Hello, Working Girl: Stormy Simon of Overstock.com
For those of us who love scoring a good bargain, you're most likely aware of mega online retailer Overstock.com. We recently got to connect with Overstock's President, Stormy Simon, to discuss moving up the corporate ladder, standing out in the workplace and fearlessly paving your own path. Read on below to learn more about Stormy's exciting and rewarding career in e-commerce!
Q: When did working for Overstock.com first spark your mind, and what is your background experience in e-commerce and retail?
A: I actually had no retail or e-commerce background when I started at Overstock.com. I worked in a few industries including event planning, radio production, and video distribution before deciding that I needed a career change. I used a female-owned temp agency recommended by a friend to find what I thought would be a seasonal job at Overstock.com selling for the Business to Business (B2B) department over the phone.
Q: Tell us about the unique story behind Overstock.com and how you worked tirelessly to make your way up to the helm of the company as president?
A: Soon after I began working for Overstock.com’s B2B department, I realized that online shopping was an altogether new world. It’s funny to think about now, but many people had never shopped online at the time. I saw that I had found an industry that was in its infancy, and was one that I could make an impact on. I started by building relationships within the B2B department that helped grow business dramatically right out of the gate. After only four months in the role, I was named head of the department, and began integrating as many revenue streams into that group as I could.
My success in the B2B group caught the eye of Overstock.com’s founder Patrick M. Byrne, and I soon approached him to offer my help organizing the company to run more efficiently. He eventually named me as his chief of staff, and from there, I went about looking for opportunities where I could improve the company. One big way I saw that I could help grow Overstock.com was through television advertising. I came up with an idea for an ad, pitched it, got it approved, and was given the task of creating Overstock.com’s first offline advertisement from scratch. I wrote it, casted it, directed it, and worked with the editors on the final cut. I really just took the project on and made it happen. The result was a huge jump in revenue for Overstock, and my promotion to the executive team.
As an executive, I’ve actively looked for soft spots in the company that I could improve upon, and this has led to complete overhauls of the warehouse, technological infrastructure, customer service group, and marketing department. However, the changes I implemented were more than just modifying processes to be efficient. Overstock.com was lacking the type of culture that makes a company truly great, and I made it my goal to build that culture from within. One major way to do that is to focus on the customer in every aspect of the company. Today, everything starts and ends with the goal of a great customer experience, and the whole company works towards that singular ideal.
Q: Walk us through what a day in the life of the president of Overstock.com is like – lots of meetings, calls, and networking?
A: My title is President, but I’m also on the board of directors for Overstock.com, and right now I’m acting as the head of the marketing department. As a result, a lot of my focus has been in that department lately. This has meant escalating my travel and meetings, both internal and external, in order to learn about the market and how we can make the largest impact with our efforts. I also have a lot of relationship-building interactions with current and potential partners, as well as speaking engagements and other similar opportunities.
Q: What advice would you have for fellow women looking to embark on their own entrepreneurial or corporate adventure? How should they prepare before taking the “leap”?
A: I don’t think there’s any difference in women or men embarking on their own adventure, just make sure that you do it your own way. If you’ve got a good idea, trust yourself and make it happen. If you don’t bet on yourself, no one else will.