Decision Vision Episode 84: Should My Next Job Be My Own Business? – An Interview with Stacy Reece, Down South House & Home
The question of “should my next job be my own business” is a consideration many are struggling with now. In a candidly vulnerable and insightful conversation, Stacy Reece of Down South House & Home shares the journey she took from a successful job to unemployment and eventually her own business. “Decision Vision” is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Stacy Reece, CEO, Down South House & Home
Down South House & Home offers high quality southern themed home goods with clean, classic designs. Down South House & Home is for Southern women who wanted to grow up and be Atticus Finch. They’re for Southern women who had fight to the death for their grandmother’s cast iron collection. They’re for Southern women who value equality, literacy, and hospitality. They’re for Southern women who know how to act in a cow pasture or a country club. They’re for Southern women with resolute characters and gracious disposition. They’re for Southern women who hoard bacon fat.
They make things in a tiny red barn in Clarkston, Georgia. They don’t pretend they live in a perfect camera ready house. And they don’t expect that you do either. But if your home is like theirs, there’s a lot of laughter, love, and piles of precious memories in every corner. The way they see it, if your home has that, then it’s beautiful.
They make high quality goods for Southern women at reasonable prices. They make products that come from a clean and traditional Southern aesthetic. They celebrate ordinary Southern women with extraordinary lives. And they expect their products to stand up to the extraordinary lives you lead. Because a dishtowel is not just a piece of cloth — it sops up family memories. Every stain, every tear, every burn mark tells the story of a family’s history. It tells the story of triumphs and defeats. It tells the story of your kitchen and everybody you fed in it. Their towels will stand up to the test of time and be there with you through all of your ups and downs. Absorbing family memories every step of the way.
Stacy Reece has a long and varied career, including as a scientific adviser, a patent analyst, a facilitator of biotechnology business in Georgia and the Southeast. She is a Daughter of the American Revolution and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Georgia and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University.
Michael Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is Host of the “Decision Vision” podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
“Decision Vision” is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the “Decision Vision” podcast.
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Intro: [00:00:01] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional full service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:21] And welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, clear vision to make great decisions. In each episode, we discuss the process of decision making on a different topic from the business owner’s or executive’s perspective. We aren’t necessarily telling you what to do, but we can put you in a position to make an informed decision on your own and understand when you might need help along the way.
Mike Blake: [00:00:39] My name is Mike Blake and I’m your host for today’s program. I’m a director at Brady Ware & Company, a full service accounting firm based in Dayton, Ohio, with offices in Dayton, Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Indiana, and Alpharetta, Georgia. Brady Ware is sponsoring this podcast, which is being recorded in Atlanta for social distancing protocols. If you like this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast aggregator and please consider leaving a review of the podcast as well.
Mike Blake: [00:01:05] So, today’s topic is, should my next job be my own business? And, you know, as we record this now on September 18th, which means it’s probably going to come out in, probably, the middle or second half of October, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the world will not have changed terribly much in the intervening time. I think a lot of people are being faced with this decision, you know, not to be a doomsayer or a Debbie Downer or whatnot, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of jobs that have been lost are not coming back very quickly. Some of them may not be at all. And, you know, some of us have the savings and wealth that, you know, we can kind of hold out for the market to come back around. And, frankly, if statistics started to leave, a lot of us don’t have that kind of financial cushion.
Mike Blake: [00:02:02] And a choice, I think, that many people are likely thinking about is, you know, can I take my considerable talents into the entrepreneurial sector? And I think that America, like all other countries, is far from a perfect place. But one thing that is easy to do here is to start and launch your own business. I think in a lot of ways it’s never been easier to do that, at least, from a mechanical perspective. But, you know, that’s not an easy decision. We make it look easy. We glorify the entrepreneur in American society. In fact, I would argue that one of the things that makes America unique is that we are the one society, of which I’m aware, that positions the entrepreneur as a folk hero. And I don’t know of any place in the world that quite does that.
Mike Blake: [00:02:56] And really to the point where, you know, you almost feel if you’re not an “entrepreneur”, you feel like something wrong with me. And that’s not the case. In fact, if the whole world were entrepreneurs, we’d never get anything done. We’d never aggregate talent and capital because nobody would take direction from anybody else. And given kind of the environment where now we’re applauding the fact that there are 850,000 new unemployment claims in a given week, you know, that’s still a staggering number. It’s just not as staggering as two million, which is where we were a few weeks ago.
