Bigger Than Us
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Bigger Than Us

#192 Lacey Reddix, CEO and Founder of Olokun Minerals

Lacey has a background in civil engineering with a concentration in water resources and environmental engineering. She is the CEO and founder of Olokun Minerals, a startup focused on improving the water quality of brine waste waters by filtering out metals and minerals that can then be used for more productive applications. She is passionate about finding solutions that improve human-environmental interactions and increase clean water access for vulnerable communities.

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Bigger Than Us #192

This transcript has been lightly edited.

Host Raj Daniels 00:07

Lacey. How are you doing today?

Lacey Reddix 00:11

I’m doing well, Raj, thank you for having me.

Host Raj Daniels 00:13

Lacey. Thank you for joining us. Lacey. I like to start with asking, Who is Kishia Powell? And how has she influenced your life?

Lacey Reddix 00:21

That’s so funny. Kishia Powell was my first boss. She was the first woman public works director for the city of Jackson. And she also was commissioner of watershed management in the city of Atlanta, where she was my boss as well. And she was also the first boss that looked like me, as she was a woman of color civil engineer working in the water space. Not only was she a mentor in the workspace, but she also encouraged me to be a leader, and also showed me the importance of the work that we were doing and why the water sector was so important.

Host Raj Daniels 00:59

How has she influenced your leadership style?

Lacey Reddix 01:02

I think she influenced my leadership style and sense of realizing that being a servant leader was the most important. In a number of different ways she influenced me, but I think the way that she led by example, and this idea of making sure that we took everybody’s voice into account, of accountability, or just in general, just being somebody that could be a voice for a number of different people, I think was really important. And I will forever be indebted to her because of that. And I hope she has the opportunity to listen to this and realize how much of an impact she has had on my life.

Host Raj Daniels 01:42

Can you give an example of how you use servant leadership in your current role?

Lacey Reddix 01:46

Really, it’s more about leading by example is what we need to really focus on. Being somebody that looks at how the work that we’re doing is impacting not only our target customer, but also those who are most affected by the decisions that we’re making: people in vulnerable communities, people who may not have access to what we’re doing — we’re in the water sector — trying to make desalination more sustainable. So how does that affect the communities that we’re serving? How does that affect people who currently can’t afford the water that they have access to? And there’s a number of different ways I think that it comes into play. But really, the biggest goal of servant leadership, I think is to realize that everyone is going to be affected, not only the people that you’re targeting, but the larger community.

Host Raj Daniels 02:40

Why do you think we, broadly speaking, don’t pay more attention to water issues?

Lacey Reddix 02:47

I think because it’s not sexy. It’s not something that people view as interesting. I think we do when it becomes a serious issue. Flint Michigan’s water crisis, I think, is a primary example of something scary that people then paid attention to. But outside of that, I think people take water for granted. I think they think that water is always going to be here. They also don’t realize that water is heavily subsidized currently. So even though the price of water is going up, it’s still lower than what the cost of actual water is. And if we were to ever course-correct that, then we’d see a lot of issues later on. And so what I think needs to happen is we need to think about the fact that water is a critical resource, it is vital for life, and we just need to value it more than what I think we currently are doing.

Host Raj Daniels 03:46

When I was doing research for this conversation, I came up with a perhaps a wild and hairy idea. I want to run it by you in real time. What do you think of a monthly national water rationing day?

Lacey Reddix 03:58

What do I think of a monthly water rationing day? It seems like we kind of do that, almost, because of the amount of droughts that we go through. We’ve gone through a number of times in our history, at least in in the South — I know Atlanta has done this in the past — where they’ve encouraged people to ration their water in drought situations. So I assume that you would want something similar to that. Is that correct? What would you be thinking of?

Host Raj Daniels 04:27

So I watched an interview that you were on with a gentleman named Tom Ferguson, I believe.

Lacey Reddix 04:33

Yes.

Host Raj Daniels 04:35

He mentioned that we kind of just go along, go along, go along, and all sudden we need to pay attention because water doesn’t come out of the tap. And I was thinking of a way to perhaps draw more people’s attention to this issue around water.

Lacey Reddix 04:46

Got it. I mean, that could take fire, that could be something that we end up doing. I would support it if we did it. I would say that.

