Stacey Stevenson is an experienced business leader who has worked in Defense, Technology, and Finance senior roles. She was recently Senior Managing Director at Charles Schwab and Co. in Westlake, Texas, where she oversaw major initiatives, including Voice Technology, Digital, and Talent. While at Charles Schwab, she tirelessly advocated for creating a safe and inclusive space for all in the workplace in her roles as local and National co-chair for Schwab’s Pride ERG and through the partnerships she established with multiple LGBTQ non-profits. Stacey has been active in the fight for equality in Dallas through leading community projects and non-profit board service.
She and her wife Cheralyn have been married 15 years and reside in Dallas with their 7-year old twin boys Duke and London.
1:46 Insights of Stacey Stevenson
5:27 Challenges that Stacey faced being as a minority group in corporate environments
13:12 Stacey shares her story of the importance of family quality
19:26 Shifting from Corporate to Nonprofit
23:26 Stacey’s tip in getting into her role
28:46 Stacey’s talks about being in parenthood
31:28 Stacey’s life’s vision
36:09 Tips on pivoting in life and getting through challenges
Family Equality https://www.familyequality.org/
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people, work, nonprofit, creative genius, texas, wife, felt, corporate america, outrageous, challenge, lead, unworthiness, charles schwab, northrop grumman, life, patti, mom, dallas, erg, bet
Stacey Stevenson, Patti Dobrowolski
Patti Dobrowolski 00:03
Hello superstars, welcome to the Up Your Creative Genius podcast where you will gain insight and tips to stomp on the accelerator and blast off to transform your business and your life. I’m your host, Patti Dobrowolski. And if this is your first time tuning in, then strap in because this is serious rocket fuel. Each week, I interview fellow creative geniuses to help you learn how easy it is to up your creative genius in any part of your life.
Hey, everybody, oh my gosh, I have Stacey Stevenson here. And let me just say that, by chance through my wife, Julie, I got to meet her. And then I went to our house for a fundraiser. And she is the consummate Rockstar, I’m just saying that she is from Texas, that she’s been and done so many things in technology and everywhere that it’s just amazing.
So right now she’s the CEO of family and quality, which is advancing equality for LGBTQ families, which Yes, thank you very much for that. And before that, she worked for Charles Schwab. And she did all kinds of things as the senior managing director there, she did voice tech and digital and talent.
But mostly on top of that, she ran a pride ERG, and she’ll tell us what that means. But she wanted to create a safe and inclusive environment for everybody. And so I love that you have done this. And I’m so happy to have you here so we can talk about all of that. Let’s get going. Welcome to the show.
Stacey Stevenson 01:44
Thank you, Patti. Thanks for having me.
Patti Dobrowolski 01:46
Oh, man, that’s so great. So I just want you to tell us a little bit about you tell us your story. And just tell us how did you get to do what you’re doing now? And what’s your past? Like? You’re from Texas. So tell me about what it’s like to be in Texas, cuz I haven’t been here that long. And so to meet you was like, Oh, yes. Finally, my people, right. So tell me, what’s your story? How did you get to do what you’re doing now?
Stacey Stevenson 02:12
Sure. So yes, I am a native Texan. And I’m from South Texas. So about six hours from Dallas, a small town called Robstown Texas. Yeah. And I, that’s where I grew up. And, you know, at some point, I’ll kind of fast forward a little bit about 20 or 21 years old, I decided that I was going to leave the small town. And you know, that really had a lot of things to do with being a queer person in a small town, Texas, it had a lot to do with having to drop out of high school after being pulled out of the closet.
Patti Dobrowolski 02:46
Oh wow, somebody outed you?
Stacey Stevenson 02:48
Yeah, someone outed me, you know, so it’d be a teenager who’s discovering themselves and finding your first girlfriend, then that whole first love thing that happens that we all feel in high school, and to be drugged out of the closet when you’re trying to figure out your own identity and love and what that all means, you know, it was pretty traumatic. And so being pulled out of the closet that led to dropping out of high school dropping out of high school, obviously lead to dead end jobs, lots of evictions, couchsurfing, all those sorts of things. I had to make a decision.
Patti Dobrowolski 03:23
Stacey Stevenson 03:23
What did I want to do? And was I going to continue to live this life. And I’ll say that I always had big dreams when I was a little girl.
Patti Dobrowolski 03:31
Stacey Stevenson 03:31
And for some reason, I got away from those. But at about 20, 21, I was on my friend’s couch, sleeping on his couch. And I said, You know what, I need to do something different. This is not the life that I planned for myself. So I scraped up $70 and jumped in the car and drove to Dallas, Texas, and that’s, you know, 20 something years ago.