Mike Blake: [00:03:41] And so, I think this topic of helping you walk through and really walk in the shoes of somebody who’s really been through it, maybe not quite under the same circumstances, but I think you’ll agree that it really does get you to the same place, I think, is going to be a very instructive journey that, I think, you can learn some lessons of what to do. And I have a feeling there’ll be a sentence or two of what not to do as well. So, buckle up. And I think this is going to be a really good show.
Mike Blake: [00:04:15] And joining us today is my dear friend, Stacy Reece. And we have been arguing for the last ten minutes of when we last saw each other. I think we’ve settled in that, probably, sometime before the last total solar eclipse is when it was.
Mike Blake: [00:04:29] But she’s CEO of Down South House & Home, whose motto is “Southern women don’t have attitudes. We have standards.” Down South House & Home offers high quality southern themed home goods with clean, classic designs. Down South House & Home is for Southern women who wanted to grow up and be Atticus Finch. They’re for Southern women who had fight to the death for their grandmother’s cast iron collection. They’re for Southern women who value equality, literacy, and hospitality. They’re for Southern women who know how to act in a cow pasture or a country club. They’re for Southern women with resolute characters and gracious disposition. They’re for Southern women who hoard bacon fat.
Mike Blake: [00:05:06] They make things in a tiny red barn in Clarkston, Georgia. They don’t pretend they live in a perfect camera ready house. And they don’t expect that you do either. But if your home is like theirs, there’s a lot of laughter, love, and piles of precious memories in every corner. The way they see it, if your home has that, then it’s beautiful.
Mike Blake: [00:05:22] Stacy has a long and varied career, including as a scientific adviser, a patent analyst, a facilitator of biotechnology business in Georgia and the Southeast. She is a Daughter of the American Revolution and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Georgia and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. So, as an aside, organic chemistry is basically the class that convinces people who think they want to be doctors not to be doctors. That’s the class that washes people out in premed and medical school more often than not. So, she got a PhD in it. In other words, this lady is really smart and she’s awesome. And she is Stacy Reece. Thank you for coming on the program.
Stacy Reece: [00:06:04] Hey, Michael Blake. It’s so good to see you again and hear your voice.
Mike Blake: [00:06:09] Well, thank you. It’s great to see you again as well. If you don’t need a fix, there are 82 podcasts of this stuff before us. So, just feel free to turn that on in the background when you’re fighting for some of these cast iron pan. So, your story, I think, is so fascinating, as I said in the introduction. Because I think a lot of people are finding themselves in a decision. And the decision, frankly, really is, is there another job out for me, right? The music has stopped. There are a lot fewer chairs and there are people kind of dancing around them. Is there a job for me? Do I need to think about creating my own job? And so, I think your origin story for Down South House & Home is very instructive in this regard. So, can you talk a little bit about what you were doing before you started Down South House & Home?
Stacy Reece: [00:07:04] Well, it’s a long and torrid story. I was working for the State of Georgia as a facilitator of innovation. And I had a pretty good big budget. It was about $270,000. Basically, an old white man came and tried to raid my budget and I stood up to him. And he used his power to get me run off, derail my career. And the science community in Georgia is pretty small and there wasn’t a whole lot of employment for me after that happened.
Stacy Reece: [00:07:44] So, I started with an information security startup after that. And, you know, you and I are both terminal entrepreneurs. We just can’t help it. And, probably, our personalities contribute to that as well. And so, I started with this information security startup. And this is before the Sony hack, when that really bad movie got hacked by South Korea at Sony. And people were all of a sudden interested in information security. And so, this was before that. And this company had, like, this really awesome solid encryption program that could move large bits of data, large amounts of data very quickly into end encryption.
Stacy Reece: [00:08:39] And I didn’t know anything about encryption at the time. But I went with them figuring, “Hey, how can encryption be so hard? I’ll figure it out.” So, I started, like, going on course run Udemy classes. And encryption is really hard. And this information security company had a great technology and they were able to pay me for the first four months. And then, they kind of ran out of money. But the money was coming. And I really did believe that the money was coming and so did they. But there were some Saudis involved and a crazy Finnish encryption specialist. So, with that mixture, it blew up. But I stayed with the company without getting paid for about a-year-and-a-half after I quit getting paid. Because I believed in the technology. I understood — about encryption, finally, to understand how good it was. But this is before the Sony hack. And nobody really cared because they were using secure socket layer and they thought that was fine. And it has not been fine for ten years, but we still continue to use it.