Host Raj Daniels 04:58

I’m thinking of it like a tornado drill, fire drill, etc. These things that we have — my kids are in school, for example. Every once in a while, they have a fire drill, they have a tornado drill because we’re in Texas. But how do you draw more attention to these issues or perhaps prepare people to be able to cope with what seems to be these problems that we will ultimately face in the future?

Lacey Reddix 05:18

Yeah, I mean, I think that is one way. I think that we can think a little bit more too, outside the box, on how do we value — whether it’s rationing water, or if we, for a day, price water at what it’s actually valued at, or how much it actually costs, so that people can be aware of, and be possibly grateful for how much they’re currently spending. But yeah, I think that there’s a number of different ways I think that we could be potentially creative around showing the value, the true value, and importance of water.

Host Raj Daniels 05:52

Well, speaking of outside the box and being creative. Can you give the audience an overview of Olokun Minerals and your role at the organization?

Lacey Reddix 05:59

Olokun Minerals was founded is that we were looking to make desalination more sustainable. Desalination is the process of turning seawater to freshwater, or saltwater to freshwater. In that process, you take out a number of different salts. That salt waste is known as brine. And that brine is usually diluted and goes back into the ocean, or is disposed of in some kind of way. What we’re doing is we want to take that brine waste, extract the salts, and then use those salts for a number of different applications.

What we found is there are valuable metals and minerals that are in that brine waste stream that are needed for a number of different supply chains. And so what we’re doing is trying to solve two problems at the same time. We’re trying to make desalination more sustainable, or, just in general, clean up briny wastewaters, and then also make countries and municipalities more self-reliant and able to source minerals that can be used in industries closer to home.

Host Raj Daniels 07:12

Can you give some examples of what minerals you can extract?

Lacey Reddix 07:16

Number one, magnesium chloride is one that’s really popular. When we first started the company, we were looking at extracting magnesium chloride for road salt de-icing. The reason being, when I was doing my initial research, I found that the salts that were used to de-ice roads in the northeast, there was a salt shortage causing a lot of municipalities not to be able to de-ice their roads, and that they were spending $2–3 billion a year on these roads with all the icing agents. I also found that it was causing a lot of corrosion to the streets, or the traditional salts were, and it wasn’t as beneficial to the environment. Magnesium chloride and potassium chloride were found to be less corrosive and more environmentally friendly.

So, that was the first thing that we were looking at. What we also found was magnesium chloride was used in the aluminum alloy industry. So it was basically this raw material that could help with the electronics industry. The shortage of magnesium chloride in Europe this past November was directly related to the increase in the price of electronics in the EU. So, what I found was that magnesium chloride is one example of a salt that we could extract that could be used in a number of applications. Outside of that, potassium can be extracted to create potash, which is used for fertilizers.

We also can do calcium extraction, which can then be converted later to calcium carbonate, which is used in a number of different industries, including the automobile manufacturing industry. And speaking of automobile manufacturing, and even though lithium is not necessarily found in desalination, briny wastewaters, it is found in geothermal brine and a number of other brine sources. Our process could potentially help with the lithium battery supply chain as well.

Host Raj Daniels 09:21

What is geothermal brine?

Lacey Reddix 09:25

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Salton Sea or what’s going on in the Salton Sea Project, but it’s essentially a heated salty water that comes from underground and, by itself, naturally surfaces or bubbles up to the surface. And so it’s basically the same thing, any kind of brine is a water source with a high salt concentration. Geothermal just goes back to the fact that it’s a heated water source.

Host Raj Daniels 09:58

Is the Salton Sea Project the lithium lake project in California?

Lacey Reddix 10:02

Yes.

Host Raj Daniels 10:03

I have heard of it. So it seems like you would need huge volumes of these minerals to be able to help the supply chain. Is there that much potential out there in brine water?

Lacey Reddix 10:14

Yeah. So for example, Poseidon Water in Carlsbad, California. It’s the largest desalination facility in the western hemisphere. It pumps in about 100 million gallons per day of seawater, and then 50 million gallons per day is brine. 50 million gallons per day gets converted into freshwater that goes into the drinking water for I think 50% of the population in San Diego. And then 50 million gallons per day is brine that needs to be diluted before it goes back into the ocean. So that’s just one example. That’s one plant, mind you, it’s the largest one in the western hemisphere, but there isn’t a number. There’s a large amount of brine that’s being produced. And so there’s a large potential for us to utilize that as a source to source minerals.

