Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. I’m your host Ruthie Bowles, and I’m really excited to introduce my next guest, Stephanie Bonte-Lebair. Stephanie and I were connected by a mutual business friend. Once we got on the phone, I knew I had to have her on the podcast.
Stephanie is a classically-trained singer turned voice presentation & sales coach. She moved to New York City and performed in operas, musicals, and cabaret, before creating her business The Empowered Voice. For over 20 years, she has helped singers, speakers, and business professionals leverage their voices for more influence and increased sales.
She is an award-winning certified and licensed trainer with code breaker technologies, utilizing cutting-edge coding technology to train 6-figure coaches, speakers, trainers, and sales teams on how to close more sales in less time.
Whether performing on stage or speaking in the boardroom, Stephanie’s mission is to help people be the voice of their passions. What’s a better purpose than that? Thank you so much, Stephanie, for joining me today.
Stephanie: Thanks Ruthie for having me! I’m excited to be here.
What Inspired You to Create Stage Dreams The Musical?
Ruthie: I love to ask every guest a question to give the audience a glimmer of why I invited you on. Before we get into everything, where did the inspiration for Stage Dreams The Musical come from?
Stephanie: I wrote a one-woman musical keynote presentation, and I performed it for the first time about 2 years ago. It’s called Stage Dreams The Musical. It’s inspired by my stories.
A lot of speakers usually have a signature talk they take out and give in different places. I’m a singer. I was born a singer. I have been singing my whole life. Now I help business owners with various ways of communication and presentation skills.
Why not make my unique signature talk a musical?
What Is Stage Dreams The Musical About?
In this musical, I tell my story. It’s an inspirational keynote. I share my story as a performer when I used to live in New York City. It’s also a story of returning to the question of, “Did I make the right decisions in life?”
So you get to a certain age and you start to ask yourself, “What if I had made a different decision back in my 20s? What if I hadn’t taken that one job?” And so this musical is written as a reflection upon my life to ask myself, “Did I make the right choice?”
I actually tell a story of how present-day Stephanie Bonte-Lebair decides to go back to New York City to audition for a Broadway show. This didn’t really happen. I used to live in New York City and I did audition for Broadway shows when I performed in New York for several years.
However, Stephanie today has an 8-year-old son, is married and living in Maryland, and she says to herself, “Gosh, is this all there is to life? Is there anything more? Should I go back to New York when I was in my 20s, performing all the time, and try again?” In the process of telling that story of wanting to return to New York, I end up reflecting upon my time there and my journey since then.
Coming Full Circle
It’s a coming-full-circle story. I really appreciate the journey and the choices I’ve made. I’m actually in the perfect position in my life right now. I’m doing more with my voice now than I would be if I was in a Broadway show in New York City. And that is part of the overall message.
So that’s my creative outlet. Ironically, I’m singing it and I have a PowerPoint presentation with a clicker. And just like anybody would give a presentation, I can click through my PowerPoints, and sing and act my way through the 45-minute presentation. It’s a great way for me to stand out, be unique and share my story.
Ruthie: That’s amazing. And so anybody who heard who’s listening to this is like, “Oh that’s why Ruthie wanted to have her on.” That’s so incredibly unique. That’s one of those things where even if you forget my name, you’re not gonna forget the time you sat through a keynote, where I wowed and amazed you.
Stephanie: And it’s so easy for me, because I’ve been a singer my whole life. It’s so much easier for me to stand up in front of a crowd and sing through things than present and do a standard keynote.
Tell Us About The Empowered Voice
Ruthie: Now that everybody’s a little hooked, what I would like to talk to you about next is The Empowered Voice. Tell me about your business. I’m very intrigued.
Stephanie: I have a Master’s in Voice, which basically means I’m an opera singer. When you get your master’s degree, they make you sing in 5 languages and perform in operas. I was in an opera-training program in Italy for a bit, and then I came back to the States and moved to New York City.
I’m a huge fan of musical theater. I love to sing all kinds of music, not just opera but musicals, cabaret, brand new works, etc.
I lived there for 3 years. A day job paid for my bills and I lived in an apartment on the Upper Eastside. At night and in the evenings, I was singing, performing, and rehearsing, and loved it. It was a perfect time in my life to do that.
Then I met my husband on match.com. He was living here in Maryland and he worked for NASA, so it was easier for me to come here than it was for him to leave. So I have been living in Maryland ever since, and now have an 8 year old son.
Starting as a Singing Teacher
So the journey of my singing in my business started as a singing teacher. I’ve always taught voice lessons. Even when I was getting my master’s, I was teaching voice lessons at Illinois State University. I had a lot of teenagers and adults who were looking to audition for shows at their school musical or in their local community theater. So I was helping them become better performers, better singers, and get through the audition process.
