We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Zavislan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started People and Practices with people in mind. I believe in people as the fundamental core of good business. All the great strategies in the world won’t ever come to fruition without people executing them. I had some unfortunate experiences in the business world where I saw employees being mistreated and management being clueless about the power of good HR. Particularly in the nonprofit world, where I’ve spent the last decade of my career, I saw a lot of passionate people come to nonprofits to make a difference and feel good about their work, only to be disregarded, unappreciated, and asked to be more of a robot than a passionate contributor. I’m committed to good business. I’ve learned that the best businesses stay afloat by doing things right and working with heart, with more than just profit or a balanced budget in mind. Good business ultimately comes down to values, and I saw that first-hand. The majority of people I speak to don’t know their company’s values. or how values can serve a business. Values matter! Values are the basis of culture and the driver of every business decision. Every company on the planet operates according to values. I know how to identify values, I know what a difference values make, and I want to share that knowledge with anyone who wants to get out of the rat race and work with heart. People like working with heart. Values are the heart of each business. I want every business to discover their driving force and re-invent themselves according to what makes each of them unique.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a late bloomer. It has taken me several years to realize my interests and skills. I started working out of college for an entrepreneur who was stealing money from clients. It was in this position that I decided to get my MBA and to obtain it from the University of Denver, which was one of the top schools in the world for emphasis on business ethics. During my time at DU I stumbled upon the Values-Based Leadership concentration and couldn’t get enough of learning about values in the global marketplace. Values drive every business decision and dictate every corporate culture. I happened to graduate from DU the very week of the November 2008 stock market crash. I took a job doing accounting and billing because it’s what I could land the most quickly. Throughout the years I have grown as an accounting and operations professional, managing things like Medicaid reimbursements, payroll, transportation schedules, and health sector integration plans. As each year passed I found myself thinking constantly about retention strategies, succession planning, workforce planning, employee engagement, and the one thing missing from every environment I have ever worked in: values. I started People & Practices in 2018 and earned my PHR from HRCI in May 2020. I’m ready to take values and talent management expertise to every company who wants to give their employees more than a paycheck. I instinctively understand the employee experience and want to help companies big and small develop an employer brand that can’t be matched.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I haven’t been out to eat since last March, since the pandemic began! I would take my friend to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, up the Bierstadt Lake trail to see the incredible views. I’d meander up to Fort Collins to do a moonlight hike at Horsetooth Reservoir after a hearty lunch AND dinner at Big City Burrito, which I have loved ever since college. From there we would head down through Bailey and Conifer to Grant and hike Three Mile trail with a picnic lunch. I’d love to take this friend down to Buena Vista for the striking views of Mount Princeton, and stay the night at Mount Princeton Hot Springs for an unforgettable day soaking in the river, with a dinner at Eddyline for their white pizza. If we had time I’d take him/her to Crested Butte to SUP on the Slate River, which is one of the coolest things I have ever done. Upon returning to Denver, I’d take this friend to Whiskey Tango Foxtrot in Rino for drinks and delicious buffalo cauliflower, and a walk along the Bear Creek greenbelt in Lakewood with a stop at Cafe Jordano for the best Italian food you can find, and Magill’s World of Ice Cream for dessert (both on Jewell Ave in Lakewood). There are not enough days in the week to experience all the wonderful parts of Colorado with out of town visitors!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Uncle Jim, a nonprofit employee in Philadelphia, is someone who really helped me make my company a reality. I love talking to Jim about his employment experience and his own vision for better, more people-centric business. I owe a lot of my journey to my colleagues – Katie Dockery, Meegan Moszynski, Meghan Basket Kluth, Kelsey Ness, Scott Brackney, Carrie Bulman, Charles Buckman, Michelle Manring, Geoff Peck, and Rob Wilcox, all who work with more heart than anyone I have ever met. All the people I mentioned are a credit to the nonprofit industry and I wish them nothing but the best! I would not have had the courage to start offering values consultation without the help of Amanda Wallander Roberts, Christina Rowe, Lisa Stokes Nicholas, Krista Schaad Walder, Audra Schilling, and my sister Lauren Grant. Finally, I give a huge shout out to my mentor and friend Demetrius Parker who believes in the power of values and people-centric business as much as I do.