“The sky is the limit.” That’s the overwhelming feeling that I got after recording this week’s episode of ‘The Network’ with Grady Wulff. If scientists were ever to genetically engineer a human made purely out of gusto, zeal, ambition and self confidence I think Grady would probably be the result. Holding herself accountable to the highest standards in a number of areas, Grady has created a life characterised by high performance. Entrepreneurially, physically, socially, aesthetically and professionally she seeks (and in most case achieves) excellence in everything she pursues.
I think a revelation around three quarters of the way through the pod captured it best when I said “You run through brick walls, that’s definitely something I’ve realised about your personality.” But importantly, not without being able to have a laugh along the way.
In a world that is too often in favour of labels and boxes Grady works her tail off to be the exception to the rule. A tall, physically stunning, blonde haired model who has an extremely successful profile on instagram with over 23 thousand followers, Grady will be the first to tell you that’s only a small part of who she is. An app developer, a business woman, a marketer and a designer, when Grady sets her mind to something, she has the capacity and the elasticity to be whoever she needs to be, in order to achieve that goal.
In our chat we discuss:
- Why perspective plays such a big part in driving her motivation.
- Why empathy is such an important skill to have when it comes to communication.
- The most important lessons Grady’s parents instilled in her growing up.
- The keys to having a successful career in modelling.
- How to be highly employable coming out of university.
- Tips for being authentic and controlling your own narrative on social media.
- The power of daily routines and how Grady uses running as a form of meditation.
- And simple ways to work accountability into your everyday health and fitness.
You can find all that and more time stamped in the show notes below!
1:28 – Why would I ask Grady about the scariest roller coasters in the world?
Grady’s Top 3 Rollercoasters of all time:
- Space Mountain
- The Rockin Roller Coaster feat. Aerosmith
- California Screaming
Roller coasters are a great metaphor for Grady’s life and the thrill of not knowing, but always being open to the possibility of whatever comes next.
9:30 – Discussing the origin story behind Grady’s Instagram and why she thinks it’s been successful.
“The instagram came out of nowhere, it was just a hobby. I think it’s done so well because, it’s me. It’s not ‘let’s use every app under the Sun to take away every fault that I have,’ it’s ‘let’s sharpen it so everyone can see that I have faults.”
“I’ll post whatever I want, whenever I want, I’m not like: Schedule 10pm… I like presenting my life in the most real way possible… I’m not someone that’s unapproachable or someone that’s arrogant.”
“If someone mentions my instagram in a conversation with me in the first hour, honestly that makes me really angry. Because it just shows that they’re face value kind of people and look it’s awesome to talk about, but if you’re going to talk about it, talk about it from a business sense and ask me how it’s led me to the opportunities that I’ve had and how it’s led to the growth in my career. Not just say oh my god that photo was really cool.”
“My mathematical brain drives every decision that I make.”
13:30 – If you’re capable of doing so much, how do you deal with asking for help or not taking on more than you should?
“The app for the neurological council of WA was made by a team of three, so it was really interesting. Working in a team you do realise your strengths and your weaknesses and that’s why I love working in a team because you do pick up skills from other people, but you also appreciate where your skills don’t lie. So I taught them stuff, they taught me stuff and as a result we got the best product possible.”
Mike’s note: What’s interesting to me about speaking to Grady is recognising that she’s exceptional at doing what I think anybody in their twenties should be, which is soaking in every piece of information and exploring every skill-set like a sponge. As we get older I think there’s definitely a place for straight delegation and “only doing what only I can do.” But in the early stages of defining your contribution: exposure and experience are the key.
15:40 – The university assignment question that led Grady to developing her first app.
“Come up with a CRM system (customer relationship management system) that will benefit an area of your life.”
That’s what prompted Grady to come up with this:
“I’m a poor uni student, I can’t afford to shop anywhere, let alone Claremont and I want to be able to shop in Claremont, but obviously I can only buy sale items. So I want to know when I’m standing on the corner of a street in Claremont, I want my phone to just pop up with all these bargains saying ‘Hey Grady, there’s some jeans on sale at your favourite store.”
Mike’s note: The way Grady define’s her product here is really nice for a couple of reason’s. First and foremost she empathises with the customer because she’s scratching her own itch. So often I see entrepreneurs trying to jump into industries that they don’t understand, serving customers they’ve never met before. Grady has lived the experience she’s talking about so she tells it to us in a way that puts us in her shoes, standing on a street corner in Claremont. Secondly it’s all about the value for the customer, not about the value to her as a business owner.
17:08 – Describing the experience of presenting Pocket Bargains to an entire city council.
“I hopped on the plane to Sydney to present to what I thought was a lady in marketing at the Liverpool city council, but she was in fact the lady who was showing me to the room where I was presenting to all of the city councillors and I was almost petrified instantly.”
