In Conversation with Anne Grady of the Anne Grady Group
Describe your business in a few words?
We give people the tools and strategies to live their best life and the inspiration to put those lessons into practice.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I had worked for a small consultancy for 10 years and wanted to go out on my own but was terrified. After spending two months living at the Ronald McDonald House while my son underwent inpatient psychiatric treatment, my confidence became stronger than my fear. I realized if I could do that, I could do anything.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I have a M.A. in Organizational Communication and have spent the last two decades consulting, providing training and professional development, and presenting keynote addresses around the world. I worked in corporate America and quickly realized that I could spread my message faster if I worked with multiple companies. I joined a small consulting firm, worked there for 10 years, and finally had the confidence to go out on my own.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
This question made me giggle because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had no idea how to market. My marketing strategy consisted of free speaking events, lots of cold calls, and endless networking meetings. It was a slow process, but it paid off.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
For years I was focused on what I thought my clients needed. I shared my expertise, ideas, opinions, and strategies. What I missed in that equation was curiosity and listening to find out what my clients really wanted and needed. I was so busy trying to sell them my services, I didn’t stop long enough to figure out if it was the best solution. I learned that telling isn’t selling. Since then, I have learned to ask questions, get curious, and understand the challenges of the client. If I am the best solution, awesome. If not, I’m completely forthcoming and honest.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Using my voice and platform to become a mental health advocate as well as building a successful business and awesome team while raising two children, one with severe special needs. It has not been easy, and I don’t balance it flawlessly. I am proud that I’ve never given up.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Radically. Most of our events were in-person, and we have pivoted to being completely virtual. It was a tough transition, but I’m so proud of my team for making it happen.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We will be expanding into digital products and merchandise, as well as growing our keynote and training business. Most importantly, we will continue to be on the front lines, advocating for mental health.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
That adversity and challenge is the road to growth. There is no strength without struggle.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
That regardless of what happened, I would figure it out. I’ve also learned that when your “Why” is clear, the “What” and “How” will get worked out.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Focusing on the goal. Is what we are doing getting us closer to our purpose. Lots of self-compassion, giving myself and my team permission to give ourselves grace, and believing that the work we do is important enough to fight for.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Absolutely not. But I don’t think the goal should be balance. I believe the goal should be figuring out what our most important priorities are and spending the majority of our time there without apologizing for it.
I suggest identifying what is most important in your life and then asking yourself, “Do my actions match my intentions?” Does your calendar reflect those priorities? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
After my son’s second hospitalization, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my salivary gland. Removing it resulted in facial paralysis, a scratched cornea, eye surgery, and six weeks of radiation. Because of my lack of depth perception, I fell down a flight of stairs, breaking my foot in four places the weekend before the eye surgery. I don’t just teach resilience, I live it.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Identify your top 5 or 6 high payoff activities (the activities that generate the biggest return for the time you have invested). Do those first and let the other stuff fill in the space. It’s easy to get busy being busy. Unfortunately, busy doesn’t equal productive, it equals exhausted.
- I plan and prioritize my day at the beginning and end of each day. It’s not always executed flawlessly, but it keeps me out of the busy trap.
- I take time for breaks and self-care. It’s easy to get lost in work, but taking breaks and taking care of yourself is a requirement for resilience and increased productivity.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means that you choose faith over fear and growth over comfort. It’s not easy and fear and insecurity is part of the package. It’s what you do in spite of it because your purpose is more important.