Stephanie Valenti: Navigating Change and Leading with Empathy

October 13, 2023
Content Marketing | Marketing Strategy | Taking the Lead

Episode Summary

In this insightful episode of Taking the Lead, host Christina Brady sits down with Stephanie Valenti, the dynamic COO & Head of Revenue at Vitalyc Medspa. Stephanie shares her unconventional journey to leadership, revealing how she navigated through various roles and industries, initially aspiring to be a doctor, and eventually finding her passion in operations. She discusses the challenges and learnings from leading a $300 million organization, emphasizing the importance of asking the right questions and adapting to different leadership styles.

Stephanie delves into her experiences in operations, highlighting her ability to simplify complex problems and drive change. She reflects on her transition from being the “gas pedal” to learning how to be the “brake pedal,” adapting her approach to meet the diverse needs of her roles. Stephanie’s story is a testament to her resilience, adaptability, and commitment to growth.

Listeners will gain valuable insights from Stephanie’s masterclass on ramping in an executive new role, leading with empathy, and focusing on both hard and soft skills. Her approach to identifying trends and addressing organizational needs showcases her strategic thinking and people-first mentality. This episode is a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone looking to evolve their leadership skills and make a meaningful impact in their field.

Featured Guest

Name: Stephanie Valenti

What she does: COO & Head of Revenue

Company: Vitalyc Medspa

Noteworthy: Experienced in operations, adept at leading change and driving growth in diverse roles.

Key Insights

Navigating Leadership in a $300 Million Organization

Stephanie Valenti shares her experiences and challenges while leading a $300 million company, emphasizing the importance of asking the right questions and adapting leadership styles. She highlights the misconception that large companies have everything figured out and discusses the learning curve involved in understanding the nuances of such organizations. Stephanie’s approach to leadership involves a balance between being the “gas pedal,” driving initiatives forward, and being the “brake pedal,” ensuring thoughtful decision-making. This insight sheds light on the complexities of leading large organizations and the adaptability required to navigate them effectively.

Mastering Operations and Simplifying Complexity

Stephanie Valenti delves into her passion for operations, discussing her ability to simplify complex problems and implement effective solutions. She reflects on her journey from various roles to becoming proficient in operations, emphasizing how she found fulfillment in resolving organizational challenges. Stephanie’s story reveals her adaptability and commitment to growth, even leaving a role when she felt there were no more problems to solve. This insight offers a glimpse into the mindset of an effective operations leader and the satisfaction derived from overcoming complexity.

People-First Approach and Building Accountability

In the episode, Stephanie Valenti lays out a masterclass on integrating hard and soft skills in leadership. She emphasizes leading with empathy and adopting a people-first approach, creating a warm environment where team members feel valued. Stephanie discusses the importance of building relationships with every individual in the company and leveraging accountability. By combining empathy with accountability, she fosters a culture where team members can rely on leadership and contribute effectively. This insight underscores the significance of balancing interpersonal skills with strategic thinking in building a successful organizational culture.

Episode Highlights

Stephanie’s Unconventional Start

Stephanie Valenti opens up about her unexpected start in the professional world, revealing how becoming a mother at 19 shaped her journey. Juggling multiple jobs and education, she discovered her drive and determination, leading her to various roles in different industries. Stephanie’s story is a testament to overcoming stereotypes and relentlessly pursuing one’s goals. 

“I wanted to be a doctor, right? I had plans […] But what I, really fast, saw was, Oh, like, I’m gonna conquer this one, and then what’s next? And then I’m going to conquer this and what’s next.”

Learning to Ask the Right Questions

Stephanie discusses the importance of asking the right questions, especially in a large organization. She emphasizes how this approach helps in understanding the needs and scaling the business effectively, highlighting the misconception that large companies have everything figured out.

“Somebody comes to you and says, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do a 100 million in revenue. How many heads do you need?’ And I’m like that’s the wrong question […] What additional resources am I going to have? How’s marketing going to help me? Right? You suddenly learn, ‘Oh, I actually can’t answer that unless you give me more information.’”

Transitioning From Gas Pedal to Brake Pedal

Stephanie shares her enlightening experience of transitioning from being the “gas pedal,” driving initiatives, to learning how to be the “brake pedal” in operations. This shift allowed her to understand the perspectives of her counterparts and adapt her leadership approach.

“For the first time, I had to learn how to be the brake pedal. […] No, right, operations can’t do that […] I realized all of those times that I was demanding things from the rooftop […] I don’t know how my counterparts felt.”

The Significance of Workplace Tours

Christina Brady and Stephanie Valenti share a light-hearted conversation about the significance of workplace tours. They discuss how companies take pride in showcasing their facilities, often focusing on cafeterias and supply closets, reflecting organizational culture and pride.

“They always give you tours of their locations because everyone’s so prideful, right? So you go in and you’re like I’m trying to sit down with the head of facilities. And they’re like, ‘Ooh, let me show you this.’”

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