Take the time to relate well to the people around you.
Steve Musick is the CEO of Destiny Capital, a financial advising firm he founded in 1977. In addition to being a wealth management expert, Steve is an author, speaker, and lecturer on the subject of entrepreneurial leadership. He recently launched Empowerium, an entrepreneurial platform to fuel business growth. When not in a business uniform, Musick can be found strolling on a golf course, blasting a topspin forehand on the tennis courts, or wading quietly through a trout stream. Musick married his wife, Elaine, in 1978, and they have three sons, Jarrod, Brett, and Aaron.
What are you working on right now?
For the past 14 months, I’ve been working on a project to create new entrepreneurially managed organizations, expand existing ones, and encourage people who would want to work within them.
Where did the idea of Empowerium come from?
Our economic system in America is not operating at maximum efficiency: Simple facts tell us there are insufficient numbers of companies growing at a sufficient rate to employ all the people needing and wanting jobs. Empower and emporium combine to form a new place — a place people can come to plug in and power up. The site has resources for entrepreneurs and the people who want to work within entrepreneurially managed organizations. The genesis of this idea is outlined in the introduction of the book “Job Generation.”
What does your typical day look like?
My days are different depending upon the day of the week, but every day, without fail, I invest two hours in financial and economic research. I am part of a team managing capital for our clients who retain our firm.
Mondays and Fridays are reading and writing days. I also reserve the weekend blocks of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for speaking engagements. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are reserved for serving clients. Thursdays are dedicated to the management of the firm.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Bringing ideas to life for me actually involves throwing most of them out and only focusing on the most important ones. My current emphasis is the idea of Empowerium. It’s an outgrowth of our main organization, Destiny Capital, but it’s one that has captivated my soul.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The next mega trend in American business is the surge in small- and medium-sized entrepreneurial organizations. Three factors are converging to create a perfect storm of good things: technology, crowdfunding, and a marketplace full of entrepreneurs who are tired of waiting.
What’s the worst job you have ever had and what did you learn from it?
I have never had a real job. Destiny Capital was my first full-time job, which I started in 1977 at the age of 20. I was fresh out of the Navy as a disabled veteran. My disability made me unemployable, so I started a business. One of the benefits of being a youth with no options is that you don’t know what you should be afraid of.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take the time to relate well to the people around you. Our company is only as good as the people who choose to work here. I have a partner in our firm who is the “people manager.” She is empowered to keep us from imploding under the weight of my entrepreneurial stupidity. Even after 37 years, it’s still not my natural reflex to slow down and take the necessary time to deeply engage with the people who make Destiny Capital the juggernaut it is today.
What is one business idea you are willing to give away to our readers?
Many citizens are concerned about healthcare and the costs associated with providing for themselves and their families. The wave of technology coming within healthcare — especially the unlocking of the human genome — will revolutionize the entire healthcare delivery system.
The business idea is actually a personal one: purchase a high-deductible health plan either within your company’s group plan or as an individual policy. The lower premiums more than cover the cost of taking a higher deductible, and when you need healthcare, you pay directly to the providers and get discounts to do it.
Tell us a secret.
The United States of America is within an eyelash of balancing the national budget. The latest data shows a surge in tax receipts. Wake up! There’s a recovery going on! Unfortunately, the eyelash is clouded by political power and a conflict of visions; both political parties are missing a boat as big as an aircraft carrier.
A reasonable, balanced policy on energy alone would allow the U.S. to transition back to having a surplus to begin to retire debt. This is the economist in me speaking — ask me about how America could feed the world and balance the trade deficit in the process! This could be accomplished within existing budget guidelines, as well.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
I am 57 years young. I clearly missed the Millennial technology surge. I don’t have three online tools to recommend. I’m thoroughly enamored with the entire technological package, which allows me to operate anywhere there is power and an Internet connection. I can gain deep access to so much information. It allows a small business like Destiny Capital to effectively compete with the giants on Wall Street, create value for customers, and pay our employees. This would not have been possible in the 1970s.
What is the one book that you would recommend our community read and why?
This is going to sound self-serving, but read “Job Generation.” It contains the knowledge and experience of 37 years of being an entrepreneur. For existing entrepreneurs, it will provide a lens into the inner workings of you. For people who think they might be entrepreneurs, the book will give them confirmation — it will also give them a clear understanding if they are not.
What’s on your playlist?
My middle son, Brett, is a gifted musician. Each year for my birthday, he creates a double CD that he downloads onto my iPhone. I favor movie soundtracks, so I always get the latest from Jerry Goldsmith. John Williams and James Horner also make the list each year, and my son picks out other artists he knows I would enjoy.
If you were not working on Empowerium, what would you be doing?
I would have a single-digit handicap in golf and be a 4.0 tennis player. I would also be miserable. Life is meant to be lived fully to experience the internal rewards that make this country a better place for all who live and work here.I value the concept of “LNT” when camping, which is an acronym for “leave no trace.” It means leave the site better than when you first set up your camp. I apply that principle to business, industry, and our American culture. Seriously, don’t you want to leave the next generation better opportunities than the ones we enjoyed?
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
So far, I have not embarked on the Twitter universe. It’s on the agenda for 2014. Empowerium has a Twitter feed, but I simply supply content, and my staff manages the traffic. Remember, I totally missed the Millennial technology surge. I’m running at a breakneck pace just to keep up.
When was the last time you laughed out loud and what caused it?
I was bested — virtually beaten to death — at the game “Apples to Apples” by a team member’s 11-year-old daughter at a company retreat. It was hilarious to watch her strut and gloat about beating all the geniuses at the large table. I was not the only adult to have his head handed to him.
Who is your hero?
My hero was and is my grandfather, George Meredith Musick, who died in 1977. I learned about his life by sitting on a footstool and listening to him. He was an entrepreneur, and he told me stories about his life. I would ride my bike over as a lad, and as a teenager, my car was parked in his driveway. It was my home away from home. He didn’t just transfer wisdom to me; he transferred the reasons for living a rich life — richness not measured exclusively by the accumulation of stuff.
Tell me about a time you failed. What did you learn?
We spent seven years working to build a banking charter within Destiny Capital. It was magnificent, an entrepreneurial, technology-driven service business. I was proud of our accomplishments. It took the federal regulators seven weeks after the financial crisis to completely dismantle what we’d worked so hard to create. It was devastating. I learned firsthand how policymakers can wreak havoc — often without knowing it — on the general marketplace. I apply that lesson to every business we serve: a thorough analysis of how unmanageable external factors can influence a business must be part of any enterprise’s planning process. It would have saved us a great deal of money, not to mention the emotional costs of having to retrench.
What would you have done differently in your personal life?
I would have taken more care while driving vehicles. I have been in three head-on collisions in my driving life. The last one was a life-saving airbag encounter. While none of the altercations were considered my fault, I always think about what could have been done to avert the incidents. I carry a certain baggage of guilt over what more I could have done. Multitasking, which is now the norm in this commuter world, alarms me.