We had the good fortune of connecting with Stacey Oliver-Knappe and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stacey, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Owning a business that is all me has taught me more lessons about myself than I ever imagined. Beyond the gazillion personal development lessons, the most important business lesson was to not be rigid in what you think your business will be. My first company, I had a specific client model that I thought everyone needed (still do, LOL), and the only way to work with me was using my model. I take it to market and had no customers. Instead, potential customers found me and asked “Can you do X or Y?” Most of the time I said yes. It wasn’t the model in my mind, but it was still great work. If I had not been willing to flex, I would have missed several fascinating experiences with a diverse ray of business types in all types of industry. I also met so many wonderful interesting people that were beyond of my normal network. Being flexible to what I thought I would do in my business has made the ride much more fun.

What should our readers know about your business?
What do Walt Disney World, Disneyland-Paris, Chick-fil-a, Coldwell Banker, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, A.C. Nielsen Company, and Tony Roma’s all have in common? Me! I have had a wonderful serendipitous career working and consulting for these impressive brands and many smaller companies that are doing important work in the world. All that experience I bring to my current clients to help them be best-in-class, whatever their vertical. But how I got there wasn’t a straight story either. I am a high-school drop out at age 17, but I have a master’s degree I earned at age 32. As a teen, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed, yet I am here kicking butt today understanding my depression and how to give myself grace. I am deaf, but I teach adults mostly in classrooms for a living. After living in Orlando my entire life up to that point, I jumped on a plane at 23 to work at Disneyland-Paris. I married my husband after being in person with him for about 100 days, and 19 years later here we are. From the business side: what I want the world to know about me is bottom line, when it comes to what I love to do, I’m am all about helping individual consultants to global corporations be successful delivering their knowledge and expertise in training programs, in-person and virtually. Teaching people how to perform better, personally or professionally, is a win for all involved. Training is THE function in an organization that can change its trajectory, for good or bad. If a smart new hire program creates a knowledgeable confident long-term employee, business growth organically follow. For consultants, creating on demand virtual programs can be a passive revenue stream and smart marketing tool. As for owning my own business, it was not easy in one sense as I was naïve about the marketing and sales side, as I learned later was not unusual. I had the impression with the consultants I knew up to that point that once I told a few friends I was consulting and had a website, business would fly in. It did not. LOL. My first business, I did not have a strategic plan how to get clients. I was lucky to have clients through my network, but there was also an anxiety to it as it was inconsistent. Second time having my business (I took a break for two years for a VP corporate role), I invested in a coach to help me understand what I need to do and a plan to understand the timing. Building a sustainable business takes time and investment, especially the first year. So understanding that financially as is impacted by business and personal life would have helped. I.e. if I had known that the first time around, I would have slept better.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I live in beautiful Orlando, Florida, and have most of my life and worked at the Walt Disney World Resort for eight years, so you might guess my answer. If you want to play tourist here are some of my favorite spots at Walt Disney World. Restaurants – Ohana at the Polynesian Resort and Biergarten at Epcot. My husband is from Germany and says it is the real deal. If you come to Disney at Christmas time, the thing to see is the Candlelight Processional at Epcot. Orlando of course is more than the parks. We are growing city with great weather year round and a diverse community who welcomes all. The main place locals hang is Lake Eola, with our famous fountain and swans. The swans nest around the lake in protected areas. If you go there on a Sunday, there is a large farmer’s market and several restaurants around the lake opened for nice cocktail. Another local area is Park Avenue. It is modeled more in the classic European pedestrian cities. For entertainment, we have so much as a city: The Orlando Magic, The Solar Bears, and UCF for athletics. World class gold courses are everywhere. The home of the Magic, the downtown arena stages concerts from world class performers. As many of our theme parks hosts entertainment, our local community theaters like Mad Cow Theater (https://madcowtheatre.com) and Orlando Shakes (https://www.orlandoshakes.org) offer the best in talent. We also have Central Florida Community Arts (https://cfcarts.com ), an organization that has this mission, “Central Florida Community Arts exists to serve and build community through the arts.” I played clarinet in the symphonic orchestra for two years. It was fun to return to something I enjoyed as a kid. Tourists come here because we have so much to offer. Local live here because it is a great place with nice people and always something to do.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Terry Pappy!!! https://pappyclub.com/

Website: www.staceyok.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/staceyok/

Twitter: @CSGurus

Image Credits
Hector Perez

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