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  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E104. How to Raise Billions (and Sell Oysters!) with Stacy Havener

Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.

Francisco Mahfuz 0:05

Welcome to The Storypowers Podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco Mahfuz. My guest today, Stacey Havener. Stacy is the founder and CEO of Havener Capital and agency dedicated to helping boutique asset managers build, launch and grow funds. And she's raised $8 billion. That led to an additional 30 billion in follow on assets under management. The reason I'm talking to her is because her secret weapon for doing all of that is storytelling. Now, other than a love for stories, Stacy and I have a lot in common. She has a rescue pitbull. And so the die. She likes dubiously tasting coffee. And so do I. And we've both gone from getting an English Literature degree to the investment world. But I think she's substantially smarter than me, because she actually stayed there instead of running away screaming as I did. But hey, if you've been listening to this show for a while, you know that having guests that are smarter than me is nothing new. Ladies and gentlemen, Stacy.

Stacy, welcome to the show.

Stacy Havener 1:20

Can I clap? That was so good. I don't know people are gonna hear me cracking up you're fully allowed to clap.

Why and introduction to be as coffee had been dying. And it's so true. It's so true. The smart part is not but the dubious coffee for sure is. Thank you for having me. It's such a pleasure, Francisco. I really appreciate the time to spend with you talking about story.

Francisco Mahfuz 1:50

Well, let's see if you feel that way by the end.

Stacy Havener 1:54

If all goes south, we'll just get pictures of our pitbulls and talk about how fabulous they are. I love that that connection point.

Francisco Mahfuz 2:03

Yeah, I think I think now I'm able to do that again. It's been you know, he's he's not been among us anymore. But it's now been 14 years. I'm just about able to talk about it without crying.

Oh, it was it was one of those one of those situations but then he's you know, having having pets. That's what having pets is like, after after a while. Something else we have in common is the is the intermittently pleasurable adventure of raising little girls. I've got two I believe you've got one right?

Stacy Havener 2:41

I do. She's five. How old are your girls? Well,

Francisco Mahfuz 2:45

the oldest is almost six in a couple of years. And the youngest is two and a half.

Stacy Havener 2:51

Okay. Wow. So you're really in it? It is it is an adventure. It is a journey. I was an older mom, I think that's not the right word. I think they say advanced maternal age is the phrase Yeah, phraseology they use for that.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:09

Call yourself. Call yourself. Nelson or their mom.

Stacy Havener 3:16

I can call myself that. Yeah. And I have to say like, for me, that's part of it. Because I had her when I was 40. And she's five and so gosh, it really is. I am shocked by how much I'm learning about myself.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:30

Even though you're only 29 Which which is

Stacy Havener 3:33

amazing how that happens. I know it's also one of my superpowers I can you know time travel and but yeah, I mean it's don't you learn so much about yourself and Nick their teachers as much as you're teaching them like the whole thing is is just really my favourite sort of, quote, job that I do.

Francisco Mahfuz 3:55

I do. I will though, I must say that at times. She is the oldest one at least she is the most unflattering mirror to myself that I could possibly hope to find.

Stacy Havener 4:10

Oh my gosh, what a great point. I'll have to share with you later. There's a I'm horrible at Instagram. And it's not my favourite platform by any means. Because I prefer words over videos and images and things but my daughter's name is Willa and she was she was pretending to talk on the phone. And I happen to have my phone which handy and I captured it. And I was listening to her talk and I thought oh my gosh, I don't sound like that. When I talk to people. Like when I when I share it with you. You'll know I was like, Oh my gosh, to your point. What a mirror. Is this to listen to her having a conversation with someone. I mean, she must have said, No, I'm not doing that about 1000 times and I'm like, do I say that? But apparently I do. It's pretty funny.

Francisco Mahfuz 5:01

Yeah, I caught it. I think the first time that ever happened to me was when Alice was, I don't know, she must have been two and a half. And I was asking her to do something. And it's like, no, he's not very good if they if you do this, this and that, and she just looked at me and said, tough luck. Hold on now, who says stuff like in this house? I realise that I did.

Stacy Havener 5:31

Say, Well, it's fun to see all the the common connection points that we share Francisco. I love that.

Francisco Mahfuz 5:39

So let's go. Let's go back to one, which I think is a pretty big one, which is that both of us got the world's most useless degree, English literature. And then went into something completely different. So what was yeah, what was your final paper? Because I think you were much more of like, like a real student, a serious student than I than I ever was. So what was your final paper?

Stacy Havener 6:08

It is, oh, my goodness, I have blocked that out so much. But I still have all of my, I know, I still have all of my poems. So interestingly, for me, I was a literature major, all the classic literature I, I studied and loved. But I did find a really interesting niche within the department around poetry. I think it was a required class, I don't think I opted for it. It was I believe it was required. And we had to write a poem every week. I mean, it was like you every week, you had to come to class with a new poem. And you know, as a creator, it's very difficult to create on demand. But the experience of that, for me, I think, was incredibly transformative. I loved being a student of literature for actually your, your, the way it helps you research and, and break down text, right, the way you analyse words and symbols, and I really enjoyed sort of the mechanics of it. And the creative part for me, the poetry was an unexpected love. And something I've carried with me now, I mean, even my love for rap is very much rooted in poetry. I think the way I naturally when I started writing on LinkedIn, the post naturally chuck a form of of more of a poem. And I don't think I realised that was happening when I was studying. So I would say that, to me, is something that stands out as a real high point that I wasn't expecting being being a literature major.