Stacy Reece: [00:09:56] Anyway, I finally had to decide that that was not going to go anywhere. And so, I left the company and tried to find another job. And being a woman of a certain age and in a male dominated field, it’s very, very hard to get an interview. And if you do get an interview, it’s very hard to get a job. And my husband had started an online publication. And so, he was rather entrepreneurial himself. And I said, “I’ve just got to find something.”
Stacy Reece: [00:10:34] And so, I took this really, really, really bad job working for a couple of artists who did high quality screen printed poster art. And it was a terrible job. The building was full of black mold. I don’t know why they had thousands of dollars worth of paper goods in a building with black mold, but they did. But they also had these little dishtowels that they were selling. They were selling for, like, $28. And nobody buys a dishtowel for $28. But they were really beautiful. And I was trying to get them to like, “We should focus on that some more because my husband’s company can sell more of them.” And finally, we had an agreement that I was not a good fit for their company. And that was fine because I was tired of the black mold filling my lungs.
Mike Blake: [00:11:33] You’re such a prima donna.
Stacy Reece: [00:11:41] I was using my $15 an hour pay to buy all the allergy medication. And so, you know, my husband’s company at the time was having some real financial problems. And I was like, “We need to make our own stuff.” And through our dual entrepreneurial life, we moved from less and less expensive housing over the course of two or three years. And we wound up out in Clarkston, Georgia, which is right outside of the perimeter of Atlanta. And it’s a very charming place. And we moved into this little 1939 cottage with a two story barn in the backyard. And the person who put the barn in the backyard used to work for the Center for Puppetry Arts. And so, it was all tricked out with all the right electrical wiring and things like that. And one of the things I learned in the black mold place was there was a screen printer right next door. And I got to actually see the screen printing process and got to meet the guy who did the screen printing process. And he was a master at screen printing.
Stacy Reece: [00:12:59] But I started to realize, “You know what? I could screen print. You know, it’s not that hard. I have a PhD in Chemistry. How hard can it be?” So, I took a little class in screen printing. And this two story barn was doing nothing but holding all my China patterns, because I have about three or four. And so, there’s a two story barn in the backyard doing nothing but for storage. And I said, “I can put a screen printing shop in there.” And so, I took a class and then I bought, like, a $2,500 kit of a screen printing press and inks and all the stuff you have to do to make the screens. And started making towels. And so, that was something that my husband’s company could sell to generate revenues. And that’s kind of the long and winding way that I got to this place.
Mike Blake: [00:14:03] I mean, it doesn’t sound like you’re necessarily thinking about this while you’re employed, right? The way you tell the story – correct me if that’s wrong, please – is that, you know, one day you kind of had a job and the next day you were in business or something close to it. I mean, is that accurate or was there a transition? Was there a plan for you that –
Stacy Reece: [00:14:23] It was a long period of unemployment. You know, I’ve been an entrepreneurism junkie since graduate school. And I’ve always thought, like you were mentioning before in the intro, it’s like, “Well, if you’re not really an entrepreneur, then you just don’t have any guts.” It’s like you just have a day job then you’re just kind of wussing out. And that’s not necessarily true. And, actually, it is very nice to have a steady income. And I highly recommend it not having had one for long periods of time. But that was sort of the way that I thought. I’ve either been an entrepreneur or have been doing something to assist entrepreneurs. And so, I finally realized that I’ve got to be an entrepreneur because nobody’s going to hire a woman over 50 in a male dominated field. And if I don’t make it myself, I’m just going to have to go work in a library or a craft store if I don’t make my own business.
Mike Blake: [00:15:44] And I want to pause on that for a second, because I do think that’s really important. It’s unfortunate that there is this age discrimination. And, you know, I recently flipped the switch and made my 50th year — and, you know, I kind of think about what would I be doing if I weren’t still where I am. I’m a [inaudible]. I’m a part owner of my business. I’m responsible for my own pee now, but it’s different. But as a man, even at the age that I’m at, the likelihood that I’m going to land a job is quite low, right? And I probably would have to start something on my own.