Host Raj Daniels 11:08

And what does your facility look like?

Lacey Reddix 11:12

Well, right now, it’s a prototype that exists at a lab. So it’s very small. And so we’re still in research and development phase. What it would potentially look like in the future is two things. One, it could be an addition to an existing desalination facility, where water is pumped into this column. And that column is able to filter out multiple salts at the same time and through that column, sort those salts, and then we can extract it from there. So that’s one where it’s connected to the desalination facility. The second would be an actual warehouse space where that brine waste is brought in, and it still goes through the same column, but we can source a number of different waste streams at the same time as opposed to just relying on on one source.

Host Raj Daniels 12:09

So how did you come up with the idea for all Olokun Minerals?

Lacey Reddix 12:14

So I originally looked at desalination. I was looking at the water problem in California. And I was trying to figure out, how do we increase the amount of water that we can get in California? And just like first, from background knowledge, less than 2% of all the world’s water is freshwater and available for us to use. So 3% is actually freshwater, 1% of that 3% is in the icecaps, so it’s not available necessarily for us. And then out of that, less than 2%, only about 30% of the 1% of the water is in fresh lakes and water that’s above the surface, or in underground wells that are still high enough for us to access.

Also, too, our population has grown, I think, four times in the last 100 years. We were about 2 billion people in 1927. And we’re about 7.9 billion people today. So all of those people are living off of a very small percentage of water.

What I was thinking was around this 97% of the world’s water is seawater. How do we access that seawater in a way that we can just increase the amount of water that people have access to? Desalination as a way to do that, but there are obstacles around desalination. So essentially, I was looking at, how do we get over those obstacles? And so then I started looking at and researching what is the composite of those minerals, or the composite of the salts that we take out. And then, what are the use cases for those salts? And then from there, I really just got lucky with being able to partner with a national lab that was doing research in this space, and have recently done a patent around a technology that could filter out these salts.

And so that’s kind of how we were able to move forward as a business. You mentioned at the top of the interview about not being a sexy industry. Why are you doing so much research, or what was your aha moment? We mentioned, too with my mentor, Ms. Powell. I was working in the city of Jackson, which is where I’m from, and working in Jackson, Mississippi, as well as Atlanta. I got to see firsthand the effects of water infrastructure on communities and how the lack of water access affected people’s lives, and how they felt forgotten. It affected their dignity, it affected their pride. It really drove home to me the importance of solving this issue that people just don’t even think about. And so I think that is where the seed of doing something around water infrastructure started.

And then from there, I started thinking about the fact that if we didn’t solve the supply chain issues, we’ll see more conflict on both sides. If we don’t have enough water, you’ll see a lot more conflict happening. Water wars happening, conflicts between countries, but also, too, on the supply chain side, as we have more conflict — and climate change is just going to exacerbate the conflicts that we do have — we’ll want to be less reliant on other countries to have resources. And so what I also found was a number of different minerals or chemicals were becoming a security threat or a national security issue if we weren’t able to source them.

So I saw these two problems. And I was figuring out that we could connect those two problems together. And that’s kind of what made me most excited about what I was doing. It was the aha moment, that if we could solve for both these problems, we could alleviate so much pain and so much potential conflict in the future. That’s what drives me to continue to do the work that I do. Because I see the importance. Yes, there is a financial benefit of doing this, but the fact that we could just make people’s lives better, in ways that they don’t even fully understand at this moment. I think that’s what drives me to do the work that I’m doing.

Host Raj Daniels 16:34

Now, I mentioned my crazy idea earlier. But how do you think, or what would you do, to draw more attention to the water crisis?

Lacey Reddix 16:47

In any industry, I think what people really understand is the dollars or the bottom line. I don’t want to necessarily increase the cost of water, but I want people to understand what the value of that water actually is. And I don’t know if there’s a way to do that without bringing other people a lot of unnecessary pain and strife because of the fact that they can’t pay for the water now that it’s at its current price, or at its potential price.

And so I do think that we need to look at, how do we make water? How do we price water where it is actually the value that it is for society, but still be able to give that to communities in a way that we don’t make it hard for them to live? Goldman Sachs said that water is the petroleum of the 21st century. But the difference between petroleum and water is that you can live without petroleum. I think that’s something that we need to just drive home is that we cannot live without water. But at the same time, we’ll see the price of that water going up, or the value of that water going up, as climate change becomes a bigger and bigger issue in the future.