And you know, really what that part of my life was all about was creating the life that I wanted to live. And so how do I do that as someone who is a GED graduate, and with maybe one or two college credits under my belt, right? And when I got to Dallas, I just decided to go in on everything and say, You know what, I want to learn technology. Is it possible to get a job in technology?
Yes. And you know what I did? How do you kind of ageing myself, I picked up a Windows 95 Manual. Nine back then read it, and then went to a job interview to be a technical support analyst. And I got the job. And that’s where my technology, job path started with being a Technical Support Analyst. And from there, I decided that I loved leadership, and I saw how bad leadership really impacted employees and how great leadership really motivated employees. And I had a lot of examples of bad leaders. And so I started to also get into leadership.
And from there, I had my first management position at a huge defence company, Northrop Grumman, and for Northrop Grumman, I went to Sabre, which is another 10 Yes, me here in the Dallas area, and From Sabre, I went to Charles Schwab. And that was, you know, kind of fast forwarding that was like a 20 something year corporate career, from technology to keep supply chain, organisational development, I think I’ve done it all. But in all of those positions, what was really constant was leadership. And the other thing I’ll say, is that going back to school, right, and getting my bachelor’s degree, getting my MBA, that was all part of the plan, and what led lag and all those jobs.
Patti Dobrowolski 05:27
Oh, my gosh, I love that. And I think one of the things that I love particularly about that is that you came to this pivot point, right? Where you were on that couch, and you said to the person whose house you’re in, I got to go do this $70 or not, you know, I’m going to go do it. And that piece takes so much courage.
And I think, part of what I know from meeting you, right, and going to your house and meeting your sons and your wife, and just being in that environment, with all the people that were supporting family equality, right, was that I felt like, there was a through line in the stories that you told and that other people told about courage about standing up for yourself and making a way where there wasn’t a way before.
And I think, you know, I always ask people would you do with the challenges that you came up against? But what challenges did you face in all those corporate environments? Because, number one, you’re coming in without their other people have an education, you haven’t got one, you’re coming in from that swinging. And then the colour of your skin? You got that going? Yes, you know, and you’re gay. So let’s just add all of that in there. And woman. So tell me a little bit about what was challenging and then environment?
Yeah, so you hit the nail on the head with the education piece. I think that was my own personal challenge in where I was in these spaces. I was getting interviewed for these positions, I obviously made it to the table to get interviewed and got the resumes and all those sorts of things. But this innate feeling of unworthiness was prevalent, because, well, you don’t have an education, you know, all the other candidates have degrees, and they’re not an adult trying to get their bachelor’s degree, they’ve done this in college, etc.
So having to deal with the education piece was really more of a personal issue for me, because I was sort of projecting and unworthiness in my presence when I was presenting myself and kind of going to people going, you know, I know, I don’t have a bachelor’s degree as the lead in state.
Patti Dobrowolski 07:29
As the lead in. Yeah, yeah.
Stacey Stevenson 07:31
They’re not even asking me about it. Yeah. So that was my own personal challenge. And, and I think I showed up in different ways. When I was still dealing with that challenge, when I could have just been my best self and just been in there kicking butt, I have this sort of cloak of unworthiness that I have to deal with. So that was one of the challenges that that was really prevalent, especially early in my corporate career, you know, the fact of being a black woman, that was absolutely a challenge.
And, you know, I always tell people, I’ve dealt with bias and discrimination, but I never know if it’s because I’m black. Because I’m a woman, or because I’m queer. I don’t know which one it is. So you’re trying to balance those things. But I do know, you know, I was told by a manager that he couldn’t put me in front of clients, because he didn’t know if I was going to come out to those clients. And he felt that if I came out to those clients that it was going to harm his business. So I did deal with things like that. And so what does that cause? Now I’m closeted.
Patti Dobrowolski 08:28
Stacey Stevenson 08:28
Now, I’m not being my authentic self. Now, I’m pretending to have a husband. Yes, exactly. We’re in order to survive. And I think the other thing when you’re the only LGBTQ plus person in the room, which happens a lot, I think, then we also just sort of just, by default, we start to kind of show up and close in, we’re not being ourselves, and we’re not telling the stories of our weekends with our partners, etc.
So I dealt with that quite a bit. And, you know, one of the ways I think that I decided to really combat that is to start leading in employee resource groups. And when I was at Northrop Grumman, that was my first foray into being a part of a pride employee resource group. So we are supporting the employees that are LGBTQ and that they have resources, and they have a safe space to come meet every now and then every now and then to talk about their experiences at work, and how do we create the best experience for the network in that safe space for the network to exist and do their work?
