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Trevor Rozier-Byrd, Founder And CEO Of Stackwell Capital

Black Americans are one of the most underinvested segments in the US financial markets. Stackwell Capital is a fintech startup that aims to change that. J.R. Lowry talks to the founder and CEO of Stackwell Capital, Trevor Rozier-Byrd. Together, they dive into Trevor’s career—looking back at his experiences as an M&A lawyer, working for the SEC, and his motivations for creating Stackwell. Tune in for great insights from Trevor as he shows his path to success.

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Listen to the podcast here

 

 

Trevor Rozier-Byrd, Founder And CEO Of Stackwell Capital

 

On His Journey From Being An M&A Attorney To A Solo Entrepreneur Leading A Purpose-Driven Business

 

I have the pleasure of welcoming Trevor Rozier-Byrd whom I worked with at State Street. He is the Founder and CEO of Stackwell Capital, a FinTech startup that seeks to eliminate the racial wealth gap by addressing Black underinvestment in America. Prior to founding Stackwell, he served as Head of Strategy and Business Development for State Street Alpha which is State Street Bank and Trust Company's FinTech business.

He held senior sales strategy, corporate development and legal positions during his overall tenure with State Street. Prior to joining State Street, he was a Senior Associate at the law firm Wilmer Hale where his practice focused on domestic and international corporate transactions, including M&A, venture capital financings and public and private capital markets transactions. Trevor represented companies and entrepreneurs in connection with a broad range of startup company matters.

Prior to joining Wilmer Hale, he was at Sidley Austin, another law firm, where he represented various financial institutions in connection with a broad range of public and private capital markets transactions. While getting his Law degree, he spent time at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, in the division of enforcement, where he participated in investigations of possible violations of federal securities law.

He is a member of the Minority Depository Institution Innovation Committee, a partnership bringing together experts in financial services, regulation, and FinTech to support Black banks and their customers. He received his Law Degree from Boston University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts from Boston College. He is a member of the BU School of Law Executive Committee and the Boston College Board of Regents. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Edward Brooke Charter Schools in Boston. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three small children. Trevor, that was a mouthful. Welcome. It’s good to have you here.

It is good to be with you. I appreciate it.

You grew up in New Jersey if I remember it right. What was your first job as a kid? How old were you then?

I was 13 or 14 years old when I had my first job. I was working in the law office of my grandmother who was an attorney. She had a small practice with her law partner in the town that I grew up in. That is where I spent most of my summers through high school and in college.

You went to BC and majored in Political Science and Theology. Did you go to BC knowing that you wanted to be a lawyer?

I did not go to BC knowing that I wanted to be a lawyer. I had a bit of an inclination that I might want to do that but I went to BC largely because of the opportunity to go to a good school and also to participate athletically. I was like a lot of 18-year-old kids trying to figure it out as I went. I did not have a clear direction but I was excited about that opportunity.

 

[bctt tweet="If the law is practiced the right way, it is a really honorable profession and something that you can be proud of." username=""]

 

What did you do during your summers?

During my summers at BC, I was at my grandmother’s law office. It was a very small practice but I focused on real estate transactions and general legal issues that your normal everyday person in a small town might run into. It was a rewarding experience for me because I saw firsthand the impact that you could have on people and their lives. In the summers, as I was in college and progressed further along, that is when I started to know that becoming a lawyer was something that I wanted to do. Through the way that I saw her and her law partner interact with their clients, I felt like if practiced the right way, it was an honorable profession and something that I would be proud of. I started to start to think pretty seriously about taking that path.

With a lawyer in a town helping people in the community with their legal needs, it’s pretty easy to see the connection and value that people get out of it. I am sure you have carried that through with you and your time since. You went to law school. A lot of people when they go to law school, get in and say, “This was not what I expected.” How was it for you? Did anything surprise you? Was it pretty much as you expected?

It was what I expected. I have an older brother. I am one of 4 kids but I am the 2nd. My older brother went to law school before I did. He was in law school as I was finishing up at BC. He also went to BU for law school. Fun fact, our younger brother is at BU Law School now. I had the perspective of my brother having gone through the process a year or two before I went. I also had my grandmother and understanding of what her process was like.