Host Raj Daniels 18:12

Well, speaking of the cost of water going up, can you share what the concept of outsourcing or virtual water is?

Lacey Reddix 18:19

Yes. Virtual water is the water that’s associated with the goods that people may purchase. An example would be, if another country that doesn’t have a lot of water, or their own rainfall in the country, so it’s a very dry region, they might, instead of growing a crop in their region, they might decide to pay for that crop to be brought in house. And so basically, they’re paying for the water that’s associated with growing that crop by outsourcing it to somebody else, or getting that crop from from somewhere else. Therefore, they’re not allowing the precious water that they have to go towards that crop, and they can use that water that comes into their region for something else.

Host Raj Daniels 19:22

So I want listeners to really understand the impact of this. Can you perhaps share an example of where that might already be happening?

Lacey Reddix 19:28

Yes, so an example I’ve given, I believe in a previous talk, too. I gave the example of what’s going on in the Middle East and California, and the idea of growing crops that are needed for cattle here in California, and then shipping those alfalfa sprouts or that crop to the Middle East in order for the cattle to eat it. And so this goes back to, “How is meat production, or the production of beef, related to the climate change, or to climate problems?” The idea that a lot of agriculture goes back to raising cattle or livestock. We’re not using our agriculture as efficiently as we could. That’s an example of that.

But also to the issue with Middle East, purchasing their crops in California, and why that could be potentially detrimental, is California is also a dry region. And so if California has a drought, or is unable to produce the crops that they have promised another country, there could be potential conflict there. Also, too, there’s the potential for other countries to buy land in California. And once you buy land, you have access to mineral rights, water rights, so water that might be underground, under that land. The issue with that is the amount of water that people have said, is under — how do you cut off who gets access to that water and who doesn’t? And the water underneath the ground is still limited as well. It can be a bigger problem in the future if we can’t figure out how to how to handle that problem now.

Host Raj Daniels 21:34

I don’t know the answer to this. But right now, in Texas, I can tell you sometimes when you buy land, you have access to mineral rights. And other times you don’t. Do you know if there’s a way to limit that access?

Lacey Reddix 21:46

So they’re actually trying to reverse the promises that they’ve made around water access or water rights in California. I know that there is a lot of backlash on that. I do think that this could be negotiated when you purchase land. But I’ll stop there because I don’t know the details. So I’m sure that there’s a lot that I could speak on that I’m not going to at this moment because I don’t want to give misinformation. But I do believe that it can be negotiated.

Host Raj Daniels 22:21

I appreciate that, it just seems to me could become a national security issue.

Lacey Reddix 22:25

Yes.

Host Raj Daniels 22:26

So you’ve been on this journey a few years now. What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about yourself?

Lacey Reddix 22:32

I think what I have learned about myself leading up to this is that I think it’s really important for me to be a part of something that’s larger than myself, which is funny, because I know that this is podcast is called Bigger Than Us. I think it’s really important for me to feel like I am contributing back to society in a way that’s going to impact people’s lives in a positive way. And I think that’s what drives me, more than money more than a claim or, or getting any kind of credit for what we’re doing, I think it’s just, I think I am very deeply rooted in, how can we do the right thing? And how can we alleviate pain for as many people as possible?

Host Raj Daniels 23:13

Why is contributing back so important to you?

Lacey Reddix 23:18

I wish I knew that answer. I don’t know. I don’t know why that is so important to me. I have no idea. I feel like my family has all been people who have tried to contribute in some kind of way. Both my parents were physicians, my all four of my grandparents were teachers. And I think it’s a way to contribute to your community in a way. I think that’s where my pride comes from, in a way. My self worth and value, I guess, comes from that as well. But no, I think it’s just the right thing to do. And I think I’m just really driven by trying to do the right thing.

Host Raj Daniels 23:58

I have a lot of physician friends, and I find them to be very risk-averse. When you took this entrepreneurial leap, how did your parents respond?