Francisco Mahfuz 7:57

So I got a couple of things to say to that. The first one is, you said, you know, as you know, creation and Writing is hard. I always remember Ernest Hemingway's quote about it, which is, I think, says it all. Writing is easy. All you do is sit on the typewriter and bleed.

Stacy Havener 8:17

True, true that I mean it is. And when you force yourself to write, demand, you know, if you if you have to do it, so I think it's one thing to tell yourself, okay, I'm going to write every day. And you tell yourself that it's very easy to be like, it's not happening today, and I'm not doing it right, you can just step away from the typewriter and stop the bleeding. But when you have to show up to a class where the whole point of the class is, you're going to read your poem in front of the class and everyone's going to talk about it, you don't have an effing choice. And that process is It is its own arc, have a journey, right? Because you I mean, I had times where I was smashing my notebook on the ground, like, I can't think of anything, but but on the other side of that, if you can get through it, there can be really magical things in part, maybe for me, because I was like, I'm so frustrated with this. I'm just going to really write what I'm thinking. And I'm not gonna care how that comes out. And oh, my gosh, hi, authenticity on the page. The

Francisco Mahfuz 9:18

other thing I have to say is that I do remember what my final paper was, do. i Yes, I think you did to prepare yourself for the most pretentious paper. Oh my gosh. So it was called. I wanted to breathe smoke, self reflection, violence in the search for meaning from American Psycho to fight club. So that's

Stacy Havener 9:44

okay. So wow, wow, I'm the language in the title. That's, that's very, very creative. But also, I'm kind of interested in reading this paper.

Francisco Mahfuz 9:57

I think I have it. I think I have it some I have to find it and read it and see if it's passable. Because I think I was a much worse writer than than I am now. Let me just a pretension of it because I basically decided that I was going to use this to books, it wasn't the movies, it was the books. And I wanted to talk about the the 80s and the 90s. And all the, you know, the human malaise, as exemplified by these books, and then I threw in some commu. And all that extra station is right, there's just like, there's just way too much like scope for the thing I'm surprised by. So yeah, I think the idea of it was perhaps better than the fact. But I'll see if I can find it, I will send it to me send it to you. You will be

Stacy Havener 10:48

horrified. Oh, my gosh. And I'll have to go look and see what see what mine was. I also remember, as I'm sure you do, when you're writing a paper like that, and you know, you're reading the text, and you're reading the passages over and over again. And you start to kind of hate the the subject of your paper, you're like if I have to hear one more thing about fight club, or one more thing about American Psycho like, I will never, I will never watch the movies, I will never read the books. I'm so sick of it. And I remember that experience of just being so in deep and attacks that you're like, if I never read this again, it will be fine.

Francisco Mahfuz 11:31

I think it doesn't take much to feel that way with American Psycho. If you ever read that book, a lot of people don't finish it because it's so horrid. And if you've if you've read it once you've read it too many times. That's it. Yeah, both books. Both books are perhaps one of the few examples where the movie is substantially better than the book.

Stacy Havener 11:54

Oh, isn't that interesting? Is that in the paper? I

Francisco Mahfuz 11:56

don't read them. I don't remember if I talked about that on the paper, because I don't think it was really the point. But But yeah, American American Psycho is horrendous as a book, I definitely do not recommend that. Watch the movie, you have your hands full with that already. But moving on from English literature, through tortures means minds slightly more torturous than yours. We both landed on the investment world. And this is something not everybody that listens to this actually knows that I've spent a very long time working as a financial advisor, and you know, wealth manager, that type of thing. It's something I heard you say in another podcast, which I might have. I like my first reaction was not so sure you said, you know, there are also human beings in the finance world. reaction was.

Stacy Havener 12:53

Well, so that's hilarious. Also, Hi, welcome to the investment industry, because that is basically the vibe. Right? And I mean, you'll remember, and it's still this way, unfortunately, a little bit, but like, they're just like, robots all in the same suit carrying the same bag. You know, it is, it is some weird version of what's that pleasant Villar or something? It's like the it's unpleasant Ville, really, because the industry has done well, a good job of a bad thing, which is, you know, sort of beating the humanity right out of its people.

Francisco Mahfuz 13:34

And I think to a certain degree, and no, I don't think we necessarily want to focus on the evils of the, of the financial industry, particularly the financial services industry, but there is also the approach that most investment managers and financial advisors take to to selling is often not one of connection, and trust and is more usually one of sales skills, which which sometimes involve connection and trust. But not always, there's a lot of technique to getting certain outcomes. But it doesn't, in my experience, at least, it doesn't always come from a place of authenticity. It's not, you know, this is really who I am, and I'm going to connect with my clients. It's, this is where I need to be to connect with my clients.

