Who Am I?

Driven by Curiosity

Given the luck of good timing, the U.S. Army opened up many fields to women for the first time at the end of 1973. Seizing this opportunity is how Stephanie became one of the first women trained as an engineer by the US Army Signal Corp. Stephanie was training others by the time she was 19. Leaving the Army in 1976 she went on to work for Docutel in Georgia, Searle Diagnostics in Chicago and Techtronix in Los Angeles. She exited the corporate world in 1981 at first as a consulting trainer to organisations such as NASA, ABC-TV and others which led to the start of her own training company later that year. Stephanie was one of the first in the U.S. to specialise in teaching people to embrace the biggest change in work practices this century – the introduction of the desktop computer.

Out of this work with non-engineering-humans grew Stephanie’s fascination and deep curiosity for human behaviour in the context of learning for adults of all stripes. By observing the behaviour of thousands of adults as they re-entered a learning environment she saw immediately the need to help adults develop learning strategies and psychological frameworks about learning suitable to both the maturity of their adult brains and their growing need to re-enter the classroom. They were grown-ups and successful, but they had no real idea how to learn effectively.

In 1982, taking time away from her business during the summers, Stephanie began spending time teaching for the Supercamp organisation, broadening her work into the realm of teenage students. Later in 1985, Stephanie began working with Larry Wilson of “One Minute Salesperson” fame at the Pecos River Ranch and Education Centre, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There she became immersed in the question of whether media-based training could replicate the qualities and effectiveness of face-to-face classroom teaching.

During these years Stephanie made a complete transition from the computer industry to the human behaviour and education fields. Stephanie moved to Australia in 1987, created the Learning To Learn program, taught large groups of adult beginners to play guitar and began training trainers.

Over the past 35 years, driven by a constant curiosity, Stephanie has built a reputation as one of the leaders in adult learning, with her work produced in Canada, the U.S., Germany, Scotland and other countries. Tens of thousands of people have attended her “Learning To Learn” program in Australia and New Zealand, and over 2000 students completed her 6 month program for teachers, trainers and presenters.

Today, Stephanie is sought out for input and presentations on the challenges in relation to effecting change and development across diverse industries from Cisco Systems to the CBA in Australia. She is an expert at developing pathways to change when procrastination, anxiety, resistance and/or apathy are standing in the way.


Given the demands of an intense teaching schedule with little time for study, in 1994, Stephanie shifted gears. Wanting to ensure her work continued to be available to new students she began to write and entered academia. During this time, she authored 2 highly referenced books. Great Lies We Live By and Artistry in Training. She completed her Ph.D. with the University of South Australia in 1998.

During the years, 2000 to 2005 Stephanie continued to produce new written works, mostly in the form of articles and online courses available through her website. Also during these years she contracted with the Parelli Natural Horsemanship organisation to build a learning support website for students and later to help re-produce their level 1 and 2 home school education programs.

She completed her book Move Closer, Stay Longer in 2005 to help people who find it is fear that is standing in the way of taking actions toward their goals. Written with Parelli students in mind, this book has gone on to be applied by individuals in wide and diverse situations where fear and anxiety is an issue.

After a few educational, yet, distracting adventures she decided to go head long into a new career. Music.

Following her deep dive into music, in 2016, she returned to her roots, helping others with career and life goals they aspired to achieved.

Ever tuned into the growing issues for adults in leadership and personal development, she embarked on her most ambitious written work: The Dangerous Cultural Messages about Getting Older: Self-fulfilling Prophecies (published in 2023). She recognised that this generation is the one who will confront the reality that many, if not most, will live very long lives. Her new book, resets our mindset about the realities of aging. And THEN, should YOU choose to do things now, or in the near future, for the best benefit of the quality of your later years, this book has the strategies: For overcoming procrastination, keeping your mind open to possibilities, for understanding why you fail to persist in some environments, what to do if you just can’t decide what to do, why motivation and excitement fail to keep us going and and and. This is Stephanie Burns’ world of goal achievement and persistence strategies.

A Unique Thread with Music

On and off throughout her career music playing and teaching has rolled in. In 1985, looking to experiment with some newly emerging thoughts about skill development she took to the piano with master pianist June de Toth in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The question was: Could these new skill development strategies accelerate the speed by which fundamental piano skills could be installed in new players? The answer was yes, indeed.

That led to a need to test these methods with other humans (students), particularly teenagers and adult beginners. From 1988 through 1991 she ran 6 month long, 3 hours per week, guitar programs for large groups in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. At one point there were 4 groups in this process each week. The results of her own students outstripped her first explorations of these strategies and approaches on the piano. This phase ended with the filming of an educational video for guitar students with the outrageously skilled guitarist and comedian Roy Clark.

She kick-started her transition in the music field as a full time activity around 2009 by completing her Masters Certificate in Guitar with the Berklee College of Music. She has been involved in the Scottish Pipe Band community as a student snare drummer and learning strategies teacher for pipers and drummers since mid-2013. She is teaching in that community in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada, the U.S. and Germany. 

In interactions with pipers and drummers at all levels from many countries, Stephanie uncovered 5 specific hurdles facing musicians to which her work could be applied.

Memorising music more efficiently;
How to overcome procrastination and become persistent in practice;
Help for late-starters and beginners;
Overcoming performance and social anxieties related to playing and studying music; and
Practice strategies that will cause improvements in playing.

Three new books resulted from this work. A mindset and strategy book, The Beginner Years: Learning to Play a Musical Instrument for those adults wanting to learn to play a musical instrument for the first time, or those returning after many years. This is a survival guide for the early years of learning to play when most people will unnecessarily quit prematurely. There is also, Practice Strategies the Cause Music Improvement, for the well-seasoned player who feels they have topped out and can no longer improve. And, lastly, Learning and Memorising New Tunes, a requirement for many who play music. Although these last two books were written with pipers and drummers in mind, their strategies can be applied by any musician.


Stephanie has the academic rigour, practice experience and a reputation second to none. People often walk away from her lectures muttering. “How could she have known that about me!” She is at the top of the human behaviour game when it relates to leadership, communication, learning, overcoming procrastination behaviour, personal and professional development. She continues to lecture in the corporate and conference sectors in Australia. She is an enthralling, provocative, smart and full-on entertaining presenter.

Please use the Contact link to send Stephanie a message if you would like to discuss an upcoming conference or training.