Lacey Reddix 24:07

So funny that you say that. I think they were very concerned with my willingness to leave a very comfortable life, you know, with a job that I was doing pretty well in. And to leave that all behind to do something that felt very unknown. It also felt like the problem was so large, like, “Could I really tackle this problem?” I will say this to anybody who’s listening, too, who’s thinking about starting a company, I think it started with a gut feeling that this was what I needed to do. And I felt crazy doing it, honestly. But I just felt like I knew that this is where my path was going, this is what I was supposed to be doing. And when I listened to that voice, I felt like things started to fall into place that I could have never imagined starting out.

So it’s literally taking that leap of faith, I think is important. When you know in your gut that what you’re doing needs to be done. I’ll tell you a quick story too, it came to mind when you were just talking about that. But I think it’s really important for people to spend time to figure out what it is that they really want to do. And that took about two years before I even started the company. That two years was really about self-discovery. It’s it was about, what am I really passionate about? What drives me? And it takes time to really understand what that is. And don’t be afraid to take that time.

Also, don’t be afraid to work for somebody else. I think, with starting a company, I’m happy to have the ability to work for myself and hopefully employ other people and grow the company. But having worked for somebody else was critically important for me to understand how business works, and what are good systems to have in place.

Host Raj Daniels 26:05

What are some of the questions you asked yourself during that period of self discovery?

Lacey Reddix 26:10

I think it’s important. So a few questions that I asked were, “What am I actually good at?” I did a number of tests, the personality tests, a whole bunch of different tests. But I was really trying to figure out like, what am I good at? What do I like to do? And the things that I like to do were very different than what I’m doing. For example, I took up sewing as a hobby. I still really like to sew, I’m very different than what I’m doing now. But what I discovered through just like taking up this hobby of sewing was I really loved the idea of coming up with an idea and focusing on how it can be put into the real world. And just seeing something that come from go from an idea to like a real thing that was usable for somebody else to use, I really liked the idea of creating something that people found valuable, and that they could do something with. So it was really important for me to, if I did a business, for me to create something that would have a lasting impact and be valuable outside of just how much people pay for it.

I also realize that I associated entrepreneurship with the tech industry. And what I found was that it was really hard for me to want to be an entrepreneur because I was not connected to solving problems in an online or virtual world, when there were so many fundamental problems in the real world. And so I really disconnected from the title of entrepreneur because of the fact that I wanted to do something that was real-world-focused. So when climate tech came out, I think it was like a good bridge for me because it allowed me to do the problems that I felt were the most important for me. But still, it allowed me to be okay with this idea of calling myself an entrepreneur.

Host Raj Daniels 28:17

What was the last thing you sewed for yourself?

Lacey Reddix 28:20

So I sew blouses. So that’s kind of my key. Hopefully, in a future world I might, you know, allow — I’ve only sewed for myself, my friends, and my family. But you know, maybe making a line of blouses in the future from sustainable materials, or recycled materials for the general public. That would be a really interesting and cool thing to do for me. But right now, I’m still focused on Olokun Minerals right now. So but that’s something I’d love to do, I think, in the future.

Host Raj Daniels 28:53

Well, I’m the son of a seamstress, and my 13 year old daughter loves to sew. We bought her a sewing machine and she doesn’t use it. She said, “Look, I like leaving my hands.” She makes skirts and stuffed animals for herself and friends and family and everything. She said, “It just helped me relax and think.”

Lacey Reddix 29:09

I love it. I love that.

Host Raj Daniels 29:11

It keeps her hands busy.

Lacey Reddix 29:12

Yeah, and honestly, I think that that might be the future of — we’re talking about the future of water currently, but the future of fashion in general. We all know the issues with the sustainability in the fashion industry. I think we do need to go back to being — more sewing our own clothes, being closer to the material or the clothing that we wear, being able to patch it up and and fix it and make our own things. So I actually would love to see more of that in the future.

Host Raj Daniels 29:46

I’m just gonna pick an idea here that I’ve been thinking about. So I mentioned being the son of a seamstress. Back in the 90s, there were a lot of home sewing organizations, especially here in the Dallas area, and all that got shipped overseas to Vietnam, Thailand etc. But to your point, I would love to see perhaps a gig economy opportunity here where, especially women, but not only women, have the opportunity to become home seweres again, perhaps find a way to reengage and create and make locally.

Lacey Reddix 30:14

Yeah. I think there are a number of companies that are looking to do that in the future, where they allow for home seamstress to be the ones making the clothes, as opposed to it being like made in a factory or in a large manufacturing company overseas. So hopefully, that does come to happen.

