Beyond Consulting

17: From Consulting to Influencer

On this week’s episode of Beyond Consulting, Ken welcomes Grace Ma, a former consultant, and current Porsche influencer. Grace joins us to discuss how she has built a following around Porsche racing and the Porsche brand. Grace is passionate about cars and talks to us about what it takes to pursue your passion and side hustle…after a career in consulting.

 

The Beyond Consulting Podcast is hosted by Ken Kanara.

 

 

Ken Kanara: Hello and welcome to Beyond Consulting, brought to you by ECA Partner, the only podcast dedicated to helping our listeners understand the wide variety of options they have available to them after a career in consulting. Put differently, you could think of this show as addressing the question, “What can I do with my life after countless hours spent in PowerPoint and Excel?” I’m Ken Kanara, host of Beyond Consulting and CEO of ECA Partners, a specialized project staffing and executive search firm focused on former management consultants and private equity. Each week, I host guests that have spent time in consulting and made some pivot or career change. The goal is to help our audience understand all the options they have and ideally, learn from them, both in terms of what they did right and things they wish they would have done differently. Today we welcome my good friend, Grace Ma to the studio. Grace, thanks so much for joining.

 

Grace Ma: Thank you Ken. That was quite the intro. You asked the million dollar question as part of that intro.

 

Ken Kanara: Well hopefully its a million dollar question. Grace and I have known each other close to fifteen or twenty years.

 

Grace Ma:  Let’s go with fifteen, it sounds a little better.

 

Ken Kanara: Somewhere between two and five, let’s go with that. I’m going to have you introduce yourself. You have quite a lot of irons in the fire, so I want to hear it from you. 

 

Grace Ma: Yes. First, thank you, Ken, for having me on the podcast, I’m super excited. This is the highlight of my day, just so you know. Introducing myself, professionally, I work in the SaaS/tech startup world right now. In my past life, I was a former consultant, and then I went into industry, primarily financial services. I was part of corporate strategy teams, there. Then I found my way to ECA at one point in my career, for about a year and a half. That was a great work experience, working alongside you. Then I went into tech. My tech journey started with AWS and now I’m at this tech startup. We’re valued at eleven billion, and it’s been an exciting journey so far. I think for me, my passion has always been outside of work and I do a couple of things. I guess you can call me an influencer, but I do social media with automotive specifically, that’s one of my passion areas. I have an account called @lady.gt3, and I’ve met a lot of cool people and I just try to share my love for cars with the world through that channel. I recently reactivated another social media venture of mine, which is around travel, because that is another big passion area of mine, just to be able to see the world and meet people. I’ve done some of that through automotive, other times it’s just been personal travel. That’s a little bit about what I do. The last thing that I focus my time and energy on is around investments. I, myself, like to look into investment opportunities—pre-IPO companies, and understand what they do and see where I can help them with my experience, as well as financially support them if there’s an opportunity there, and watch them grow from there.

 

Ken Kanara: Well thanks, Grace. As you know, normally what we do is we talk about the guest’s consulting career and then how they went into these strategies and operations roles, and it’s interesting. But I think what is way more interesting to talk to you about is everything else that you do. I know that you have a customer service role at a VC-backed technology company, and normally I’d ask you about that, but today I want to ask you about everything else—about the side hustle and all that other good stuff because that is totally unique from, I’d say…99% of my consulting friends. I would imagine that some might have an interest in that. Let’s start with the automotive thing, because that is probably what everyone knows you most for.

 

Grace Ma:  Yes, on social media, yes. How did I get into that realm? I’ve always been intrigued by cars, from a young age. Ever since I got my first driver’s license, I wanted to get a car right away. I think from there it was a snowball effect. My parents would take me to car dealerships when I was young and I would watch the negotiation process, and I don’t know…going to a car dealership and seeing all these shiny new objects on the sales floor was such a thrilling thing for me. So, I started getting into cars, and then I started driving them. Then, I started out getting into BMW’s quite a bit. I ended up getting into my first Porsche around 2016/2017 and I haven’t looked since. That is the brand that I’ve evolved with. It’s a really awesome brand. I know familiar with them as well, yourself, Ken.

 

Ken Kanara: That’s true. For those that do not know that Grace has somehow convinced me to make poor financial decisions on the side, and Porsche being one of them. But actually, I don’t ever look back either.

 

Grace Ma: Exactly! And I guarantee you it’s given you unlimited smiles per gallon.

 

Ken Kanara: (Laughs) That’s true, despite the price of fuel now. But you’ve got an Instagram account, a YouTube channel…tell us a bit about what it is you focus on with those two things as it relates to Porsches.

 

Grace Ma: For me, it’s about sharing my knowledge about these vehicles. There are a lot of models and trims in the Porsche universe, even though it’s only sports cars and SUV’s that they manufacture. For example, the 911 itself, their flagship sportscar has like, 27 different trims. For somebody that doesn’t know the car very well…

 

Ken Kanara: (Laughs) First you’ve got to tell us what a trim is (laughs), for those of us that don’t know.