When I graduated from BC, I had the opportunity to work at Sidley Austin in New York as a paralegal. I had this experience of working at my grandmother’s law office and I wanted to know for sure if that was what I wanted to do. I figured, “Why don’t I go to a major international law firm, get that experience, which is entirely different and understand if this is a place for me?”

I got there. I started working in the investment management group. We were supporting clients that were starting new investment management products, a lot of private equity firms, hedge funds, mutual funds and ETF managers, helping them bring new products to market. I loved it. Everything that I was doing was exciting, fast-paced and competitive. There were tight deadlines. You had to get things right. Being who I was with my athletic background, it was the perfect fit for me.

It was around the same time that I started to develop an understanding of the markets and invest myself. The deals that I was working on were in The Wall Street Journal. It was like, “This where I was meant to be.” Going back to law school, I knew that I wanted to practice law and be a deal lawyer. That is what I set my sights on once I got back to school.

As a paralegal in that period in between undergrad at BC and law school at BU, you had a substantive experience when you were working at Sidley Austin. That was formative in the end.

I spent two years there in between college and law school. I got to the point where I became a trusted member of the team. I was not a lawyer but people continued to give me more opportunity and exposure to the work that I was ultimately doing. At some point, halfway through my time there, I decided that I was going to apply for law school. They fully supported that. A lot of people that were similarly situated to me were using the paralegal position as a stop-gap between college and law school. Knowing that that was the path that I was going on, they tried to give me more exposure to help better prepare me for what was ahead.

 

CSCL 8 | Stackwell Capital

Stackwell is the manifestation of an idea that Trevor Rozier-Byrd had been thinking about for ten years.

 

Did they help cover costs of law school like the consulting firms in the banks do for people who go off to business school?

I wish they did.

Your experience interning for the SEC must have been unique, being in the enforcement division of the securities regulator in the United States. What was that like?

It was an unbelievable experience. I was in law school at the height of the financial crisis. I finished my first year and like everything that we do in law school, you start recruiting in between your 1st and 2nd year. That was the summer of ’08 when everything happened with Lehman Brothers. It was a super challenging time to be a graduate student in school looking for a job but the following fall, I got the opportunity to be at the SEC for a few months. There was so much going on in terms of their trying to deal with the fallout of the financial crisis. I got exposure to see how they thought about regulation as it stood at the time and what they needed to do on a go-forward basis to address some of the challenges that arose and to the financial crisis.

I also got the opportunity to work on insider trading cases and understand how the SEC goes about building up those fact bases around adjudicating and bringing to a conclusion some of the malfeasance or issues that they see in the market. It was eye-opening and affirmed my belief in the markets as a sound well-functioning place that had good regulation that was about protecting individual investors. A lot of times there are a lot of contrary perspectives out there but I fully believe in the markets as an institution and the regulations that are there and their utility for people regardless of where they are at in their lives.

I had not connected that the time you were there was during the financial crisis. Talk about a unique experience. It was a unique time to be in a regulatory environment given everything that was going on in the world at that time.

It was super exciting. I was very fortunate to get that opportunity.

Back to Sidley Austin, you continued to do deal-related work. Was being a lawyer as opposed to a paralegal a positive step? What did you like and not like about being a rising associate in a law firm?

As I was coming out of Sidley, they created a lot of interesting opportunities for me to see what it would look and feel like to be practicing in that capacity. The transition back in was not that hard. I went back to the practice group that I was in before law school. I had personal relationships with everyone. I knew many of the clients that we had. I felt like I had a significant leg up and understood the flow of how things worked in an environment like that.

 

[bctt tweet="Be a team player, work hard, set a standard for yourself, and consistently meet that standard. " username=""]

 

If you have never worked on deals before or had those types of opportunities, there is a bit of an adjustment to it. I felt like I was able to hit the ground running and function at a level that [put me] ahead of where I technically was from a class year and associate ranking perspective, which further increased the opportunities that I got while I was there.

You spent time there and then at Wilmer Hale. You moved to an in-house counsel role, which a lot of people in law firms do at some point. Was that a lifestyle choice for you as it is for a lot of lawyers or did something different motivate you to make that shift?