Then I had a friend who introduced me to the world of business networking, and I thought it was interesting. Everybody’s getting together, exchanging business cards, talking about themselves, and I had a singing teaching business.
From Singing to Business
And then I realized that a lot of the skill sets I had were very useful. For example, having had to sell me my whole life. When you go into an audition room, you have seconds to make a good impression. There are a lot of skill sets that overlap with the business world.
So I started working with business owners on their confidence when they were speaking in front of people, their ability to project, using their voice for long periods of time without getting hoarse/feeling uncomfortable, etc. And then I was introduced to a communication method, which is how to write the scripts, the marketing copy, and how to have conversations with other people that lead to sales.
So between the voice skills, the presentation confidence skills, and now other methods I’m certified in, I really have this whole package of being able to help people craft copy, deliver, copy, speak on stage, and show their uniqueness when they are communicating. Now, I love it! It’s my primary source of income.
I still teach singing from time to time. I still perform, I have my own acapella group called Drop The Mic. We do pop, rock, and contemporary cover songs and I have a lot of fun with that. But I’m really focused on helping business owners level up their communication skills. That’s the quick version.
Ruthie: I know, but you got a lot in there. That was fantastic. It’s such a compelling story, especially when you were talking about going from New York and being in your 20s to business and translating your skills over.
As a veteran, we struggle with translating our skills over from being in the military and serving. So we struggle with translating and value. We often undervalue what we’ve done. But I digress.
Who Is Your Ideal Client?
Ruthie: We got that it’s mainly businesses and business owners who want to improve their communication, but I’d love to get a better well-rounded view of who a great client would be for you.
Stephanie: A great client for me is a speaker, author, coach, trainer, usually a female entrepreneur who is looking to uplevel their communication.
They’re looking to book more speaking engagements and really take it to the next level in their coaching business. They’re looking for that edge and those additional skill sets that really bring them to mastery around their ability to feel confident, be articulate, and attract their ideal client through their marketing language. That’s really my primary ideal client.
In addition to that, I work with sales teams. I help them understand how to translate their skill sets into the communication that they have with their prospects and each other, so they can work as a team more effectively, prospect more effectively, and can get to a “yes” faster.
How Has Your Work Changed During This 7-Month Period?
Ruthie: It’s been about 6 months now since the COVID-19 outbreak, and we don’t really have an end in sight. Every time I wake up and think about it, it’s mind-blowing. I would have laughed if somebody had painted this picture for me 7 months ago. But I’m curious to know how your work has changed since 7 months ago.
Stephanie: There’s really a pivot that’s been happening. Everything is online. Everybody is communicating on Zoom, which is totally fine. It’s a great technology for that, but you have to translate the communications to an electronic platform.
You have to show up differently electronically than you do in person. It’s a different type of energy. Not even that it’s “more/less than”; it’s just different. So being able to identify how to show up differently on electronic platforms is important.
It’s also about written communication being even more important than it used to be. Honestly, in sales, you’re at your best when you’re in person with someone. When you can be in their energy and they can see you, because most communication is non-verbal.
Only 7% of your communication is the written word. When you’re talking to someone, the rest of it is the body language and the tone of voice that you’re using. That’s really what makes the impact.
In the virtual world, we’re having to rely on our written communication in a much bigger way, so copywriting is much higher in demand.
I’m getting a lot of copywriting gigs, where I’m helping people recraft their LinkedIn profiles, and create outreach messages that are more balanced and appeal to more personality types, etc. The communication method I’m certified in has been in much higher demand than it was before we went into the pandemic.
Stephanie’s Short, Value-Based Personality Assessment
Ruthie: We actually discussed a lead magnet you have that relates to that, right?
Stephanie: Yes, absolutely. I have a gift for everyone if you’d like to take a 90-second value-based personality assessment that identifies what makes you say “yes” and what makes you say ”no”. It’s specifically based on buying behavior. You can take it at crackmycodeonline.com.
Once you take the assessment, it will send you a personality report that tells you all about yourself and what makes you tick. What is going to help you communicate based on your personality type, and what other people might want to know about you when they’re having a conversation with you.
It will also tell you what’s going to make you say yes/no in certain situations, whether it’s a typical sales conversation or if it’s just an influential conversation. We always need to influence our friends, family, kids, spouse, etc. There’s all kinds of influential conversations we have every single day, so learning about who you are is the first step to being able to understand other people.
Ruthie: That’s right up my alley! I love that stuff. If you’re interested in taking that quick quiz, we will have the link in the show notes for you. In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned for Stephanie’s next episodes, which will be airing one per day for the rest of this week. Thank you so much for joining us today.