Elise Stephenson

Director of Social Impact, Social Good Outpost

Fast Five is our quickfire interview series where we hit up some legendary movers, shakers, innovators and changemakers with, you’ve guessed it, five big questions. In this week’s edition, we talk to Elise Stephenson, Director of Social Impact at Social Good Outpost, an Australian women-led design and communication studio which helps for-purpose organisations to connect, communicate and flourish.

Q1: Give us three words that describe your life as an entrepreneur.

Antifragile, empowered, extraordinary

Q2: Most entrepreneurs have an origin story- a moment in time or an experience that was the catalyst for their entrepreneurial journey. What is your origin story?

There are two points to my origin story.

In high school, I acquired a bilateral hand disability, and I didn’t think I’d be able to get a job anywhere unless I created the job for myself.

Secondly, I hated the idea of working in an office and only wearing a grey suit. The thought still fills me with dread! 

In both cases, I turned to entrepreneurship because it allowed me to solve a ‘negative’ or problem in my life, and create my own future. 

Q3: Tell us about a massive flearning (failing + learning) moment for you.

In my early years of doing business, I thought I was doing a good thing by offering my services cheap. What I realised was that not only was I not properly valuing my services and skills, I was devaluing the work of others around me in my industry, I was becoming worn out, and my clients were suffering because I didn’t have the time or money to properly dedicate to helping them.

What I’ve learned is that not everyone will be able to afford your services or products – but that is okay.

You have to trust in your value and that by doing so, you will be able to provide the real product or service, impact and results that your clients want. 

Q4: What do you wish you’d learned at school about starting or running a business?

Starting a business isn’t necessarily about choosing a name, registering your company and getting a website – these are all things that come with time. Rather, starting a business is as simple as having something to sell, someone to sell it to, and a way to sell it. 

Q5: What’s one book, website or podcast you’d recommend to aspiring young entrepreneurs, and why?  

I love the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

In an overcrowded world, with myriad things competing for your time and interest, it is powerful to sit back and be strategic. Don’t rush into doing anything and everything at once. As Greg says, “Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”

More about this week’s Fast Fiver, Elise Stephenson.

Dr Elise Stephenson is an award-winning strategist, researcher and entrepreneur. She is co-founder of design and strategy studio, Social Good Outpost, curator of the Young Entrepreneurs & Leaders Speaker Series across Australia and Asia, and a researcher at the Policy Innovation Hub, Griffith University. You can connect with Elise on LinkedIn here.

Elise is one of the many social entrepreneurs that took part in Future Anything’s National Semi-Finals 2020, as part of our high profile, international judging panel. Read more about the 2020 National Finals here.

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