Mike Blake: [00:16:30] So, I think that’s important for a listener to think about is, you know, are you in a field or a scenario where age discrimination can be very real? And look, we’re setting the line arbitrarily at 50. If you’re out in Silicon Valley, it’s 35. I read all kinds of stories about men are getting plastic surgery now and doing all kinds of things to keep themselves looking younger. And people are now hiding age in their resumes and their LinkedIn profile. That age discrimination is real. And, you know, you may want to just sort of take stock of that and recognize, “Hey, you know, maybe I won’t be the target of age discrimination, but I probably will.” And that might go into the calculus. At least, if you start your own business, you’re not going to discriminate against yourself.
Stacy Reece: [00:17:20] Exactly.
Mike Blake: [00:17:20] And, you know, it’s funny, people are happy even if you don’t do what you’ve done, which is, you know, you’re in the product business – and we’ll get to that – even if you’re in services like me, somebody who would never hire somebody like me to be their CFO would happily hire somebody like me to be their outsource contract CFO. It’s purely a psychological thing.
Mike Blake: [00:17:45] But anyway, one question I want to kind of drill down because I think every entrepreneur goes through this. I have for sure when I’ve had my own business. And even sometimes in my own practice. How do you keep from freaking out? I mean, you’ve gone through long periods without an income because you made some bets that haven’t panned out. And that’s entrepreneurship. How do you keep from freaking out? Or maybe I’m even assuming something. Did you keep from freaking out? Maybe the answer is, how did you recover from freaking out?
Stacy Reece: [00:18:23] Well, I became a good and proper alcoholic, Mike. And I think it started, like, when the information security company started. Like, it wasn’t going to get some money. I mean, it’s not like it popped up like a mushroom overnight. I’d been practicing for years.
Mike Blake: [00:18:42] The rule of a lifetime.
Mike Blake: [00:18:45] It takes commitment. And I used alcohol to cover up my insecurities. I mean, I’d work all day at something. But at 5:00, the stress of it all, the worry, I soothe that with a couple of martinis and then more than that, a lot more than that. And I got sober about three years ago. And that was when my company started doing a lot better. And oddly enough, when you’re not hungover, you can focus on things. One of the things I’ve realized more and more as I’ve gotten better at being sober and living with myself without the the comfort of alcohol, you know, my beliefs limit me. And the more that I can identify the negative beliefs about myself and my value and my worth, the better I am at my company.
Stacy Reece: [00:20:00] And I’m not saying that it’s all my fault. But it is all my responsibility and it’s all my choice. And I can choose to look at the negative sides of myself and question whether or not they’re actually valuable beliefs. Or I can just keep floundering away with all of my negative beliefs. And it’s like, I have to choose to confront them. And the more that I confront them, the better I am at my business.
Mike Blake: [00:20:38] Well, first, congratulations. I’m glad that you’re healthy and you’re in a healthier lifestyle and healthier place. And thank you for sharing that with our audience. In fact, I’m quite confident most of our guests probably would not. But I think that’s a real thing. I think that’s a struggle. And I’ll cap to this. I mean, being an entrepreneur is a really lonely place. And I think the reason that it’s so lonely is because, really, everything is your fault. Everything appears to be approximately your fault. I mean, yeah, things just sort of don’t go your way. You know, you can’t realistically predict that you are going to be hit by a pandemic, and then massive social upheaval, and then murder hornets, and everything else. But the fact of the matter is that, being an entrepreneur is not that different than doing a nude scene in a worldwide film release. It’s all out there. There’s no hiding from this all. And, literally, it’s self-exposure, but it’s exposure of the mind and the psyche, not the body.
Stacy Reece: [00:21:54] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because you don’t really have anyone else to blame.
Mike Blake: [00:22:00] No, you don’t.
Stacy Reece: [00:22:00] But I think blaming yourself is not the way to go. Because I’ve tried that for a long time and it’s not very successful. There are tools and resources that you can go to, to help. It doesn’t have to be a psychologist. It doesn’t have to be AA. But there are coaching options for helping you look at your limiting beliefs. And I have been surprised at all the limiting beliefs that I carry. And those were the things that I used to drink over.