Stacy Havener 14:28

Yes, I think that's really well said. And I would add to it, that in addition to this very salesy kind of technique driven communication or connect it's not it's actually really not it's very hard to connect in that framework because you feel if you're on the receiving end of it, you feel like you're being sold and no one wants to feel sold. But I would add that the other thing, people lean on for community occasion in the investment industry is their brain. And so they think we're all very smart people, we understand the markets, which are, you know, increasingly and incredibly complex. And so when we communicate with anyone, we're going to come from this high level of intellectualism. And we're going to have stats and data and charts and all of these numbers oriented touchpoints. But the problem is that, as you said, you know, the the buying decision or the connection happens much more at an emotional or heart level than it does at an intellectual or mind level. And that gets skipped. It gets skipped even as much as it's as it's looked down upon,

Francisco Mahfuz 15:51

yes. Why? Why would you want to get touchy feely about stuff when the when the data or the performance should do all the job that he needs to do? Yes. Which, which I think leads us to, to an interesting point, which is the type of people that one type of people that you often work with, are our managers and they and they need to, you know, sometimes they've left a more well known brand, they're setting up on their own, and now they have to raise funds from individual investments investors, or from institutional investors. And the numbers don't necessarily work for them. They can't either they can, they don't have the numbers because they're just starting, or the numbers necessarily, don't necessarily put them clearly as someone, okay, you definitely should give this person their money because they are a phenom, and nobody else comes close to them when it comes to this type of thing. So what is your approach, which is different than the tip, I think it's probably useful to explain to people what, what is the usual approach of the industry to know what the presentation would look like? What are the pitch would look like? And what how is your approach and where storytelling comes in there?

Stacy Havener 17:04

Okay, great question. And a good point here to give the context and the framework. So I think you nailed it. So basically, a typical pitch or presentation in the investment world would have, as we've been talking a lot about numbers and stats and data performance track record. You know, a lot of complex stats that communicate risk and reward, and a lot of a lot of math and a lot of numbers with the angle that, you know, I think there's some complexity bias rooted in there, like, I'm going to, I'm going to show how smart I am, and how good I am as evidenced by the numbers. And that's going to be the pitch. And basically, it's a very zero sum game mentality. It's an it's, I'm better than anybody else that you could possibly consider in this space. And I'm going to prove it with my data. And so that's the typical vibe. And if you are a startup, to your point, and you leave a big shop, and now you don't have you know, the kajillion years of collective experience, and the kajillion dollars, and all the offices all over the place, and now you're you're a startup, founder led employee owned, you can't use that playbook anymore. Because to your point you don't have you know, it's not a playbook that you can access, you don't have those stats. And that's also not the type of conversation that your investor at this stage of your evolution wants to hear. And so part of what we have to do is leave behind the old way, and embrace a new and different way, because your investment boutique has to use an entirely different framework, an entirely different playbook in order to grow. And the crux of it all, and you said it at the start of the pod is is around story. Because if you think about the adoption curve, typically used in technology, just the curve of how people adopt anything, doesn't have to be technology, it could be investments, it could be and it's really about human nature. And that curve says you know, innovators, early adopters, chasm, early majority, late majority and laggards. Well, when you start your own thing, you have to start at the beginning of the curve, you have to get the innovators and early adopters and they buy for entirely different reasons. Then somebody on the later half of the curve buys and they buy from the heart people to people, they're not buying a fund. They're hiring a person. And so the framework has to adjust towards that.

Francisco Mahfuz 19:59

So One question that that I think is perhaps more relevant in this industry than in other industries is, is how my and where I want to talk in a moment in more detail about what should they do? But But one question that came to my mind when I was hearing you and doing my research is, how much can any story get over the tyranny of the of the numbers? Because at the end of the day, I think as much as you can buy into an idea or a concept, or, you know, the future, that is possible and better than the one you the present you currently have, which is the premise of most startup pitches. To what extent does that get over numbers that they're not there? I think when not there, that's perhaps easier in my mind, then if they are they're in they're not necessarily the strongest of numbers. But I know you've had experience have helping people raise money when there was performance and the performance wasn't in, you know, the top quartile or anything like that. So, you know, what is that balance of, you know, how powerful is the story against the numbers in this type of industry? When the numbers are, you know, at the end of the day, you want probably the number is more than you want anything else? At least that's the view a lot of people have,

Stacy Havener 21:24

gosh, such a such great points are, there's a lot there. I will say that, you know, there have been studies that show for allocators of capital. So on the on the InVEST store side, the allocator side, qualitative due diligence is equal or more important than quantitative, the disconnect is on the asset manager side, they don't believe that's