It was not a lifestyle choice. For me, I always knew that I wanted to be a deal lawyer. When I got to law school, I had this perspective around the markets. It was super interesting and I felt like maybe that was the space that I wanted to be. At some point during law school, I started to understand and study M&A and the deal-making process in that context. Coming out of law school, I wanted to be an M&A attorney but given the context of the markets, it was not happening.

I went to Sidley given the relationships and opportunities that I had there. Ultimately, my decision to come back to Boston and specifically work at Wilmer Hale was about starting to make good on that transition towards truly being a deal lawyer in the context of doing M&A and corporate transactions. One of the best things that has happened to me in my career is I have always had good mentors that have been able to help me understand like, “If I am sitting here and want to be in X position 5 or 10 years from now, these are the steps that I have to take and the people that I need to talk to understand how they got from point A to point B.”

A couple of my mentors who happened to be partners at Wilmer at the time knew that I had these aspirations to move closer to the business decision-making process and be in the room when the deals were being made, not just documenting it after the process. The only way that I was going to make that transition was if I went in-house and shed the label of being a big law firm lawyer.

Some perceptions are associated with that that would have been limiting in terms of my ability to get where I was trying to go. To me, the decision to go to State Street was the first step in the path towards getting myself closer to the business decision-making process and into a place where I would have the opportunity to have the types of exposure that I wanted to have.

Why State Street? We both worked there but it is a relatively unknown institution to most people even though it plays a significant role in the world’s financial markets. How did you decide to come to State Street?

It goes back to those same two partners at Wilmer that happened to be teachers of mine when I was at law school and then mentors and advisors [at] Wilmer. When I came to State Street, the Chief Legal Officer at the time was an ex-Wilmer partner. He was one of the people that they connected me with early on when I moved back to Boston to help develop a mentorship relationship and an understanding of what might be out there or what would be possible for me. He is somebody that I would characterize as straddling that line between strategic corporate advisor and lawyer.

There was an opportunity to go over to State Street and join the legal department. Throughout the time that I was at Wilmer, I had developed strong relationships with several different people in the State Street Legal Department. I understood that having a support system and advocates in a place where you are working is one of the most important and determinative factors in your ability to have success and get access to opportunities. I felt like it was the right first step for me. They were the right people around me to help me navigate that transition. Given the nature of the work that State Street is involved in, it seemed to fit given my background.

 

CSCL 8 | Stackwell Capital

In Stackwell Capita, there is a unique opportunity to take a FinTech business model and leverage technology to drive scale, reach more people, and give them access to better information and to better products.

 

You made, admittedly, what is a bit of a career shift. Within the company, you shifted out of the State Street legal function, into a role in the data and analytics business, at the time called Global Exchange. What was that transition like, moving away from practicing law and into more of a business role?

It was unexpected. It was somewhat surprising given everything that I have said about what I was aspiring towards in a legal career. I was always under the assumption of, “I will go to State Street and get some experience. I will be on this path as a corporate in-house lawyer and maybe at some point, 10 to 15 years down the line, I will become a general counsel. Once I become a general counsel, I will be able to earn the right to make that transition over to the business side.” That is not how it transpired.

How I always held myself out and practiced as a lawyer, I was very much aware of business priorities and objectives, trying to be thoughtful and accommodating of those issues. Not necessarily risk-averse as many lawyers are pigeonholed but an understanding of the core objectives and how you use the law, your business judgment, understanding of people and their motivations and your negotiation skills to help people achieve the outcomes that they are trying to achieve. That is what enabled me to make that transition and what the person that created the opportunity for me saw in me.

As I made that transition out of the law and into the business world, I relied on the things that made me a successful business adviser. One of the best things that I did along the way was I characterize myself as someone that is self-aware. I knew that there was going to be a huge learning curve around certain issues. I surrounded myself with people that would be willing to invest in me personally and professionally so I could leverage and learn from some of the experiences they had along the way. I could emphasize the strengths that I had and gravitate towards areas where I could have an impact. Over time and fairly quickly, I could compete on par with people that were my same age and level on the business side as well as I could on the legal side.

What skills were you focused on developing? How did you go about that to supplement everything you brought with you from practicing law?