“I was this blonde, eighteen year old girl who apparently thinks she knows what she’s doing. But I did know what I was doing, I had a vision and a passion and my preparation and desire for this product to work was great, so I was like I can do this. If I can do this, I can do anything! And if I can present to a city council, I can smash every uni assignment.”
20:53 – The number one learning style common among most successful people I meet.
“If I have to do something, I’ll just learn how to do it. I find that, that’s such common trait amongst successful entrepreneurs and successful people that I meet in general. There’s just an intentional curiosity about them. There is of course a point where you have to choose to only do what only you can do, but in the meantime when you’re scrapping and you’re a street fighter in the early stages of forming a start up, you have to wear every hat and be the accountant one day and be the sales person another day and everything in between.”
Mike’s Note: This feels like the right time to say “If you feel like you’re going through hell right now, keep going.” Don’t stop or slow down for anyone. Going back to uni, or doing some other form of long tail learning just to convince yourself that you can get over one hump in your business is a trap. Momentum is so important, so if it’s all on you to do everything focus on discovering the 80/20 of what you need to learn in order to get by.
“I pick up things quickly that I’m passionate about, my ability to learn becomes a lot quicker and more rapid when I’m really keen to do something. When I see an end goal I’m like: I can do that and I will do that and I will get there.”
Mike’s Note: Grady is powerful example of positive affirmations and self talk in action. Thoughts are things and as Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are correct.” It’s important to stay disciplined in treating yourself the same way you would want to be treated by the people you love, to build that spirit that can say in any situation ‘why not me?’
25:36 – How state league netball, modelling and a demanding schedule caused Grady’s school to question whether she should even do TEE.
“Perth fashion festival coincides with school exams every year, so the school wasn’t happy that I was going to fittings and back to school. The school was amazing don’t get me wrong, but my parents, I’m so so thankful that they said ‘no you know what, you can’t tell us what she’s going to do’.”
“I ended up getting 70 something in English I’m pretty sure, which, I was sitting on 50s to begin with and I was honestly ripping my hair out. I was like this is a nightmare I’m giving this my absolute all and I’m not getting anywhere. My sentences were so disjointed and I’d get an idea and it would be so hard to execute it. My communication skills just weren’t that great because I had a mathematical brain.”
“It’s easy for people to say and accept what other people think of them. If I’d accepted that I don’t think I would’ve done anything I’ve done today.”
29:00 – Three great examples of people with terrific technical skills and soft skills in balance, in a way that has allowed them to excel at what they do.
- Grady Wulff, Aaron Clements, Chris Nurse.
“Learning to talk in front of people who see this blonde, tall, model and learning to overcome what people think of you and present who you are in the best way possible is a very good skill to have, but it takes a long while to develop.”
“It’s true and I think that, that would’ve been really hard, because I think if the world keeps on looking at you one way and wants to put you in a box and call you something, whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be tall, blonde, beautiful, model, it can be anything, but there is a tendency that as humans I think we can be very quick to say ‘I am whatever you say I am’.”
“I love being underestimated.”
31:50 – Why empathy is such an important skill to have in improving your communication.
“Empathy is vulnerability in action.”
“In order to say: I get it, no matter what the other person is feeling or has experienced or is going through, in order for you to not just be sympathetic which is to say ‘I’m so sorry that happened to you.’ Which doesn’t actually connect to ‘I’ve been there and I get it’ at all, to be empathetic you actually have to go into the place in your mind where you have experienced the same thing or felt the same way and honestly say to the person like ‘I get it!’ And that breeds self awareness, which is huge in terms of communication.
“Awareness of others proceeds awareness of self.” From the Tom Kooy Episode.
“If you’re a technically minded person, that’s one of the first things you can do, start paying more attention to the people around you. Because a lot of times the people that struggle with communication, struggle to make leaps in their career because they’re solely technically focused.”
“I think my self awareness came from engaging and interacting with the clients of the neurological council of WA.”
“I felt so stupid walking into the neurological council where the clients there are suffering more pain in a day than I can ever say I’ve had in my life.”
“They don’t only do it with such humility and pride, but they walk in and they’re smiling.”
“I truly know the definition of lucky now.”
34:54 – How to be highly employable coming out of university.
“Anybody who just goes through university just doing what’s required of them ie. (p’s get degrees.) Is not going to be who you want.” (as an employer)
“If you’re a person going through university right now, it’s about taking the opportunities to get involved in stuff outside of uni. Taking every opportunity that get’s thrown at you, which is so much of what I see you did, you took every opportunity that was thrown at you and you maximised it to the nth degree. Which inevitably, even though you want to be our own boss and you’re not exactly looking for employment, it would’ve made you an employer’s dream.”
36:45 – The most important lessons Grady’s parents instilled into her growing up.
“When you originally became a model…” (Grady begins laughing) “your parents made a habit of saying to you ‘you’re nothing more than a coat hanger.”
