spotlight on barbara

January 18, 2022

written by
Mari Aipa

“Great things in business are never done by one person.  They’re done by a team of people.” — Author Unknown

If you know us and our team, you know that we are all about the people.  From the clients that we work with to the crazy, fun, creative, intelligent team members that make up your all-star team, our relationships with eachother are at the core of what makes us successful.

As we kick off another year of virtual meetings and interactions, we thought it might be fun for you to get to know us individually, starting with our CXO and fearless leader Barbara O. Stephenson first!

What was your first job?

My first real job was as a YMCA camp counselor when I was 15. Considering the kids in the camp were only 2 years younger than I was, it was a really strange job. But I worked with kids in various forms from preschool to camp until I was 20 so it was a good foundation for me in dealing with irrational behaviors.

I’ve sold shoes, been a book editor, warehouse shipping crew, a pharmaceutical manufactory worker, a movie theater usher, a waitress, an assistant innkeeper, a ski lift bunny, an artist’s model, and a bazillion varieties of business person. Of course, not one thing I’ve done for money has ever been something I studied to do in school. Sometimes it’s just finding what you’re good at (and what you are not good at!) and running with it.


What’s your favorite part of running 3FO?

I love when we help clients, and I mean genuinely help clients in a way that only we can. Not only providing them with a website or a campaign or strategy but getting involved in how they run their business and how to optimize workflow so that their lives are easier overall. But I also like spreadsheets and reports, slicing and dicing data. I can get lost doing that kind of work.


Do you have a favorite quote?

When I was little it was ‘hitch your wagon to a star”. But if you ask the team, I’m probably most remembered for telling people “we’re not curing cancer.”

People get myopic with day-to-day tasks, particularly now that we’re WFH. When you have colleagues whose greatest fear is disappointing themselves or their team, they can spiral into thinking a small task has much greater meaning, importance, or weight. I find a bit of perspective actually helps the creativity flow and decreases overall stress while increasing job satisfaction.


Where’s your favorite place to travel or that you have traveled?

HARD! I love Japan. The food, the people, the food, the trains, the culture- it’s one of the easiest trips to take because being a tourist is simple and safe. You can hike in the jungle, get lost in the train system, sit in a hot spring, go to all-you-can-drink sake + karaoke…..all in the same day.

And my family would hurt me if I didn’t say Germany. I love going home to see my friends and family in Munich, it’s just my speed.


What are your goals for 2022?

Well not to get covid or give it to anyone. I’d like to do a better job running our business personally but I’d be happy to just keep the team smoothly humming and enjoying their lives. Some silly stuff like getting a real haircut (haven’t done that since 2020) or going to Central America for vacation.

Honestly, my real goal in 2022 isn’t anything new and I work on it constantly, simply to be kind. I had a friend, Jack Porter, pass a few years ago, and has been my inspiration. If I can be even half as kind and generous of spirit as he was, the world will be a better place.