Stephanie Stuckey | CEO of Stuckey’s Corporation

Buying Back the Family Business | Grits & Politics | The First Roadside Retailer | Sustainability and Resiliency | CEO Role Preparation | Take a Chance

 


I interviewed Stephanie Stuckey | Chief Executive Officer of Stuckey’s Corporation on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021.

We began the episode by discussing Stephanie’s family legacy in entrepreneurship and politics. How her grandfather founded Stuckey’s and how she tagged along on her dad’s political campaigns. We discussed her choice of UGA with her eye on a political career but how her actual start was as a public defender.  We discussed her devotion to justice and her involvement in the state legislature. We spoke about her roles with the city of Atlanta focused on sustainability and resiliency. She shared the wild ride of buying back the family business, the power of the brand, and the hard work it took to turn a profit. She shared her love of experiencing America through road trips. She shared how being an attorney and politician helped her hone skills she uses regularly as a CEO. We wrapped up the conversation with her advice for the attorney contemplating entrepreneurship.


Here are some highlights of my interview with Stephanie Stuckey:

In life, what you regret is not your failures. You regret what you don’t do.

I honestly think there’s no better preparation for the CEO role than being an attorney. Your services and your intellect have value.

Other folks will say to not talk about politics or religion at family events. We always talked politics. It was in our blood.

Family businesses are complicated. Ours is maybe a little bit more complicated than others in that we have this history where we lost the company and then we got it back, which rarely happens.

I was seeing how these laws played out in real life. I thought there needed to be a voice in the legislature that really could advocate for what it’s like to be boots on the ground trying cases.

I got a text from the mayor of Atlanta and he said, “Come be Head of Sustainability for the city of Atlanta.” So, I got hired by text.

If you’re sustainable, you bounce back to the level you were before. If you’re resilient, you’re learning from whatever happened and building back stronger than before.

I spoke to several financial advisors about buying Stuckey’s back who said, “Don’t do this.” And then I spoke to one financial advisor who said, “Oh, that’s not a great investment. But there’s a brand, and the brand has some sticking power. And I think you should do it.” So, I listened to the last person because I knew what wasn’t on the books, which was the value of the brand.


Links referred to in this episode:

Stephanie Stuckey | LinkedIn Profile

Letter from the CEO | Stuckey’s Website

Stuckey’s Corporation | Website

100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend

Sierra Club | Website

EarthShare Georgia | Website

Kasim Reed | Previous Mayor of Atlanta | LinkedIn

The Rockefeller Foundation | 100 Resilient Cities

Forbes Feature | Warren Buffet Owns Dairy Queen


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Audio Transcription 

***To Download the PDF Transcript, click here*** 

Greetings, friends. This is Chris Batz, your host of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

In today’s episode, I spoke with the CEO and third-generation owner of a Georgia pecan product company. We discussed her family legacy and culture of business and politics. Her career genesis as a district attorney turned state representative for seven terms. We discussed the fateful day where she was offered to bet it all to buy back the family business, her entrepreneur adventure thus far, and so much more.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review on iTunes. We interview corporate defense law firm leaders, partners, general counsel, legal consultants, and CEOs.

You are listening to Episode 63 of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

Chris: Welcome to The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Chris Batz with The Lion Group.

Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s Corporation. Stuckey’s is the highway oasis that’s been serving pecan log roles and souvenirs to road trippers since 1937. Founded by her grandfather, W.S. Stuckey Sr. in Eastman, Georgia, Stuckey’s grew into over 350 stores nationwide by its peak in the 1970s. The company was sold in 1964 but declined for decades under a series of corporate owners. Fortunately, Stuckey’s is now in family hands again, making a comeback with a mission to make road trips fun. Stephanie received both her undergrad and her law degrees from the University of Georgia. She worked as a trial lawyer. She was elected to seven terms as a state representative, ran an environmental nonprofit law firm, served as a director of sustainability for the city of Atlanta, and taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Georgia School of Law. Stephanie purchased Stuckey’s in November 2019 and assumed the role of CEO at that time. Stephanie’s achievements include being named one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine, and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. She’s active in her community and has served on many nonprofit boards, including the National Sierra Club Foundation, EarthShare of Georgia, and her local Zoning Review Board.

Welcome, Stephanie, to The Law Firm Leadership Podcast. It’s great to have you on the show.

Stephanie: Thank you, Chris. It’s my pleasure.