“I don’t thank them enough for it!”
“Modelling is a very prideful industry and if you take it the wrong way and have the wrong approach to it can create very problematic situations for you. When you get a reputation of being arrogant, that’s one trait you never want to be associated with.”
“My parents wanted to uphold their values that they’d instilled in me my whole life: Honesty, respect and that my brains are going to get me further than my look.”
39:32 – The keys to having a successful career in modelling.
“Appreciation is a big one for me. Going into every job with an attitude that I’m grateful for the client choosing me instead of someone else and appreciating the experience that they give me. Whether that be a tiny little shoot with an upcoming designer or a massive catwalk show at Mercedes Benz fashion week, I’ve always been so thankful and so keen to understand the story behind each designer and what they do.”
“So I guess, my parents telling me that I’m nothing more than a coat hanger and that photoshop works a treat was initially quite upsetting, but now I look back an i think, thank god they said that.
“I define my modelling, I don’t allow it to define who I am.”
“I’m all for supporting everyone who supports me.”
42:12 – Was there an event or a follower or a follower amount that you got over where you were like oh boy, the peanut gallery’s here so I have to now watch myself or I have to now control the narrative?
“I guess my grip tightened on the wheel when I started simultaneously achieving the neurological council thing and all of my career focused achievements at the same time as my instagram was taking off. you can’t be going out posting photos and being someone you’re not and try to convince people too take you seriously as well.”
“Maintaining who you are and staying true to your key and number one focus makes all the difference.”
“Having two sides of your life running simultaneously it’s already going to be harder in some ways when you step into a business context, when your talking to investors, it’s already easy for them to make assumptions and you just don’t want that to be harder than it has to be.”
“When I’m focused on something and when I’m in the process of achieving something that’s my number one, I become obsessed.”
“You run through brick walls that’s definitely something that I’ve realised about your personality.”
45:50 – On going from 10k followers on Instagram to 23k in less than year.
“It took a while to build 10k I’ve been on instagram since year twelve so maybe 17, 18 and to get to 10k when I was 22 so it took a while and then in one year alone I got another 13k.”
“I think miss universe helped that a lot because you’re in the public eye a lot.”
“Posting diversity of content also helps, so it’s not just ‘oh here’s me at the beach, here’s me at another beach’ It’s posting every area of my life.”
“Your followers begin to build a story with you and build a love of what you do and you see what they like and what they don’t like.”
“It’s all about collaborating, if you have 1000 followers or 100 followers, try and make new networks and push yourself to be in the eye of people who can help you and then you can help them too.”
50:05 – On living a high performance lifestyle, keeping fit and active, eating healthy and consistently getting up early.
“I think the hardest part is going from turning my alarm off to turning my light on.”
(What gets you through? Is it just a force of will) “Yeah. It’s just like, just do it. I’m a massive fan of Nike and their logo couldn’t be more fitting with my life, Just do it. Don’t be lazy, just do it.”
“Some days I’m pumped, I’m up before my alarm at 4:55 and I’m like ‘hell yeah let’s do this!’ And I find that’s when I’ve got new music or new something to wear or the wind’s good.”
(On using running as a form of meditation.) “Running in the morning’s I have music pumping, but I don’t listen to it. I run to the beat, but I have so many thoughts running through my mind and it’s more about driving clarity and each footstep helps me set my structure and set my focus for the day.”
“When we get into these low states and low moods so often the attention is solely on ourself. Tom Kooy said to me that he thinks that gratitude is one of the absolute god sends in terms of fixing self sabotage. Because it puts your focus outside of yourself and self sabotage always comes when you’re just focusing on yourself.
Mike’s Note: Grady has a personal trainer and attends two group fitness classes. One focused on mobility and one at LA Fit doing megaformer pilates. This means that most of the the exercise she does is held accountable by doing it with other people. Also, Grady varies her training between high impact, high intensity workouts and slow burn control based work outs to get the most out of herself.
Quick Fire Round
1:01:45 – Which book of books have you gifted or recommended the most often in your life?
1:02:48 – Are there any apps or services that make a significant difference in improving your productivity or wellbeing?
Motivational speeches on Youtube. (One of my favourites)
Listening to nature sounds at work. (Eight hours of it)
Ted talks for furthering understanding on branding and advertising as well as self confidence.
1:05:10 – Is there a brand that your are illogically loyal to?
NIVEA Lip Balm (There’s a funny story behind this one.)
1:06:51 – What is the product that you have bought for under $100 that has had the greatest positive impact on your life?
Beach Waver Pro Hair Curler – The perfect hair curler for time poor women that struggle to curl their own hair, get it done in under ten minutes. ($279.00)
1:08:13 – If you could a billboard anywhere in the world, what would it say and why?
“You have one life: maintain it, preserve it and look after your brain.”
“Step out of the technological world and touch base with reality.”