Steve Grace is the founder and CEO of The Nudge Group, a start-up and scale-up recruitment agency, designed to work with accelerated growth businesses.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Sure, I had a very brief start to my career in finance working for Lombard which is a part of NatWest Bank in London but within 6 months I knew this was not for me. It was then that I walked into a recruitment firm in Piccadilly Circus to find a role and they offered me a role on the spot.
To be fair it was the lowest possible job you can have in an agency but it looked like fun, it was loud, people were standing up and shouting down the phone, the energy was incredible.
The rest is history, I have build three recruitment companies now having worked in both London and Sydney and my latest one The Nudge Group is by far my favourite. Mainly because I have enough grey hair to know what I am good at and enjoy and because we focus on the start-up and scale-up sectors.
This is really for the same reason, I love and feed off the energy and positivity in founder-led or fast growth businesses.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Well they vary in fact my main habit is to be fluid and not have a set day, we have a very blended approach to working from home and office but:
6am-6.30am I get up, a glass of cold water and my favourite high performance black coffee – Beforeyouspeak Coffee – whilst usually making breakfast for one of both the kids. Then a shower followed by either meeting my trainer and then heading home to start the day at home or taking my son to school and heading into the city.
I try not to eat until about 10.30am if not training and simply have a black coffee when I get to the office otherwise breakfast is usually eggs on brown toast and black coffee when I get back from training.
The day will be a mix of speaking to the team numerous times, Zoom interviews, lots and lots of phone calls and some meetings in the city. I also once a week try to do something different, so this could be tennis one afternoon or I am learning to kitesurf currently as well. I tend to stop around 4.30pm, talk to the kids, give my brain a break and then spend time with the kids and my wife until about 8pm
8pm is usually a call to the London office and then finishing a lot of tasks that don’t require me to talk, like marketing, financial, admin, etc.
I tend to answer email at a few points in the day rather than bulk so this is when I go through and make sure I have covered everything off for the day. I now have a hard stop at 10.30pm and take an hour to wind down and in bed by 11.30pm.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
So yes, we have some team members that only come in perhaps once a month for a variety of reasons, commuting takes a long time, they have kids they need to pick, etc. but we have others that love the interaction, so it is a very personal thing.
The only real hard rule is that we meet once a month for a meeting and lunch, it is good for everyone to talk about what they are doing and if we are on track. I have complete trust in my team and leave them to work their own schedules. I learnt a long time ago that if I am worried about my team working, they probably should not be working with me.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Life changes constantly, our partners might stop work, or start work, they might be away, our children grow and need us in different ways or be on school holidays or sick.
I believe exercise is paramount to any balance and again the way we exercise, morning, lunch, evening or the sport we do constantly change, study can affect our lives, we need to be able to build our lives around what we are doing at that time, there are no hard rules, we live a very fluid existence and work needs to be fluid around that too.
Why have the added stress of a rigid existence when we are anything but as human beings
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
My trainer has changed my life, he is more than a simple personal trainer for the body, we talk about the importance of sleep, meditation and diet.
I was also bought the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker around the same time, so in essence I have tried to go bed earlier (I used to be more a 1am guy), I try to meditate as much as I can, this was something that I had stopped doing for years.
Having someone there who believes in these principles as a way of life who does not try to force me to change but is happy to talk about it has been a life changer for me
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am a member of an Entrepreneurs club for the last 5 years called CUB (Club of United Business). The founder Daniel Hakim has a podcast called Catching Up with CUB that I love.
I love to read and I am currently reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz which all business owners should read and I listened to a lot of audiobooks, currently have Ant Middleton’s Zero Positivity. These are all excellent.
Also funnily enough I have my own podcast, I do actually listen to it, now before you roll your eyes it is because when you are filming (it is also a video podcast on YouTube) the information does not go in as well. I can listen to episodes and hear sections I have no memory of, very bizarre.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My WHOOP band, it is a fitness tracker on steroids, used by NBA, NFL and Special Forces it teaches about your body and helps you understand yourself and what works for you.
There is also a very cool feature where you can have leaderboards with your friends or compare yourself with others around the same demographic all over the world which is an eye opener.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I think it would be surgeons, the amount of pressure those guys/girls are under and the hours they work I would be interested to hear more. I cannot imagine what is it like to have life/death situations as the normal everyday events
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t listen to anyone else, work out what is balance for you, it is different for everyone and don’t regret wasted time, regret is simply more wasted time.
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