Stacy Reece: [00:22:38] And I would say, if you are in the throes of starting your own company or you’re in the desperate place of having to start your own company, have a little grace with yourself and seek out tools and communities that can help you confront your negative beliefs, so that you can turn them into beliefs that are more empowering. Because going into an entrepreneurship believing that you’re going to be a failure is pretty much a good prescription for failure. And so, it is very lonely.
Stacy Reece: [00:23:24] And you and I, Michael, are introverts. And I consider socialization as having a conversation with the checkout guy at the Home Depot Garden Center. I’m good for a week. And that’s pretty much all I need. But there are other people who are extroverts. And if you’re an extrovert and you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you need to figure out, like, how are you going to get your people time and how do you make that productive. Because you can get very lonely. And if you have any negative beliefs about yourself, they will ricochet around your brain all day long until you realize that they’re not actually true.
Mike Blake: [00:24:10] And I think those beliefs are natural. It’s the unusual person. And I would even argue somewhat psychopathic person that truly doesn’t have any self-doubt, that truly believes, “You know what? It’s under my control. I’m just going to do everything and it’s all going to turn out great.” You know, it’s natural for fear and doubt. But courage is not the absence of fear. And, of course, it’s not the absence of fear. The absence of fear is being a psychopath. And that’s generally a very harmful individual. But the ability to address and confront and manage that fear and direct it into something that is constructive, that, to me, is a definition of courage.
Mike Blake: [00:25:04] So, I think a very important lesson we’re already getting from this podcast and this interview is that, if you’re thinking about starting that business or you already have and you’re wondering if you really have it in you just because you have self-doubt, you have imposter syndrome, or you tend to spiral, and you have anxiety, and you’re wondering where that next paycheck is going to come from. Those are actually healthy — motivational. And all the people out there who are your competitors and you see on social media and everything is just perfect, I’m here to tell you it ain’t. But people have now become very good self-marketers on social media.
Stacy Reece: [00:25:49] Yeah. And that was one of the things because I spent a lot of time thinking all these other people don’t have problems. Because I’m just riddled with all these imperfections and I was spending all this time trying to make sure that nobody saw them. Because if they saw them, then they would think less of me. I would think I would have less value. And the older that I get and the more sober I get, I realize that lots and lots and lots and lots of people have those same self-doubts. Some of them don’t really have to confront them because their lives are okay. But when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s like, “Ahh.” It’s all right there in your face because, like you said, don’t have anyone else to blame.
Stacy Reece: [00:26:38] And I try to incorporate some of that into my brand because I get so tired of looking at these Instagram kitchens that are all perfect.
Mike Blake: [00:26:53] That drives me crazy.
Stacy Reece: [00:26:54] It drives me up the wall.
Mike Blake: [00:26:56] It’s insufferable.
Stacy Reece: [00:26:56] And it’s debilitating to compare yourself to that. And so, when I was first starting out, you know, my big problem is – like, I don’t have a problem working. I can work all day. I can do manual labor. Actually, I prefer manual labor. I have a complete collection of power tools and a pressure washer. And if you need to know how to use anything, come on over. I’ll show you how to do it.
Mike Blake: [00:27:26] I do because I’m a danger to myself and others with those things. I’ll come out there.
Stacy Reece: [00:27:31] Exactly. So, I’m not afraid of work. But the creative artistic side that I need for the company, not so much. And so, my photography was just awful. And so, I was comparing my photography to these perfect dance around kitchens, not realizing they were using a Photoshop filter to make it all look like merry. Like, nobody’s kitchen looks like that. Nobody’s photography looks – you have to manipulate those pictures to make it look that bright and fresh.
Stacy Reece: [00:27:59] And it kind of dawned on me that so many brands are focused on the perfection. You know, Southern Living, Garden & Gun, all these magazines, everything, everything, everything is perfect. And I wanted a brand that had a little wiggle room. I want to make things for Southern women who have a skillet full of bacon grease sitting on top of their stove, because they just finished cooking something yesterday and they haven’t had a chance to clean up the skillet because you can’t throw your iron skillet in the dishwasher. And it’s like I want to have a brand that has some imperfections in it and cracks, you know, the wabi-sabi. It’s like the thing is more beautiful because it’s been repaired. And I have tried to incorporate a lot of that in my brand because I find the more I start to recognize my own self-doubt and my self-limiting beliefs, I realized more people have them. And I realized how damaging those perfect Instagram posts really are when you compare that picture to the reality of your life.
