A person who comprehends the needs of their clients and employees, and makes eﬀorts to bring the best for them, deﬁnes a true leader. Even though industries are ﬁlled with impeccable leaders, only a few have attained the stature of being self-made. One such passionate self-made leader is Amy C. Cross, Founder & Chief Executive Oﬃcer at StillPoint Capital, LLC.
Her unique approach to business and her ability to create opportunities has always been unconventional. She has tremendous perseverance and operates with strength, sincerity, and candor in her business matters. She takes pride in her outstanding team and the ﬁrm’s corporate culture of transparency, honesty and integrity. The company’s accolades speak for themselves as they have also facilitated over $8 Billion in transaction value in just the past 5 years.
“When asked how I did it, I reply, “By not giving up.”
A Glimpse into Amy’s Journey
Amy started her career on Wall Street at just 19-years old. Even then she was acutely aware of the posturing and the lack of genuine sentiment around which some of the worlds’ strongest people and companies operate. “It was early on that I learned how little sincerity there was in business, and let alone on Wall Street. You can say that I began to grow up. I decided that I would be diﬀerent; that I would make strong decisions but would always also listen to my heart. It wasn’t always easy,” reﬂected Amy.
She continued to persevere, and at just 20-years old, she became an Index Option Market Maker on the ﬂoor of the American Stock Exchange [AMEX]. By 21-years old, she was the fastest promoted female to the ranks of Index Option and Equity Option Specialist on the AMEX and later became an ETF Specialist.
Amy had been trading for herself as an ETF Market Maker in October 2001, the month after 9-11. She was across the street from the World Trade Towers on 9-11, and the AMEX was closed for that month in the aftermath. It was a horriﬁc day for her as she also lost eleven friends. The memories clearly still bring back diﬃcult memories for her.
Amy was among the ﬁrst to do live broadcasts from the trading ﬂoor for major networks such as CNN, CNNfn, BBC, ABC, and live Wall Street-related streaming Internet broadcasts.
“During my trading years, I also opened businesses in NYC in my personal time. I lived modestly and invested everything in the businesses that I built. That said, I ultimately, ended up losing everything. On the heels of that loss, followed by 9/11, my husband and I at the time decided to move to the Tampa Bay area. I was excited to begin the next chapter of my life at a slower pace and to start a family.”
Amy and her ﬁrst business partner in StillPoint began conducting M&A and private placements in the middle market. They learned that there was a gaping hole in the M&A industry for independent investment bankers, such as themselves, and decided that they would become the industry solution. “StillPoint was founded in 2004 and I immediately began to work on a business model that our regulators ultimately approved in 2005. So, I literally built the business model that created the industry niche in which I work to this day,” stated Amy.
Some Life-changing Incidents told by Amy
- My most signiﬁcant business failure in NYC caused me to doubt my beliefs
- Being “there” on 9/11 and the PTSD that ensued was life changing
- Marriage and divorce, becoming a mom, a single mom, both naturally and through adoption, has changed my outlook on life and family
- Professional and legal battles that I have both won and lost, continue to educate and shape me on all levels
What Does it Take to be a Good Leader?
Amy was clear that she could not believe in a leader who could be easily rattled or someone whom she could not trust. Nor could she believe in a leader that did not live by example in both their worth ethic and in giving back. She believes that a leader provides stability and strength, especially when in doubt. Amy believes in being that leader.
“There are many leaders who are far more successful than I am that do not possess these attributes, and I cannot speak to that. But I am clear that these are the attributes that I need in order to lead and/or believe in a leade,” Amy adds.
“When I began trading on the AMEX, I was hand-writing my BUY/SELL tickets for each trade. Then one day, I was given my ﬁrst hand-held computer and everything changed. I see technology as an inevitable component of business, I just don’t see it as optional anymore.”
Dealing with Volatile Markets
Amy remarked that before COVID-19, the world operated as expected with regard to everyday activities such as travel, shopping, education, dining, medical attention and even communication. As we all know, COVID-19 has since changed the world. She feels that entrepreneurs and business owners must be nimble, open-minded and well informed. “For many, the marketplace has become a tsunami that has threatened even some of the strongest businesses’ solvency.”
In times of crises, teams, staﬀ, support people all look to their leaders for guidance. This has been a time where a team’s leader is also learning the information at the same time as the rest of the world, yet they are still expected to have for answers. “Continual reevaluation of your business model as dynamically as things change is absolutely critical, but still does not guarantee success.”
Advice to Rely On
Amy advises that before venturing out as an entrepreneur, that you must make sure that your passion is so great that you don’t feel as though you have another option. “It is hard enough for a start-up company to ﬁnd success, that if you’re not 100% behind it, you may as well not be behind it at all.”