Interview: Elizabeth Stevens, Best-selling Author

by Jerome Knyszewski
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Best-selling author Elizabeth Stevens talks about how to take a company from good to great

After living in New Mexico, Alaska, and Maryland, Elizabeth Stevens has made her home in Dallas, Texas. She received her Bachelor in Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Eastern New Mexico University. Then she moved to Dallas. In Dallas, she continued studying music, and she ended up receiving her Master of Music in Piano Performance from the Southern Methodist University.

For over thirty years, Elizabeth Stevens has taught piano in Dallas. Over the years, she has become the president of the Piano Music Teachers Association, of which she is still an active member.

Aside from being a member of the Piano Music Teachers Association, Elizabeth Stevens is also a member of the Music Teachers National Association. However, aside from being a piano teacher, Elizabeth Stevens has also carved out a space for herself as an author of children’s books.

Elizabeth Stevens has written the children’s book “The Porch Puppies,” published by Waldorf Publishing. Based on a true story, the book tells the story of four abandoned puppies and their adventures in getting into a forever home. A dog lover herself, she is a proud mother of three puppies, who served as the inspiration for the characters in her book.

Currently, Elizabeth Stevens is working on the sequel to “The Porch Puppies” called “The Reunion of the Porch Puppies,” which is due for release on July 15, 2021.

Check out more interviews with thought leaders here. You can also buy Elizabeth Stevens’ “The Porch Puppies” here.

Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Elizabeth Stevens: I think what makes my book stand out is that it’s a fresh approach to a children’s book. My sister, who taught second grade most of her life, knows children’s books well and says The Porch Puppies is unlike any other children’s book currently out there because of the additional pieces I include in the book. The additions will be appealing to both the teacher and the student.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Elizabeth Stevens: I mentioned earlier that when I found the porch puppies I was balancing my day job with my music life. I think burnout happens when a person is doing a job they really don’t enjoy. We all have to pay bills and to do so sometimes requires us to work at a job that we may not be passionate about. If that’s the case, then it becomes even more important to at least balance what you must do to pay your bills with what you love to do.

Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Elizabeth Stevens: That is easy…. Barbara Terry. Barbara is the owner of Waldorf Publishing company and has been a huge blessing in my life. Her belief in my story and willingness to have her company invest its time and talent to publish my book has provided a wonderful new opportunity to me.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

Elizabeth Stevens: In my life, I balanced working during the day in law firms and medical clinics with my music career in churches and my private piano studio. The businesses are vastly different from each other but the component that makes them each successful is the same. All good businesses are successful because they employ talented people in their field, and all great businesses stand out because of the time spent developing a genuine and successful relationship with those they service.

Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Elizabeth Stevens: I think it’s important to always look for a fresh idea. Thinking creatively will boost your excitement and make your business stand apart from others in your industry.

Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Elizabeth Stevens: As much as possible, be flexible. The people you service will appreciate your efforts to keep them safe and see the genuine concern you have for them. As mentioned earlier, great businesses focus on relationships. Your patrons will appreciate this and be loyal to you.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Elizabeth Stevens: The devil’s in the details. Patrons see the end result but generally have no idea the effort or process it took to get there. Always value and appreciate what each employee does to achieve the end result.

Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

Elizabeth Stevens: Be genuine. Nobody likes a salesman but everyone likes a nice relationship.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Elizabeth Stevens: Social media is a necessary evil. There is always the risk someone will post something unflattering, but I think most people understand that some people are just unkind and perhaps unfair. Do your best to provide the best product/service you can, work at building relationships based on trust with your patrons and don’t worry about social media. Use it to your advantage by getting your business name on it.

Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Elizabeth Stevens: It’s not enough to know your stuff. Have a plan, make realistic goals and work hard.

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Elizabeth Stevens: Many people would probably like to do something huge that would help many people, but most of us will never have the opportunity or ability to do so. But, what if everyone focused on making their little corner of the world better by how they perform their jobs and how they treat one another? My book, The Porch Puppies, is a very sweet story about how the kindness of strangers changed the lives of four abandoned puppies. How different would our world be if we each focused on doing the most good we could in our little corner of the world? Wow. Now that would change the world.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Elizabeth Stevens: The Porch Puppies, most appropriate for grades K-3, can be purchased online, in retail stores or on my website: I’m not a blogger, but readers can view other interviews with me at Authors Central on Amazon.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

Elizabeth Stevens: Thank you for visiting with me!

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