Grits and Politics

Chris: Stephanie, you’re the third-generation owner of Stuckey’s. Your father was the second-generation owner of the family business and a US congressman, is that correct?

Stephanie: That’s right. I’m the third generation. I will add that there was a gap. Stuckey’s was out of family hands for two decades. My grandfather sold the company the year before I was born. My dad got it back when I was a freshman in college.

Chris: Did you ever think you were going to go work for the company?

Stephanie: Never. Could I be any more blunt? I’m number four of five children. I’m number five of seven grandchildren. I was not groomed for this. And frankly, having grown up with the company being out of our hands, we weren’t expecting Dad to get it back. It was in really bad shape. My father was able to reacquire Stuckey’s, but he was already running several other companies that were profitable and doing extremely well. Stuckey’s was a bit of a side hustle for him. He took it back because it’s the family business. It’s complicated, which I think you see a lot with family businesses. Ours is maybe a little bit more complicated than others, in that we have this history where we lost the company and then we got it back, which rarely happens. I feel very fortunate that we did get it back.

Chris: Knowing that you weren’t necessarily expected to work for the company, why did you become a lawyer?

Stephanie: I grew up in a very political environment with my dad in Congress. It was very natural to me. I joke that we had grits and politics for breakfast every morning. Other folks will say to not talk about politics or religion at family events. We always talked politics. It was in our blood. My grandfather, who founded Stuckey’s, was also a politician. He was a state representative and my great grandfather was the Sheriff of our hometown for 40 years. Politics is just ingrained in the Stuckey family and it was very comfortable for me. I enjoyed the debate. I enjoyed policy. I always envisioned that someday I would pursue a career in elected office. It was something I was always around. I always campaigned with my father. With five kids, he would take one, and I was always the volunteer. My mom was delighted to have a little break from all the children in the house. So, I would go off with my dad when he was campaigning. I remember leafleting and being in parades and all of that. If you’re interested in public service, and you’re trying to be strategic about your career, which is what I was doing, a law degree makes sense. You should understand how laws are drafted and what the process is.

Craved the Courtroom 

Chris: Did you attend the University of Georgia for law school?

Stephanie: Yes. I was interested in a political career in Georgia, and if you’re interested in politics in Georgia, that’s the school you go to. I can’t tell you how many governors and senators and congressmen and congresswomen went to the University of Georgia School of Law. I thought that’s what I should do.

Chris: When graduating from law school, did you have it all planned out?

Stephanie: I had it planned out, and then it went differently. One of my favorite quotes I’ll paraphrase is from Mike Tyson. And he said, “Plans are great until you get punched in the face.” My plan was very deliberate. I was going to graduate from law school and segue pretty quickly into a career in elected office. But after putting in three years of hard work into getting my JD, I wanted to actually have a license to practice law. I decided that to pass the bar exam, there’s no better time than while you’re actually in the throes of learning. Back then, you could take the bar exam while you were still in school. It’s changed since then. I decided to knock it out and take the bar exam so I could have the degree and license. I put so much effort into passing the bar the first time, that I thought I should practice law. The next natural progression, as I saw it, was to actually try a case. I was all about Atticus Finch and Perry Mason. So, getting in the courtroom and practicing the skill of oratory and persuading jurors, I wanted to do all of that. What you learn if you just get out of law school, is that there are very few firms or entities that want to put a recently graduated lawyer in a courtroom. So, you basically have a few options, you can be a public defender, you can be a prosecutor, or you can go to a small town. Small town law firms will let you do pretty much anything and that’s how you learn. I applied for all of that, and the first job offer I got I took and so I was a public defender for almost a decade.

Volunteering and Luck

Chris: How did you transition from public defender to becoming a state representative?

Stephanie: I’m a big believer in learning from the ground up. I volunteered for a ton of campaigns and I learned very quickly. The best advice I can give, and this applies not just to politics, is to get involved with a small entity, whether it’s an organization, a political campaign, or a firm because you’re going to have more opportunities. If you intern for a small startup, you’re going to get a lot more opportunities to lead and be engaged. So, I started volunteering for the city council and county commission races. The cool thing is sometimes you just strike it lucky and I volunteered for a county commission seat. The candidate, John Barrow, not only got elected to that but he was in the US Congress for over a decade. We are friends to this day. Sometimes, you can get on the ground floor with some pretty competent, accomplished people and ride that wave in politics. You might get lucky. So, I just volunteered for everything. That’s how you learn. When there was an opening for my house because my state rep ran for higher office, I ran for the open seat. That’s the best way to run because running against an incumbent is really, really hard. Thankfully, I did not do that. So, I ran for an open seat, but open seats have their challenges because it’s usually a crowded field.

