Get to Know Syd McGee: A Q&A with Our CEO
You asked, Syd Answered!
Running a business is no easy feat…
and when we decided to go all-in on our design business from a spare bedroom filled with fabric samples, we had no clear path to success.
If you’ve scrolled through our “after” photos on Instagram, read our book “Make Life Beautiful,” or seen our Netflix show “Dream Home Makeover,” you might have caught a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of the McGee’s lives and business.
Since the launch of our show, we’ve gotten quite a few questions about the man behind the operations: our co-founder, Syd McGee.
Today, we’re excited to share Syd’s answers to our most-asked questions about his career path, his role at Studio McGee, and of course, his favorite treats.
How has Shea inspired you?
Shea inspires anyone that works with her. Her determination and design vision push you to be a better version of yourself. I have been inspired in many ways by Shea. Her deep love and loyalty always inspire me. I am also constantly inspired by her determination to bring a vision to real life. I have seen this happen in our business, in homes, and with life goals. Her persistence and hard work inspire me.
What is the most important thing you’re teaching your daughters?
Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a dad who emphasized kindness to others as the most important trait. I hope that lesson gets passed down through me, and that’s what they learn from me.
What is your garage setup? Show us your bikes!
I love my garage! It is my space to go and zen out for a minute by working on my bike or car or fixing random house things. I love fixing or tinkering with things — it’s empowering to do something for yourself. It makes me feel very defeated when I can’t fix something and have to call in a professional.
Syd’s garage set up at The McGee Home
You seem like quite the treat connoisseur on Dream Home Makeover. What’s your favorite treat of all time?
Homemade – Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats, Texas Sheet Cake
Place – Salt & Straw Ice Cream – All the flavors but especially Almond Brittle
What does your typical workday look like?
So, I’m not Mark Wahlburg, but here is my schedule:
Wake up at 6 am. Work out. Make the kids and myself breakfast. Help them get dressed and out the door. 9 am: Sit down at my desk to catch up on email and began my calls for the day. Chat with different department heads to check in on the operations and performance of the business and discuss plans. Around 4/5 pm the girls will come home and want to party. They will get dressed and ready, so I can run them to cheer or tumbling. I try to carve out time to work and time with family and not do both at the same time throughout the evening.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of the business to build?
The most challenging aspect of the business has been trying to balance all that is required to make a business work and make a family work and a marriage work. You need the right team around you to make it happen. I am grateful every day for the home team, the work team, and my main partner. It wouldn’t work unless they were so amazing.
How do you like to spend your “me time”?
I love to be outside. Cycling, hiking, walking, or anything gets me outside moving. I also love to work on my bikes. I love to take them apart to see how they work, fix them, and (hopefully) put them back together.
What is your favorite part of your workday?
My favorite part of the workday is speaking with my team leaders and hearing about what they are working on. We are working on many rad initiatives, and I get joy from hearing about their progress or helping them overcome obstacles. I also really enjoy periodically sneaking up on Shea and making her give me a kiss when she is on a Zoom call. She rolls her eyes, but it is definitely a highlight of working together.
How important was/is your marketing background to your business’ success?
Studying marketing and trying to learn as much as I could through reading books helped me understand that there is no one right way to do something. There are however, ways that are naturally aligned with you are as a person, as a brand, and as a company. Studying marketing also helped me to appreciate the process of organic marketing and organic growth. When we started, we didn’t have money to do a bunch of paid ads, but we could still grow, although slower if we put out great content that engaged people.
What’s your secret to being (seemingly) carefree with 2 kids and 2 businesses?
Ha!! Not as carefree as it appears, but I try to be. It is something that I try to practice every day. It helps when you think about how little time we have here on earth. It would be so much more enjoyable for yourself and those who know you to just have fun and not take things so seriously all the time. I have also seen a very direct correlation between working out and being more relaxed in life.
Favorite daddy daughter activity?
Wow, this is hard to pick just one. Hands down winner is taking my girls surfing. That cannot happen every day since we live in Utah, so here are my other top 2 favorites. Swimming in the pool and taking them out to do some fun physical activity — skiing, sledding, skateboarding, or hitting the bike jumps.
Favorite grill recipe/tips?
I love to make pork carnitas tacos. Well, my own version. Hah! Here is the link to an awesome recipe. If you want to do a lower carb version, skip the brown sugar and then fruit juice. I will usually use Lime Topo Chico for the spritzing and steam pan stages. Works great.
Once the meat is done cooking, warm the tortillas quickly and whip up some slaw. For the tortillas, we go with Siete Almond Flour Tortillas (Delicious, not weird).
For the slaw, I use a pre-made bag from the grocery store. Add mayo, salt, pepper, and half a lime. I like to keep our slaw a little light with not too much mayo, but do what makes you happy.