Francisco Mahfuz 21:48

true. Sorry, can you just explain to anyone who's not as Oh,

Stacy Havener 21:52

sure, sorry? Sure. So basically, just like, oh, yeah, sorry. Okay. So so so, um, so the research you would do in making your buying decision? As we've been talking in the investment world, it can feel like it's all very numbers based. And there's certainly an element of that. But there's also the softer skills, if you will, the people side of the business, who are you? Who are your people? What is their pedigree? What are your values? What is your philosophy? How are you incenting your people? How are your interests aligned, all the kind of that's the qualitative due diligence versus the more number oriented due diligence and performance and statistics. And so the studies show that, that the qualitative, the people side is as important as the number side, from the people who are allocating the dollars, the disconnect is the people who want the money, the managers, the funds, they don't believe that's true. And so you have two people who want want to who are communicating very differently. And so I share that because, as you said, the tyranny of numbers, Gosh, what a great phrase is very real. But it's also very much a perception from the fun side of the of the table. So I'm gonna go to what you said, which is, what if the numbers are bad, okay, because that is really challenging. So those would be more of a turnaround story. But you could have a startup who comes out of the gate, and is just getting, you know, kicked in the teeth from a performance perspective. And there's a story to that. And we have had success with that we had a client whose numbers were horrible, like in the rankings, they were like, bottom of the barrel was a startup, the numbers were horrible. So now it's like double double whammy, that you should not be able to raise anything. And we, we literally doubled the size of their firm with one deal. And it was a double digit million deal. I think it was a $40 million allocation at the time, the firm only had 40 million in total assets. And so why would that allocator make that decision. And so some of it does have to do with the story of the numbers themselves. When you when you deploy capital into the markets, there's a pace to that there's a point in time phenomenon that's going on. And so certainly you can tell a story around that. Certainly the story of trends and things can be woven into the narrative. But I have a feeling that even in that instance, with the numbers being what they were, which was bad. The reason that the allocator chose to make this investment had much more to do with the people. And when you break away from somewhere, it's kind of a similar phenomenon to what happens in the VC space. When you see a founder who's had a lot of success, and they leave and start a new thing that success goes with them, rightly or wrongly, it's not on paper, it could it's not the same business, it's, but their ability to, quote win is something that people are willing to allocate capital to. Right bet the jockey not the horse. And so I think that phenomenon is is that place, especially for early adopters.

Francisco Mahfuz 25:20

So one thing I've heard you talk about is, in this particular scenario, you've called that the breakaway story, it if I understood you correctly, it is what it says on the tin is you were doing you were working somewhere, typically, maybe it was a bigger brand, maybe it was another fund or whatever. And there was something that bothered you about what you were doing there, or, or, you know, you change your views about how things should be done. And then you broke away in you started your own thing. You know, that all makes a lot of sense. And I think it's perhaps not too different. If you're talking about a founder, in that even in their case, you might just be that it might be the exact same thing. But it also might be that that was the first thing they did, the thing they were doing before, was fine, and didn't need them anymore. But there was this other problem in the world that was bothering them. Now, that is, I think anyone who's who's looked into story before, that seems fairly straightforward type of story to tell. But for someone who's done, I would guess a few of this, if not hundreds of this, what are the most important things are the most important thing to get? Right? If you're trying to tell a breakaway type of story? Or you know, what do or what do people usually get wrong?

Stacy Havener 26:40

Oh, I love this question. So let's do a little like classic story arc work, which you talk about a lot. And that is that every story needs a villain. And so let's keep that villain character in our minds here, because I think most people would say, in a breakaway story, the villain must be the company you're breaking away from, right? Because

Unknown Speaker 27:06

you left dangerously

Stacy Havener 27:08

dangerously right. And so and so what happens is when you say to effect, like, in our case, if a founder breaks away, and we say, hey, we want you to tell your backstory of why you made this decision, they are instantly allergic to that conversation. Because in their minds, they think they have to make where they their previous employer, the villain, and that's not true. And so I think one, that's something that gets missed a lot. And you use sort of alluded to it in more of a VC kind of non financial industry setting, which is there are lots of reasons to leave a company, it doesn't mean that the company is bad, it doesn't mean the company's the villain, it means that you are choosing to do something differently. And the only way you could do it was to leave or there was an opportunity you want to harness that doesn't fit with that company where you were and the only way you can do it is to go and start something new love what you said about a problem to be solved. So I think identifying and talking about the villain is something you don't hear a lot about. I mean, I talk a lot about hero and God, I don't talk a lot about villain. But villain can be a phenomenon. It can be a stereotype, it could be the status quo, it could be something an industry dynamic. And in this case, at the breakaway, what often happens is that the typical path of an asset management firm is UI, you're good at something, you want to find investors who want to harness that thing. And you do, and you're good at it. So then more investors want to give you capital. And that continues. The challenge becomes the more capital you take, the more difficult it becomes to deliver that alpha or that, that special expertise and something changes as you grow. And as you evolve, we're, there's a tipping point of are you still an asset manager whose goal is to generate returns for your investors? Or have you tipped into being an asset gatherer, where your goal is to just get more people to give you money. And a lot of investors feel that that doesn't jive with who they want to who they are, and the type of company that they want to bet it's not good or bad. It's just a different phase of a company's evolution. The company has grown and the investor says I more liked it when we were over here doing this type of work. So that would be an interesting twist. I think on a on a on a typical story arc for a breakaway.

