University of Wisconsin – Madison - Bachelor of Arts in Political Science + History
Like many of us, Stephanie Goetsch entered a 9 to 5 job, strapped to a cubicle in Corporate America, shortly after graduation. She climbed the corporate ladder and received the many accolades that went with it, but felt that the longer she was pursuing this path, the more unhappy she became. Suddenly the thought of wasting precious days she could never get back and leading a life that didn't fit, was no longer acceptable. So, over the course of the following year she worked tirelessly to bring HerExchange, a site that shares the stories of successful and empowering women, to life, and in July 2010 she did just that. Similar to our community here, it's Stephanie's greatest hope that every woman feels welcome, appreciated and motivated when visiting HerExchange. And most importantly, she wants women to feel inspired to the point that they live their whole lives — without a day wasted.
Stephanie also loves to travel, spend time with her friends and family, and often spends time relishing in other people's successes. One of her favorite aspects of life is watching other people succeed and discover that moment where they start to think, "I can do that, too!"
Every decision you make, at home or at work, is a beacon for someone else.
How did you discover your current job?
I discovered my passion for journalism when I was a little girl. I would turn any interaction I had with someone into an interview! It came so natural to me; I didn’t even realize I was doing it. Numerous people started to point out to me that my conversations were more like interviews, and that was my “AHA moment.” I felt I had something to say that would resonate with an audience and soon after, HerExchange was born! I’ve always had the entrepreneurial bug, so creating a business around what I love is a perfect fit!
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
As “Jane of all trades” my days can go in any direction! Most often, my time is spent with networking and outreach; each feature on HerExchange results from consistent outreach on my part. I hunt down leads with the help of great contributing writers and an intern team.
Another big portion of my time is spent updating and maintaining the back-end of HerExchange.com. I publish new material daily that needs to be edited, formatted, uploaded, styled and maneuvered around the site. I’m not particularly tech-savvy, but I’ve become a quick learner!
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
Rewarding: My true intention behind HerExchange is to positively impact women’s lives. I want readers to walk away from their visit knowing something new that will improve their quality of life -- from health tips to feeling inspired and uplifted, and any and everything in between. When I hear from readers that I’ve accomplished that, it’s complete bliss.
Challenge: Initially my greatest challenge was finding balance; I threw myself completely into getting HerExchange off the ground and bringing my vision to life. I worked insane hours, and it wasn’t until 11 months later that I took my first day off! By that point, I had lost steam and was completely drained. Through that experience, I’ve found that when I strike a balance between work and play, I find my greatest moments of inspiration to bring back to HerExchange.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
Deciding to leave my steady 9 to 5 job to pursue my passion was a significant financial sacrifice. I left a paycheck for no paycheck! It was months of sacrifice before I saw a turnaround. Ultimately, I was willing to eat out less, give up cable TV and shop only for necessities to make it work -- totally worth it!
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?
My greatest lesson has been the evolution of finding, and believing in, myself. Growing up, you have the influence of your family and are often very unsure of yourself. College is an exploration, and moving into Corporate America makes it easy to fall in line behind someone else’s vision without truly uncovering your own voice. Stepping out on my own forced me, very quickly, to get real about who I was, what I believed in, where my boundaries were and what I wanted. I’ve learned to listen to myself, to identify my own voice and then share that voice with others in a very confident way. It was initially intimidating to open myself up, but through it, I’ve found great strength.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
Journalism and media are still predominantly a man’s game. The glass ceiling has certainly been shattered by incredible women like Barbara Walters, Oprah, Diane Sawyer and many others, but the executives in charge are still predominately men.
Because of that, I encourage every woman to recognize her position in the larger community of women and ‘lift as she climbs.’ When a woman reaches a position of leadership, it’s her responsibility, and privilege, to help lift other women up around her; become a mentor, be an advocate for female colleagues and open doors. If we remove our own insecurities from the equation and take that responsibility seriously, we will start to see the gender-wage gap diminish and more female faces in the boardroom.
Who are your role models?
Oprah is my greatest role-model and inspiration. First off, she’s a phenomenal business woman as she has created a media empire around ideas of inspiration and positivity. She also has struck a beautiful balance between being a leader for generations of women while allowing herself to be vulnerable, real and approachable. None of that is easy -- she’s simply the best.
What are some of the rules you live by?
I no longer make decisions from my head, I don’t decide until I know the right choice in my gut -- intuition is my greatest guide.
Also, I live by the rule that every life is an example. Somebody is always watching you, being inspired (or possibly uninspired) by your actions. Every decision you make, at home or at work, is a beacon for someone else -- most of us will never know the impact we have on others, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening every day. Live a life that is authentic and inspiring!
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
GO! Start today!
If you are lucky enough to know what you want to “be when you grow up,” don’t waste a minute! Step 1: reach out to leaders in the industry you want to be in. For example, when I began, I wrote to the editor-in-chief of every major woman’s magazine asking for 10 minutes of her time to have a phone conversation. I wanted to spark a connection with powerful women in the industry that I was moving into and to ask about their path to success so that I might follow in her footsteps! You won’t hear back from everyone you write to, but don’t sweat it! It’s not personal. Just keep asking and moving forward, and the right doors will open.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see HerExchange becoming a household name; the place for women to come for inspiration, information and connection through exchange. I see myself continuing to bring stories forward to inspire happy, healthy, whole lives.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I would reiterate the critical need for every woman to take the responsibility of lifting as she climbs. See yourself as a part of a larger whole and look out for each other. As you strive for the stars, open the door to the moon for someone else!