Patti Dobrowolski 09:25
Yeah, I think that an ERG or that employee resource group is so valuable there. And also, it’s the place where you can be yourself. Because I think, you know, you can imagine I’m older than you are. So way back when when I came out, I mean, every single time I went into business, who I was working for, they would always say, you know, you can’t come out there, you know, it’s not gonna be an opportunity for you and I would just find a way to do it anyway, I would just do it. I didn’t care what they said.
And you know, Because I realised that if I could be myself in front of those people, they could be themselves. And so in some groups, I felt confident enough, or I had a deep enough bond where I would share that, right. But often it would just be with two or three people in the room that I was facilitating, I would share with them, it wasn’t a thing where now you can just be yourself.
And even now, in some circles, it’s still shocking when I say my wife, and I, you know, and I make a point of it. I don’t know about you, but I make a point. Because I want people to remember, hey, you know, the, yeah, I have a partner and she’s doing great. So yeah, but I think that, that it’s hard to bring your authentic self, when you feel like that there’s so much judgement in the world based on not having an experience with someone like you.
Stacey Stevenson 10:53
Yeah, I agree. You know what the other thing is, and I appreciate that cuz I wish that we had when you said you were still you would still do it anyway, even though you were told not to. And I wish that I had models like that like you in my career who are doing it. But I think the other thing is also cultural. So as an African American person, whose family is from the South who grew up Baptist.
Patti Dobrowolski 11:15
Stacey Stevenson 11:15
And think about the whole coming out, you know, story, not just what happened at school in the way that the kids responded? How did my family respond? Yeah, my coming out, oh, how many times did the issue of church and God and being a sinner come up? And the messages that I was told as a little girl about homosexuality, live with me, and I think probably maybe even back then even the safest places? I think I still would have been hesitant because of those messages that stick with you that you’re hearing at home, right before you can leave the nest.
Patti Dobrowolski 11:50
Yes. And I think people now they realise how powerful your words are, or we hope that they do. But of course, you know, my parents. When I came out, I was 17. And they were like, my dad went around the side of the house and cried, you know, my mom’s and my siblings said, you know, we love you no matter what.
But what was true is my parents never told anyone that I was gay, until they were in their 70s. And towards the end of their life, they said it to one of their friends. And their friends said my son is gay. And they were like, oh, you know, finally. And you know, so you think about that. So they could say one thing, but they wouldn’t tell anybody so that at my mother’s funeral, right. And afterwards, the celebration, I was introducing my wife to them, because they had no idea that I was gay. No, not at all. And so, you know, they just knew what I done and accomplished and all those things. You know how it is.
Stacey Stevenson 12:56
Oh, yeah, think about what kind of support system that could have been for your parents. Only had they said something. Right. Right. And kind of built that network. But again, trying generational differences.
Patti Dobrowolski 13:06
Stacey Stevenson 13:07
Here is and I mean, I think it’s awesome. That in their own way, I guess they supported you.
Patti Dobrowolski 13:12
Yeah, they did. They did. I mean, you know, I found that card, I always tell this story to my wife, Julie, right. You know, you and your wife, and Julie and I’ve been married the same amount of time, right. But my mom for years, because I was a serial monogamist she had a card with everybody’s name on it, and then there’ll be a line through it, and then the next girlfriend’s name with their phone number, and then a line through it.
And then the next one, I found that in like a bar, after she had passed, I was like, Oh, my God, but she, you know, she always gave them everything Christmas presents, and was completely embracing. However, that was like a reflection of me. I was like, Oh, my God. And I’m glad I changed that habit. Right, exactly. Well, that’s fascinating. So now talk a little bit about the role that you’re in now, because I met your beautiful boys. And I think that what you’re doing with family quality is amazing. So tell the listeners a little bit about that.
Stacey Stevenson 14:08
Yeah. So I am, you know, on a backup a little bit, I left corporate America.
Patti Dobrowolski 14:14
Yes. And so during the pandemic, but during the pandemic, right, and then why did you leave during the pandemic, right?
Stacey Stevenson 14:21
So surprising if someone would have asked me a couple of what she’s How long has this pandemic been around? Like, almost three years. So someone would have asked me in early 2020, or 2019, if I was going to leave Corporate America, I would have thought that they were Are you kidding? You’re crazy.
Patti Dobrowolski 14:36
Money is good. Leadership.
Stacey Stevenson 14:39
Got my leadership. I got it right. And I like and again, go back to who I was, and who I thought I would not be. And now I’m here in Corporate America, like why would I ever take any of that away? And then during the pandemic, you know, I call it COVID Clarity. I think we all had COVID Clarity. Definitely He has so still having to pick still oh my god, yeah, we’re still having it so much time to think.
