Excellence In Leadership: Lori Stacy, Trader Interactive

by CoVaBizMag

CEO of Trader Interactive

By Barrett Baker

Lori Stacy started working in retail, as many high school students do. She always thought she was going to follow in her parents’ footsteps and be a teacher—even going so far as to get a degree in English, thinking that she might teach at the college level. But the more she was exposed to different management opportunities, the more she realized she needed to shift gears. Working at The Body Shop for many years, she quickly moved to area manager, then training. She fell in love with the business of business, specifically around serving customers, building teams and developing people. So it’s not surprising that when she joined Trader Publishing 20 years ago as a sales manager in their Orlando office that she would rapidly advance into a role where she was training reps and managers throughout the entire company, then to general manager and district manager roles and eventually CEO of what is now Trader Interactive in Norfolk.

Lori Stacy, Trader InteractivePhoto by Mark Fowler

Tell us about your role as CEO of Trader Interactive.

Trader Interactive is a company with a portfolio made up of industry-leading products serving customers and consumers in four key areas: Power Sports, RV, Truck and Equipment segments. We have over 7 million unique visitors to our marketplaces, and we have thousands of dealer websites. My role as CEO is to focus on creating the vision, setting the strategic direction of the company and creating the culture that enables us to drive value to our customers, to our consumers, to our employees and to our company. All four of those are equally important in how I spend my time.

Describe your leadership style.

I would say I have very high expectations of people. I have very high accountability of people. But I am very fair, transparent, communicative and inclusive. I think my style is really hearing and listening to what’s happening and involving people so we have better execution of our plan. And I think that creating waving fans from an employee perspective, helps us create exceptional experiences for our customers, which is what we want.

What contributes to your success as a leader?

Having a great team. A leader is only as good as the people they surround themselves with. I think attracting and developing the right talent has been an absolute key. I believe that over the years I have gotten better at really making sure we’re clearly communicating where we are going, how we intend to get there, the role that every employee plays in our journey, how we’re tracking to that, getting feedback along the way and not having an ego that says, “Hey, we’re doing everything right.”

Has your style changed over the years?

As I’ve put the right people in place, I have gotten more comfortable delegating responsibilities and letting my people build strong teams around them. Also, we always talk about “the megaphone factor” here in that as you elevate in positions, what you say and how you say it is more meaningful than if you are at a different level in the organization. Enabling that megaphone shift has allowed me to be a better leader because now it encourages more dialog.

Any advice for future business leaders?

First, show initiative and drive. Don’t expect things to just happen for you and come to you. Second, I think really working on interacting with people and just being good at working with people is important. Because if you really want to lead, you have to understand different dynamics and different personalities. Third, expose yourself to what other businesses and companies are doing. Sometimes the best idea of getting something done in an organization comes from reading what another innovative company is doing and you just tweak it to fit your own environment.

What about advice for middle managers?

If you are already in a management capacity and want to continue to elevate, I think you should look for opportunities to be a leader amongst your peers, whether that means looking for ways to develop your team to excel and set the bar for the rest of the company or looking for ways to drive performance at a higher level to grow your department. When other middle managers that are your peer group come to you for ideas, that’s a really great place to be. Also, it’s OK to explore opportunities outside of what you think is natural. It’s not always a clear path that gets you where you want to be.

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