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Kelsey Stone: Building Businesses and Bulldozing Boundaries

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BAD DEVL and Tejas Destructors co-founder Kelsey Stone wants you to embrace your womanhood as a strength and aspect of your success.

By Sloane Wick, Photo by Monica Mott

Kelsey Stone started her financial career with a $500 check she received from her high school for graduating early with a high GPA. She took the check to Austin Community College where she enrolled herself in a math class. From there, she continued her trajectory as a self-starter with the determination to overcome whatever adversity life threw at her: unsupportive parents, being the first person in her family to attend college and a period of homelessness. She transferred to Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, and graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance. After graduation, Stone went on to marry her high school sweetheart and had a son, who is now 2 years old.

Her professional life evolved as well, as she co-founded two companies: BAD DEVL, a real estate development service, and Tejas Destructors, a construction contractor specializing in asbestos abatement, mold remediation, lead-based paint removal and demolition services.

Stone shares five key pieces of advice she has for other women who might be a bit nervous to step foot inside the business world.

Embrace that you are a woman.

Do not see that as your weakness. You need to see that as your strength because it’s unique. It should drive your success. It should drive your journey, and it should help define it as well. You are a woman, a minority out here trying to play with the “big dogs,” the males, but it’s totally okay to be a woman. In fact, it’s so cool. It is so badass, and you should embrace it. You don’t have to be a man to be successful. You just have to be a human with drive.

Show up, even if you’re uncomfortable.

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Confidence is really just the courage to be uncomfortable. After all, you just have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and put yourself out there by saying yes to all these opportunities, whether you know anybody who’s going or not. You never know what could come out of it, and your courage shines through [and shocks people]. In my own personal experience, I have found I get the most shock from peers and others in the industry. So, whenever you show up, and you’re uncomfortable, you have some positive shock value that can help drive your success.

Be authentic.

You don’t have to play any part, other than your true authentic self. The more authentic that you [are], you’ll feel that you’re more aligned with your success, which will help with your decision-making and your direction for everything going forward. Whenever you show up to the table, just come exactly as you are. You don’t have to be anybody else but yourself.
Surround yourself with experts and information.

I never take one person’s word for [everything]. Always get a second, third, fourth opinion. That couples with you doing your research and with looking into exactly what you’re trying to solve or accomplish or gain. Whatever it might be, you need to be doing your own research because that is what will field some questions for you personally or [for]whoever you talk to. It helps with being prepared. I always say surround yourself with experts and you’ll be an expert. You don’t have to be the engineer, the actual contractor or the banker. No, you just need to play with the best.

Stop playing small.

A lot of women play small because we think we have to. We’ve been conditioned, all these years, especially the generations before us, that we should show up to play small. We show up as too subtle. No! Don’t show up just to be subtle! You are just as deserving and you are just as welcome. And you have just as much of a place as a man does in any capacity, in any way, shape or form. Don’t shrink yourself just because you’re a woman.


READ MORE FROM THE NOVEMBER ISSUE

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