Patti Dobrowolski 15:06
Stacey Stevenson 15:06
And, you know, it gave me time to decide if I was really doing good in the world in the way that I wanted to. And if I was really putting forth all those challenges, I went through the coming out of the closet, what happened to my parents being rejected when we were trying to build our family? To all those things? How did I really want to use that in a way to help people? And you know, I made the decision that it was time to go do something different. And it was time to take a risk, it was time to bet on myself. And, you know, you could say, I bet on myself, you know, in the past, and I think I did, but it’s like those bets, I think, have to keep getting bigger.
Patti Dobrowolski 15:42
Well, this is a big bet. I mean, this was like, now you’re stepping into your true self. Do you know what I’m saying? There, you’re stepping into, you’re the leader, you’re the CEO. So that means you’re overseeing all of it. But you’re in your authentic stream, like there’s not a moment that you’re not living your full life.
Stacey Stevenson 16:01
Exactly. And that was part of the COVID clarity to have. This isn’t me, Charles Schwab is a great company. I think, you know, folks, they’re great company, supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. And you know, all sorts of I think under representation or underrepresented people, when I was at 12, we really were trying to do our best to ensure that we were uplifting those people.
Patti Dobrowolski 16:21
Stacey Stevenson 16:21
And then at the same time, was I living my authentic self. And I think to an extent, I thought that I was I’m leading an ERG, I’m out at work, I’m talking about my wife, and my kids, and people know who I am and what we do, and all those sorts of things. And then at the same time, there’s still this authenticity, I think, as an LGBTQ+ person that for again, this cloak of even the maybe closetness that we still carry this I carry and didn’t know I was carrying it. Fast forward to, I decided to apply for panel quality. And my wife thinks I’m crazy. She says, You love corporate America, this is your thing. This is what you do. She went back to that when I met you. You told me that this is what you do. And this is what you will do. And I was kind of you know, on this career trajectory.
Patti Dobrowolski 17:04
Stacey Stevenson 17:05
And so she thought it was crazy. Maybe I thought I was a little bit crazy. But maybe that’s great. If we sometimes get I think, a little bit crazier out of our comfort zone. But I decided to apply for this job. And yeah, you know, the at a CEO level, like he said, and the committee that was responsible for hiring, they had their doubts, because I didn’t have extensive nonprofit experience that sat on boards. But what is this person going to offer?
Patti Dobrowolski 17:27
Stacey Stevenson 17:27
That the traditional nonprofit, you know, candidate could actually give us and I had to demonstrate that those years and years of business and leadership that I had had under my belt at Schwab and Sabre and Northrop Grumman, were beneficial to the nonprofit world.
Patti Dobrowolski 17:44
Stacey Stevenson 17:46
You know, but you have to demonstrate that and not only that, I have a lived experience, my wife and I live in Texas, we’re a black lesbian couple in Texas, raising twin black boys. And by the way, we had a very rocky journey with you holding our family, including an adoption agency in Texas telling us that they wouldn’t work with us that women were not going to pick us anyway. But by the way, we’re not going to work with you, because you are a same sex couple, you know, having fertility doctors give us the runaround, you know, so that experience of being rejected when you’re trying to build a family when you’re you make that decision to have a child, which is just a huge decision.
Patti Dobrowolski 18:28
Stacey Stevenson 18:28
And then you go forth, because that takes courage to write to say, yeah, like, I’m going to raise other humans, that’s just a whole other level of courage as well. And then you go do that and take that big step. And then they tell you that you’re not good enough, and that you can’t do it, I felt I could take that live, that hurt. That pain, the experience of being in Corporate America, and take all that and make an effect and an impact and family quality. And thankfully, after very long, you know, almost six months interview process.
Patti Dobrowolski 18:57
Really, the grill is really, really one side than the other.
Stacey Stevenson 19:03
They selected me and I’m thankful and I’m so happy to be at family quality. I feel like I am where I am supposed to be. And it’s almost like what took me so long to get here. Yeah. It took me so long to figure that out. But I think in life, it does take us some time to figure out where we truly belong. We’re living someone else’s life. We don’t even know it. We’re sometimes living someone else’s life, or someone’s out someone else’s version of life. And we don’t know.
Patti Dobrowolski 19:26
Yeah, yeah, I would agree. I think that, you know, we get impacted by everything around us. And when we form a belief about who we should be and how we should act, and then we live that as if it’s reality. And just like our personality, we think our personality is real. Instead of that, it’s just one suit we put on and it can change over time.
And that, you know, really when you work in the corporate sector, I mean, you just wear a certain suit really all the time, and you button yourself down in ways that are hard to explain, but you can feel it inside. And it reminds me when I was a kid, my mom would dress me up in these little frilly outfits and I would scream, you know, age 3 when I came in the house put on my real clothes, I need my real clothes.