When I immediately started working on core strategy type of work, I understood many of the things that you learned at McKinsey as a consultant like how to do landscaping type of work, look at competitors, where the market is going and financial modeling. Those are things that we do not learn in law school and do not need to focus on as a lawyer but those are supercritical given the things that I was trying to do as a business person once I moved over. Understanding that whole process plus having a greater familiarity with the financial decision-making process associated with some of the things that we were doing, financial planning and core fundamental things that you need to know and understand on the business side.

It was not so much that I did not understand the concepts. It was familiarity with the practice and mechanics of going through annual planning cycles, understanding how to organize teams and run projects. Those were the things that I focused on. I identified people who whether they were above me, below me or at the same level, have those experiences all day long. I was able to pick their brains and understand how they navigated certain situations. Similarly, I have always held myself as someone that is a team player, willing to roll up their sleeves and do whatever is required to achieve the objectives and outcomes.

One of the biggest lessons or takeaways that I would advocate that people try to remember coming out of those conversations is that being a team player, working hard, setting a standard for yourself and consistently meeting that standard is going to go such a long way in terms of getting people to respect the work that you do and to give you opportunities. Those are the things that I have focused on. It helped in terms of my progression at State Street.

It helped you get involved in the State Street acquisition of Charles River which brought it into the FinTech space that I referenced in the beginning. That was an opportunity that a lot of people at State Street would have loved to be involved in. You had prior M&A experience. What was it like to be doing an acquisition from that perspective relative to doing it as a lawyer supporting one of the parties involved? What was similar and different for you?

 

[bctt tweet="One of the most rewarding pieces of the process is continuing to persist along the path, regardless of how one individual day or conversation goes. " username=""]

 

It was a lot more similar than you would anticipate. You asked the question about my transition from law to business. As soon as we got down the path of working on the acquisition is when I felt at home on the business side. It finally started to click for me because it was like, “I remember this field.” The process of executing and driving a deal to a conclusion is very similar regardless of where you sit in the process. That was an opportunity for me to [tap into] my strengths and excel in ways that other people were not able because they did not have those experiences. State Street is not a serial acquirer like some other companies. Having had that experience was super helpful for me.

What I focused on was my understanding of how to manage the deal process and deal teams and how to make sure that you can execute against the various tasks that are important along the way. I understood not only the business objectives that we were pursuing at the time but the ramifications from a legal and terms perspective. I was able to focus on those things and add value in those areas. As a result of that and the way that I was managing that process, people noticed that, and I incrementally got to take on bigger pieces of the transaction as we progressed along.

To be specific about it, I started as part of a team of people that were focused on some core diligence items. That is what you do all day long as a corporate deal lawyer working on a transaction. It was familiar to me. Based on the work product that I was able to produce there, it was like, “Trevor understands this. Why don't we give him more opportunities to do these other things?” It was an exciting experience as I said at the outset. I wanted to be in the room when these decisions were happening and this process was taking shape. It was cool to get the opportunity to do that.

You had a vision of being a general counsel, but took a complete left or right turn and decided to become an entrepreneur. When did that idea come up? You and your wife had just your third child. You came back from paternity leave and communicated that you were ready to do something different. Was it something that came to bear during that period of paternity leave or had you been thinking about that idea longer than that?

Stackwell is the manifestation of an idea that I have been thinking about for ten years. I always carried around a notebook and sketched ideas in that notebook whatever it was about, like, “This would be an interesting business or product idea.” I never thought much about it but it is something that I was thinking about when I was a junior associate at Sidley. It sat on the shelf or in the back of my mind for a long time. I got to this point in my career where I decided that I was ready to take the next step in my leadership journey.

I felt like I had developed a skillset and an ability to connect with people to truly be a leader, someone that could set a strategy, drive execution and build a culture at a company that I and the people that were working with me would be proud of and all the investors and people around the company would value and respect as well. I started to think about what that might look like.

The other driving factor was who I am personally. It has never been lost on me that I was always the only African-American or Black male in the room. What has always come with that is this strong sense of desire and a sense of obligation to give back and create access to opportunities for folks that look like me. I had two competing notions in my head. Every time I thought about that, it kept bringing me back to the racial wealth gap. I felt like I was sitting on a body of knowledge and experience that could help.

