Episode 031 - Executive Vice President & CEO of AQHA, Karl Stressman

In this episode of the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast, we sit down with an industry legend: the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Quarter Horse Association, Karl Stressman. He’s an avid Team Roper with over 25 years of experience in the western industry. And did we mention he's a father of 8 children? Don't miss this inspiring and insightful conversation!

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast, where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up.Hi, everybody, and thanks for joining us on the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. This week's episode is legendary. Let's just leave it at that. He's been known as the National High School Rodeo Man of the Year in 2009. He was the Women's Professional Rodeo Association's Person of the Year in 2014. The Resistol Man of the Year in 2017. Probably his biggest and most favorite title is the father of eight children and a husband to his wife, Allison, and avid team roper. And he has more than 25 years experience in the Western industry. None other than the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Quarter Horse Association, Mr. Karl Stressman. Karl, thank you for being here today.

Karl Stressman: It is my pleasure, I can tell you that. Yes.

Taylor McAdams: And you know, your your friendship and partnership adjusting goes far beyond the rodeo arena. And we'll talk through that a little bit later. But before we do on this episode, I want everyone out there to get a chance to know you a little bit better. So tell us about how you grew up and where you grew up and what life was like for you starting out as a young lad as a cowboy.

Karl Stressman: You know, I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and I have I I was lucky enough fortunate enough to be able to you know, start riding horses early in my, in my childhood. My, my dad was actually a Methodist preacher. So we live we kind of live at the edge of town. And, you know, Tucson, Arizona area has, has a lot of washes, and you know, opportunities to ride so we didn't have our own horses when I was really little bit. We found a place that would let us come and ride I'm an Exercise and so in Tucson was a great place when I was young man because it was small. And it was, you know, you could be out of town in a very short order in Tucson. So it was a great opportunity to grow up in a in a Leave It to Beaver type family. And everybody won't understand that because of the age on that television show. But the facts are I did grow up in a family that was that was pretty darn cool. And I feel blessed and fortunate that I that I had an opportunity grew up in that kind of family. So everybody didn't have that opportunity. So I'm very thankful that that was the case. But I grew up there in Tucson and went to high school there obviously went to University of Arizona. And then I left there, you know, when I was a young man and my early 20s and moved to Phoenix, and I just was trying to find my way. And fortunately for me, I've stumbled into a company that was selling saddles and you know, and so seemed fit fit my lifestyle. And I had the opportunity to you know, I've spent the last 73 years on this earth just hanging out. And I got to wear a hat every day and represent something that I that I have absolutely a great passion for. And that's the Western industry and the people that are in what it means to our country, what it means to people, and what it means to children. I've just been, I'm a pretty lucky guy, I can tell you that.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And there's a few words that stood out to me there you you said thankful and passionate and I think that's gonna kind of run throughout this whole interview and talk with you. But I just gotta say, I'm thankful to be able to speak with you. I know we'll get into your life experiences and everything you've gotten to do in the industry just a little bit later. But I'm a huge fan. I actually got to meet you when I was young, young, young, just getting started in the industry. And I just remember thinking, Wow, what a man that has a true passion, keeps the Cowboys first and is a cowboy. I just really really admire you for that. So how did somebody that started out with with the upbringing that you did, fall in love with Team Roping fall in love with the cowboy way of life? How did you get started? When did you first swing your leg over the saddle? Tell us about that.

Karl Stressman: You know what I've been roping most all my life in. I haven't gotten any better at it. But I've been roping most all my life. And you know, my brother was a big influence on me. He was the real deal. And he when he went to the University of Arizona, he was he was working on feedlot there in South Phoenix Down in Buckeye. And so I got to have that experience. I was still in high school and I got to have that experience with him. And he ended up managing that feedlot for years and and so you know, it was it was just part it certainly was part of his life and it became part of mine. And I would go down there and work on weekends once a while when the Cowboys got too drunk to show up at the feedlot you know my brother called me and say can you can you come down here right pins with me and I got a chance to do that and And if I didn't do it a lot, because I thought, you know, I'm going to probably make a living doing something else besides writing pens. So I decided early on that that was probably going to be probably was not going to be my chosen occupation to write pens in the Fetullah. But, but you know, involved in all of that, it just, it almost transitions for you into particularly then into the team roping world and to be able to, to, you know, to set a good horse and have fun and go rope and be competitive in the world. And, you know, then in January brought the number system in place. So we didn't all have to rope against the big dogs, you know. And so that was a, that was a huge part of when I was a little younger, and was family and starting families and doing all those kind of things that you do in your 30s. And, you know, it was just a, it was a good time. It was a good time of life. But it was a good time in the world to manage just over maybe what today looks like for everybody.