Stacy Reece: [00:29:25] But the reality of your life is the messy hurly-burlyness of your house. It’s like that because you’re living your life and it’s a life full of love, hopefully. And, you know, you’re busy spending time with people you love than scrubbing the kitchen. And so, I do try to incorporate that in my brand so that people don’t feel diminished when they come and look at my products.
Mike Blake: [00:29:58] And what a freeing thing it is to, at least, at some point not give an inch, right? Because the effort in life that is required to go from 85 to 90 percent good to 100 percent perfection is so much effort to go from that between that point A and point B. It can break you. The nickname for our house that I’ve given it – and I’m going to give our listeners a little bit of inside baseball in the life of Mike Blake here – we call it Barely Legal. And the reason we call it that is not for the reason that some people are going to think that we call it that. We call it that because that’s the amount of yard work that we do. We do the minimum amount of yard work to prevent us from getting a ticket from the police and having our neighbor show up to our house with torches and pitchforks, basically. And not be sued for being the eyesore that lowers the value of somebody’s house. Because I hate it and I detest it.
Mike Blake: [00:31:03] And the only reason we own a house is because I need a house to keep all the crap that I’m – well, not crap – my collections that are near and dear to me that I could not fit — But, unfortunately, they do not make many 3000 square foot apartments. So, here I am. But for a while it’s just crazy. And why am I doing this? And it was making my work suffer. It was messing with my psyche [inaudible]. And I’m going to keep it Barely Legal. If that’s not good enough, we’re [inaudible] the whole damn thing up and put an AstroTurf, which I have researched.
Mike Blake: [00:31:43] But anyway, we’ll keep going on. I think the mental game of entrepreneurship is so important. It’s one that I still think about because I think so much of this is a mental game. So, you talked about your insecurities. You talked about kind of one coping mechanism that you learned was not a very effective coping mechanism. So, once you kind of emerged from that or started to emerge now – I know it’s a constant struggle, not a cure – did you start to then turn to any external expertise? Did you have advisers? Did you read books? Or, do you listen to any podcast other than this one?
Stacy Reece: [00:32:30] You know, one podcast I find really helpful is a woman named Dr. Shannon Irvine. And she has a background in neuroscience. And I don’t know, probably a lot of your listeners at some point in their lives have listened to like a Tony Robbins or Bob Proctor or, you know, Think and Grow Rich, that sort of thing which I’ve dabbled in. The Secret, that was a big hit.
Mike Blake: [00:33:07] The 4-Hour Workweek.
Stacy Reece: [00:33:07] You know, if you visualize it, the universe will send it to you. Which doesn’t work, by the way.
Mike Blake: [00:33:15] You shouldn’t want it. Have it.
Stacy Reece: [00:33:17] Yeah. Because a lot of that seems a little too woo-woo, you know. The universe is going to organize itself and rain down success on you. Which is interesting, you think, “Well, gosh. I got to find this out. Find out about this.” But there is actually a neuroscience foundation in a lot of that. It’s just not ever presented in a neuroscience sort of way. And Shannon Irvine, she breaks down a lot of this. The neuroscience that you’re reticular activating system in the base of your brain is sort of the pathway between your subconscious and your conscious. And if you can start creating messages for your reticular activating system to start communicating back and forth between your conscious and subconscious, that’s where you start changing or confronting beliefs. And I’ve found that really effective.
Stacy Reece: [00:34:25] And that has been the most effective thing I found in confronting the negative beliefs. Because your negative beliefs are so automatic. They come from your childhood. They are not your fault most of the time. They got imprinted into your brain when you were a small child and you couldn’t tell any different. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, I find that perspective of the neuroscience of how the brain works and how the negative beliefs affect your ability to succeed and how do you change your negative beliefs, that has been the most freeing thing for me. Listening to a lot of business podcast is like watching the Instagram profiles of all the HomeGoods – not HomeGoods, but like –
Mike Blake: [00:35:23] Oh, it’s so tedious.
Stacy Reece: [00:35:25] You know, it’s like everybody’s an expert. Nobody ever had any fumbles. So, sometimes I find a lot of business podcast to be just as demoralizing as watching the Instagram profiles of all these influencers. And, really, I can’t do it. Because I have a science background, I like things that can help solve my problem from a scientific perspective. Which is why The Secret and Bob Proctor and Tony Robbins never really did it for me. But when you break it down to actual neurons, I’m golden. I’m ready to listen. And it actually does help.