Chris: Was it your intent to run for state government?

Stephanie: I liked state politics. I thought you could get a little more involved with your community. My dad used to joke that he thought about running for mayor or a more local office but it was so much harder than running for Congress. In many respects, it is, if you’re running for a hyperlocal office. You can’t get away from it. You go to the grocery store or you go to your kids’ school and people are more connected to you as their local representative. I know I am. Even though Atlanta is a big city, I know my city council rep pretty well. I can pick up the phone and call them on their cell. And that’s not uncommon with local representatives.

A Higher Purpose in Public Service

Chris: How did being a public defender prepare you for that seat?

Stephanie: The best thing it did was help me to identify a higher purpose. You need that to be able to do tough jobs. The day in, day out slog is going to overwhelm you unless you have a sense of mission. For me, that was a firm belief in the judicial system that, to this day, I feel strongly. It’s our Constitution. What makes our country so special is that everyone has a right to justice. I’m not being naive. I certainly know, and Black Lives Matter has certainly highlighted, the injustices that exist within our judicial system. But I do think everyone has a right to a zealous advocate for their case. Sometimes, those harder cases were more interesting to me, because it’s like problem-solving. You have to roll up your sleeves. That’s what an entrepreneur does. Entrepreneurs solve tough problems. A public defender has a tough case and has to figure out the best way to present this. That’s also what you have to do in business. You have to persuade consumers, investors, or, if you’re in the B2B space, other businesses to buy your service or your product. You have to be a zealous advocate for what you do. So, I learned all that plus how to be a really quick judge of character. You have to size up people fast no matter what you do, but especially if you’re picking a jury, and especially if you’re in the criminal space, where all my clients were facing jail time. We were going to trial because there was no offer for probation. They are going to trial because they’re facing jail time. So, you have to size up people really quickly.

Nothing Left to Lose

Chris: In your family, was there a legacy that you felt like you had to fulfill, or did you feel welcome to blaze your own path?

Stephanie: A great thing about being a middle child, is that I genuinely did not feel the pressure to fulfill the family legacy. I don’t know what it’s like to be a first child or the youngest child. I can’t relate to that experience, but I have read some studies about how middle children make great CEOs. In part, it’s because growing up you don’t feel that pressure. With that lack of pressure, it’s like the song Me and Bobby McGee says, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” You don’t have that sense of obligation. You don’t have that sense that there’s so much pressure on you. I didn’t have anything to lose. No one was expecting me to take on Stuckey’s. So, the pressure was off. The only pressure was coming from me internally that I wanted to succeed, but it wasn’t external.

A Voice for a Just Society 

Chris: Can you share about your transition into being a state rep for 14 years for Georgia?

Stephanie: I was in the legislature and then I pursued environmental law. I never lost my passion for politics. Even while I was a public defender, I continued to work on political campaigns the entire time. I became very passionate about how laws were being passed by the legislature that was making it incredibly difficult to advocate for my clients in the criminal justice space. Particularly, with minimum mandatory sentences. I was seeing how these laws played out in real life. I thought there needed to be a voice in the legislature that really could advocate for what it’s like to be boots on the ground trying cases. Legislators were passing laws because it was politically convenient. I wanted to be a voice for justice. That’s what really prompted me. I was seeing case after case and budget cuts for public defenders.  Their role is critical to having a just society. I’m getting into Christian principles here, but it’s true, how society treats the indigent, who are charged with crimes, that is the heart and soul of a society. I remain passionate about that.

So, I decided to get more involved at the state legislature level, as that was always something that fascinated me. I learned there was an opening for the State Judiciary Committee. I worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee as their staff attorney. I left being a public defender. I did that for several sessions, and then there was an opening for the house seat. That’s when I decided to run and I served for 14 years. And I totally changed the criminal justice system in Georgia during the process. I did do some good, but I learned it’s hard. The best I did within that space was working on juvenile laws. That’s where the best opportunity for change is. Trying to get at youth who are charged with crimes to see if you can get them into a rehabilitation track, where they can get an education and get access to prosperity and jobs that can get them away from the prison pipeline. I got more involved in the juvenile side, which was something I hadn’t expected when I got elected, but it made sense. I was doing juvenile work, and then my district was very environmental. We had more Sierra Club members in my legislative district than anywhere else in the state. So, I started going to Sierra Club meetings. I started getting more involved in environmental issues. I found I had a passion for that. I got on the Natural Resources Committee. And after 14 years, and being constantly redistricted, tired of all the acrimony, tired of having to raise $120,000 for an office that paid $12,000, and with kids going into private school at this point, I decided I wasn’t going to run for reelection. I got a job as an environmental attorney. I loved that. I did that for three years, and then I got a text from the mayor of Atlanta, who’d served in the legislature with me, and he said, “Come be Head of Sustainability for the city of Atlanta.” So, I got hired by text.