Yes. And that is always how I felt in corporate America, you know, and now I’m like, whatever, you know, I’m gonna wear I wear and be who I am. And these things will help to create the change. So you went from a corporate position to running a nonprofit. So what did you have to learn? And how do you have to grow in yourself in order to do that? Because those are two different cultures. I know from working at the Gates Foundation, there were three cultures. One was people from Microsoft, one was nonprofits and one more entrepreneurs that had come in. So what in your case? Would you have to manage or learn and do?
Stacey Stevenson 20:50
Yeah, well, I had to learn that one, it is very different. So in terms of resources, and finances, you know, you think about the companies that I’ve worked for that if you had unlimited resources, but you had a pretty big budget.
Patti Dobrowolski 21:04
Stacey Stevenson 21:05
What you needed to do. And all you needed to do is go through the the hierarchy, or sometimes bureaucracy to get an approval to get it. But the money was there, you got a nonprofit to be running a nonprofit, and to be so cognizant about the dollars, and these are donor dollars, and how are we using those in impactful way, but needing to run an organisation as efficiently and effective as possible, but not having the unlimited or, you know, the, you know, a big budget to do. So I had to learn very quickly, how do I stay nimble?
How do I work within the confines of our budget, and also make something create something new. And that was a learning curve for me. And I think I’m getting around it of figuring out, I can work this within the budget, but we’re going to have to be super creative. And I think what it’s done is it’s forced me to be even more creative than I would have sometimes when you have access to, you know, just a plethora of options, and you’re not really as creative as you maybe we would be. And I had to get super creative. I think the other thing I had to learn is how to interact with the board members, because I’ve been a board member. Now I’m a co responsible to the board.
Patti Dobrowolski 22:14
Stacey Stevenson 22:15
Managing all those different board personalities.
Patti Dobrowolski 22:17
Stacey Stevenson 22:18
Managing, you know, who is kind of like sceptical of maybe by being here, who’s maybe a champion, how do I kind of bring everybody on board? And you know, I think the other challenge too, is just to be quite honest, was realising that I’m the first black leader in the history of family quality. And to be honest, after 42 years of this nonprofit being.
Patti Dobrowolski 22:41
Stacey Stevenson 22:42
And you know, a while Patti, I was telling myself, I don’t want to make that a thing. That’s not a thing, you know. And I think that’s a whole conditioning of African American people to have taught not to rock the boat a lot.
Patti Dobrowolski 22:52
Stacey Stevenson 22:52
When it comes to race. But it’s not really about rocking boat. It’s the fact Yeah, there are implications that come along with that, definitely, while I went in with eyes wide open, there are also things that I learned along the way, that being the first black leader and how people respond to you, and how you have to show up are still very different. And that’s something that’s a consistent theme, whether I’m in corporate or whether I’m in nonprofit, I’m still a black woman, and in the ways in which I have to show up are very different than some of my peers. So thinking about that, like.
Patti Dobrowolski 23:26
Yeah, yeah, tell me tell me that, educate, educate the listeners a little bit about what that means. You have to show up somewhat differently. So how are you having to course correct or, you know, sort of position yourself?
Stacey Stevenson 23:41
Mm hmm. Yeah. You know, I think it’s really about you. We all want to show up. competent. Yeah. And I think for many of us, sometimes our resume and our background is enough to get people to buy into our vision, who we are, yeah, oftentimes for black woman in a clear black woman, we have to work harder at getting people to believe our merit, and that what we are bringing to the table is genuine and not we weren’t put in this position, just because I got people asking me if I was a token, because I am the first black leader station.
Patti Dobrowolski 24:18
Stacey Stevenson 24:19
So having to really fight that to go no, no, no, no, no, it’s not tokenism. The board did its due diligence. And here’s my long resume. And with all my accolades and things that I’ve done in my education, and I belong here, so it’s really it’s almost like this constant, reaffirming to others and sometimes ourselves that I belong in this.
Patti Dobrowolski 24:39
Stacey Stevenson 24:39
Because I’ve done all this stuff. And my resume is just as great as any of my other peers who may not look like me or love like me. So it’s a constant reaffirming and navigating and shimming that you have to do and thankfully, you know, I have a supporting board, but you know, I have, I’m responsible for to the board, to donors to the employees, all of that and there’s implications that come along with that. But you have to continue.
Patti Dobrowolski 25:02
Yeah, definitely. And I just think that sounds very tiresome to me. That’s what to me, it feels, you know, I was talking to one of my guests was Lani Phillips, and we were talking about it. And she was like, it’s exhausting. You know, it can be exhausting that piece of it. And I think I don’t think people can appreciate that, if you have never lived that experience.