Mike Blake: [00:36:09] You know, it’s interesting about those podcasts, there are a couple that I listen to selectively. But you’re right, you know, a lot of them are basically the interview goes something like this, “Hey, thanks for coming on the show. How awesome is it to be successful? It’s really awesome, Jim. Thanks for asking. How are you?” And it’s really sort of 45 minutes of sort of that back and forth. It’s like, you know what the most awesome thing is about being awesome is the being awesome part. Where’s the learning
Mike Blake: [00:36:45] And, you know, I will say this, one of my favorite shows that lived on, on this show, was talking with Milas King and about shutting down a business. What is that process like? How do you get through that kind of thing emotionally? Because like Bill Gates said, success is a lousy teacher. And the failures are really where the action is in terms of the learning. But of course, it’s hard to get people to come on and talk about their failures because that’s how we are.
Mike Blake: [00:37:22] So, let me ask you this, now, thinking back to this particular business, in retrospect and we’ve talked about the emotional aspect, what are the other one or two hardest things that you had to do to get this business going and off the ground?
Stacy Reece: [00:37:45] You know, marketing and self-promotion are really hard for me. And I can go and tout somebody else’s achievements all day long. But I really have a hard time saying, “Hey, look how great I am.” Or, “Look how great this is.”
Mike Blake: [00:38:14] You can even let people know you’re alive. I had to find you through the witness protection program.
Stacy Reece: [00:38:27] I know. And that is a shortcoming that limits my company. And using social media, which is something which surprised me. Because back in 2008 when I was working for the state in the Innovation Department, I was one of the first people in the state and state government start using social media to promote my position. Not really promote myself, but promote innovation in Georgia. And this is 2008, everybody was losing their house. My marketing budget got cut by about $75,000. And I was supposed to be this beacon of light to all these innovators wherever in the State of Georgia. How do you reach them? And so, like, I’ve been using social media for a long, long time.
Stacy Reece: [00:39:23] But then, when you had to turn around and use social media to promote myself, and my products, and my company, and say how great I am, that wasn’t easy. And then, also, the photography. I’m a pretty good photographer right now, especially when it comes to still lives. You know, I’ve learned how to adjust the shutter speed, and aperture, and ISO of my camera. But that was a long time and learning. I’ve taken a lot of really, really crappy pictures and posted them, you know, over the course of the past two or three years. And that was really hard.
Stacy Reece: [00:40:07] And then, also, coming up with new designs – you know, the reason why my towels have the word Y’all in American typewriter font screen printed on them is because I’m not a designer. So, I just made words. I just put Southern words on towels with no designs. And part of that was intentional because there’s a lot of really bad digital art out there. And I was going in the opposite direction. I just want a clean classic Southern words, clean classic Southern designs.
Mike Blake: [00:40:38] Understated.
Stacy Reece: [00:40:41] Understated goes with any decor. Black ink on white towels. You don’t have to worry about anything clashing. That’s when I go on the business podcast, not yours. But, like, a really big, important business podcast. I’m going to say that I just intentionally went in a different direction than the market. But it was really because I’m just not a very good artist. And all I could screen print legibly and effectively was a word. But I have gotten better at some design and I have gotten better at my photography. But those were real stumbling blocks, especially when you don’t really want to promote yourself. And then, you’ve got this crappy picture saying, “Hey, look how great I am.” But I have learned a motto that has helped me over these many, many years. It’s, “Do something even if it’s wrong.” And that has helped me immensely.
Mike Blake: [00:41:41] Yeah. I think that’s great advice. A great plan never executed, never has anything good come of it. And for the record, by the way, I use the word understated because that was the word I used to get me through a lot of art exhibitions back when I was an investment banker in New York. Everybody invited me and I was expected to attend all these art galleries because that’s where you’d find the high ticket clients. So, I was basically a poser. I haven’t had the all black outfit and everything. But the one thing I knew I could always say and nobody ever challenged me on is if I said it was understated. And people always thought that was deep. So, I just wanted to give that little hint — if you want to be poser like me, use the word understated.
Stacy Reece: [00:42:21] Understated.
Mike Blake: [00:42:25] What’s something that you wish you had done differently when you started the business, if anything?
