Stacy Harris is a publisher/executive editor and media critic of Stacy’s Music Row Report, she was recognized by The Nashville Business Journal (in its April 17-21, 1995 edition) for pioneering Music Row coverage on the Internet. An internationally-known author, influencer, country-music historian, academician, music industry and popular culture analyst, pop culture expert, celebrity journalist, ethnomusicologist, columnist, broadcast journalist, feature writer, media personality, tastemaker, public speaker, pundit, art critic, technical writer, axiologist, lifestyle and relationship expert, entertainment entrepreneur, community activist, iconoclast and polymath, she has covered the Nashville entertainment scene as a Nashville-based stringer for Newsweek and as a domestic stringer (with Secret Service clearance) for the ABC Radio Network and its affiliates. She’s also listed in the prestigious Internet Movie Database. Known for her versatility, she has written for several entertainment trades and special interest publications, including Billboard, Cash Box, Record World, Amusement Business, Performance, CMA Close Up, Satellite Business, Goldmine, and Music Row.
She motivated readers as a columnist for the Nashville Banner (“Community Voices”) and The Tennessean (“Nashville Eye”). Her published books include Classic Country (2005, hardcover); The Best of Country: The Essential CD Guide (1993, paperback); Comedians of Country Music (1978, hardcover); and The Carter Family (1978, hardcover), while her credits as a contributing author include entries in What Brings You Joy (2014, paperback) The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture (1998, hardcover), You Are So Nashville If… (1998, paperback) and chapters in Country Music Stars and the Supernatural (1979, paperback). Her books, which are available worldwide, are featured in the catalogs and collections of The British Library, The National Library of Australia, Book Depository, and in the Carter Collection of Abingdon, Virginia’s Washington County Public Library System.
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Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Stacy Harris: Stacy’s Music Row Report publisher/executive editor/media critic, I am an internationally-known music historian, multimedia journalist, academician, pundit, author, broadcaster, pop culture analyst, media personality, iconoclast, public speaker, and tastemaker. A native Minnesotan, a graduate of the College of Emporia and University of Maryland, having completed my studies at Vanderbilt University, I reside in Nashville, Tennessee.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Stacy Harris: Did I always want to become a CEO or was it something I was led to? I would say it was a combination of both. I have had an independent streak for as long as I can remember and as a Mensan, I was probably destined for excellence and leadership in my field(s).
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Stacy Harris: My most important professional inspiration was someone whose generosity toward me was so great that I felt frustrated by my inability to reciprocate in any way that would be nearly as impactful or meaningful. I was assured that my gratitude was reciprocity enough, but I took to heart the suggestion that I “pay it forward.”
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Stacy Harris: Competition, low pay, and rejection are the watchwords of the “glamor” professions in which I work, so I learned early on to circumvent these obstacles (in addition to institutional sexism) by trying to fit in where I could and, where that was not possible, to chart my course.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Stacy Harris: Stacy’s Music Row Report is Nashville’s only independent source of country-music news, reviews, and informed opinion. I have the responsibility of maintaining a “free” (loss leader) website while offering subscribers additional content and reasons to remain subscribers.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Stacy Harris: Beyond the dictionary definition, a Chief Executive Officer sets the tone for, at minimum, the organization and, with luck, the industry and its leadership practices as a whole.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Stacy Harris: I felt that I had arrived and I was surprised at that reaction. It was momentary, though, because I have always had big plans and it was time to get back to work!
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Stacy Harris: It would depend upon one’s industry and the vision. What I’ve been able to do is to find a need that isn’t being addressed and to fulfill it. Nashville music journalism used to be the communications arm of Music Row publicists, the Country Music Association, the Country Music Foundation, and advertisers. I have turned that around by not adopting the unpaid cheerleader agenda of the 501(C)s and allowing advertisers to dictate editorial content.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Stacy Harris: I was once offered a lucrative contract with a not-so-enticing catch: Giving up the copyright to my work. The offer was for more money than I had made to that point but the positive impact of turning down the offer was keeping my self-respect and sense of self-worth.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Stacy Harris: Success, to me, is the contributions I have made that are uniquely mine. The lessons learned have informed me and I can pass them on as I pay it forward.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Stacy Harris: I am a born leader who has learned the importance of networking.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Stacy Harris: It gave me an easy out for turning down invitations, several of which I didn’t want to accept in the first place. That, in turn, reinforced the idea that time is my most valuable resource and that I am at the point in my life when I no longer feel the need to have to provide alibis, excuses nor explanations for saying “No.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting on their journey?
Stacy Harris: Give credit to, rather than ignore or take for granted, those who opened doors for you.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Stacy Harris: Sometimes we think we are communicating, only to realize when the reaction is to something other than what we intend, we are not. It doesn’t help that I invariably interrupt someone not realizing that I am prone to interrupt someone, not realizing that this person hasn’t finished speaking. It would be great to acquire the skill of becoming a better listener.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Stacy Harris: ‘The Stacy Harris Story.’
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Stacy Harris for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
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