Taylor McAdams: You know, and I love that you brought up the number system. I feel like that's a controversial topic, in my opinion. I personally love it. I'm glad that they did that, so that you have the opportunity to look forward to something to get better. You're constantly looking looking forward and getting better. So I appreciate that. And speaking of that, you have you've done so many things, you've gotten to rope with so many amazing people. But I'm just genuinely curious, how did you get to AQHA what what roads collided and allowed you to get where you are today?

Karl Stressman: Well, you know, when I say that, I was fortunate that I really mean that. If you look at at my career and how in the world had happened, I can't tell you I will tell you funny story in a minute. But, you know, to be able to have representing one of the great all time brands in the rancor gene company and and what a what a what an opportunity those guys provided for me over all the years that I was part of the Raymond brand, and then to you know, be invited to come to the PRCA and and be the commissioner the PRCA and then take us, you know, then then decide in 17 that I really was done, I really wanted to be done. I'm not kidding, I really wanted to be done. As much as people say that. You know, the those jobs, those are great job was a great job, it still comes with a pressure of trying to raise a family and do all the things you do and travel and do the things that so many people do every day that maybe some of us don't recognize unless we're doing it ourselves. It was those were difficult days. So in 17 I really thought that I had, I had that was my 10th NFR as the Commissioner, and I thought, You know what, I talked ally about it. And I said, You know what I'm, I really want to, I think let's let's go play for a while and have some fun and do what we want to do. I think we deserve it. And she was she has been such a loyal, you know, a partner for me over all those years. And so here we are. So we go. So we say we're at, see it. Thanks for the thanks for the opportunity to turn it over somebody else. Let them have the, you know, the headaches and all that go with it. There. I never I never regretted making that decision to go from Rengar to the BRCA because I really wanted to make a difference. And thought that I had the opportunity and maybe the skill level to try to make a difference in professional rodeo. Wrangler was a what Believe me, wrangler was wonderful. And they were so good to me it was it was just almost ridiculous that how good they were to me, but then to have the opportunity to ever to become the commissioner, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. I gotta tell you, my kids, you know, in between aliens, we have eight of them. And I have 11 and a half grandchildren because my my Oh, my youngest daughter just announced the other day that she's pregnant with their second baby. So we're going to be we're going to be grandparents to 12 here in just a few months but but to have the opportunity to do that. And within that range. I mean within that PRC system, my kids one time one of my kids suddenly Dad, how did you ever get to be the commissioner of PRCA? And I said, What was the only job that was available when I applied if I had been the janitor I would have been the best damn janitor they could have had but I said instead of course they laugh because they were like, Man, I don't get that. I don't understand how my dad got to be the commissioner of BRC, but then I get I got a chance to go work with Denny and Connie Gentry after I retired because I did live consulting for the US DRC and that was great because I get to learn some things from certainly from them and and they are dear friends of mine but they have they have been unbelievably successful in team in Team Roping industry. They're both really good good people that want to want to create an opportunity. And then I got that I went to the Miss Rodeo America, by the way, the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas where I judged there about, well, I don't know if I'm gonna get this one correct or not maybe 2021 I'm gonna guess that a couple years, a couple years, yeah. When I was retired, and I was broken, but three days a week of playing off the industry and then taking Sundays off and having fun and I thought I was enjoying life. And Governor Jim Hunt, who is on our executive committee here at the AQHA ranch throughout South Dakota. He, he and I have known each other but, but obviously, we're not friends because we didn't hang out at all. He asked me in during that shirt and Miss Rodeo America, we think about what would you think about coming to work for the EQs Shaco? Like, what are you talking about? I'm not going to work for anybody. I don't know, thanks for the offer. But I don't want to jump I'm done. I didn't want to deal on that. I don't need I don't need the job. I don't need that. I certainly don't need the fame and fortune. I don't mean, I just want to I want to enjoy my life really with, with my kids and my grandkids. And you know, and so anyway, one thing led to another and, and I was like that, so I talked it over with Ali and I'm like, No, I don't want to be the I don't want to be the guy that doesn't do the job. I want to be the guy that still has enough gas left in the tank to fire him every single day as hard as I could run. If I don't have that I'm not gonna I'm not I'm not gonna do anything. It's unfair to the people that that that you don't have self evaluation of who you are and what you are and what you get lift. And so at 71 years old, I said, Okay, I'll come in. Because how cool was so when you look at the brands that I got the chance to identify, I got a chance to identify with the greatest gene company in the western industry. The absolutely the greatest Association. As far as professional rodeo goes, the team roping world which started with the number system on the US. And then the end of my career and I promise I'm going to retire after this gig. I really don't don't don't anybody call me because I'm not coming back to work to be able to do that with the American Quarter Horse Association, the largest breed association in the world. I mean, are you kidding me? Who in the world has that kind of luck? Well, I guess you're looking at him because I feel pretty darn lucky to be able to have represented those great, great brands.

