On Creative Problem-Solving and Collaboration: Stephanie Scherzer
Leading up to our Summer '18 iteration of WORK, we'll feature select interviews with some of our conference's speakers and thought leaders. In this piece, Stephanie Scherzer discusses creative problem-solving and approaches to collaborations. Scherzer will be speaking on our panel about stress and success management. Click here for the full conference schedule.
Who: Stephanie Scherzer works to connect communities with their land, and make local food more accessible. Her love of farming and passion for sustainable living drive Farmhouse Delivery’s mission and its dedicated staff. She moved to Austin in '93 and has more than 20 years of experience in horticulture – managing John Dromgoole's The Natural Gardener nursery and starting a design build landscape company with her wife, Kim Beal. She’s eager to help others cultivate a deeper understanding of where food comes from, and empower them to be a part of the process. Stephanie and Kim also own and operate Rain Lily Farm, which provides nutritious food for their two daughters, and contributes to Farmhouse Delivery produce boxes. As longtime supporters of the local arts and food scene, Stephanie and Kim open the farm for annual events such as Shakespeare on the Farm and the East Austin Urban Farm Tour, and have played host to the James Beard Foundation and various Austin-based non-profits.
What she's currently working on: "Oh, not much, just trying to change the food system from the ground up!" [laughs]
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate. Community-Driven. Happy.
How would you describe your work?
It's been about passion from the start. Everything I do is interest-driven. I'm doing what I love and care about. It's never been about following the money, but about following the cause and letting that guide me in the right direction. This local food movement is something that's so important to me. I refuse to accept failure. I know that no matter what, I need to keep pushing toward figuring out this model and solving this problem. Food and food distribution is so complicated, I've faced challenges—big and small—every day I've done this. But it's so worth it. I've always known that I wanted to leave the world better than I found it and the food system is where I think it's so important for me to work to affect change.
How do you approach concepts of "work-life balance?" Does that term mean anything to you?
I think work-life balance is incredibly important, it's how I stay inspired. Finding my balance is a mix of a lot of things, most importantly prioritizing family life. And I always make time for the arts—other creative people feed me. I make sure to seek out enough fun, I travel as much as I can, too. Self-care is just like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first—you have to take care of yourself to be able to support others.
What is your ideal working environment?
Lots of diversity. I want everyone to embrace others' creativity and individuality and for everyone to feel appreciated for theirs, too. Autonomy, trust among co-workers, and an openly creative environment—all of those qualities are what I try to open up space for in the work environment. Fun is certainly encouraged, passion, and knowing that people care about what we're doing is important.
How do you approach working with others?
Listening is so valuable. I love working collaboratively. It's incredible to see what two people, or two companies, can do when they come together and work hand-in-hand. The results are always so much greater than the sum of their parts. Certainly, when it comes to managing, I think it's important to help people find their right place, figure out where they thrive and where their maximum growth potential is. Ongoing growth is everything.
About WORK: WORK is a biannual pop-up space, designed for sharing new ideas and approaches to creative and entrepreneurial work. The event's panels, workshops and speaker sessions explore personal and professional development, marketing, business management and entrepreneurship. Our next conference pops up on July 14 from 10 AM to 5 PM at Rowling Hall in Austin, Texas. ✨Click here for more information.