Today we had a chance to talk to Steve Grace, a business leader who has successfully built and sold two profitable businesses from the ground up. His newest project, The Nudge Group, originated from a genuine desire to help businesses grow from start-ups to unicorns. After a lot of research and testing different methodologies, Steve has developed a new and original recruitment model that gives early stage and rapid growth business direct access to top-tier talent and specialist expertise without the traditional price tag.
He is also the Founder and Host of the “Give it a Nudge” podcast, where he enables other founders and CEOs to share their unique stories. The Nudge Group’s mission is centered around your story: showcasing it, understanding it, and finding talent aligned to it in order to achieve long-term goals for everyone.
Give It A Nudge is currently available on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other places where you stream your favorite podcasts!
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Steve Grace: I’ve been working in the recruitment industry for over 20 years. During that time, I’ve founded three recruitment businesses, and the current one, The Nudge Group, is by far my favorite. As the founder and CEO of The Nudge Group, I’ve designed it specifically for early-stage companies, start-ups, scale-ups, and established businesses going through rapid growth.
Since launching two years ago, we’ve experienced incredibly exciting growth – 700% in staff members and 400% in growth revenue over the past 12 months – and we’ve expanded into London, with plans to enter Singapore and the U.S. in the near future. Our goal is to create a global infrastructure to offer start-ups and scale-ups the same level of service, wherever they are based in the world.
I’m also the host of the Give It A Nudge podcast, where I interview start-up founders to talk about their entrepreneurial journeys and discover their stories. The main reason I started this podcast is to help founders articulate their stories clearly to future employees as well as to learn more about the roller coaster start-up life. I find that too many start-ups talk about the good stuff while leaving out the negative parts, whereas I like to highlight them. Two of my favorite questions to ask on the show are: what has gone wrong during your journey and what has happened to you during your journey that has changed a belief you had?
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Steve Grace: Running your own business has always been a constant battle. I’ve started and run four businesses in my life. I sold my first one, even though today I wish I never did, but I was young and bedazzled by the money. My second one was a hobby business, which I moved on from. The third business was my most difficult experience to date; I exited the business after my long-term business partner and I couldn’t agree on the future direction of the company – from the risk profile of the business to the culture to the way we managed our staff. My current business, The Nudge Group, is my favorite by far and I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had.
One of the hardest things about running your own business is the responsibility you feel for your employees. Every time I’ve hired someone over the past 20 years, I’ve had a sick feeling in my stomach for about a week’s time because of the responsibility you take on for them and their family. It’s always on my mind when I need to make a business decision or take a risk, even though you need to take risks to keep the business growing.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. What’s the worst advice you received?
Steve Grace: Unlike other people who might find motivation from people telling them they can’t do things and letting that strengthen their resolve, it just causes doubt in my own mind, which I have to find ways to overcome.
When I started my first company in my late 20s, everyone told me I wouldn’t be able to make it work.
In fact, most of the advice I’ve received in my career has centered around people telling me to stop whatever it is I’m doing. I find that it’s usually just people telling me that I can’t do something because they feel they can’t do it themselves. Luckily for me, it’s never stopped me.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Steve Grace: I don’t think resilience is the strength of character or strength of mind. It’s not motivation to prove anyone wrong or to silence the doubters. It’s more of just me pushing myself forward because I feel in my gut that I’m doing the right thing and am on the right track. Besides, what the hell else am I going to do if this doesn’t work out? I’ve been in recruitment for most of my life.
When you think of your company, 5 years from now, what do you see?
Steve Grace: I see The Nudge Group having a presence in Australia, the UK, the US, and Asia. In each one of those hubs, we’ll have a recruitment team, a studio to film a local version of the Give It A Nudge show, a co-working space for early-stage start-ups, and a fund manager for The Nudge Venture arm. We’ll have about 60 to 80 people working in the team helping all these start-ups with fundraising, marketing, branding, staffing, and growing their presence across the globe.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
- Optimistic – Even though I might spend my time doubting myself, for the most part, I have a strong gut feeling that it’s going to work out and I’m making the right decision.
- Opportunistic – I’m not a strategic planner, but I’m good at spotting opportunities and jumping on them.
- Work ethic – I’m passionate about what I do which gives me the energy and work ethic to work long hours and survive on a few hours of sleep a night.
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Steve Grace: With my businesses prior to The Nudge Group, I rarely did anything to build my personal brand, focusing more on traditional business development activities. However, with Nudge, I learned that it was easier to build a personal brand before growing a company brand. I’ve dedicated a lot of time and resources to creating valuable content to build a personal audience which I’ve leveraged into the Nudge brand. My personal brand absolutely reflects Nudge’s value, although it is important for them to have their own unique identities.
How would you define “leadership”?
Steve Grace: I think leadership is a two-way journey. If you give people the opportunity, space, and freedom to perform to the best of their abilities, while providing them with guidance and support, they’ll end up defining your leadership style for them. For me, a good leader is a chameleon to the different people he/she leads – your leadership style comes from the specific person you’re working with. There are no set leadership styles – someone who is 50 years old needs to be led differently than someone who is 25 years old. The same goes for someone who is based in Singapore versus someone based in the UK. It’s all about adapting yourself to help your team get the best out of themselves.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Steve Grace: Entrepreneurship is not something you’re born with, it’s a product of your upbringing and life experiences. You can develop into an entrepreneur at the age of 20 or 50, it doesn’t matter. My father was a dentist on Harley Street, which is the pinnacle of dentistry in the UK. Through unfortunate life circumstances, he could no longer practice dentistry; a job that afforded him a mortgage and three kids in private school. Rather than downgrading his lifestyle, he ended up starting up different businesses. Watching my father get thrown a curveball like that and then persevere through the situation was an inspiration to me.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Steve Grace: I don’t have a favorite quote, I never felt like I got anything out of them. Quotes can be interpreted in so many different ways, it all depends on what stage of life you’re in and what mood you’re in. They’re also the most overused thing on social media and that annoys the hell out of me. You can quote me on that.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Steve Grace for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Steve Grace or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.