Francisco Mahfuz 29:51

Yeah, yes. There's there's a lot of a lot of parallels between what you just described when it comes to to an asset manager or With a whole bunch of other industries, so, you know, we in the in the financial services world, which is, which is the one I know better the chat, not the challenge, but what everybody starts as is you essentially have to start as a hunter. And eventually you would hope or the clients should hope that you become much more of a farmer, you know, you'll be started as an asset gatherer, because you have no assets or clients to manage. And after a while, if you still focus exclusively in trying to build that pot, then you probably not spending anywhere near as much time in managing the clients you have, even if you're not directly managing their money, but he's still not managing the relationships. And I think similar things probably happened with founders where it's, I mean, I don't know personally, but I can only imagine how different it is to be starting a company with three other people to then having any amount of success and having to manage a company with 100. People a lot of as we've seen, with a lot of the unicorns out there, the the skill set required to manage 1000 people is very different than the skill set required to have a, a groundbreaking idea and taking it to market, even with people that are more in the corporate world can probably relate to that in a slightly different way, which is, people often get promoted above their expertise, or at least have the expertise that they've shown. So if you if you prove to be a good salesperson, you often become the head of sales. And nobody necessarily has ever taught you to be the head of sales, you know how to sell you don't necessarily know how to lead people manage people. And yeah, those are the things those are the different parallels outside of the fund manager industry that I, I think of when I when I think of that, that natural evolution of what I'm good at, and what I'm passionate about is what I was doing then, right now I can do that job anymore, given my current circumstances. And that's why I need to change. And I

Stacy Havener 32:09

love what you said there and how you translated it to so many different types of roles, because I think there's a lot of pressure, external pressure, which can also be its own type of fill in on us to keep going to the next thing. So your your point on the salesperson is something that's near and dear to my heart, I was really good salesperson. And then I got promoted to a team and I realised, oh my gosh, I have to learn how to be a manager I that's, you know, that's a different skill set. Similar for being an entrepreneur, once I started my own company was like, Okay, well, I'm still I was a good salesperson, I was good manager. Now I'm an entrepreneur, that's a whole nother set of skills and expertise that needs to be learned. And I think there's a lot of pressure to go to the next thing, as opposed to the space and grace to say to someone, it's great if you want to go to the next thing, and you want to dedicate yourself and learn those skills. It's also great if you don't, it's okay if you want to stay in your lane that you're in because you love it. And so as an taking it back to the to the breakaway story, some people are thrilled and thriving to to start with a boutique and, you know, be a part of its meteoric rise and stay there and thrive as it's a big company. And some people feel like, as we said, I liked it when it was this. That's more of what I'm about and my values. And so I'm going to go back to that. And as it turns out, there are a whole bunch of investors who feel that same way too. And so it's just a matter of finding your people who share those common philosophies and values.

Francisco Mahfuz 33:51

Yes, and I think an experience both of us have had, although we might feel slightly differently about it, is that when it comes to parenting, if you find that the new thing you're doing is beyond your expertise, unfortunately going back to your previous lane.

Stacy Havener 34:12

But I don't know about you, but I'm like I'm the first to sit raise my hand and say, I don't know what the eff I'm doing here and I need to find people who've lived this or or you know, you want to learn and you're committed to learning and because we have no choice right we have no choice but to do it and I think but it's a great point because that is a skill set. Just because you live your life well doesn't mean you can teach somebody else how to live their life well, which is essentially what you're doing as a parent.

Francisco Mahfuz 34:44

It's pretty it's a pretty dubious claim to say that I live my life well.

Stacy Havener 34:49

That's for you.

Almost done okay. Maybe we're doing an okay job, but trying to teach Should that to someone else? I mean, that was something I remember, you know, looking at my husband and be like, you know, she doesn't know anything. Like we have to teach her every single thing we do every day. She does not know how to do we have to teach that. And that was overwhelming, quite honestly. Right? I'm like, Oh, my gosh, she has to learn all the things.

Francisco Mahfuz 35:24

Well, when when my wife comes to me, and it gets sort of frustrated that, you know, our kids haven't learned something. We told them a million times. I said, Well, how long did it take you to teach me to make less of a mess? In the kitchen? Like you never learned that?

Stacy Havener 35:47

Yeah. Well, it's a great point. It is a great point. It's an it's an adventure.

Francisco Mahfuz 35:55

Yes, yes. Okay, so. So there's something else you said. So when I when I heard you explain the sort of super basic three part breakaway story, you described it, as you know, you have to start in the ordinary world. And a life is one way as I normally say it, then the main character that heroes encounters, obstacles, roadblocks, problems, whatever. And by the end of it, that hero needs to make it to the other side of those problems and be changed because of them. So I, you know, again, I, I use very similar terms that you mentioned, you heard in a podcast with ash, and I talked about the data. So it's not before life was one way. But then something happened. So you did something because of it. And after you were different, or life was different. Now, you said, or wrote that the the special ingredient to that basic structure is high stakes that a story misses it if he doesn't have tension. So in your world, when you're talking with with a fund manager, or someone that does something similar, what what do high stakes look like?