Taylor McAdams: Oh yes legendary brands. And I'm so glad that you mentioned that because yes, these are brands that obviously have been around forever, very similar to Justin which is probably why the partnership between the AQHA and ingested meshes so well because we're all running forward towards the same goals and preserving the heritage for preserving the industry and I can't help but think that you've you're the perfect example for that because having eight kids there was opportunities for high school rodeo Junior High rodeo college rodeo a whole other things tell us a little bit about briefly what it was like with the eight kids and taking them here and doing this and helping them qualify here and what was all that like

Karl Stressman: you you have just got to be so so involved in in any of your children's life and just it doesn't go anywhere else that the here's the here's the biggest issue with mine though is that that many of them they all they can all write and do whatever they need to do but but not too many of them competed and the reason they didn't was because I was on the road all the time making a living but But was I didn't have the time they could have gone anywhere they want to you you want to go to God for SAS and learn how to rope calves, you could have gone in five seconds all you had to do was call if you want to go rope with Trevor Brazil, or you had to do was call me because of the involvement. We have relationships with everybody all of the other great people out there, but they just it just didn't work that way very well. So my kids really are not. Now they grew up around rodeos but they didn't really not too many of them really really and again, my girls can ride and you know, some of them cut and some of them you know. So it was it was it wasn't exactly what I had planned it if I was planted somewhere and had a job that I had an eight to five in the horses were ready and settled and indicated when you get home it's a little easier but when you fly in the six in the morning and try to get to not only that, but then then on top of stack on top of that the athletics of playing whatever they all play different sports and so it was a it was a commitment, I can assure you to try to get to enough of The the activities that they had to try to get in but well, but I made it work pretty good. I can tell you that. Yeah, I wasn't opposed to getting up at four in the morning and try and fly home to learn to see my kids performing.

Taylor McAdams: Even if that meant you made it at the last second. Yeah. And Karl, I appreciate that you said that because there's a lot of people out there that see this rodeo lifestyle and they wonder how the parents do it. You know, ideally, a parent would work from home work remotely, and then they can take them to haul to practices and rodeos. And so I appreciate your your realness and your insight there. And I'm so thankful that you ended up at the AQHA ta where you are now because that's allowing our paths to cross again and getting to really talk about the AQ AQHAand giving it the light that it is and yeah, as you mentioned is for everyone out there that doesn't isn't familiar with the AQHA Shame on you, first of all, second of all, to tell you a little bit more about it. It's located in Amarillo, Texas, and it's the world's largest equine breed registry. And there's, oh my goodness, all kinds of different shows all across the world, you can qualify for the world. So I guess let's just break it down in a little in a little bit. What does the AQHA Day mean to you?

