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Stories of Change: How Lisa Weiss is Inspiring Reflection and Action Through Content Creation

Lisa Weiss, Founder and CEO at Storybeat Studio, is on a mission to build a storytelling platform that will serve women creators who are growing personally and professionally.

Lisa is a multiple Emmy Award-winning producer, creator, and journalist who has been telling stories her whole life. Building upon her more than twenty years of broadcasting experience, her role as the co-executive producer of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and founding Storybeat Studio, Lisa hopes to empower individuals and companies to effectively share their experiences.

We asked Lisa about her journey into entrepreneurship, her greatest achievements, and what’s up next for Storybeat Studio.

Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding: How and why did you start working on Storybeat Studio?

A: I started working on my company in 2015, after Oprah shut the doors on her Chicago-based studio. For 17 years I had worked as a producer, writer, and journalist, traveling the country telling stories for a living, with six or seven of those years spent working for Oprah. Prior to Oprah’s studio closing, I thought I’d spend the next twenty years of my career working for Harpo Studios. When you reach what feels like the pinnacle of a career, and that chapter comes to an end, I think it can be hard to determine the next right step. At least that’s how it felt for me.

I spent years with Oprah reading books and interviewing their incredible authors including Dr. Maya Angelou, Brené Brown, Elie Wiesel, and many more. My job included writing scripts and interviewing people who had powerful voices. It was a privilege and it also led to self reflection. I began wondering about my own unique voice and vision. I had a knack for discovering talent and could unearth unique stories from just about anyone. I thought, what if I could apply those skills and experiences to my own endeavor? I knew it was time to carve out my own message and path.

Q: What problem does your business solve?

A: According to The Pew Research Center, 31 percent of U.S. adults report that they go online “almost constantly.” The media landscape currently rewards binge-watching and overconsumption of online media. For example, more than 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute and people watch over a billion hours of video on YouTube every day.

The Storybeat Studio platform provides multimedia content with subject-matter experts on topics of personal and business growth. The content is designed with one purpose: to engage the viewer for a short period of time and then inspire reflection and action. Content is based on a growing body of research showing that investment in personal development positively impacts professional growth. Content topics include mindset, habits, friendship, financial literacy, and creativity.

Storybeat Studio solves another problem through our consulting services. Every person wants to be seen, heard and understood. Unfortunately, telling your own story is difficult and many struggle with it. We all benefit from having a partner—a mirror—to draw out unique and compelling details from our often-hidden stories. Storybeat Studio harnesses storytelling methods I’ve developed and honed during my 20+ career. As storytelling consultants, we offer signature services and workshops to help businesses of all sizes tell better stories, enhancing authentic connection and growth.

Q: What makes your company different from others?

A: We’re different because we’re a media company that’s opposed to creating binge-worthy media content. I strongly believe content should be created and consumed with purpose for a limited time—and then people should return to living their actual lives.

We provide compelling multimedia content and signature workshops for businesses of all sizes. Storytelling workshops and content are created with a clear intention, to support personal and professional goals. Our authentic and engaging approach to storytelling inspires reflection and growth.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

A: I think I’ve always known entrepreneurship was part of who I am. Taking the leap and committing to it full-time took me many years.

My father is a first-generation American who, after completing his draft service in the U.S. Army, became an entrepreneur and ultimately president of his own accounting firm. Growing up, my father often told me entrepreneurship was a path to freedom.

I’ve always been curious, inventive, and entrepreneurial. As a child, I handcrafted and sold jewelry at local art fairs. My older sister and I were always making different styles of beaded necklaces, bracelets, and earrings and we felt a sense of satisfaction when others liked what we made enough to pay for it. Our lemonade stand was always very popular—we’d cut peonies from our backyard and sell them in bunches to draw more customers to the stand. Even then I had a sense that offering an additional product—especially an unexpected one such as flowers—could be more enticing than just plain lemonade. We used the proceeds to buy more beads.

Q: Have you struggled with self doubt as an entrepreneur? How do you navigate this?

A: The way I push through self-doubt is by investing my energy in a small but rewarding task. I draw inspiration from writer Ann Lamott’s book “Bird by Bird” which offers a lesson I apply to entrepreneurship. In the book, Lamott tells a story from her childhood. Her brother was working on a report about birds when he became overwhelmed by all the options. Lamott writes that her father gave this advice: “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” This advice can be applied to anything, and I do so often in entrepreneurship. I break down tasks and priorities into bite-sized chunks, which allows me to stay focused and results-oriented even when it’s hard.

One of my biggest lessons from becoming an entrepreneur may seem like a pretty obvious one. I had to realize that working for Oprah didn’t make me Oprah. People answer your calls when you work for Oprah. They want to be on your show when you work for Oprah. It took a lot of hard work, skill, and good luck to get to the point where I could work for Oprah, but that didn’t make me Oprah. No matter what I did in the past, the success of what I’m building now depends on me. It’s my responsibility to create excitement and interest around what I’m building.

Q: We dare you to brag: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: I’m proud that I’ll be 45 years old in June and I feel my life and career are just getting started. By the way, it’s worth noting that the average age of a successful entrepreneur in the U.S. is 45 (according to research from Wharton management professor J. Daniel Kim in the study, “Age and High-growth Entrepreneurship”).

Prior to becoming a founder, I’d won three Emmy Awards, two while working for Oprah and another one previously. While at CBS News, I earned a duPont Award for the special series CBS Reports: Children of the Recession.

What I’m most proud of is that I’m letting people see the real me now, rather than just living behind the scenes. It’s important not only for me but for the example I set as a parent, citizen, and business owner.

Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?

A: I’d tell my younger self to let others see me and know me better. As a Midwesterner, I always believed in working hard and staying pretty quiet. But I think it’s important to let people really understand you and your story, while also getting to know theirs. You may not always work for a company and when you’re representing your own brand you need to know how to express yourself. The lesson applies to anyone working within a company, too. If you want other departments or divisions to understand your contributions, it’s important to know what drives you and how to share your story.

Q: What’s next for you and your company?

A: We’re expanding our platform to include a wider variety of subject-matter experts in areas of personal and business growth. Expect to see weekly multimedia stories about topics including entrepreneurship, “adulting,” parenting, creativity, and mindset.

We’re also looking forward to launching a special multimedia series called Object Diaries, exploring the hidden stories behind treasured objects.

On the consulting side, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to working with mission-driven companies and organizations with social impact initiatives.

Lisa is a member of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women entrepreneurs and leaders by securing PR, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.

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