What’s in a name? Well, if you’re a meaning-making machine like I am, probably a lot.
When I began freelancing in 2007, I used my first and last name. It was straightforward and efficient.
In 2015, when I decided to turn the side-hustle into the main-hustle, I wanted to incorporate under something different. My friends advised against this, believing that my work was inherently associated with my name. While I can certainly appreciate the sentiment and recognize the value and simplicity in Shannon Stober Consulting or something of the like, I’ve never been comfortable with the approach.
Because at the end of the day, the work isn’t about me, it’s about us.
It’s about the people in the room or the person across the table. It’s about collectively showing up and generously giving ourselves to our shared intentions. It’s about how we dance together. The work isn’t measured by my skill set or performance, it’s measured by what we co-create and how we feel about the experience.
In my world, we all teach, we all learn, we all grow.
I wanted to reflect these beliefs in my business name. I landed on Verve Exchange
Verve is defined as vigor and spirit or enthusiasm and was chosen to represent the energy I aspire to create and sustain in the learning environments I manufacture. Exchange is defined as the act of giving or taking one thing in return for another, and represents the need for everyone to bring themselves into the process.
Now, a marketing pro will tell you this was a shitty choice, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The name is difficult to pronounce, easy to confuse (google Verb Exchange for some cute, misplaced shout outs), and doesn’t provide any sense of what I actually do.
Despite these obvious flaws, I forged ahead under the Verve Exchange banner. I understood that my intention wasn’t to use the phrase to generate clients, my work does that. The phrase was designed to serves as my North Star; a reminder to stay present to the fact that it’s not what we do, but how we do it, that matters most. It was an expression of who I wanted to BE in this new chapter.
Fast-forward five years. Verve Exchange is thriving. I am experiencing unprecedented growth and success. The pandemic hits, the lockdowns come, and everything changes. My work shifts and morphs into a new format, one better more suited for our new reality, but by all accounts, we’re forging ahead.
Despite the sustained momentum, I find myself feeling deeply unsettled.
The truth is, I had begun to question the value of what I have always been called to do. Who cares about workshopping communication and leadership skills when people are dying, when people are losing their livelihoods, when our world’s inequities are on full display? I couldn’t articulate my impact, and my work began to feel superficial. I felt trivial. I wanted to walk away. I actually tried to.
The funny thing about having a deep sense of purpose is that walking away isn’t always our decision to make.
In August I was invited to participate in an Executive Entrepreneurial Leadership program hosted by Babson College at Montana’s West Creek Ranch. I was at my lowest point, and the timing couldn’t have been better. I needed some inspiration. I quickly took to a particular faculty member, Cheryl Kiser, and during one of our many conversations, I confessed my truth; I didn’t believe my work mattered.
I’ll never forget the look on her face as she slapped her hand on the table and exclaimed “Shannon, you set people in motion!” In a flash, I woke up. I was jolted by a sense of clarity that I have never experienced before. For the first time, I really got it, I saw myself.
I set people, processes, and projects in motion. I’m a Jump Starter.
Armed with this insight, I began looking for alignment. I asked myself where my actions felt effortless and where my work felt most impactful. I reflected upon the projects I’ve led that seemed to take on a life of their own, and thought long and hard about the ones that never quite got there. As I began to characterize what I was learning, my sense of purpose was not just renewed, it was sharpened.
I still believe in the power of Verve and the importance of Exchange; those will forever be values that I hold in my approach. However, I now understand that approach isn’t designed to create energy, it’s designed to create Electricity. And that Electricity is intended to create Motion. Motion in ourselves, Motion in each other, Motion in our world.
So, welcome to Jump Start Training & Development, where we put good people & good work in motion.