Karl Stressman: Well, you know, back in the day when I was first introduced to the AQHA was course with just horse registrations and riding quarter horses when I was younger. But when I got to Wrangler, then at one time, wrangler was the largest sponsor of the Marine Corps Association, them and Justin are two of the oldest brands that represented the AQHA I believe that Justin goes back to man, I want to say 86 or 85 or somewhere close to that deal. So So do the math. And we partners with the AQHA rang, rang rival and just along the way and that's where I really like you and I talked briefly about that's where I really get to know old Tom feller and in that wonderful you know, group that's there and in Daraa Fisher you know, and I have been dear dear dear friends for so many years, she probably wouldn't admit to how many years it actually is but because because it'll age her but I'm gonna tell you we've been friends so long. They were it was such an important part of the of the industry at the time, I'm not even sure people realized how important the Wrangler brand in the Justin brand and the resistol brand in the in Ram Trucks. When I go back and look at professional rodeo and see that those people are still there. You know, Justin's participation in the, in the not only the crisis fun, but Justin Sports Med, is phenomenal. People don't realize the cost of that I do because I was part of that deal. I was part of the PRCA piece on that deal. But what John Justin did in the days when when it was, it was that was his money. And he would just wouldn't hear of not being able to sponsor an awful lot of cowboys and an awful lot of rodeos and just those kinds of things that he was one of the ones that knew who his customer was, to the day he died. And he always was part of this industry, the rager brand the same way even being owned by a, you know, big conglomerate, Rengar you know, they still understand their customer, and who their customer is. The same with the with the boys of the hat company. And there's just so many of them that stayed hooked. And now we see more and more new of you know, new opportunities, and the AQHA has the same situation, and that is, but we're all vying for the same dollar. So it is to it. And so we as the AQHA or the PRCA, or those people have to now deliver more in deliverables to those companies, then then even in the past that the industry has changed a little bit. And I think, you know, Tom and Dora would tell you that Jeff charter will tell you that Ricky Bolin will tell you that the industry has changed. And it used to be that we shook hands and you know, we went out and drank a beer and we were we were friends. So we did business together. That's not so much anymore. So when I see Tom and Donna when I see them, Chadwick when I see Berkey Bolden and we all get together and we laugh and drinking beer and it's like old home week. But when you start talking to the some of these other bigger corporations, we have to be very professional about how we sell our product and what we deliver as far as the you know, corporate sponsorship. So it's a different game.

Taylor McAdams: It is and that's a very interesting outlook and kudos to you. You're a sharp man, it the partnership started in 1985. You're exactly right. And I had to ask Darla, a little bit about about it. And yeah, she said 38 years. So just incredible. That just goes to show you're exactly right. The type of people that are involved with the organizations across the board. I mean, you could list off any of your sponsors and and it's the same thing. So that's super incredible. And I want to touch a little bit more on I mean, AQHA has so many different facets, the AQHA to ya the AQHA foundation there The World Show, tell us a little bit about some of the events that you guys have where people can get involved. People can go watch people, I mean, your your amendment, your members alone are so strong. So tell us a little bit about all of that.