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Sustainability and Resiliency

Chris: That’s a great way to get an offer. Can you describe what it means to be Head of Sustainability?

Stephanie: So, sustainability is basically head of the environmental programming for the city of Atlanta. What I loved about that role is it was focused on being a connector, an activator, and a motivator. The role was restructured when I came in and became a cabinet-level position, which it had not been before. It was open-door access to the mayor of Atlanta. I directly reported to the Chief Operating officer but I had a direct line to the mayor if I needed anything. The mayor prioritized sustainability. He agreed that it was important to the city of Atlanta. Atlanta was already an economic hub, but Mayor Kasim Reed was laser-focused on Atlanta being a global economic leader. He advanced the airport, he brought Fortune 500 companies to Atlanta, and part of that was him recognizing that those types of businesses embraced solar, energy efficiency, recycling, and urban farms. We had the first Urban Agriculture Director in the country. We created that position. We built a $3.9 million trail that connected to Marta and the Beltline, which is now part of this huge hub of economic activity. On the west side of Atlanta, there’s Microsoft, and all these companies coming in, right to where we built this trail. You just see the ripple effect of the work that we did, and I was in the mayor’s office, embedded in it, and then connected with parks, planning, watershed, and public works that manage recycling. My role was coordinating with all these different departments for the airport and I loved it. Part of what I did was get funding for the work we did. We didn’t have a lot of money. My budget was $27,000 from the city (outside of salary). So, we leveraged funding with philanthropy. I had philanthropy contacts because I run an environmental law firm that was a nonprofit. We got a huge grant from the Rockefeller Foundation that was valued at over $1 million for a resilience program with 100 resilient cities. The role advanced to focusing beyond sustainability to resilience.

Chris: What does it mean to be a resilient city?

Stephanie: So, the easiest way to explain it is to compare it to sustainability. For the city of Atlanta, imagine we were to suffer a crisis related to climate change, like a severe weather incident as a result of a hurricane.  If you’re sustainable, you sustain when you bounce back. You bounce back to the level you were before. You’re keeping the status quo. If you’re resilient, you’re going beyond that and you’re bouncing back. Resilience is learning from whatever happened and building back stronger than before. For example, if you are in an area that’s prone to earthquakes, and a building is devastated by an earthquake, if you’re stable, you will build it back the way it was before. If you’re resilient, you’re going to build it back with a foundation that is engineered to withstand a certain level of an earthquake and beyond. What it really gets to address is not the specific crisis or incident, but the underlying stresses and vulnerabilities. Hurricane Katrina is a great example. Who was harmed the most by Hurricane Katrina? It was minorities and it was low-income folks. For that city, you have to address the real stresses of income inequality, racism, poverty, and poor housing. I started transitioning to work on housing and access to economic opportunity because if you really want to tackle the climate change issues, you’re going to look at these vulnerabilities that really tear at society. It was really fascinating, and it segued to the work I do now. Now, I’m always thinking about how I can be more resilient with the work I’m doing with Stuckey’s?

Buying Back the Family Business

Chris: How did Stuckey’s, which was founded by your grandfather in 1937 get into your hands?

Stephanie: I was literally minding my own business at my desk one day, checking emails between meetings and I got an email from my dad’s former business partner asking me if I wanted to buy his shares of Stuckey’s. It was his shares and his business partner’s shares that equaled 49% of the company. At that point, I had left the city of Atlanta. We had a change in administration and the new mayor brought in their leadership team. So, I segued onto a role that I was really happy with at an environmental firm in Atlanta and I was absolutely loving the work. We were kicking butt. We had just gotten a couple of big contracts. I was leading a team and got this email. One of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had was when I had to go to the CEO of the company where I was working. They had created not just a position for me, but a division within their organization and a team. I had to say, “I know I’ve only been here for a year, but I’m going to do this crazy thing.” To her credit, she said, “You should do it.” In life, what you regret is not your failures. You regret what you don’t do. And when was I going to have a chance to do this again?