I knew from my lived experiences why so many Black Americans are under-invested in the market. There was a unique opportunity to take a FinTech business model and leverage technology to drive scale, reach more people and give them access to better information and products to help them secure their financial futures in ways that would allow them to achieve goals and objectives more pervasively in their lives.

In a lot of unexpected ways, it is something that has always been there for me. I have always had an interest in the FinTech space. Sitting in this room at some point, I started thinking about ideas relative to what was transpiring in the market. It percolated into a strategy exercise for me. I was like, “FinTech, digital banking or investment business models look like this in the US. It looks like Y over in Europe. There are these other various variations in Latin America.”

 

CSCL 8 | Stackwell Capital

Stackwell Capital: There is a whole community of people sitting behind us that support and encourage and uplift us along the way and create access to opportunities to make this all possible.

 

It was this interesting intersection of business, legal and investments. The regulatory landscape outside of this country for these types of businesses is far advanced to what it is here in the US. I started to see things that made a lot of sense to me. The more I thought about it, I felt like it was an opportunity that I owed to myself to take. If I did not try to go off and do it, it was something that I was going to regret for a long time.

You made the jump. What was the shock like for you, moving from a corporate role with all of the things that come with being in a big company to being the CEO of a startup right at the outset?

It was a huge shock to the system. I am not going to lie about that. I am a solo founder. There are good and bad things about that. After I made the decision to leave and started to think about, “I am going to push forward with this,” I started to socialize it with people and started thinking about raising money. There are a lot of ups and downs in that process. Some people see your idea, other people do not. Some people are willing to invest, other people are not. There is this very personal attachment that you have to your ideas associated when starting a company.

Sometimes the feedback can be hard to take but that has been one of the most rewarding pieces of the process. It is continuing to persist along the path regardless of how one individual day or conversation goes. There have been so many times throughout this process where it was like, “There is this important strategic question that I do not know how to answer. If I do not know how to answer this question, we can’t move forward.” Two or three days down the line, you figure it out, get connected to the right person, and are able to answer that question.

One of the biggest challenges is the isolation that I felt early on in the process, and frankly, I still feel. The trains do not keep moving if I take a day off. That is one thing that I miss from being in a larger organization. In many ways, this has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done in my life. It is so hard. There are so many challenges and ups and downs along the way but in somewhat unexpected and surprising ways, it has allowed me to grow into the parent that I always wanted to be.

We've got three kids. The two older kids understand what I am doing. They come home from school and the first thing they do is run into this office wanting to know what is going on. My son, every day, is like, “Did Stackwell make it?” He understands how tenuous it is to start a company and the proposition of what it is that I am trying to do. Along the way, I was able to start to have conversations with the two of them about trying to do something bigger than yourself and not being afraid to chase your dreams.

We can have conversations about entrepreneurship and investing. I did not know any of these things even when I graduated college. Through this process, I have given my children a level of freedom that I never had myself, the freedom to dream and understand that anything that you want to do is possible if you are willing to put yourself out there and give it a try. It is so multifaceted and layered but it has been an unbelievable ride.

Describe the company as it exists today. You are in beta testing mode. Where are you from a people perspective and the readiness of the app?

Stackwell is a digital investment platform that is focused on getting more people in the Black community into the markets. Our product is based on three core pillars. We’re giving people access to the markets through model investment portfolios and taking a broad-based indexed approach to getting into the markets. We are pairing that with access to financial literacy and investment education that is delivered in culturally competent ways so people do not feel bothered by the process. They feel more encouraged and empowered by the information so they can do the things that many of them have not done before. Finally, we are pairing all of that with our use of behavioral psychology to help nudge and promote the effective behaviors that are required to persist along the path and accumulate wealth over time.

 

[bctt tweet="It is extremely important that people know that we're going through it together. They don't have to go through it alone. We're here to support them in the process." username=""]

 

The product is in beta. We are super excited about the process of getting there. We will go through a couple of cycles here to test it out and make sure that we are not missing anything along the way. [We're] getting a lot of good feedback from some potential users in our target demographic, all with the view towards releasing it in the first half of 2022. From a team and people perspective, I have added several team members. We are a core team of about 6 or 7. We have an offer out to someone, which we are super excited about.