Karl Stressman: Well, we're, we're 235,000 members strong. That's a pretty good size num, wow, that people don't really realize because, you know, we're primarily a breed registration. We're the largest breed registration in the world, we got six, we do business in 36 countries, we have about 35,000 international members. But we got 6 million Quarter Horses registered. So and obviously register every year with the yearlings and all the things that go on. But but we are, but primarily our read association with transfers and registrations and memberships is really how we, how we survive the the opportunities for us like World Show and The you show and level, we you know, we have three levels of competition. So the level ones that are competing right now is really a growing piece of our business, which is exciting to see. The, you know, we'll be at the World show here in about 60 days, and we have have had more phone calls than I would like to be on about World Show and all the things that we're doing. But when we got here, I've been here for 16 months. And, and we got here with an attitude of how do we how do we satisfy the needs of our members? How do you listen to them? And how do you proceed with listening to your members. So the world show last year, we had a, we had a town hall meeting, which was a little scary to me at first, because I'm like, so really, we're going to invite all these people to come tell us what we're doing right and wrong. Holy smokes, I'm not sure, we might have to build a cage with chicken wire. So the beer bottles don't get us. But we didn't have to do that, obviously. But so we sat down with our members. And I don't know if it was the first time ever, but it was first time in a long time to hear what they had to say what they liked about the world. So this was at the very end of the world show what they liked about it, what they didn't like about it what we did, right and what we did wrong. Tell us we're big boys, we can handle this. And girls will be boys and girls bring in analysts and tell us what you don't like. And they did. And we went back to the drawing board. And and we started from scratch to say, what are we going to do for the 2023 roadshow. And we've implemented some of those changes that they that they offered for us, and were instrumental in telling us what we what they thought we should and shouldn't do. You can't listen to it at all. That's because because you have to put yourself in a position to be first of all being listened. And secondly be able to make the changes corrective. So we had it, it was great. So we have some cool stuff going off the world show. Obviously, the level ones are grown, the youth, the youth is are growing in and they encourage a in fact is is growing. So the world show we expect the 2023 to be better, you know, are we offering more money? Let's see if it's interesting fact that in that in that meeting, one of the biggest things that I heard was, we took our world champion jackets away. Because at one time they did it was few years back that they said okay, we're trying to redesign and most of us were in here. So it wasn't anything. I'm not blaming anybody for it, but it was fine. So guess what, we brought the jackets back, because that's what they said they wanted. So it's not what I want. It's what I can do to implement the changes that the members of the association want. This is a different member associations are a different game than running rango gene, because, you know, as far as private business, and member associations are like apples and walnuts they are so I had the opportunity to have a really a great 10 years of the PRCA learning how to operate effectively within a member Association. And I got to transfer those skills to the AQHA another great, great brand so like I said, you know, I was at the right place at the right time and had the opportunity to have a wonderful deal. We're putting all we all all the effort we can into the AQHA for the next few years to make it as good as we can and leave it a lot better than it was when the gutter.

Taylor McAdams: Good for you. That's the cowboy way and I just can't commend you enough for that. And it's even cool to think back to my husband, his uncle and grandpa and dad and stuff they own a horse that ended up winning the world. than something and you know what that trophy and those buckles, those are lifetime memories they're displayed in the in the family room, you know, everyone has those stories. His grandpa to this day, we still like to talk about it and get him telling those stories again and again. So we can hold on to those memories. And I just got to ask, what's it mean to you? And how does it feel to be a part of an organization that has such an impact on families, and you don't even realize it?

Karl Stressman: I think the biggest part of it is you don't realize, you know, what we're just working. We're just some working stiffs down here in Amarillo, Texas, trying to get the job done. And make it make it so that it is so that the return on your investment membership is 100 times what it isn't as far as real dollars go. The you know, one of the great things is to have seen over the years, those cowboys of the PRCA received those gold buckles. That's right, I mean up close and personal. This closest you and I are on the screen is to see those those men and women get those co workers at the Wrangler National Finals, it's like, that's just, it's paternally, we have to be able to do that. And I did I get to do it for 10 years. So I got to see that for 10 years. But now to change the subject matter in not all rodeo, obviously rodeo events, get to see those kids in those adults. And to get those robes in their hand. It is just like that goal. That's the goal buckle to them is that code. And then of course their world champion buckle, AQHA buckle. And so if you just know that it's not just what they put into it money wise, but all the effort that they put into dislike rodeo, you got to go, if you're going to win, you got to go. And that's the baby push that we're trying to do right now is put enough pieces out there that they can qualify and make sure that they're, they have the ability to choose whether they want to go participate in the workshop. But as you said, there's just there's tons of events you can qualify. And so it's again, that, you know, I've seen I've had so many I've had such a fortunate opportunity to be able to see those kinds of things up close in person, but most people very frankly, don't have the opportunity to do so. I feel pretty good about it. And I I can't tell you how those brands that I have had been fortunate to be around how much they mean not only to me personally, but to my family and what what they have created for my life and my my kid's life and my grandkids life, and it's just a cool deal. Very cool.