So, my dad was running a couple of other businesses, and his main business was an interstate Dairy Queen Corporation.  They had the franchise rights to Dairy Queen stores on the interstate highway system and they were an incredibly successful business. That was my father’s main business, and he had propped Stuckey’s up by pairing it with his Dairy Queen stores. There was this whole structure in place that was supporting Stuckey’s that was really funded by the Dairy Queen operations. My dad and his business partner sold Dairy Queen to Berkshire Hathaway and to Warren Buffett around 2012. They left a skeleton crew running Stuckey’s which made sense. At the time, Stuckey’s was a handful of accounts that kept some people in place. My dad and his business partners figured Stuckey’s was fine, but they lost a big account in 2015. The roadside retail space is incredibly competitive and there are buyouts. Stuckey’s was a victim of not being taken up by the new entity and lost all these accounts. At that point, we were mostly stores within a store. So, you go to a travel plaza, and you see a Stuckey’s section. We were suddenly ousted from a third of the locations. So Stuckey’s went from being profitable to not being profitable, without strong management, and without solid cash flow. Frankly, they just wanted to sell it. It was not a good investment. They were six figures in debt. I spoke to several financial advisors who said, “Don’t do this.” And then I spoke to one financial advisor who said, “Oh, that’s not a great investment. But there’s a brand, and the brand has some sticking power. And I think you should do it.” So, I listened to the last person because I knew what wasn’t on the books, which was the value of the brand. I was drawing on my resilience experience. Stuckey’s had a good solid foundation and we needed to build on that. We needed to build back stronger and address the underlying structural weaknesses and stresses. I knew we could do it. Within six months, we started turning a profit, and that’s when I bought out my dad’s shares. My dad waited six months to see if I could do it.

Family is Complicated

Chris: How did you come to a decision? Was it a moment’s notice or did you have time to get into the details of it?

Stephanie: I thought about it. This was a big decision. Frankly, with the exception of my pension, which I have not tapped into (knock on wood), it was my life savings. It was the money I had to invest outside of my kids’ college savings accounts. I basically bet everything on this. I thought for a month about it, and I negotiated the price and was able to get a better price. Again, I was buying half of the company initially. Once I was able to prove that it could be profitable, then it was complicated how I had to buy my dad out. He had it in an irrevocable trust so he couldn’t give it to me, even if he had wanted to. I’m not necessarily saying he would have as he’s got other kids. So, I had to buy it and put that money into the trust and I did negotiate that with the trustee. I wasn’t even negotiating with my dad, which was a good thing, frankly. People often ask me about the dynamics of a family business and how I’ve managed to navigate that. It’s because I bought out the family business. I think that the family dynamic is really difficult. There’s a reason why businesses fail by the third generation. I’m no expert on this. By the third generation, you get a lot of heirs. And it’s just human nature, there’s bound to be some disagreements. So, the way I navigated it was by buying the whole thing. Then, I got a business partner, because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. But I just knew I had to get past some of that family dynamic. I absolutely love my siblings and my cousins, no disrespect, but if you want to run a company, you’ve got to have leadership, and I knew we needed to shore up the ownership. We needed to have a good system in place to move the company forward. We didn’t have time to be haggling with 15-20 different owners. I bought it. I got a business partner. We jointly agreed going into it about the way to move the company forward to make it profitable. We focused on selling products. We bought a candy plant. We bought a pecan shelling plant. We went back to our roots. We started as a pecan stand. In 1937, my grandfather had a candy plant and he had a pecan snack company. So, we went back to that because we have a good brand and it’s worked.  We’re profitable and trending every day in that direction despite lots and lots and lots of challenges from COVID like supply chain, labor, the ports, and international tariffs. We’ve been hit with all of that but we’re still profitable. That just shows that as things continue to improve with our economy, and I feel confident that they are, this company is just going to keep growing.

The First Roadside Retailer 

Chris: Stephanie, would you share about the road trip you took in 2021?

