Maria: Stephanie thanks for being part of this series highlighting people who are out there being a Change Agent in the world. This segment is really about helping people meet and understand how others are actively being a catalyst for change in the world by the way they working; either in a very direct way or simply by the way they are “being” in the world. My intention for this series of [Spotlight] segments is to share how everyday people can and do make a difference!
You are a book consultant, editor and peace activist. An amazing combination of ingredients! Can you tell me a little bit about how this all came about?
Stephanie: I always had a love of books: as adventures, experiences and expressions. Books have been my friends, my companion and inspiration for years. No matter what is happening currently in the publishing world, there is nothing like opening up a book and smelling the print, opening the spine and entering into the experience that the author offers you. I just loved them and still do.
The point being when I was 8 years old I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know any writers and I certainly didn’t know anything about editing. I grew up and that was always my dream. I went to college and still didn’t know any editors. – I was still to shy to write for the newspaper. I wrote one article for the newspapers. I was confused when I graduated. I had a job working with autistic kids for the last 2 summer in college.
Maria: So what was the turning point for you?
Stephanie: Eventually, I ended up getting offered a job at Harper Collins – Harper & Row at the time. That job was very entry level. There was something very fantastic about it. I was hired as the assistant to the managing editor. That hub of the wheel includes production, editorial and business. This woman was the traffic cop between all departments. This was prior to computers being introduced to publishing in a modest way.
I was this shy super intelligent girl who people would forget I was in the room. So people would say stuff around me. They would always say the most amazing things. I learned about inventory systems, budgets, production management and cover design. When I was finally promoted to work with an executive editor who is renounced editors in the field. I worked for him for 9 years.
Maria: This sounds like an incredibly opportunity to really get a solid foundation for your work!
Stephanie: Yes! I took all the attitudes I’ve developed in my first job and used it to frame my work. I began with this more global thought of editing than others had and advanced rapidly. I left HC in 1995 when I was head hunted by Bantam Double Day Dell because I put a previously self published book on the best seller list “Mutant Messages Down Under” by Marlow Morgan. It was a book that followed on the heels of “Celestine Prophecy”.
Having seen this massive marketing successful campaign that hit 4 or 5 on the best seller. I was a rising star and recruited to start a list of health and spirituality books at Dell at age 32. Which is very young!
Maria: Amazing Steph! So what caused you to leave your glamorous career with prestigious traditional publishing houses and venture out on your own?
I saw that publishers would entice authors with promises of all kinds of marketing. It wasn’t that marketing wasn’t done. But it felt that the author was a secondary author in the process. I felt so personally aligned with the writers and creates. They were the people that excited me. Discussing with me what they are doing for marketing. I was already consulting my authors on the inside, rather than on the outside.
It was the sensibility of the authors that I wanted to improve. I had an epiphany. I realized that I would “Love this idea, love this author” and there’s something they cannot do for themselves that I can do! I became a ghostwriter then I became a marketing expert. It was through wanting to market my own projects that I discovered I was really good at it.
Maria: Now you’re working with people as a book consultant and editor. What kind of material/projects do you enjoy working on and why”?
I work with spirituality, new thought, complimentary or integrative medicine and self-help. My bestseller authors are Greg Braden (“The Spontaneous Healing of Beliefs” and the “Divine Matrix”) and Hal Dwoskins (“The Sedona Method” also Hal appeared in “The Secret”). People in those categories gravitate to me because of my past experience and they understand my personal interests related to spirituality.
One of the defining points for me to say YES to working on a project has to do with very much it’s originality and also with the sense of that person having a clear mission in the world: to contribute something of lasting value.
Maria: Why is that mission and need for lasting value important?
I believe we’re all called to something and you know you’re calling because it lights a fire in your belly. You feel more excited and happy when you think about it. It’s pretty much effortless for you. It’s your talent and calls forth from you what you’re to do. I have an ability that is innate to me, to look at a person and know their higher potential. And even to see some of the steps in between that are blocking them. To hold that vision for that person. To be their companion as they step forward to their calling. I believe my calling is creative. When I say creative I mean I believe life and everything in the world is a creative process and if you remove obstacles all you get is creativity and expansion.
Maria: We’re talking about books that change the world.
Yes, which means you move beyond the problem. If disease, poverty or hatred were eliminated n the other side of these problems would be the state of interactive dynamic web of life, which we’d all be participants and our full value, would be expressed. With each person living on their purpose.
If I can affect 1 writer then I can affect millions. I see that as my work, as a powerful influencer…on a good day. LOL
Maria: You’re basically interweaving this personal growth and development in order to create peace in the world. But you also have a specific peace project that you developed with millionaire entrepreneur Richard Aronow called “Stop Thinking Now”.
This is an annual program that we developed to be held on Gandhi’s birthday.
In 2006 I met a capital investor named Richard Aronow, who runs his business according to spiritual principles, we decided we wanted to do a book together. Every time we spoke we just laughed and laughed and felt uplifted. And we realized that both of us had the same kind of conversation with other people. There are certain kinds of conversation that uplift people. It occurred to us that we could create a certain kind of conversation to uplift the world. The way to do that is to uplift people one at a time.
Drawing on my vast contacts in publishing we put together a free 30 day home study course on the internet http://www.stopthinkingnow.com to teach people different tools and tech by which they could be more peaceful within themselves. Mediation is one way. It’s not the only thing we teach.
Maria: So this becomes your way of bringing profound change and peace into the world.
Yes to live beyond the problems.
Now I have a vision of gathering a thousand or more writers who are changing the world for the better. To gather these people together for a common purpose: peace and creativity in the world.
Maria: What’s coming up?
My new book “You Are a Spirit” is coming out on May 19th: http://www.stephaniegunning.com/booklaunch/ With the launch comes a lot of really amazing gifts for people who purchase the book on the launch date. So I suggest people take advantage of this right away. I’m extremely excited about this project! There will be a series of events and workshops. I will be in Denver and Massachusetts to talk about “Think Out” and spiritual publishing.
Maria: You spoke at the UN recently! I was honored to be there! What was that like for you?
It was great!
I realized that I have a lot to say and offer. It helped me to organize my thoughts. It felt like an affirmation that I was on the right track in combining research on brain science with quantum science and metaphysics. I felt like I was really getting at the heart of what I am here to do and teach people.
Maria: If people want to learn more about you and follow you how do they do that?
Something people might be interested to know if that my spiritual practice of the moment is tango! LOL
For the sense of connection to another person. For the sense of presence. You always know your current condition when you’re dancing with a partner. Because you can’t actually stay on balances and move fluidly in connection with another person unless you’ve found your center.
Maria: That’s a great metaphor! LOL
Stephanie thank-you for sharing what you do, why you do it and HOW you do it with everyone here today. You’re truly inspirational to many people out there in the world.
It’s my pleasure!