Taylor McAdams: It really is. And that's actually a really cool segue to kind of talk about your life a little bit more in detail. And so I can't help but ask and I know inquiring minds out there want to know, tell me about some memorable experiences from the past. I mean, you mentioned the gold buckles but even blast from the past have funny memories, sad memories, laughable memories, you tell me what really comes to mind when you think about your over 25 year career in the western industry?

Karl Stressman: Well, you know, and I love the team robot I really do I'd rather do that than eat I really would. And but my team I haven't worked much since I got to the AQHA Melissa's are standing out there looking at me like what in the world what happened here? I thought we were your favorite animals and but I got a chance to rope a lot when I was younger and I got a chance to when I was at ranger to fly in and out of places and I got to ride lots and lots of horses and in you know what, in the back in the day I wrote pretty decent and you know, have, you know some trinkets in my trophy case to do it but but you know, I got a chance because of my position at like rancor and or the PRCA to work with some of the greats. You know. So no, I wrote one Georgia sources at one time at the open to the world was Toledo. And you know, I broke with some of the country stars that grow up and have had the opportunity to have a relationship as a friend to some of the some of the greats really out there. So you know, to say that most people have that opportunity. They do not you know the play in that tough enough to wear pink Golf Tournament that's out there in Vegas every year that Terry Wheatley and her family are so instrumental and and to get George Strait to participate in that deal, put his name on that deal and be able to talk about those things and in touch people outside of what their comfort zone is, you know, as a country music artist and in be able to, you know, to pick up the phone and ask questions and do things that are instrumental and you know, who knows who the hell knows of a kid from a little more from Tucson Arizona gonna grow up to be the commissioner of the BRCA or that the the CEO of American Quarter Horse Association, I just, I just had a ball we It was all the rancor days for just fun days that we had. We were doing really, really well financially at rancor and in they wanted us out there in the marketplace to enter interact with people. And you know, it was it was a party when the rank of boys showed up back in the day, I promised you that I'll probably never have been accused of not having a good time. And I'm not going to stop now. I'm not going to stop now having a good time. So the opportunities were tremendous. I mean, I could go, I can, you could keep me on here a long time. If I could remember some of my content, I will tell you about him. But you know, I mean, but it's it's just one of those things that is, is pretty cool.

Taylor McAdams: And you know, most of those memories probably should go untold, right? They should have

Karl Stressman: if I wrote a book, I would have to have probably have to have a sensor in it of some kind that would say, No, I don't think you can. I don't think you could say that or do that. You know, my dear, dear friends, Butch Borg, and you know, who is longtime AQHAmember and one of my dearest dearest, dearest friends in the whole wide world, one time said we had to write a book, Karl, about our experiences over the years. And I said, You know what, you'd have maybe one page in the book that you could actually print the rest of them? Not so much. So there you go.

Taylor McAdams: Yeah. And you could have a disclaimer, do not try this at home kids. I love that so much, well, then I guess we I can't help but then follow up with this. Since you've had so many different cool experiences, you mentioned riding horses. Of course, Georgia is another good partnership of ours with the George Strait collection. So that's really cool, you know, to get hand in hand. But I guess if we're gonna get on the horse topic, let's kind of talk about the evolution of horses really quick, because I think that's kind of changed and evolved. And now we want horses for different things. And we're starting to breed them for a specific opportunity. So talk to us a little bit briefly about that, with your experience.

