about or challenges. So what what would be the advice you'd give me in terms of what, you know, what female entrepreneurs, business owners go through that a guy wouldn't really know?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:17:25] Sure. That's a great question. I hate to generalize, but I do see a lot of patterns in that many of the women that I work with, myself included, we all have so many things going on in terms of balancing home and friendships and work and just life in general, that it's very easy to fill out a ballot and then, you know, your emotions of kind of start to take over. And a lot of the women that I talked to just kind of carry around this sense of that they're not enough in some sense or another. They're either working too much and not spending enough time with their kids or they're either spending more time with their kids. And so they're not where they are in their business. And so having that sense of balance and feeling like they're in flow and able to move from one, you know, one role to another is really important and does take some nuance. So with my women clients, I talk about I talk about that a lot. You are enough. You're beautiful, just as you are. And in those times where you do feel like you're a little bit emotional about things, that's OK, too. So feel your emotions, move through them. And then once you kind of figure out what they're there for and what they're telling you, step out of the emotional part of it. You can look at it logically. The men are a little bit different. And that they look at logic, logic, logic, numbers, numbers, numbers, and sometimes forget to check in with how people are feeling. So sometimes I have to remind them, OK, maybe we should talk to this, especially when I'm working with males in leadership positions. If something happens, if there's a conflict and they don't quite understand what happened, then I can step in and say, OK, well, this is this is what happened. This is who said what and duh duh duh duh. How do you think that made this person feel? And then make him look at it from a different suspect perspective and we can come up with a solution for how to move forward. So did two different two different angles that can both have a big impact.

Josh Fonger: [00:19:22] Ok, now that's helpful. Helping your mate understand that you obviously don't have all those same emotions all the time, but be aware of those. And to know that that's good, that's OK. But needs to be at least addressed. If you're going to make progress in your business. You can't pretend like it doesn't exist. Reality doesn't exist. You'd like. I appreciate how you kind of speak life into positive; positivity into your clients, knowing that's an important part because being entrepreneur is or can be a lonely place to be. And it's also a place where a lot of uncertainty. It's nice when someone has something to support them. Certain be like that. That's cool. So a couple other questions that I thought up before we got started. So, of course, your background, it was music and then business. What are some things that maybe musicians know are really good at that business people just don't don't see at all like the things that they don't see?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:20:17] Sure. Singing is so funny because this thing happens when you tell people that your a singer And they go, oh, I think for me right now. And then our inter-performance, you know, we get up there and make it look very easy, though people tend to assume that it's just talent and or that we just have a gift just like everybody else. We work our tails off to make it look as easy as it is. Opera singing is, you know, we're here. I am trying to play an instrument that I cannot see. I can't see it. I can't touch it. It's it's literally inside of me. And so we've had to really tune in on how to be very, very focused and how to stay extremely present while performing at a high level under a lot of pressure. So it's the same thing that a lot of athletes have to tackle as well. When they go out on the field and they're playing in a championship game. They've got to be focused. They've got to deal with their nerves. They have to make sure that their technical skills are in the right place. Singing is very similar. And with opera, I'm singing in a lot of different languages. Most of the time. So it's kind of like I'm thinking on a whole lot of different levels all at once. So if I'm up on stage, I have to make sure that I'm singing. First, I'm singing technically well and I am communicating the story to an audience that doesn't understand what I'm saying. I'm staying connected to the conductor, so I'm in time with the music. I know where all of my colleagues are. I know what's happening next. If something goes wrong and somebody steps on my gown and I can't get to the prop in time, I have to be able to navigate that. So staying focused and staying present and also really putting in the time to make sure your technical skills are in place to allow you to do so. Singers are awesome at that.

Josh Fonger: [00:22:12] So what were they? So as a business owner, are there certain techniques? Is it breathing techniques? What are they? What should they do to get more focus? That's really what my clients have focus issues as well. So what what are they? Is there a certain mantra you say, well, what do you do to get focused?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:22:30] Yeah. A couple of things. One of my favorite techniques to use is it's just the simple concept of finding a way to get myself into the zone. And I do this all throughout my day, whether I'm performing, whether I'm just trying to hammer through a bunch of emails or if I have to write a piece of content. If you kind of think about your life and think about your day, there's usually a couple of things that put you in a specific state of mind, kind of like if you're walking down the street and you smell you know, you smell French fries from a fast food restaurant, all of a sudden you go, Oh, I'm hungry. Even if you weren't thinking about that before. So you can do the same thing. And cue yourself up to anchor yourself to these different things throughout your day, to get yourself in the mental space to be really effective and productive. I use music a lot just because that works for me. So I have a whole playlist of songs that remind me to like either get pumped up or get wound down or get relaxed or whatever. And I'll just take a few minutes in between activities to play the song, listen to it, dance around if I like to. And then all of a sudden it's like, all right, now I'd get to work. I'm ready. Let's do it.

