10 Questions with Stephanie Bonte-Lebair | Reve Insiders3 Jan 2022 2022-06-10 13:42
10 Questions with Stephanie Bonte-Lebair | Reve Insiders
Reve Insiders is an exclusive network of global leaders, businesses, brands, professionals and creatives that we have had the pleasure of working with or have stumbled across in some shape and form. We take an inside look into the lives of some of them.
What makes them tick, what they are adding to the world to make a difference in the lives of others or in their own lives. This week we interviewed Stephanie Bonte-Lebair, a business networking powerhouse, Founder and CEO of The Empowered Voice and EBN, professional stage performer, award-winning trainer and voice coach.
REVE INSIDERS: Stephanie, you have performed and presented on stages far and wide, been active in business for 10 years, and has had great success in several industries (sales, communication, networking, coaching, music…and more!) What is your secret for showing up in such a big way, in everything that you do?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: For me, it’s been about doing what I really love. I’ve always loved singing and using my voice powerfully. When you love what you do, you show up in a big way. I’m also an over-achiever. Ever since I was young, there’s a part of me that has wanted to do more than just what was asked or needed, but to make a positive impression people will remember. It is rare for me to do anything half-way. One of my top Clifton Strengths is Maximizer. I will maximize the impact of any project until it leads to the next adventure.
My biggest challenges sometimes come when I take on too many things at the same time, because I always want to do my best and will push to get it all done. Luckily, I’ve learned over the years that setting stronger boundaries and focusing on what brings me the most joy will create the biggest results.
REVE INSIDERS: Before a big performance or business presentation, (In-person or virtual) What regimen or routine do you follow to present your best self, and bring your highest level of energy to the table?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: I have a routine that taps into three areas:
1) My Purpose Voice, which is about my intention and the reason I’m meant to be using my voice. My favorite way to do this is through journaling a couple key questions: “How do I want to feel when I use my voice?”, “What do I want to have happen when I use my voice?” and “How do I want others to feel as I use my voice?” When I’m clear about this, it helps me show up in a way that helps me manifest what I really desire.
2) My Physical Voice, which is about warming up my actual voice and body so I sound and look my best. I have a couple basic vocal warmups for speaking events, and a more intense warmup for singing events.
3) My Mental Voice, which is the structure and words I choose to use. I like to review key points and make sure I’m clear about my call to action. If I need to create notes for myself, I will.
REVE INSIDERS: What is a piece of advice that has helped you remain bold, empowered and confident, even in the face of adversity, failure and rejection?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: I’m not always successful at remaining bold, empowered and confident in the face of adversity, failure and rejection. Sometimes, it’s about allowing yourself to sit with your fear, sadness and doubt – and seeing what you can learn about yourself so you move forward differently the next time. There are situations where I feel more in my strengths – such as singing on a stage, facilitating a group conversation, or leading a project. Even then, there are moments of nervous energy and fear of rejection. I get to decide if it will take me down or keep me on my toes.
There’s a very fine line between fear and excitement. The key is staying just on the side of excitement, which I anchor to during my preparation routine. When I’m successful, that’s when I sparkle.
REVE INSIDERS: You wrote and performed the one-woman, musical keynote presentation, Stage Dreams, The Musical. What was your creative process like, when you sat down to write it?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: Even though I’ve been singing and performing my whole life, I had never written my own music before. Happily, I can report that it was a lot easier than I anticipated, AND I must give credit to my team – my music director, Scott Richards, who created the piano accompaniments to my melodies, and my voice coach, Michelle Hakala Wolf, who helped me develop the overall concept and was a great sounding board for lyrics and dialogue.
Logistically, it was straight forward – write lyrics, come up with melodies, sing into my phone and send it to Scott for scoring, tie songs together with dialogue. Artistically, it was a journey of the heart. Because my show was based, in part, on my own story, I tapped into memories that expressed themselves into music. That process was cathartic and empowering.
I knew something was good when I laughed or cried or had an insight about myself and my journey. The process doesn’t end when you think you’re done writing either. I put on a workshop of my show’s first draft.
A workshop is a like a test performance.
You can practice something a million times by yourself, but you never really know what the show will be like until there is an audience watching and listening and reacting. That performance allowed me to make several changes to my show.
I recorded the show in studio after those changes and have performed songs from my show at several conferences. I’m not sure the creative process will ever be complete, but I’m happy with what I created and how I can repurpose it.