Host Raj Daniels 30:38

This problem really resonated with me during COVID. Because I’m not sure about you, but I have the luxury of working from home, but quote, unquote, many essential workers didn’t. And I thought to myself, what would be a way to empower women and allow them to work from home, raise families, etc? And perhaps starting a small home sewing organization will be one way to allow that.

Lacey Reddix 30:56

That is an idea. That is an idea. I can see that. I can see that.

Host Raj Daniels 31:00

Now earlier, you mentioned “gut feeling.” Gut feeling to me sounds like intuition. I once heard intuition described as “Prayer is you speaking to God, intuition is God speaking to you.” Not to be religious about it, but how did you decide to go with your intuition?

Lacey Reddix 31:20

Honestly, it’s hard to say anything without feeling like I’m probably being religious or spiritual. But I whatever your religion is, I do think that like, there is this higher power, I think, that speaks to us. And we can speak to it. And I guess that’s like a core belief for me. I think that we all have feelings in ourselves that, this is the right way to go. It can be very small, it doesn’t even have to be, “This is what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.” It can be, you should do this, or open this, or I should really explore this particular topic. Or even — Clubhouse was really big, in the latter part of 2020. Getting on a Clubhouse call, and just opening the app. And then just by being there, being a part of the conversation.

That’s actually how I met Chante Harris, who helps run the Venture for Climate Tech program, which was the first accelerator that I did, and was able to get grant funding for the company through that. But it was very serendipitous. A lot of the early days of the company, I felt like things were happening that I could not control. And I want to say that that’s probably something that you’ll see a pattern with a number of entrepreneurs, or a number of different people who are starting their path onto what they want to do. I think at first it starts with, you have to be very honest with yourself. You have to figure out, who are you? We’re all put on this earth to do something, we all have a purpose. I think you have to spend time to figure out what that is.

And then once you’re strong enough, or courageous enough, or fearless enough to be who that person is in the real world and go after what you feel like is the most true and authentic version of you, whatever the calling that you’re being called to do is. When you’re courageous enough to go after that calling. I think you’ll see that things just start to come into place. Things just start to happen for you to affirm the fact that you’re on the right path.

Host Raj Daniels 33:33

Have you always been fearless?

Lacey Reddix 33:35

No. To be honest, I’ve been very risk-averse most of my life. And I’ve also felt like a lot of what I’ve done in the past has been me doing what other people told me I should be doing. Even doing — my background is in civil engineering, with a concentration in water resources environment engineering, and I’m very happy that I chose that. But I grew up not really knowing what an engineer was. The only two successful careers that I saw were doctor and lawyer. I really didn’t understand anything outside of doctor and lawyer. I didn’t know that other people had careers outside of that, and they could be successful.

And so the idea of being an engineer was actually — one I ended up getting a scholarship for it. But it was like kind of a push from my parents, specifically my dad, I guess, who told me to go in that direction. Aand originally I said, “I don’t know if I want to do this. I have no idea what this is.” And then he encouraged me, so I ended up doing it. But a lot of my decisions in the past had been what people felt like I should be doing. And I think on this journey of really figuring out who I am and what I really want to do, it was allowing myself to let go of what other people think I should be doing with my life, which is really hard. That was a big obstacle for me. And once I got over that, then I kind of built up the courage to take the next step, which ended up being exploring this entrepreneurship journey, then figure out how I’m going to pay for this and all those things. And then things worked out from there.

But I think it’s just, being fearless enough to take the first step helps. And once you get positive feedback after that first step, then taking the next step, and taking the next step. So I’m only fearless enough to take that next step.

Host Raj Daniels 35:34

Well, I usually save this advice question till the end. But let’s imagine right now someone’s listening in, they’re on the precipice of taking that next step. What kind of advice would you give them?

Lacey Reddix 35:46

Don’t be afraid to fail. I think that was also another really important lesson, as Sara Blakely also says this a lot. And she’s somebody that I also look up to. But she was encouraged by her father at the time to not be afraid to fail. And then he would also ask, “What did you fail at today?” And I thought that was really powerful. It was really powerful for me to hear. Because part of being so risk-averse, or why people are so risk-averse, is because they don’t want to fail, and they associate failure with being final.