Josh Fonger: [00:23:35] So people have to find their own. But music. I thought you're going to say like certain smells around people. So, yeah, the essential oils.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:23:42] Yeah, totally. That works, too. Yeah. I work with my clients to find out what's going to be the best one for them because everybody's a little bit different, but a sort of a fun thing to explore.

Josh Fonger: [00:23:52] Yeah, the mind body are complex. Interesting, too. Couple more before we sign off. I know part of your training is in soft skills or a certain soft skills that you think are blind-spots to you or your clients, that they're just missing that someone from the outside looking in can help them out with?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:24:11] Yes. I think we as business owners. Yeah. It's sometimes very easy to underestimate the power of a simple question like how is your day going? So that's something that I cover when I talk about the communication to is how to really build those skills. Ask people how they are. Ask people what their day has been like and you'll be surprised at how much you can get someone else to really open up to you. If you just say simple questions like that. Look, people in the eye smile a little bit more. Sometimes if you're not feeling like smiling and you just smile, it will lift your mood. If you're feeling a little bit stressed out, that's that mind body connection thing again, because you'll put yourself in a state where you remember something that you were happy about. And then of a like check your brain into actually being a little bit happier. So, just little things like that that you can use when you're interacting with other people to deepen those connections that'll help you grow your business.

Josh Fonger: [00:25:06] Yeah. Also, when I work with my clients, I let them know that people like to do business with people they like. So, just being likeable. Getting to know you even with your idiosyncrasies is a good thing. And so don't be afraid that it's not just your technical skill that's care about. They'd actually do one of the best people they like. So yes, that's important.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:25:30] Yes, yes absolutely.

Josh Fonger: [00:25:30] Well, very good. So what's what's one question I should have asked you but didn't. Or just something you want to make sure that the audience gets to hear before you before you sign off today?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:25:40] Let's see.

Josh Fonger: [00:25:43] The big main idea. Big point that you think you hear about.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:25:47] Yes. I think that continuing to learn is extremely important. Sometimes we get to this place where we go alright I got it. I know it. Perfect. Wonderful. But if you get to a place where you stop learning about things, it's not always going to miss out on really important information that comes down the pipeline. But you can also start to get a little bit stagnant and a little bit bored and stop your personal and your professional growth. So if you find something that relates to what you do and get in a space where you're never going to be tired of learning about it and continuing to take the steps to do so, then you'll find the passion in your business from the rest of your life. It'll always be exciting.

Josh Fonger: [00:26:32] Perfect, love that. So true and where people find out more information about you and how you help companies?

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:26:40] Yes, please come find me. Can visit my Web site at Stephanie Ann Ball Consulting dot com. I'm also on Facebook. Stephanie Ann Ball Consulting is my page there. And you can find me on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter at I Am Steph A Ball.

Josh Fonger: [00:26:56] Okay. Very good. All right. Well, Stephanie, this is fun. I learned a lot and got a whole page of notes here. I'm looking forward to using this creativity and emotional aspect. So what I do and that's the main thing is here, work the system. If anyone has been training for a while, the main thing here is to help people make more and work less we use systems. And that's really any system, whether it's an emotional, activity, time management, tool. And so again, Stephanie, thanks again for being on the show today.

Stephanie Ann Bell: [00:27:22] My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Josh Fonger: [00:27:24] If anyone wants to tune in live, watch these things live. Maybe you're watching the recording of this on i-Tunes or our website. Just join the Facebook page, go to Work The System, go to the Work The System Facebook page and like it or follow it and then you'll be notified when these things are being live recorded. And also, if you want a copy of Sam Carpenter's book, the best selling book right there behind me for free and go to work the system dot com to download it. But if you want the physical version for free, you can mail it to you. We mail it once a week. So if you just leave a review on either i-Tunes or YouTube or Facebook, any of those pages and leave us a note at info at work the system dot com. Let us know you did that, we'll be mailing out one book a week and we'll send it to you. All right. Again, thanks, Stephanie. And we'll catch you all next week.

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