REVE INSIDERS: What would you say is the key ingredient to building a successful business and brand?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: To build a successful business, you must be committed to the journey of entrepreneurship as your goal. There is no destination. Businesses are always evolving and so are you. If you allow yourself to enjoy that evolution and journey, you’ll have a clearer sense for what makes you unique no matter what your offer in your business. It’s not about making 6 figures, or having the right course, or a certain number of clients, or the size of your media following. It’s about being true to where you are and what you can offer right now to make a difference for others. Your brand is you. If you are being true to yourself, you’ll attract the people you are meant to and that will lead you to the next version of your journey.
REVE INSIDERS: Can you share a few of your best and most magical moments, living and performing in New York, and on Broadway?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: When I first moved to New York City, I didn’t know a single person. I was a Midwest girl from Illinois living in the Big Apple. I was determined, but I was also terrified. My first magical moment was just a couple weeks in, sitting in a seat in the middle of the orchestra section of “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway. I remember smiling from ear to ear the entire show. It felt magical. After the show ended, a gentleman next to me said, “I think you really enjoyed this show.” He had noticed my absolute joy at watching this Broadway production. I remember thinking in that moment that there was no other place I wanted to be than in a city where people could be on stage singing and acting like that. I was so grateful in that moment that I had the courage to move there on my own. The second magical moment was receiving my first casting offer after my very first audition. I figured I would have to audition dozens of times before I got a yes, so I decided to audition for everything to gain experience, even if it didn’t seem practical or probable. Ironically, that first offer was for a touring company that would have taken me right out of NYC. So – I turned it down! I didn’t want to leave so soon after arriving. The upside was that it gave me a ton of confidence. Who moves to the Big Apple and gets a yes after their first audition? Me! I spent three years performing in operas, musicals, cabaret – in the City, and I am so grateful for that experience.
REVE INSIDERS: As a mum and business owner, what are some of your best tips to strike a good balance between getting deep work done, and spending time with family, and having fun?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: As I learned from my business coach, Heather Dominick, it’s all about blocking Time Off, Time In and Time On – in that order – on your calendar. Time Off is free time.
When you book your Time Off first, you can choose your vacations, your weekends, your family nights, your spa days…..and you will always have room for it! Time In is revenue generating time – where you are working directly with your clients or directly prospecting clients. That gets priority over Time On which is your administrative time and your content creation time. If you aim for 1/3 of your time in each area (approximately), it’s a great starting point. I have been blocking my calendar this way for years, and it has created more balance and freedom while helping me generate more income.
REVE INSIDERS: What is your personal, favorite Broadway or Musical Theatre show that’s an absolute must-watch and why?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: My favorite musical I’ve never been in myself is “My Fair Lady”. It’s classic, it has beautiful music and costumes, and it’s a feel-good show. I directed it for a local theatre company which I think ended up being even more fun than singing in the show myself. My favorite musical I’ve performed in is “She Loves Me” by Joe Masteroff, Sheldon Hamick and Jerry Bock. The movie “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is basically the same story. The score is gorgeous, it’s whimsical and moving, and I was able to play the leading role of Amalia Balash. I remember crying during the last song of the last performance as I knew it would most likely be the last time I would perform an ingenue role like that. As I get older, the types of parts I can realistically play changes. It’s just the facts of life in the entertainment industry. It’s also one of the reasons I wrote my own show.
REVE INSIDERS: Knowing everything that you do now, and looking back…What is something you would tell your 20 year old self?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: I’m tempted to tell myself not to do a couple of things, but my mistakes led me to where I am today. Still, life could have been a little easier if I trusted that I am enough. The approval of others pales in comparison to approval of myself. I’m the only one that needs to be satisfied, and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.
REVE INSIDERS: What does wellness mean to you and for you?
Stephanie Bonte-Lebair: Wellness is a state of mind reflected in your body and in your relationships.
If your body is giving you warning signs, or if your relationships are struggling, there is probably a limiting belief keeping you from full wellness. I’m always peeling back the layers on this. Just like entrepreneurship is a journey, so is wellness.
You’ve reached the end…
A big thank you to Stephanie for sharing parts of her journey with us. The more questions we ask, the more we want to know!
And Always remember…
To learn more about Stephanie Bonte-Lebair, visit https://www.empoweryourvoice.com/ – You can also join The Empowered Business Network, and find incredible support from a collaborative community that will refer clients to you consistently for years to come. Join now! Follow Stephanie’s journey on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, receive sales, communication, leadership, business networking advice and more!