Academy Award-winning film legend Katherine Hepburn once said, “If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.” I really like her statement because it hits on a core reality — most of us will have to earn a living doing something. We might as well try to find a way to earn our living doing something that interests us. Unfortunately, too often this is not case.I think of Henry David Thoreau’s statement, “Most people lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to their graves with the song still in their heart.” To me it is tragic to go a lifetime and not pursue those things that are truly in your heart. This is one of the reasons that I enjoy being around entrepreneurs who have chosen to “take the leap” and pursue their dreams.
I recently visited with Steve Maloney, founder and CEO of Muddy Water Camo who has chosen to earn a living doing something he loves. Maloney grew up in Jackson in an entrepreneurial environment. His father, Con Maloney, is a well-known local businessman, and Steve grew up watching his father work in a business he loved. Steve was a talented baseball player and ended up playing at Mississippi College and Mississippi State. He went on to law school and earned a law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. After practicing as a litigator for six years, Maloney knew that his passion was really in the business world. In 1997, he and a partner formed Capitol Liquidators, which did business as Merchandise Warehouse. For almost 13 years, Maloney operated this business, which specialized in furniture and disaster liquidation sales.
Maloney like many entrepreneurs I know is better suited to being a catalytic force to start a business than to be a long-term operator. Maloney shared, “I am more of a sprinter in business, and I realize that it is important for me to partner with someone who can complement my strengths to be a great operator.” A passionate duck hunter, Maloney has harnessed his “sprinting” ability to launch his new business, which is rapidly making an impact nationally in the marketplace. Muddy Water Camo sells a revolutionary new photographic camouflage that is based on real photography from the outdoors. The company is already distributing through over 50 retailers in 15 states.
In our conversation, Maloney shared that he learned from watching his dad the importance and reality of hard work to make a business successful. For that reason, Maloney recommends that you find something that you really care about doing because the long hours are inevitable. He also suggests that entrepreneurs make sure they are candid with themselves and understand their true strengths and weaknesses. Like his realization that he is a catalyst versus an operator, Maloney knows the importance of having a good partner in your business or at least very talented employees to shore up your weaknesses. Maloney also shared the importance of experience and business, and he shared the quote, “Experience beats intelligence every day of the week.”
Maloney’s new venture is a great example of the way that when you pursue your passion in an intentional way in business you can make a big impact and earn a living doing something you enjoy. Businesses like Muddy Water Camo show that Mississippi companies are plenty capable of competing on a national and even international scale. Too often, we think industry-changing businesses only develop in Silicon Valley. I am convinced that when we unlock our creative potential in Mississippi and know that we can compete that we will see more and more businesses like Muddy Water Camo who are leading the way.
Up Close With Steve Maloney
Title: Founder and CEO of Muddy Water Camo
Favorite Books: “The Complete Book of Shooting” by Jack O’Conn0r; “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell
First Job: “My first job was sweeping the floors and later driving the forklift in my dad’s store.”
Proudest Moment as a Leader: “Every time I show our products to someone new, it is a great feeling.”