06 Jun Why vs. What By Stephanie Forte, Founder & CEO of Forté PR
The air hung heavy in the room as my interviewer waited for me to answer his questions, “Why are there so many gaps in your resume? What were you doing?” It was a make or break moment that I had become all too familiar with while job-hunting in Las Vegas. I had carefully crafted answers to address the what, half-truths that when spoken made me feel like I was wearing a Herve Leger bandage dress after Thanksgiving dinner. It was October 1998 and I was broke. After having spent nearly two living in the back of my pick-up truck, I owned few possessions. With nothing more to lose, I decided this time I would address the why of deciding to devote years of my life to the pursuit of rock climbing.
My why– a relentless passion for my sport, a desire to test my physical and mental boundaries, to become more proficient at taking calculated risks and having enough self-motivation to train to be one of the top female athletes in my field (for little or no financial gain) more than satisfied the company’s executive director. While I had never considered a career in public relations, I was hired for a temporary marketing and PR coordinator position. It was quickly apparent that PR was the perfect career choice for me (second to rock climbing athlete.) The company offered me a permanent position that included a four-day workweek so I had ample time to train and travel for climbing.
As a longtime freelance writer, storytelling has been a huge part of my life. Deciding to launch an agency in 2005, my vision was to work with the media to tell stories about people, businesses and ideas that would inspire others to lead a more fulfilled, healthy and active life. I dreamt of a workspace that had the same vibe as those in my former home in a Colorado mountain town. Where a group of creative people would come together daily to foster amazing ideas, and where there was no dress code and dogs were welcome.
This year Forté PR celebrates 10 years of storytelling, having no dress code and our 1950’s bungalow home/office in DTLV is dog friendly. Like climbing, it’s been a fascinating journey where I’ve learned that taking big and sometimes scary falls is a part of being successful. I’ve found that both require focus, ongoing training and working to improve one’s technique. The main motivation for being successful in both climbing and PR must be the love of the process. Yet the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in my decade of agency ownership and 23 years of climbing is that the day you lose sight of your why, regardless of how big your client list or climbing resume is, you are lost.