Stacey Stevenson 25:26
Patti Dobrowolski 25:26
How exhausting it really is, and how important it is to really note and check your bias that you bring to every conversation. I mean, that is, no matter who you are in the world, it’s an everyday thing. It’s not just one and done, read a book, take a workshop, whatever, you have to really go out in the world and have an experience.
So that you know, I mean, it’s incredible. And I just want to say, thank you so much for everything that you do in the world. And you you know, you really are a black leader in Dallas. That’s what’s true. Like you’re recognised as that you’ve been, I, you know, I did all this back channel, looking at what you’d been up to listen to some other podcasts where you’re like, Oh, my God, she’s incredible. And you really are.
But that’s a very different, that’s a very different thing to be working in Corporate America and then be running a nonprofit, yeah, you really are accountable to everyone. So that’s like, that’s a lot of shoulder, you know, you got to get those lifts, because that’s what it is. And I think stakeholder engagement, what you’re talking about there, you know, it’s really, it’s essential. And I was thinking, man, you really need a good therapist, you know, therapists.
Stacey Stevenson 26:50
I have to rationally oftentimes I tell people, that my wife is probably tired of being my therapist. But you know, because that’s what happens, right? We get up, yes. Or we come home, and we’re glad to go. And we talk to our spouse, and we lay all this on them.
Patti Dobrowolski 27:06
Stacey Stevenson 27:06
But I also will say, I just have to say something about therapy. You know, I’m someone who has what I would call a traumatic background. And then at the same time coming from the African American community where we don’t really embrace a lot of times, health. I am so on board with people having therapists, and I fully support it, we need it, we need it. And that doesn’t mean that you’re anything wrong with you.
Patti Dobrowolski 27:27
Stacey Stevenson 27:27
There’s no crazy or anything. It’s just you need an outlet. We all need that.
Patti Dobrowolski 27:32
Yeah, that’s right. You know, I was trained as a drama therapist. So I know all about the drama. And I think that it’s essential for people to show up really in the way that they need to, and then to kind of sort through all the pieces of it. Because where we get in trouble is when we press ourselves down, to try to fit or hold back the feelings that we’re having, instead of saying what’s true, and then sorting it out with the other person.
And I think that, that, when you are always having to be on guard, you don’t get the opportunity to do that. You can’t just call it as it is. And so part of I think the the challenge for all of us in this new era, you know, the pre COVID, you know, now we have an AC and so now we’re in AC and so in that place, we have to be truly listening to each other, and then being authentic about what is true for us and know that, you know, you’re not always going to say it right? And well, you’re going to do the best you can. And that there’s got to be a lot of grace for that a lot of grace
Stacey Stevenson 28:45
Is AC after COVID?
Patti Dobrowolski 28:46
After COVID. Yeah. Yeah, after COVID. Like I think pre COVID And after COVID. Because we’re not after it, I don’t think but you know, that’s the moment when it started, right? And so now when you think about that, so you now have these two beautiful boys, are you having a good time with them?
Stacey Stevenson 29:07
Speaking of authenticity, parenting is the most beautiful and challenging experience that a human can undertake. That’s what I will say, and I am having fun with him. I’m also learning from them. And that is so hard because I am taught or retaught as parents that we are the authority figure. We know best we know it all. And then at the end of the day, I’m like, I don’t know at all.
Yeah. And how was it that I could actually learn something from the seven year old and let’s be grudgingly I don’t want to learn from them. But I am learning from them. And it’s been a really it’s been a stretching experience for me because I’m you know, I love my parents that you saw the story about my dad throwing the party that you attended, love my parents. And at the same time, I don’t want to make some of the mistakes that my parents made.
So I’m having lots of fun and then also try to be cognizant of not making the mistakes and I I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to screw it. I already know that but, but fun fun is the thing that we’re trying to implement here at the house. Because again, petty things can get so damn serious sometimes.
Patti Dobrowolski 30:10
Oh, yeah, I think and people are, you know, I think there’s all the boundary setting piece, right? So the boundaries, and then the freedom, and then you know, the chaos, and you’ve got twins so they can work you.
Stacey Stevenson 30:25
With each other. They’re like, they like to do the tag team thing, you know? Yeah. But you know what we’re having fun. What I will say about that? Is that just what we try to instil in them, because they get a lot of this from school, why do you have two moms or ew you have two moms. You know, I told the story of the house party about a teacher who was treating London badly.
