Serenity Stewart: Successful Business Woman
Sylvia: Hi Serenity. I am thrilled to meet and interview you. What an amazing career you’ve had. I am excited to share it with my readers. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to interview with me. Please tell us about yourself and your business?
Serenity: Hi Sylvia. Thank you for your kind words. I am a vocalist and recording artist. I began singing at the age of eight in the church. I trained classically as a coloratura soprano and was asked to be a guest with the Detroit Metropolitan Opera at age 14. I did not however, pursue a career as a vocalist until later in life. I had an opportunity to reevaluate my life’s accomplishments following a brain aneurysm. I felt I owed myself a period of introspection and I took a full year off to do so. I was caught on the treadmill of everyday life, trapped in survival mode having single parented four children. I was also looking at the possibility of becoming an empty nester.
Sylvia: Wow, what an honor it must’ve been to be a guest at the Detroit Metropolitan Opera at such a young age. Were you born with such great talent? Also, I am sad that you had to go thru such a scary ordeal as a ‘brain aneurysm.’ How long did it take you to recuperate and start singing again?
Serenity: I was fortunate to have been born with the ability to sing. As a youngster I thought everyone could sing. I sang out loud in ST. Margaret’s Church one fateful Sunday morning and when the congregation suddenly stopped singing and left me unexpectedly doing a solo, well…two things happened. I felt my heart drop into my best Sunday shoes, and following the service I was the youngest and newest recruit to the choir beginning the following week!
Thank you for your kindness regarding my brain aneurysm. I thought I’d been sentenced harshly just having to be sent home to lay down for a whole week. I hardly laid done on a nightly basis for more than 5 hours since 1983 when I had my first child. In that week on the sofa, I did some mighty thinking. Some serious introspection took place. This is where the real recuperation began. The first 8 weeks following the aneurysm were shaky. The constant Migraine, fogginess, weakness following a trauma and old blood still plugging my facial cavity and head! I gave myself permission to take a year off to really recuperate. To allow my mind, body, spirit to heal and become realigned. I remember singing to myself about3 to 4 months following, once the headaches subsided. I was not able to sing at performance level for about 9 months as I became much stronger. After the 9 months I began doing moderate exercise for physical strengthening and to build stamina. I also began to prepare my voice with vocalize to enhance and build agility of the vocal muscles. After the full year I was recovered and looking forward to returning to my normal lifestyle and activities.
Sylvia: What does success mean to you?
Serenity: Now, in “today” terms I tend to measure success quite differently. I no longer use my title or position and pay scale as a yardstick. I like to measure success in terms of how much personal satisfaction and self fulfillment I enjoy from my endeavors. Success for me is also weighted by how much I am able to give back to the world each day coupled with new experiences.
Sylvia: How do you create work-life balance?
Serenity: Work-life balance is imperative to harmony and controlling stress. Having a career that is rewarding and enjoyable creates natural work life balance. I am truly doing what I love. I have much more flexibility in my scheduling and I make sure to keep a Calendar of “me” time. I think of my use of personal time as necessary to my career. I like to think that the two intersect. I see how taking time for meditation, exercise and personal care relates back to my image of self as a performer and presenting my best self to others. I know that taking time for myself; particularly meditation time stimulates calm which for me translates into new waves of creativity in my approach to music. Identifying how my work and “me” time integrate helps me to attach the level of importance necessary for me to carve out and actually take this time with a no guilt attitude.
Sylvia: Ahhhh, ‘Me time’ is so important! What steps are necessary for a woman entrepreneur who wants to move her business to the next level?
Serenity: I feel that as an entrepreneur the business is a direct extension of you. Your personal perspectives, feeling, desires, all the characteristics of you as an individual are going to shine through. So indeed find the work-life balance. Put your best self forward. Taking a business to the next level will require tenacity, drive, creativity, hard work and more. Create a strategy, map out goals, define and redefine as necessary. Flexibility is also key. On one map there can be many roads that lead to the same destination. If you bump into a road-block consider alternates but always be moving in a forward motion.
Sylvia: It is important to give back. In what way do you give back to your community?