Stacy Reece: [00:42:38] Well, you know, I wish I quit drinking earlier. I wish that I had confronted a lot of my doubts earlier and limiting self-beliefs earlier. But, you know, it is what it is. And one of the things that I do to myself is that, when I have a break through on a negative belief or I learn something and it becomes easy, I have this habit of turning around and viewing the entire scope of my life based on this brand new knowledge and judging it. Like, why didn’t you figure this out ten years ago? Why didn’t you figure this out 20 years ago? And so, I try not to go back and say, I wish I had done something differently. Because I’m trying to break myself of that habit because it’s like you work and work and work to try to get this new knowledge. And then, the new knowledge becomes easy. And then, you use that new easy knowledge to look back on your life and judge yourself. And I think that’s a bad habit for any entrepreneur. Because if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to constantly be learning new things and you can’t judge yourself for not knowing it back then.
Mike Blake: [00:43:52] We are talking with Stacy Reece of Down South House & Home on the Decision Vision Podcast. And the topic is, should my next job be to work for myself? We’re coming up on our allotted time. There’s a couple of questions I want to make sure I get in. What have you learned about yourself?
Stacy Reece: [00:44:14] I’m awesome, Mike. And success is really, really –
Mike Blake: [00:44:17] I could have told you that. Good grief. Of course, you wouldn’t have believed me.
Stacy Reece: [00:44:27] I’ll save it for a real business podcast to say that. But no, actually, that is a little bit true. You know, it’s like I’ve got a lot to offer. And, you know, when you’re looking at what are you going to do with yourself if nobody will hire you – and this is cliche – find something you love and do it. But it is kind of like find a niche. You know, the whole world is splintering apart. And with a pandemic, people are just gravitating to things that they love and provide them comfort. And so, if there’s something that comforts you, do that and be it, even if it’s nerdy or even if you’ve been judged by it by other people in the past. What you have to offer that other people need.
Stacy Reece: [00:45:23] And I think that that’s something I have found that as I’ve gotten a larger social media audience, I do provide some comfort and happiness through my social media posts and my products. And I want to keep doing that. Because what I’ve got in my head is good, and right, and kind. At this age, I’m no longer as snarky as I used to be. And I just want to be a beacon of grace and peace. And if I can do that through my products and my social media, you know, that’s what I’m going to do. And if you don’t like it, you know, there are other options for you. See you later.
Mike Blake: [00:46:15] I mean, that sounds like a great place to be. So, where is the business now?
Stacy Reece: [00:46:23] It is growing. I’m not buying a red Corvette with it. But it constantly grows. And I’ve got a great announcement. My husband, Chuck Reese, who’s a wonderful writer, is coming on full time with me to write the blog post. Because one of the things I can’t do is sit down and write an email or a blog post. And those are really important things for submitting your brand. And he’s a fantastic writer. And I’m looking the next year to be the audience to grow a lot because he’s well-known as a writer and he’s going a completely different direction. And I think it’s going to be a great direction that people need to hear in this time of the pandemic.
Mike Blake: [00:47:19] Stacy, this has been a great conversation. You and I could easily continue this for the next six hours. But our listeners are starting a cauliflower ear. If people want to contact you for more information about this topic, maybe they have a similar story or a similar mindset, you’re always so generous with your time despite your introversion. And someday, I think, you’re going to live in a missile silo. But how can people contact you for more information?
Stacy Reece: [00:47:45] Sure. You can reach me at Stacy, S-T-A-C-Y, @downsouth.house. And that’s D-O-W-N-S-O-U-T-H.house, H-O-U-S-E. And you can reach me by email or you can come to our website downsouth.house. And all that contact information is there. You can reach out to me any time.
Mike Blake: [00:48:11] And this is a first on the Decision Vision program, somebody came on with a .house domain extension. We’re setting records every day here on this program. You’ll hear it here first. That’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. I’d like to thank Stacy Reece so much for joining us and sharing her expertise.
Mike Blake: [00:48:27] We’ll be exploring a new topic each week. So, please tune in so that when you’re faced with your next executive decision, you have clear vision when making it. If you enjoy this podcast, please consider leaving a review of your favorite podcast aggregator. That helps people find us that we can help them. Once again, this is Mike Blake. And our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been the Decision Vision podcast.