That has been one of the most exciting parts of this process. It is getting other people that buy into the vision and the mission and believe in me as a leader to help us go off and execute on what it is that we are trying to do. I am super excited about where we are at. We are making this transition from being an interesting and good idea into being a fully operating company and all of the things that are required and necessary to go along with that. We are super encouraged by the prospects and opportunities that are in front of us.

I see on social media that you are getting some great media attention. What has that been like for you?

It has been interesting. I would characterize myself as not necessarily the most public of people but it has been cool because it has nothing to do with me and has everything to do with one of the core objectives of Stackwell. Part of what we need to do and what will make the company successful is us being a catalyst to help start to normalize conversations around Black wealth. One of the biggest things that you hear all the time is, “We never talked about these things at our dinner table. I did not have a parent, an uncle or a friend that could say, ‘You should do this with your money.’”

Part of what I see in my going out and doing some of these engagements and the coverage that we have gotten is starting to normalize that process. If you read a lot of the articles and interviews that I do, I have made a conscious decision to be extremely transparent about the process that I am going through, my experiences and my understanding of the challenges that are faced by many people in this community.

I talked before about the ups and downs associated with being an entrepreneur. The reality of the angst and anxiety that I have felt as a solo founder in particular, and someone that is trying to get a startup idea off the ground and into a meaningful company, is not dissimilar to what many Black Americans feel relative to the investment process and the decisions of whether or not they should invest.

People must know that we are going through it together. They do not have to do it alone. We are here to support them in the process. This is something that we are all going to collectively achieve together. That is why, unlike many other FinTech apps or finance companies, we are so intently focused on meeting people where they are, helping to cultivate, uplift and empower them to believe, “This is a space where I belong. I am not doing this by myself.” That is going to be part of the key to unlocking this problem.

Most founders would describe their business as their baby but I have to imagine that focusing on something that has got such a strong social purpose gives you an extra lift even on those particularly lonely days as a solo founder.

It does. This is not about me at all. I tell that to my team all the time when I go out and have conversations with people about it. A lot of times, founders and venture investors like to project that they made every right decision along the way as their company went from idea to unicorn status. I am not going to be one of those people that is out here championing how much money we have raised and all of these cool things that we have done along the way.

 

CSCL 8 | Stackwell Capital

Stackwell Capital: Treating people the right way goes a long way toward creating a company and a culture that people feel invested in.

 

We are focused on the work and helping people to achieve the outcomes that they want to have in their lives. I fundamentally believe that we are doing the right thing, creating the right pathway, and that we can be successful in this first stage of our life cycle. The possibilities are endless for us as a company and for the people that we are trying to serve within the community.

You talked a lot about the relationships that you have built over the years and the mentors that you have had. How are you tapping into your network of relationships and mentors as a founder in the early stage stages of getting a business going?

None of this is possible without a network. My idea would have died on the vine if I did not have people that said, “That is interesting. Why don't you go talk to this person? They may be able to help you with some portion of it.” More than anything, what this process has been is continuing to build on top of an already existing network that I had and reaching points of influence and connection with people that I would have never thought that I would be able to get to along the way. It has been cool to see people be so giving of their time and in some cases, their resources, to help further the objective of what it is that we are trying to do. I could not have asked more from many of my mentors and advisors along the way.

In all inflection points in my career, people have come out from everywhere, such as people that I worked with back at State Street who have been involved, engaged and helped me make positive and influential connections with people. It has been people that I worked with in a legal capacity and people that I knew from high school or college like teammates, friends or their parents. It has been everywhere. I am a solo founder but I am not doing this alone. There is a whole community of people sitting behind me that are supporting, encouraging, and uplifting me along the way and creating access to opportunities for me to make this all possible.

The 6 or 7 people that you brought in, you are the leader running this institution or enterprise that you are building. What kind of leader do you want to be for them?