Serenity: Well I have tried to support the local economy by engaging in plenty of retail therapy – but kidding aside, I like to volunteer when I can for Pediatric Hospice. I have also volunteered in past for the Children’s Hospital caring for infants and young children providing care in the absence of their parents. I also like to lend my voice to a good cause with various choral groups who are non-profit oriented. In the past one of my more enjoyable experiences was to be able to provide Christmas music to homes for the elderly as well.
Sylvia: Oh wow, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of children being so terminally ill. How special it must be to be able to spend time with God’s little angels. How do you handle your emotions when seeing children so sick?
Serenity: I come from a place of faith and knowing, that these little angels are being called home. This is how I manage my emotions and maintain a positive caring approach. I really get in touch with them and I feel their little energies and I am able to calm and soothe them. I feel genuinely blessed to be a part of their time here and to be able to give that little bit from myself that means so much to a small and unassuming human being.
Sylvia: What challenges and opportunities do you see in the present economic environment?
Serenity: These are tough economic times. Managing financial resources is challenging. I see the opportunity in this difficult economic climate as one of resourcing in alternate ways. I see families bonding together for the good of the whole unit. I see communities being strengthened through numbers of participants who are building their relationships and partnering in new and creative ways to support one another.
Sylvia: Great prospective! How do you promote/market your business?
Serenity: I get out into the community, talk, build relationships and take every opportunity to explain what I do to anyone interested. I give out my work product (CD) at opportune moments as well as to all of my acquaintances and friends. I use social networking to its fullest advantage and keep a web site updated with current information, pictures and interesting facts about the band and I. I take media opportunities to keep my name and work in front of new potential fans. I have been fortunate to be accepted into the rotation of many radio stations nationally, it helps to be heard. I network with other musicians to learn from them and pick up tips and ideas. And I constantly review statistics on the demographics of my listeners in an effort to find creative ways to get their attention.
Sylvia: Great tips for others. I certainly agree that it is important to form relationships; that old saying that people do business with or support those they ‘know, like and trust’is so true. What books and resources would you recommend to other women in business?
Serenity: Without commenting on any one particular type of business I will recommend what I know works for me. My favorite authors for personal growth and inspiration are: Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. In the interest of Professional Growth I have read and recommend: The Little Black Book of Connections and The Little Red Book of Sales both by Jeffrey Gitomer. As it relates to the Music Industry read Donald Passman and Billboard periodicals.
I highly recommend becoming a member of associations and special interest groups in your community that offer good networking opportunities and relationship building. Examples of which might be: Artistic, Cultural groups like the Historical Society; Civic Groups i.e. Chamber of Commerce, PTA, merchants assoc.; Social groups i.e. Kiwanis, Sierra Club.
Sylvia: I agree that it is very important to be involved in various groups. I always suggest at least one of the following: social, professional and civic groups. What advice do you have for women who are just starting out?
Serenity: KNOW in your heart this is really what you want to do. Be committed. Be resilient. Be prepared. Remember the old adage that you must crawl before you can walk. But as an entrepreneur YOU are the company and everything you do is an investment in you. It’s all about YOU. What could be better than that?
Sylvia: You said it best… success doesn’t happen overnight. It is important to put your heart and soul into your business. How do you stay connected in mind body and spirit?
Serenity: I plug into my inner self. I take time to meditate and listen to the messages that I will not receive if I am too busy with the world around me. It gives “time out” a new meaning. I need it to consolidate my processes.
Sylvia: What is your favorite quote to live by?
Serenity: “Every Possibility Begins with the Courage to imagine it”
Sylvia: I love that quote! I goggled it to see who the author was. Is that your quote? Share with us two industry or general business related tips that could help other women business owners.
Serenity: I love that quote because it represents a powerful yet simple truth. I did not write it and I have also been unable to find the author. I have a wall hanging I found with the quote that I proudly display in my hall so not a day goes by that I don’t read it and stay inspired by it.
A few important tips:
- Keep your focus and be prepared to go the distance.
- Never lose your sense of humor.
- Take advice and tips but temper them with your own gut instincts.
- Surround yourself with supportive people.
Sylvia: You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with our members and subscribers. Please share your contact information.
Serenity: Well, thank you. I appreciate your dedication to promoting women.
- Website: www.serenitystewart.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/bestofserenity
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/songsofserenity
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org