Stephanie: Well, right after I say we’re making our money off our product, there’s this road trip. We are associated with road trips. That is our brand. We were the first roadside retail founded in 1937. We existed before any other chain that you see today on the highway system. We were before the interstate highway system, which didn’t come along until 1956. That’s very much in our DNA. We really grappled with how to move the company forward in a way that’s still very respectful of our routes. And we decided that we can still be all about the road trip while selling products. We do still have a presence on the interstate with 65 license locations which are stores we do not own or operate. We also are in thousands of retailers, almost all of which are on the interstate that sells our product. There are some pilot locations for example that sell Stuckey’s pecan log rolls, our candy, our snacks, and some of our souvenirs. We’re still very much thought of as a presence on the side of the road. That’s one way we’re still elevating the brand as a road trip brand.

The other way is through road trips that I take. Our mission is that we make road trips fun. Everything we do is woven around the narrative of taking the highway or taking the back roads and exploring America. So, I didn’t take just one road trip. It may seem that way, but because I’m working too and I’m running this company so I work road trips into all of my travels. If I have to go to a conference, I’ll drive. And I’ll take a two-day road trip. We had to go to Indianapolis for the snack and candy expo, for example, with the confectioners association and I turned it into a road trip. I pull over at all these fun places that I think are just so uniquely classically American like the World’s Largest Belt Buckle or the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. I love the world’s largest things. I like petting zoos that have llamas and turtles and roosters. I don’t know how you pet a rooster, but I actually went to a petting zoo that had roosters which cracked me up. That’s what’s great about roadside America! I was recently at the lunchbox museum. I like weird, out-of-the-way places, haunted places, and obscure things that normal people may not pull over for. I will always pull over for a giant fiberglass anything. I pulled over for a pink elephant holding a martini glass. If you’re familiar with what a muffler man is, I pull over every time. I’ll pull over for neon signs or motels that are still in operation that have higher than a two-star rating. There’s a handful of them that are so much fun. All of that is just celebrating the joy of the road trip, and that’s how I think I can bring the brand back to a new generation of people because that’s timeless. Who doesn’t love a road trip? It’s for all ages, all nationalities, and all genders. I think it just defies these categorizations that sometimes limit brands.

How her Past Prepared her to be CEO  

Chris: Road trips are part of what makes us American. Stephanie, how did your experiences as an attorney and politician prepare you to become a CEO?

Stephanie: Both are great preparation. I honestly think there’s no better preparation for the CEO role than being an attorney. Now, I didn’t get an MBA, so I can’t attest to that. But lawyers are businessmen and businesswomen too. If you run a firm or you’re a partner in the firm, you’re doing business. Because if you aren’t monetizing what you are doing, you’re not going to be practicing law for long. It’s important to recognize that if you are practicing law in the private space, you are in business. That should be celebrated. In law school, you learn the ability to take a lot of complicated factual scenarios, distill them, truly understand what the issue is, and then apply what the structure is and that’s helpful in business. It’s CRAC (conclusion, rule, analysis, conclusion), right? That’s how I learned to write in law school. I write that way to this day like when I draft memos for my team. That practice or discipline doesn’t just go away. Discipline is important in law because your time is your money. That’s the same with being in business. I’m very used to keeping time. I wish I could afford the software I had when I was practicing law. I did have a stint while I was in the legislature where I worked with a small law firm. I was a partner at a small law firm. I’m very comfortable keeping track of my time down to 15-minute increments. It teaches you to value what you do. Your services and your intellect have value. I could go on and on about the incredible skills you learn as a lawyer. If you’re a trial lawyer, the ability to argue, to persuade, to present your case. to be quick on your feet, to know answers, or even if you don’t know the answer, to be able to say it in a way that is compelling. Those skills are so transferable.

Chris: Stephanie, what excites you most about coming to work every day?

Stephanie: Seeing all the new opportunities. When you’re in business, no matter what your business is, there’s constant opportunity. I like paying attention to new trends. Entrepreneurs look at trends and they figure out how to make a business out of them. What’s on the horizon? What’s happening? Almost all of the time, you have to get outside your comfort zone.

Take A Chance 

Chris: Last question, what advice would you give attorneys who are looking at opportunities that take them out of their attorney role and into business?

Stephanie: First, have the confidence that your skillset is incredibly transferable. Second, too often businesses might be reluctant to take on attorneys in business roles. Be unafraid to be an entrepreneur. If you’ve got a great idea, try it yourself. It’s taking a risk. I absolutely know what that feels like. I have gotten up at 3am many a night in a sweat because I bet it all. So far, it’s paying off. So, I would encourage them to take a chance.

Chris: Stephanie, thank you for your time today. It’s been an honor and a pleasure.

Stephanie: You’re welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story.

Thank you to everyone who listened to this episode of The Law Firm Leadership Podcast.

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