Stacy Havener 37:00

I think they're so it's a really good question. And it's something that I ask when we're talking with a potential client who wants to come on the roster. And I'll ask them, like, just tell me, you know, give me the story, like you were here. And now you're here. How did that happen, right. And what I often think, and being an entrepreneur, myself, I know this to be true. Like, there's a touch of crazy to want to start your own thing. And if you put yourself in the shoes of a very successful Portfolio Manager at a very big firm, they are making a lot of money, they probably have some influence on their portfolio, maybe not as much as they want. But they've figured it out. It's a pretty comfortable existence. And so the stakes are a little bit of do I stay here and sell out my term for the money and just keep doing this, even though it's, you know, hurting my soul on some level? Or do I take this massive risk to start my own thing and fund it? Since most of the clients that do this do self fund, bootstrap it and do all and and it's going to, I don't know, I'm good at managing money. But I don't know how to build a business. I don't know how to do marketing. And so should do. Am I going to take do I have that crazy? Am I in touch with what this actually means? Am I going to take the leap? And that to me is a very real question that I don't think people ask a lot. Like, why would you do it? I mean, that's, I mean, you had this great thing. And so getting them to talk about that with some vulnerability, the stakes that they had to face and the and the buy in, they have to get from their family, if they're if they have, you know, a family, there's a lot there. It's a big multi year decision to do that life changing.

Francisco Mahfuz 39:02

Okay. So in this particular case, the stakes are not different than what I would call stakes, and what most retailers I know, call stakes, which at the end of the day, their emotional stakes, which belies my joke about the lack of actual human beings in the finance world. At the end of the day exists before it's still moved by, by the very human emotions and those, those are the reasons why they will be there'll be doing what they're doing is not because Because Because the other thing I was thinking about was, well, they know what believes things that their company doesn't know or want to believe in. And so there is a market reason for them to be doing what they're doing. And you know, they were working in a company that is long only or something to that effect, and they believe that the way to invest in the new world is something completely to different and that's why they have to do it. So it's, I think this will be the external, this will be external justifications, yes. But what what you're saying is, in your experience, the stakes tend to be more likely emotional stakes, so people can relate to them and not the external rationale for doing things in a different way.

Stacy Havener 40:22

You know, what a great point. And it's probably a touch of both. I think the connection, of course, happens with the emotional taxonomy that we just talked about. But in the fund managers mind, I do think that what you just said that sort of external stakes of either I want to, there's a way I want to invest a twist on what we're doing at this company that I couldn't ever do here. And the only way I'm going to be able to do it is if I leave, that's first for sure, very real. And there's also a flavour of that, which is the way we used to do things when I started here has changed. And I would like to go back to how it was, and whether that means less people at the decision table, less capital that's easier to deploy, or into a different area of the market. So certainly, that plays into it, too. But I think what investors connect with is this, especially for the early adopters, it's both definitely both. But where that sort of emotional connection happens is that they see themselves in each other, right. And that's, you know, people like us do things like this, that Seth Godin type of tribe mentality, which is to say, if I'm an early adopter, and I'm independent, or I myself broke out of somewhere at one point to set up my own thing, my own Ria, my own family office, or I'm a successful entrepreneur who did their own thing. I see you, I see what you're doing. And I know how hard that is. And there's an affinity just as people to want to do business with people they like, yes, they like no interest and yes, expertise, but also just kind of like they get each other.

Francisco Mahfuz 42:17

Okay, so apart from the breakaway story, what No, no, you have different kinds, I think we have three or four different kinds of stories. But can you just give me one more, one more example of a story that you find to be that works in this world? That is, you know, not the breakaway story, not necessarily the one where, you know, you can easily make that transition from I was doing this, I'm doing this new thing. What other types of stories do you find that are effective to tell?

Stacy Havener 42:48

So another type of story that we have had success with is an institutional manager. So still a boutique, but they're successful. So let's say, you know, they're multi billions, there are specialists at something, and they run a strategy for a certain type of investor. So for example, let's say they're a hedge fund of some kind, and they've been running money for institutions are sovereign, you know, kind of bigger, sort of later stage on the adoption curve investors. And they're all kind of misses me just telling a story about it. But like, they're all sitting around saying, This is great, you know, we've got a great business, and we and we're doing something we're really good at, and we love our clients. But like, what's next for us? How are we going to grow from what we hear a lot from these types of firms is, we need to diversify our investor base, we only have one type of client. And maybe there are other types of clients that would like to access our specialty or our expertise, but we don't know how to find them or what they would need or what it would need to look like. And so it's really more of a a specialist entering a new channel. And so in order to do that same thing, they have to typically launch a new vehicle, a new fund. And what's challenging for them, of course, is they've already done that and are through the evolution with their existing business. And now they have to sort of be in a startup again. And so the stories around that journey can be challenging because Human Nature says, Well, I'm just going to do what I'm doing now. And it should work. And that doesn't happen because your new venture is a new venture. And so that's a another story arc that tends to resonate.

Francisco Mahfuz 44:38

Can we sidestep from finance and talk about

Stacy Havener 44:41

oysters? Oh, yes, good research.