I have always been intently focused on individuals as opposed to the company itself. That sounds crazy as a founder and a major shareholder in this company that depends on other people to make it successful. I believe that if you treat people fairly, understand their motivations and their objectives and help them develop the skillsets that are required to do the things that they want to do in their careers, they will be extremely loyal. Loyalty does not necessarily mean like, “I am going to stay at this company with you for the duration.” It means, “I believe in your mission. I am going to continue to champion and work extremely hard for you and with you. I will create access to opportunities for you through my broader network and recommend people to work with you over time.”

I believe that it is my responsibility to create an environment in which people can realize their full potential. It is also my responsibility to each one of them because they have taken a huge leap of faith in terms of their careers on me, to continue to put myself out there, be in the uncomfortable situations, all towards creating the opposite opportunities and getting the access to capital that we are going to need to continue to grow and scale this business. That is my commitment to them. “I will continue to do whatever it takes to give you access to what it is that we need to make good on the objectives that we collectively have.” I do so with respect and compassion for people’s lived experiences. I try to be the type of leader that I always wanted to work for along the way.

Treating people the right way goes a long way toward creating a company and a culture that people feel invested in. That is what I am trying to do, make people feel good about what it is that we are doing, make them feel engaged and that they are significantly contributing to the process. Also letting them know from day one that if there is something else that they want to do or if at some point this is no longer the fit for them, I [will] support that. There is a person on the team that I was having a conversation with and I told her, “I do not want you to be working here for the next X years. I want you to go off and have the same experience that I am having.” I feel like she has that potential. I want her to experience that for herself.

It's amazing listening to you talk. You sound like someone who is having it all come together in a fantastic way, which is awesome. Most people only dream of that, so that is great. Any final thoughts to share before we run out of time here?

 

[bctt tweet="The real value is the process, the learning, and the experiences that you have along the way." username=""]

 

Be intentional about the things that you do. One of the best things that I have done in my career is I have never been necessarily tied to any one thing that I did. I always had this vision in my head of what I might want to do in the future. My career became about skill acquisition and less about the roles that I had. I constantly found myself saying, “This person is a great leader in this specific area. Let me adopt that mannerism or skillset and add it to my toolbox. I see people doing this interesting thing over here. I realized that every single one of them has this set of experiences. Maybe I should go try and replicate some of those experiences so that I can add that to my toolbox.”

As a result of approaching my career in that way, it has never felt like a job to me. My career was always about something bigger. It was a larger manifestation of who it was that I wanted to be as a person. It made it easier to go through the various ups and downs along the way. It always gave me clarity of thought and purpose around what it was that I was trying to do. The best thing that anyone can do is understand and take ownership in the management of their careers, have constant check-ins with themselves about the things that they are trying to achieve and then not be afraid to step out there and do it.

I believe that there are no losses here. There is not a ton of risk. It does not matter what happens. The real value is the process, learning and experiences that you have along the way. The things that I will always most appreciate about my career are the process that I went through, the people that impacted it and the things that we were able to do and overcome along the way.

You are in the early days of this chapter. Maybe it is a long chapter or a less long chapter but you’re sucking the marrow out of it to learn as much as you can along the way.

It has been a great ride. I am sure it will continue to be and I am looking forward to how it all evolves.

Trevor, thanks for doing this. I appreciate it. It is great to hear about your journey and progress. I look forward to hearing about your continued progress with Stackwell and what you are trying to achieve with it.

Thank you. I appreciate you having me on and look forward to talking soon.

 

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About Trevor Rozier-Byrd

CSCL 8 | Stackwell CapitalTrevor Rozier-Byrd is the founder and CEO of Stackwell, an early-stage fintech startup on a mission to attack the racial wealth gap by empowering a new community of Black investors. Trevor and his team are in beta testing at the moment and expect to launch Stackwell in the coming months.

Prior to founding Stackwell, Trevor spent 6 years at State Street in its Global Exchange and Alpha units. Prior to that, he worked as a lawyer, at the law firms Wilmer Hale and Sidley Austin. He received his law degree from Boston University, during which time he interned with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he studied political science and theology.

Trevor is a director of the Brooke Charter School and spent time in 2020 working with Launchpad Venture Group as an investor, advisor, and mentor. Trevor is a native of New Jersey and lives now in the Boston area with his wife and three children.

 

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