meet stephanie harbison …
I am originally from Bloomington, Indiana where I live today with my husband, Zach, and three needy felines, Ezra, Piper and Espy. They are essentially my children, and I’m pretty sure they know it. I loved growing up in Bloomington! If you have ever visited you know that the community is pretty influenced by the university (Indiana University that is – Go Hoosiers!), so there is always something fun and cultural to do around here.
One of my favorite things about Bloomington is the countless number of local and ethnic restaurants. Food never gets boring here! I have two younger sisters, Bailey and Lexie, and we all look alike. My mom is a high school French teacher and has been a huge influence in my love for different cultures, travel, and art. She took me along on her class trips to Europe when I was young, so I have some really fun memories of visiting old French castles, eating way too much cheese in Switzerland, and parasailing over the Mediterranean Sea.
In college I had an opportunity to study abroad in Milan, Italy, for a semester, which was probably the coolest thing a 20 year old could ever do! Every day was a field trip to a different museum or famous historical site. A huge thanks to my parents for giving me that opportunity!
I graduated from Indiana University in 2006 with a major in Marketing and International Business, and a minor in Art History. My first job out of college was working as a Marketing Rep with the heavy equipment company, Caterpillar. If you ever drive by a construction site and see those giant yellow machines, then you know Cat! Looking back reminds me how little I knew about life, and even less about heavy equipment. I know it was a true blessing and I was very fortunate to start off my career with such a successful company that taught me so much about working in the professional world.
However, I was definitely thrust into becoming an adult very quickly, which I probably needed. I lived on my own for the first time, in a new state, and I was literally responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars of the company’s money. Every day I woke up and thought, “Do they know that I was in high school like 5 years ago??” But this was such a great time in my life. I ran my first marathon in 2007 and made some of my best friends through the company’s training program.
I decided to change directions in 2009 and go back to school. I always loved the arts so much and decided to move back home to Bloomington to pursue my masters in Arts Administration. My original plan was to finish my Master’s, move to a bigger city, and work in a museum. It’s funny how life had different plans for me, because just before I started my Maste’s program I started dating Zach.
We dated only about 4 months before we got engaged, then were married a year later! Side story – this is the guy I worked with at Texas Roadhouse in college and chatted with him occasionally in the salad line. I never imagined we would have so much in common and that he was such a beautiful person in so many ways. So, this side story of getting married while I was still in grad school changed my plans a little. We determined that we LOVE Bloomington and want to live close to family and raise our kids here one day.
A few years later I ended up taking on a new challenge in a difference direction, again! As I met with my financial advisor at Northwestern Mutual, he kept putting the bug in my ear that I should look into a career as a financial rep. I had been a client for several years, so I was already intrigued and really admired the career. So in May 2013 I became licensed and started my own financial practice. I quickly learned that I had unleashed a hidden passion for helping others, and for financial planning. It helped me to better understand my personality and what I have to offer.
My position has evolved into a recruiting/training and development role, which is what I do with Northwestern Mutual today. I am building the local college internship program and get to coach college students as they learn the ropes of being a financial advisor. It has been such a fulfilling career these past few years, because I have found what really makes me tick. I even got to go back to my old stomping grounds in Arts Administration and teach a course on Financial Management for nonprofits. It all came full circle and was an incredible opportunity. Life is funny that way!
Of course I still love the arts and to get involved in the community, so I get my fix by serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the Bloomington Creative Glass Center. It has been so much fun to help a relatively new non-profit grow and work towards its goal of bringing more of the community together with this beautiful art form! Zach and I are also involved with our church, which gives us an opportunity to connect with others and be a part of something that’s really important to us.
what makes me thrive …
When I think of someone who thrives, I think of a person who is confident in who they are, and who constantly lifts other people up. People want to be around them because they have a positive outlook in every circumstance, they are a good listener, have a giving heart, and they are truly passionate about living life. Those qualities are what I admire most in an individual, so I am working on shaping my life to be more like that person.
One of the things that gives me energy and makes me feel confident is to have a schedule. It may sound silly, but I am a HUGE planner and thrive off of having a plan. My husband probably thinks I’m a little nuts because I’m actually designing my own planner since I still can’t find one that fits my life just how I want it! Being organized makes me happy, so anything that can help my life become more efficient and uncluttered makes me feel at peace.
I also love love love early mornings. I’m not talking 6AM meeting type of early, I mean I have the most energy and focus when I can spend some time to myself before the rush of the day clutters my head. Life gets so hectic as soon as we head out the door, so I found that if I invest a little time into myself first, it sets me up to have a much more productive and positive day. I definitely have to get up early to fit in all of the things that I want to do, but this way I can’t make excuses later in the day for not getting them done.
Overall, I thrive when my priorities are where they should be. When I put my faith, family and personal development first it makes it a lot easier to say “yes” to more things that I care about, and less to things that get in the way of them. I believe it’s so important that a person can identify what is truly most important to them, base their goals around them, and always make time for those things first.
I heard a quote from performance coach and author, Jason Selk that has always stuck with me, “The noise of urgency creates the illusion of importance.” How true is that?! It’s easy to let emails, texts, and last minute requests take precedence over our “priorities.” So in order to thrive more I am working on recognizing and reversing my natural tendency to create that illusion of urgency. When I do, I find that I’m not only a better listener but a better wife, daughter, friend and employee.
connect with stephanie …