Francisco Mahfuz 44:46

So you've had most of the stuff in your universes that you talk about tends to be finance based, but you've done at least is one other bit of story work with, with a family or company, family company that At sells oysters. So what did you find particularly different? So when you when you're trying to help them with their story, do you did you find that the exact same types of stories apply there was something that was perhaps slightly more powerful in their case, then it would have been for a fine for a fund manager or anyone like that. So how those types of works differ?

Stacy Havener 45:23

Oh my gosh, I'm so glad we're talking about this. So this was actually my brother in law's company, he joined a family owned oyster farm with the idea that they wanted to grow it. And so he said, you know, is this something that you could help me with? And I thought, wow, this is really fun, because I'm gonna get to see if this whole framework that I've built could actually help another type of business. And as it turns out, it it definitely translates. And I think that what we did was very similar to what we're talking about. Now, we went to kind of the origin story, the founder story, and the patriarch of the family, the the dad, of these brothers that were running the company he had actually just passed. And so we said, well, let's tell his story. And let's get a really cool picture of him and put it on the website. And just talk about kind of the boutique nature, the specialist nature of Wellfleet oysters. So here in the States, there's the Cape Cod in Massachusetts, there's a small town in Cape Cod called Wellfleet. That is very well known for having delicious oysters, if you if you like oysters, and there's sort of that's an open lane, nobody is sort of the brand for Wellfleet oysters, actually, they're just called Wellfleet oysters, no one, there's no brand attachment to anything there. Let me thought, well, that's clearly some whitespace that someone could step into. And so what if we play up that boutique nature that farm nature of a family owned business, and so that we worked on? And the other thing that resonated really well, if I'm kind of thinking of the points that that we do on the finance side that really worked in the oyster business was we said, okay, just like in the finance industry, one of the drivers for a lot of these boutiques to start is to say, I actually don't want all the money. I only want this much money, because if I have this much money, I can really execute my process. Well, a supply demand a scarcity component. The same is true for the oyster business, there are only so many oysters. And so what we worked on was, Who do you want to serve? And what problem are you solving for them. And what we started with, we started with was chef's and just the cachet around the Wellfleet oyster and being able to live to deliver not only a delicious, you know, appetiser at your restaurant, but something that had a really powerful story around it. And so that was how they started their sales process. They really tested it, they beta tested it, they pack, you know, my brother in law packed up some oysters in a cooler, and he went to restaurants and asked them, hey, you know, I'm an owner in an oyster farm in Wellesley, and I just want to understand, how do you serve oysters? How are you getting them like, and they ended up getting into some very exclusive restaurants and hotels, by telling this story, figuring out the problems that needed to be solved. And leaning into the scarcity component of like, we're only gonna partner with a couple, there's only so many oysters that we can grow and deliver. And that's important to us because we can maintain our quality. And that means we are going to be very thoughtful about the people that we partner with.

Francisco Mahfuz 48:50

So there's a lot of stuff there that goes into how they built or rebuilt their brand. I know you help them with with a website, which I've seen looks very nice. But when it comes to xOP so there's an overarching story that feeds into all of these things. But did you find or did they find that when it came to them sitting in front of a chef or a buyer that there was any one particular story that worked better? And it became, you know, in a way part of their sales pitch, if you will, maybe the story of the family or or anything along those lines, or it was more the stories in forming all their efforts and their brand, but but not necessarily. It's something they orally share as part of of the pitch and then if you would even call it a pitch but it probably still is a sales pitch?

Stacy Havener 49:47

You know, that's such a great question and I will see Zach, my brother in law at Thanksgiving I should ask I will ask him over oysters and champagne, of course, when he was having those conversations with The Chef's was there. One thing that resonated, I do know that similar to the boutique story that we're talking about in the fund space, you know, this idea of being founder led and employee owned, and that family element and the vibe around being a specialist and being focused on quality, not price, right? You know, there's this sort of three categories you can be in, and they went into, like, we're gonna go with the quality angle, and really lean into that, that has worked for them, not trying to be everything to everybody being a specialist to someone special. And I will add to that by when I talk with Zack about, hey, when you were actually quote, pitching, what was vibing? And I think, too, it's different. I don't know how this translates actually, from the oyster biz, back to the fun biz. But I mean, he was able to bring oysters to the chef's and shuck them right there and serve them and have them experience the quote, product in a very different way than maybe you can do in some other industries. So I will take this as homework, Francisco, that I will come back with some more on this, because it's a really great question.