And that you can’t come back from that, as opposed to realizing that failure is part of any process. Failure is just a step on the journey to getting to success. So I think once you get over the fact or just anticipate that you probably will fail, and that might be a good thing, then you can have the confidence to take that step, that next step, because you realize that it doesn’t matter what happens from here, what matters is that I’m moving in the direction that I know is right for me.

Host Raj Daniels 36:53

Would you be open to sharing a recent failure?

Lacey Reddix 36:57

A recent failure? Wow, how many failures have I had? There’s a few. So I guess I’ll give a few. And then you can choose which ones resonate. But one would be being offered to an accelerator. Part of this entrepreneurship journey is, is deciding who you get money from, who you don’t take money from. And there was an opportunity that we received to get 100,000 for 5%, or 7% of our company, which might be a great deal for somebody, it might not be the best deal for others. We decided to pass on that. Which felt like, “Why did I do that? And why did I not take this money?” I think that was something that, right now, might feel like a failure, quote, unquote.

But I think what we’re trying to do is position ourselves to go after a goal that we have in our heads and allow things that might not align with our initial goal to go away, I guess. So that’s something another thing is, I would say we didn’t get a grant opportunity that we applied for. And there’s a number of different grants also available for people in this space. Whether it’s a federal grant, there’s also grants that are funded by private institutions.

So that’s also great to know. I always go after non-dilutive funding if I can. But we didn’t get that grant. It was kind of a blow to to myself at the time. But all of these not getting a grant is also a learning opportunity to figure out, what do we need to do to get it the next time? So in that process, we’ve learned what other people have done or what consultants we can potentially bring on board to help us better our application or make your application stronger next time. And then also to that, not everybody gets this grant. And so it makes you want to work even harder to get it and when you get it, I think it’ll mean much more once we get it the next time. Hopefully, if we get it next time.

Host Raj Daniels 39:02

I really appreciate you sharing those. And let’s move from failures to optimism. Let’s fast forward. We have a magic wand to 2030. A publication of your choice, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, you pick it, will write a headline about Olokun Minerals, what would you like it to read?

Lacey Reddix 39:22

I would like it to read that. That water is available and cheaper than ever. And we’ve helped with the supply chains of the future or that we have finally reached 100% renewables, and that Olokun Minerals has helped with bringing manufacturing local. How what we’re doing is making the quality of life for the people that we serve so much better because of the fact that they can have access to water in a way that they haven’t before, and they can source their raw materials without having to rely on long shipping times, mines that cause a lot of carbon emitted to the atmosphere. We’ve increased the strength of our local economy.

Host Raj Daniels 40:24

I love that vision of increasing the strength of the local economy. Earlier, you said something regarding the importance of climate change. If we’re to strengthen or make the fight against climate change stronger, how do you suggest people join the effort?

Lacey Reddix 40:41

We think about shifting over to a more sustainable way of doing things. That means that every single part of the economy needs to be changed over. Every single person has a skill set. And I think you first have to start with, what do you know how to do? What are you good at? And how can what you know how to do be more sustainable?

And that looks different for a number of different people. Whether it’s the tech industry, I think the idea of going virtual is still very valuable. Even though that’s not something that I can connect with. Being able to create technologies for people to have those virtual experiences is important because we don’t know what the future holds as far as how much access we have to land and how much access we have to traveling to a number of different places that we have access to today. Or even seeing the world the way that we do today. What is that going to look like 50 years from now? So there are still a lot of opportunities outside of what we’re seeing in the energy sector or the water sector.

There are a lot of different things that need to be changed that have not been changed yet. So start with where you are first, and figure out what are the obstacles keeping what you’re doing from being more sustainable.

Host Raj Daniels 42:05

Well, Lacey, I think “start with where you are” is a great place to end. I really appreciate your time today. And look forward to your continued success with Olokun Minerals. Thank you.

Lacey Reddix 42:14

Thank you.

Thank you for listening. If you like our show, please give us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. And you can show your support by sharing our show with a friend or reach out to us on social media, where you’ll find us under our Nexus PMG handle. If there’s a subject or topic you’d like to hear about, send me an email at BTU@nexuspmg.com, or contact me via our website, nexuspmg.com. And while you’re there, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter where we share what we’re reading and thinking about in the cleantech, green tech sectors. Bigger than us is a Nexus PMG production.

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Bigger Than Us is a publication where sustainability-focused industry leaders and entrepreneurs share their stories.

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