And we found out later, it’s because he had two moms. And what I can say is that, you always wonder, how’s that going to affect your kids? And then you sometimes I think, for the level of guilt, because they’re having to take the shoulder that burden. They’re being advocates at seven years old, you know, you and I know what advocacy is, and how hard and emotional that is. And it’s the same in our kids are doing it to you that they have embraced the whole having a trauma thing, a mom and a mommy, it’s like no problem.
Like, what do you mean, what are you asking for? You know, I love my family, you know, and I love that, you know, you just never know. And we’re in a, we’re in a difficult environment, Texas, it can be a difficult environment from an inclusivity perspective for our community, as I’m sure you know. Yeah. And I’m so glad that they see the beauty in their family.
Patti Dobrowolski 31:28
Yes, and and they every way talk about it, you know, I think that for them, it’s like, yeah, no big deal. And I would think, you know, to me, you know, I was thinking about the things that make me mad. And this the thing is, the things that make me mad are the fact that this era that we’re living in, didn’t happen when I was coming out, you know, like those things I’m like, Yeah, but still in some pockets of the world, it’s still the same, you know, things haven’t changed. We live in Texas, you know, and I always read on Twitter, you know, they have things that happen in Texas there.
And if you want a good laugh, and a good cry, just real people, right. But now, when you think about so I love that you started this whole conversation with talking about this wasn’t the vision that you had of your life? So I’m curious, what do you envision for yourself, like, best case scenario, you know, three years from now, you know, what do you see yourself doing or being? What’s that look like? Or when you’re thinking about your trajectory?
Stacey Stevenson 32:31
Sure. Learning to be of service to others. Yeah. And figuring out how do I do that in a really authentic way?
Patti Dobrowolski 32:41
Stacey Stevenson 32:41
But at the same time, living the dreams that I have for myself, too. And I think that we get to live more of the dreams that we have. And we burn that service to others as part of the picture, not just service to ourselves. And if I get very specific, I want a best selling book. I want a New York Times bestseller book.
Patti Dobrowolski 32:59
Stacey Stevenson 32:59
You know, I spent you did some of the research. And I’ve written a story for my time when I was a self harmer from age 15. Yes, it went viral, I guess somewhat, right.
Patti Dobrowolski 33:09
Stacey Stevenson 33:10
But I would love to create a book on that.
Patti Dobrowolski 33:12
Stacey Stevenson 33:13
Because people don’t know that in the black community that we are cutting. So I would love to three years down the line is to have a book is to continue to be in the nonprofit space and to grow family quality, for to the budget that we have to have even larger budget in the larger budget we have is not just for budget sake, it means that we can serve more families, I want to be a part of that change. And then just working with folks like you to make change in Texas. What do we love to see in three years time, Texas be more like where you and your wife came from? in California?
Patti Dobrowolski 33:44
Stacey Stevenson 33:44
In terms of laws and inclusivity. And just, you know, kind of progressive thought I would love to be a part of that change. And on a beach somewhere more authentic.
Patti Dobrowolski 33:54
Yeah. That’s so true. I just wanna I just want to clarify, though, my wife is from the Midwest.
Stacey Stevenson 34:00
So she, she came?
Patti Dobrowolski 34:02
Yes, she came from Iowa. And I came from California, and we met in Colorado. So we lived in multiple states, but she’s not from California. I’m sure she wishes she was living in California, somewhere where the sun shines all the time, even better. But you know, I think that it is the opportunity. I think, wherever you have the most challenges, you’re placed there, because you have this great opportunity to serve.
And if you can figure out how do I serve within this environment in such a way that I can help transform the lives of this person and that person. It’s not always big change, you know, big change is 3.5% of an area if you can get 3.5% to come together in a non violent way. That’s how change occurs on a massive scale. And so we have to just assume that we’re part of of Texas is 3.5%. And that somewhere in here, we’re going to find the rest of that 3.5%. And we’re going to do what needs to be done here, which is just shift to what people know, in their heart is the right thing, which is love.
Stacey Stevenson 35:18
It’s all about love. And some people I think, sometimes want to give up on Texas like, oh, there’s no way we can make change there. I don’t believe that. And I’m the kind of person who believes that there’s always a way.
Patti Dobrowolski 35:27
Stacey Stevenson 35:28
You know, to do something to make change. It’s in so I’m, we’ll work together.
Patti Dobrowolski 35:32
We’ll do it. We will. Yeah, we will. Because we’re neighbours down the street. I know. I know it. I’m coming to your neighbourhood to get some bagels and just a few minutes. So you know.
Stacey Stevenson 35:43
Yes. You have to try that bagel shop.
Patti Dobrowolski 35:45
Oh, yeah. Well, you can meet me there after we’re done. I’ll be over there. Oh, you’ll be going to work though. I’m sure.