Karl Stressman: Gonna be interesting what the future looks like for us because the genetics are part of their cutter, right? I never the tip of everybody's tongue right now as to what we're going to look at and see. I don't know all about it, but I can assure you there's a lot going on that we don't know about just like everything else. And and the ability for us to be so technical. No, we're, we're hearing the AQHA is is not acted on this, we're hearing that we can read out some some of the defects in horses. And in the in the future, I don't know what the future means whether the future means tomorrow, or that means 10 years from now. But there are people that are working really diligently on looking at horses and taking out the pieces that are that aren't so good and in the breach themselves and be like, Wow, that just seems like that seems like something and you will you will remember this because of being young. That seems like something that was from outer space, when I was a young man that people would talk about some of those things that okay, well, we can breed out. If this is this, this horse has got bad hawks, we can read those out of there. What? There's just no way. It's almost, you know, supernatural to be able to do that. And I think the jury's probably still out on people that are saying, Okay, wait a minute, how is this gonna work? But knowing that that the intelligence level has gotten so strong, that the that there's some there's some interesting things in the future of the horse? Well, of any industry, but the one we care about the most obviously, the whole industry, the American Quarter horse has changed tremendously. I mean, there was a bunch of guys sitting around in 1940. And in Fort Worth, Texas, probably drinking beer, and they go, Hey, let's start a breed registration, what should we call, let's just call it the courtroom. So here we are, at three years later, and you can trace everything back and look at all the you know, the breeds and all the breathing that's been done on their courtroom society. And very frankly, the horses have changed even in the looks and you know, we have we have refined some of them for certain disciplines. But by and large, you know, they're, they're not too much different than they were 75 years ago, but I think there's probably the opportunity soon to maybe start seeing some things that may may or may not be recognized in terms of, you know, looking at a visually but, but maybe we're changing the insides a little bit. So it'll be interesting to see and I think it's worth worth everybody that's a horse person, which I don't know anybody that's not you know, to keep that in mind that that that is happening. And those those results probably will be released sometime not too far in the future. So,

Taylor McAdams: you know, I I can't help but be thankful for the progression that's been made. I know I personally, we my sister and I have a horse that was impressive bred. And I really do believe that we would have gotten a good maybe even 10 years out of her even longer if she wouldn't have had the issues that she did with her stifles, and her Hawks. And so that's a really good topic to be watching, for sure. And another thing that's kind of newer and more of controversy that we don't actually have to get into is cloning. And I can only imagine what it was like if you're saying, you know, just breeding out certain genes and genetic dysfunctions. But cloning now is starting to become a bigger thing. And that seems like another foreign language, but we're almost at a time with you. So I want to utilize the most time that we can and I can't help but wonder you've you've been able to manage so many teams and been a part of successful teams. So what is it like managing people and overseeing their day to day and being the one that at the end of the day, everyone looks to you for a motivational pep talk? Or a what do we do next situation? So what's that, like?

Karl Stressman: You know, I've always, I think I probably have my own management style. I think I'm a good listener. I don't think I'm not always the smartest one in the room. But if I'm not the smartest one in the room, most of the time, I probably shouldn't be in the room. When it comes to how we define. I'm, I am not a micromanager. And you can talk to anybody that's worked with me. I am not a micromanager. I don't believe in I believe that people get hired for their skill level, I believe it's management's opportunity to look and see where the skill level fits the best in an organization. And then I think you kick them out there and tell them Good afternoon, what's the worst that can happen? The worst thing can happen is you make a mistake. If I'm if I had to pay for all the mistakes I've made in 73 years, I'd probably still be in jail. You know, I mean, it really is it is part of it. I think you show courtesy to people every day, I think when you need to be strong, you're strong. Because it demands when you don't need to be the one that has all the things to say. Then you can probably luncheon if you just shut up for a little while. And listen, I do believe that. When we got here at the culture, the AQHA was one of the biggest initiatives that I asked that the staff here, tell me, we took the senior staff in the first meeting and said, Tell me, I want you to come back next week with two initiatives, one that is related to your individual department, it member experience with and one related to the building, with everybody inclusive in it. And then this group will decide what the most important initiatives are. And we will do we will go at those initiatives and complete them before we take them out. Because so many times you get bogged down with all of the, you know all of it, and nobody can do that. So we did that. And one of the biggest things that were they talked about was the culture of the building, the culture of the building. Every day, at eight o'clock, everybody is expected to be in the building every day at five o'clock, they're expected to go home. And so we got them captured more time than they spend with their own families in lots of ways. So if we can't make this an enjoyable experience, we won't we won't have good employees that will continue to stay with us. I have interesting we had an employee Assembly about maybe a week or so ago. So we got 200 plus employees in this building. And we had a sibling. And I said okay, so everybody stand up. So everybody stood up and said okay, if you have worked less than five years at the AQHA J sit down. So obviously, some people sat down about 10 years the said about 15 substantive, about one, about 25 About 30 About 35 at 35 There were four ladies still standing in that audience 40 and knocked them all out. But at 35 There were four of them here. That kind of experience is is 39. That was one of those 39 years of the AQHA that 39 years of experience is mind blowing. That doesn't have I don't think that happens much anymore. But how cool is that with 39 years worth of experience that we can then depend on for some decisions that are made. That's kind of thing that I want to establish for the AQHA I want long term employees. I want to be the highest paying entity in the city of Amarillo, Texas based on merit, not on longevity, but they stopped Merrick and I want to make sure that we have partners with me will Texas who are who is who has been in this very kind to the AQHA chain. So that's kind of my philosophy, you know? hire somebody and let them do their job and, and have their back when they need you to have their back. They're just pretty simple. I'm a pretty simple thinker. So I got to get it simple for me to understand what's going on. But I've enjoyed tremendously over the last 16 months of being part of this organization and seeing the great people that we have within our organization. And, and I think the great things that we can do, we can accomplish, they have accomplished great things, not taking anything away from anybody else. But I can tell you what, we got some more we can do in the next few years. And then I promise I'm gonna retire, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna go rope and play golf.

