Why the Former President of Overstock Is Putting Her Stock in Pot
Stormy Simon went from being a temp at Overstock.com to president. Now she's betting on the cannabis industry.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips, and insights from cannabis entrepreneurs who are out there doing business on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Why did you get into the cannabis industry?
I'd been at Overstock for 15 years. I really did want to do something different. I am passionate about the plant, but I had to find my place. This was in 2014. Colorado went green, and that was a big deal for me as an advocate and user, knowing the benefits and having studied them for my own self for many years.
I was in Utah watching Colorado go legal and I said, “Is this really happening right over the mountain?” In Utah, the people are extremely conservative, not so progressive--they're very fearful of the plant. So when you live in that environment but you see these progressive states that are doing it, they're tackling it, and they're making good things happen. Have you been to Colorado lately? They've taken this money and done amazing things, not just in the state but in the schools. It's a shared profit for the state of Colorado and that was the moment for me. I just thought, Wow, this is historic, I can't remember a time where the states had the power in something this big.
So what did you do after you left Overstock?
I joined a company MTrac as a strategic advisor. Everybody knows that the cash in the system is a problem with cannabis. It's dangerous or it can be. MTrac offers this unbelievable easy solution to take the cash out of the system. It leverages the blockchain technology but uses US currency that we are all familiar with. You download a digital wallet, then you walk into a store that has a machine that'll kick you out a credit card. We're just coming out of beta, but it is a solution. It's an absolute solution that works outside the banks, protects your money and keeps everybody safe.
I love MTrac's CEO and founder, Vanessa Luna, she's in her thirties, she has three kids, and she’s killing it.
I am also on the board of CannaKids, a for-profit brand dedicated to working with hospitals, scientists and creating medicines that are easy to take both with THC and without. It's for everyone but focused a lot on pediatrics and geriatrics.
You rose from a temp at Overstock to eventually becoming president. What advice do you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I think the most important thing when you're young is to believe in yourself and have confidence, but you also have to know not to rush the years of experience that builds up. When I was 30, I wanted to know so much more. I was demanding knowledge. I wanted to be right and I wanted recognition for my decisions. But I learned that experience matters--it's a collective group of a team. In a real company, there's not one winner, everybody wins. And it's the patience of allowing that to happen and being comfortable where you are
But what I'm finding with these kids nowadays (I sound like my mother!), even my own sons are saying, “Gosh. I wish I could just make more money.” And I say, you're 28 years old. You can make more money and you will. But you're getting your experience for that to happen. It's not just the titles, it's your life experience-- it's buying a car, buying a house. All of those things add up to having confidence and an internal authority to feel good about what you're doing.
You know, I was a teenage, single mom the whole time that I raised my boys. I got divorced when they were little. I would meet big business guys through Overstock. I would tell them about my life and they'd say, "Oh my God, you can balance a checkbook? You can pinch pennies like no other, were you able to ever take a family vacation?" And if I said yes, they said, "You should be the CFO."
You can't add another 24 hours of experiences to a week, you only get seven days, so be patient with yourself. People shouldn't be so hard on themselves and try to rush it. It doesn't matter where you are in your 20s, because in your 30s you start putting so many things together and your business persona starts falling into place. There's a level of maturity that just comes through living.
Do you have an inspiring quote you like to use?
I did a whole TedTalk on it. It’s something my mom told me when I was stagnant and down and was like, Life isn't it's just not going to happen for me. I'd been reading all these self-help books, and she finally said, “What the hell? Have you ever met that author? How do you even know he's right? Why are you taking this stranger's advice?” She would tell me, “Sometimes you just need to do something and step forward even if it's wrong. “You're going to make mistakes, but you got to keep moving.”
What's it like being named Stormy in this day and age?
I can't make a public Facebook page because my name is Stormy, and we can't figure out how to get around it. I think maybe that the name is just so hot right now, with the Trump thing, Facebook thinks people are calling themselves Stormy to gather the SEO. But that's my real name. I'm the original. I've had emails start bouncing into spam. I don't know if it's related.
Interviewee: Bye. Bye.