Francisco Mahfuz 51:21

So a couple of things come to mind. The first one is something that is kind of a tagline from someone from someone I have had in a podcast a while back, Caroline mace, and she helps people, in a sense, figure out their backstory. And she has this line that she says, if you know how to bio, you know how to brand, which I think it's it's very, very applicable. And the other thing is, when it comes to food products, I think like with numbers, there's perhaps a temptation to think that, well, if their eyes are good, their oysters are good. And if their eyes are not amazing, there's no amount of storytelling that's going to change that. And I'm inclined to say that that's partially the case. But at least the experience that has been studied across the board with things like wine, we know that's not the case, we know that, you know, if you've if they've met Zack and Zack, and again, I don't know if this is how the process worked. But but in my mind, if they've if you've had the chance to share a little bit of the context behind the business, and maybe maybe an actual story about how it was founded, or how they're different or anything like that. You've set the person's mind and emotions to view whatever subjective tastes they're going to experience differently. And I think if they like what they've heard, they're way more inclined to rate the ISOs. above what perhaps the the true taste of them are in here. It's inverted commas true, because you know, I don't know if there is such a thing. But yeah, so there's, this would be my guess that if the more people were allowed to see into the overall story, their context, if they like that, they vibe with that, as you said, there's more of a chance that like the oysters, but then if it's just a taste test, then none of those things really matter.

Stacy Havener 53:12

Isn't that so true? And I, you know, I love like, we were chatting before I love being on podcast, because I always leave them. And oh, my gosh, I have so much to think about because you're giving me so many things that are their nuances, but they're so important. Because what you said there is entirely true. And if we take it back to the fund business, is anybody really going to make their choice based on basis point difference in performance, marginal, small, small difference, like I did 10%? And I did 10.02% are like, wow, that's an easy decision. I go 1002 All day long. It doesn't work that way. And so what I love that you said there, which 100% is true in the food, business and wine, as you said, and certainly I'm guessing with the oysters, there's something about the way the stories connect, and also create experience. So is it that the oysters that he took out of the cooler tasted that much better? Or is it that the stories around them made them taste better? Or is it that the story is added to the whole entire experience of the interaction, and the connection between that chef and the oyster farmer about what they're both building and the experience adds to the taste of the oysters as much as the oysters themselves are inherently delicious. So I that experience concept is kind of interesting. We have a client right now that we're working with who is in the real estate business and they have a fund and they have debt, they have equity, they have private equity, and certainly in real estate you think Location, Location Location, but for them what they're saying is there's actually more in commercial real estate, which is Experience Experience Experience, because it's not just where the property is, it's what happens when the person, the tenant, the restaurant, go or whatever walks into the building, what is the experience they get by being there? And does that add to the value of that property? So fascinating to think about?

Francisco Mahfuz 55:27

Well, I think I think it's, there is no real question that that is the case. So in I did a, an episode A while back with Kendall Haven was one of the people who was very involved in the original storytelling science work with the defence department. And they were asked, I believe, and and one of the things he said that that always stuck with me is that there is in our minds, there will always be a story, because that's how we make sense of the world. So the question is, you know, when you're sharing anything with someone else, what story is going to be in their brains, when you're done? Is it going to be your story or their story, and if you give it to them in story form, or at least following a story structure, that you increase the chances of it being your story, and not something else they came up with. So in the very basic example of your brother, going to the restaurants, if he tells them nothing, if he just walks in off the street and says, I've got this amazing oysters, I would like to try them before telling them anything, the story they have is, this guy just walked off the street in his asking me to try an oyster in if you think this is a very brave thing to do, you might be inclined to like the oyster more. If you think this is a horrible thing to do, you're going to go in negatively, there is going to be a story in there. And the story could either be this guy walked in off the street, then share this really cool family history. And then I try the oyster. Yeah, or this random guy is trying to sell me some stuff. And the oyster was actually not that bad. But I don't know, I don't want to do business with you know, someone like that, whatever that might mean. That's, that's what he thinks, oh, my

Stacy Havener 57:07

gosh, that's so funny. I love that. Because of course, I'm picturing Zack and Boston, walking in off the street and just, you know, be like, Hey, why don't I start and the chef be like, where did you get this thing from the Charles River like this? disturbing. So you're so right. And I think what I love about that, too, Francisco is this idea that there is going to be a story. It's whether or not you choose to own it and write it. And I feel that way about personal brand. And when you hear those things, I think Ash is a great example of this storytelling on the personal brand side, you have a brand, whether or not you are being intentional about it. It's a whole nother conversation. And I think that applies to stories, too. And you You did a great job of illuminating that. There is a story after that conversation, there will be a story. It's just whether you're going to be intentional and own it and tell it or are you going to let them write it for you.

Francisco Mahfuz 58:04

On that note, I think we should start wrapping up before now. I've been trying to make a horrible oyster pun, before I'm checked out of my house by an angry white spouse to go pick up the unflattering mirror that is my my five year old from the school bus. Oh, my gosh. All right. So where can people where can people find you if they want to find out more about the work you're doing?

Stacy Havener 58:34

Sure. Well, my

favourite social platform has to be LinkedIn. And I also have in addition to our sort of company website, which LinkedIn will lead you there that's Haven or capital, and that's focused on the investment boutiques in the financial world. You can also check out Stacy haven, where I have things like the oyster story.

Francisco Mahfuz 58:54

Okay, perfect. I'll, as usual put those in the show notes. And I'm very glad we we did this. And we've maybe proved to some some other people there that there is not only life after the financial industry, but perhaps within it. So how

Stacy Havener 59:11

brilliant thank you, Francisco. It's been a true joy.

Francisco Mahfuz 59:15

All right, everyone. Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.

I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tap. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story

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