Taylor McAdams: And that's well deserved that will be well deserved to. And I appreciate I really do the insight that you have there. And I can't help ask you one more question, then what advice would you have to anyone that wants to be a CEO? Because there's a lot of our listeners that are my age even younger, that might just be getting started in their career or are in their mid 30s, and starting to look forward to something, you know, something bigger. So what advice would you have, for anyone out there like us that are just trying to make our way to the top,

Karl Stressman: I'm going to tell you, I don't know, if I ever really thought about that my goal was to you know, someday I'm going to be the commissioner, someday I'm going to be the CEO, or someday I'm going to be whatever it is that I have been in my career. But I do think that you, you have to decide whether whether what opportunity calls, you take it or you don't, I don't believe in coincidences, what I believe in is opportunity. You choose the opportunities that you think are the best opportunities for you, and your family and your career. And it may not be in that order, it may sometimes be in that, but it may not always be in that order. So I think you always have to look at opportunity. When I was a young man, I moved my kids around a lot, because I was it seemed like I was always being offered something else to do. And but it also took a move and it took you know, you know uprooting the my kids and, and going in, you know what every one of them is, is a valuable adult today. And I think some of that experience was really helpful. I think some of it was hurtful at times, and you had to watch and see that you didn't do it very often. But when opportunity presents itself, I always said, Ah, man, you know, if the money is good, and we can do this, and, but but when, but you also have to know who you are and how you handle those kind of opportunities. But don't be afraid to take an opportunity because, but don't stay too long at the opportunity if it's not what you think it is. So be mobile, in your own mind, be mobile and be mobile, literally be mobile. If you're staying in one place, and that's where you're going to stay, then you have to accept the consequences of of your actions there. So it's, it's a balancing act, as you all know, anybody who's doing it, anybody who's working as a family, they know that it's, it's a balancing act, I think you can only do the very best that you can do.

Taylor McAdams:That's well said you can do the best that you can do. That's exactly right. Thank you, Karl, for your insight, your wisdom, your stories. This has been far beyond what I even expected. So I know that there's a lot of good a lot of listeners out there that thought that there are a lot of good pieces to this interview. So I really, really appreciate your time and I wish you the best I mean, you mentioned 60 days from our you know very soon the the world show is gonna be here and yeah, I just wish you the best with all of that. That's an Oklahoma.

Karl Stressman: Yeah, yep. Yeah, Oklahoma City. Yes, ma'am.

Taylor McAdams: Very good. Well, good luck with everything there. On behalf of Justin, we're so appreciative of the partnership, the opportunity to have the AQHA collection of boots. If you guys are listening out there and you want to kind of hear about what the AQHA is about you can go to our website and find under our partners under the Justin tab of our partners, get to know more about the AQHA get to know about more about more about the AQHA collection at Justin. And overall, just appreciate the opportunity that we've had to get to know a little bit more of Karl's story. So thank you again for being here.

Karl Stressman: It is my pleasure. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Taylor McAdams: Thanks for joining us on kick your boots up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like subscribe and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.