Stacey Stevenson 35:50
I’ll be do I’ve been back to back meetings.
Patti Dobrowolski 35:53
Oh, yeah. I should be dropping them off at your house. And since I’m not I’m saying, Oh, do
Stacey Stevenson 35:59
They have great like, do they have everything they go on?
Patti Dobrowolski 36:02
Yeah, they have? Oh, it’s unbelievable. Yeah. Oh, it’s just everything that you ever loved.
Stacey Stevenson 36:09
Patti Dobrowolski 36:09
Is there? Yeah. Oh, Dan’s bagels. Fantastic. Now, so tell people when you think about, you know, all of the ways in which you have been able to pivot from the time you were on that couch to working in those multiple organisations? What piece of advice would you give to people that are listening? who maybe need to make a pivot in some area? Who had that hard conversation with themselves during COVID? What would you say? What would be some tips?
Stacey Stevenson 36:36
Yeah. So one of the things I said earlier is betting on yourself. And I think that it’s easier said than done. But all of us have these great dreams and these hopes, and sometimes that’s all they end up being is just dreams and hopes. I think that you have to bet on yourself, no matter what the naysayers are saying. And when I was on that couch, I had people tell me, why would you ever go to Dallas? You number one, you don’t have enough money? Number two, you’re not going to make it number three, you don’t have an education.
Patti Dobrowolski 37:08
Stacey Stevenson 37:08
And, and whether I’m on the couch, or whether I’m at Charles Schwab having this really deep moment of contemplation going, should I leave? And I had voices telling me to why would you do that? But what would you do so? Or why are you doing it so better yourself in don’t listen to the naysayers because I think that all of us in our heart knew exactly what we truly need. It’s just that we don’t believe it. We don’t listen to it.
Patti Dobrowolski 37:33
Stacey Stevenson 37:33
But that we let the crowd lead us more than I think we let ourselves lead ourselves in our path. So that on yourself. And I think that this whole notion of you know, one of the things I got out of your session that we had with you the other day that the trading session, be outrageous. And I didn’t know at the time that I was being outrageous on that couch. I didn’t know at that time, it was being outrageous when I decided to be Charles Schwab.
But when you said that the other day, I was like, Oh, I was being outrageous. And you know, in their outrageous is on a spectrum, right doesn’t have to be something like you just left your job and you will have another income outrageous on a spectrum. But push yourself, be uncomfortable. Do something that’s scary, and see what happens. And I think that we need to be more outrageous, less fearful and better ourselves.
Patti Dobrowolski 38:20
Stacey Stevenson 38:21
That’s that’s the key.
Patti Dobrowolski 38:21
I love that. I love that big bet. Bet on yourself and be courageous and outrageous. You got to be outrageous. And that could be as simple as getting your eyebrows waxed. Who knows?
Stacey Stevenson 38:32
Patti Dobrowolski 38:32
You know what I’m saying?
Stacey Stevenson 38:34
And the best keep changing. Patti? I’ll say that to you. That’s right, maybe you’re betting you know, this is happens when people are I’m not a gambler. But I’m sure that if you keep winning, you continue to bet on yourself. And even a bigger, bigger way. Keep up in the butt to keep increasing your bets, as you would be surprised at what happens and I’m sure you’ve done it in your life too. We’re so afraid and we make that leap and that bet and maybe it doesn’t happen exactly the way we think it’s going to happen. But in the end, we end up where we need to be and.
Patti Dobrowolski 38:59
Stacey Stevenson 39:00
That’s what I suggest.
Patti Dobrowolski 39:02
Yeah, I love it. And you know, the bigger the bet the more courage that you build and the more confidence you build to go out and do the next thing and the next thing because who knew you know you were just going in and reading a manual on applying for the job and getting it right and then look at where you are you know in the life you’ve built for yourself and that’s really what it’s about. So I thank you so much. Thank you hear this amazing it was so much fun and I can’t wait to see you and have bagels with you.
Stacey Stevenson 39:33
I’m craving bagels now
Patti Dobrowolski 39:34
I know it. I thank you so much and listeners just for all of you. Just be sure to look in the show notes for how you can follow Stacey and get in on what she’s doing and supporter in any way you can. And thank you again everybody go out you know do what you do and Up Your Creative Genius. Let’s do this. Thank you Thanks so much for listening today. Be sure to DM me on Instagram your feedback or takeaways from today’s episode on Up Your Creative Genius. Then join me next week for more rocket fuel. Remember, you are the superstar of your universe and the world needs what you have to bring. So get busy, get out and Up Your Creative Genius. And no matter where you are in the universe, here’s some big love from yours truly Patti Dobrowolski and the Up Your Creative Genius podcast. That’s a wrap.