 

Grace Ma: Okay, sorry about that. A trim would be…for example a base 911 versus a 911 Carrera GTS, which is their higher-end, more horsepower vehicle. Then you get into their GT cars, which are their more track-oriented vehicles with the wings, etc., that are more setup for tracking—for folks that want to track the car, but you can still drive it daily. There are just a lot of intricacies around these cars and a lot of people don’t know about them and I love reading about it. I feel like I’ve become a little Porsche encyclopedia through my word travels and through meeting other Porsche owners, so I just try to share that passion with the world. It has led to a lot of really cool things. I’ve been to the Arctic Circle three times to do the Winter Driving Experience with Porsche. I’ve met some really cool friends there that I keep in touch with from all over the world—Luxembourg, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, you can name it. I’ve been to Stuttgart a couple of times, to the Porsche Museum. I’ve even gone to the factory in Germany where AMG engines are produced, which is really cool, even though that’s Mercedes, but I love cars and I think I have a unique profile that fits into that universe and it provides a different view of it because it’s very male-dominated. I’m a female of color, so I think when people see that they get interested a bit, and I say to myself, “Why not?” Why not leverage this platform and build a brand around it and help inspire, I don’t know, future women who are into cars as well at some point down the road.

 

Ken Kanara: I love that you’re totally debunking that kind of stereotype. For those of you that don’t know, if I have any car question, I instantly text Grace because she knows way more about it. There’s like a lot of guys out there like myself that like cars but don’t really know anything about them. It’s almost a bit embarrassing, but I don’t know…is that something that you found with a lot of your viewers?

 

Grace Ma: Oh absolutely. I think there’s a mix of people—some people who know cars at a high level but don’t know the intricacies of it, like you. Then there are others who are diehard car enthusiasts who know cars inside out and try to correct me. You get both ends of the spectrum. With the Porsche brand specifically, why I’m so passionate about, it’s just different from any of the other brands. People really, genuinely, are happy behind the wheel of their cars and they’re so passionate about it that they’re willing to pull over on a highway and talk to you because you’re driving their favorite Porsche. That has happened to me, which is like unreal with other automotive brands. There is this feeling of community that you don’t get unless you’re in a Porsche.

 

Ken Kanara: Let’s talk about that because I definitely know what you mean and it’s not necessarily related to a price tag or exclusivity or anything like that, because there are more rare cars with less of a community around them. Why do you think that is?

 

Grace Ma: I think the product speaks for itself. The brand has done a really good job building a product that is just so admired and iconic. There’s a reason why they’ve been producing this 911 for over 60 years. The car hasn’t really evolved that much if you look at the shape. If you walk out and you see a 911 drive by out of the corner of your eye, you know it’s a 911. Every kid knows what that model is. I don’t know if you could say the same with other automobile manufacturers and the different models that they produced. A lot of times you have to get behind the wheel of one and drive it—that really is the differentiation. That’s when it clicks for you and you feel one with the car. It really is a driver’s car. They make it so easy to get into one and just drive it, even though the car has so much power, even though it could be classified as a supercar for some people, it could still be a daily driver.  You get the best of all worlds with it.

 

Ken Kanara: I love the way that you talk about it and the way that you love it. That is a really good point about the design, the style and the brand being so iconic. It doesn’t feel very forced. You like to share your knowledge with the world. I think that’s been a big element of your success, too. You really do take it from a point where you want to share. Where do you get the energy to do that? I’ve seen some of your videos and there’s a lot of info in there.

 

Grace Ma: That’s a good question I think it comes back to passion. At the end of the day, Ken, I feel like people see this all the time. You need to follow your passion and do what you love to do. If you don’t, it’s going to be hard to be successful at anything. There’s always going to be that barrier in place. Because I’m so passionate about vehicles, when I talk about it and when I am in that realm, in that environment, it doesn’t feel like a job. Time doesn’t feel like it’s passing by slowly, it passes by really fast. I could stand there all day and talk about that topic. I think it’s that and it’s also the friends I’ve met. I’ve met some really cool people through the car scene and as a result of that, I’m like, “Wow, I can open up even more doors for myself if I just continue evolving from here.”

 

Ken Kanara:  How do you do that? Tell us about some examples. For our listeners, just so you know, Grace finds her way in front of the world’s most interesting people and I’m always like, “How the hell did you do that?” For those of us that are a little bit more shy or timid, how do you do it? Tell us of some examples that that we might know about.

 

Grace Ma:  I would say just do it. It sounds cliché; it really does, because I would describe myself as an introverted extrovert, if you will. There are times where I’m outside talking to folks, but there are times where I like my alone time, too. What I’ve learned is the power of the internet. If I were to be growing up in the world 30-40 years ago versus now, networking would be a completely different dynamic. Now, we have the power of TikTok, we have the power of e-mail. We can access people’s contact information so easily that all you have to do is just send out an e-mail or drop a message and set yourself apart a little bit and you’d be surprised. People will respond. That goes back to the “just do it.” You can’t be shy. If they read it and they don’t respond, so what? You have nothing to lose. You have to think with that mentality and with that, it’s really opened up a lot of doors. I have connected to some crazy people—CEOs of a lot of automotive companies, and it’s been really cool.

 

Ken Kanara: One word I’d use to describe you is bold. You mentioned being an introverted extrovert…I was watching this TEDTalk or something about being bold and one of her points on the talk was that there are a lot of smart people that are afraid to be bold because they run the math in their head, almost subconsciously, with the probability of failure being higher than success. Does that even come to mind when questioned? Like, “Oh…I’m going to reach out to people.”

 

Grace Ma: No, that does not cross my mind. I do not mathematically calculate what my success rate is because, frankly, I don’t think I have the time or the energy to do that. I just reach out. If I think there is a common interest there and we can add value to each other’s lives, I’m just going to reach out.

 

Ken Kanara: I love that about you.

 

Grace Ma: What’s the worst that can happen?

 

Ken Kanara: They could ignore you, right?

 

Grace Ma: But at least they know who you are even if they ignore you, right? Maybe they’ve read the message. You never know.

 

Ken Kanara: You recently did a partnership with the New York Auto Show, right?

 

Grace Ma:  Yes, I got my first official influencer group gig recently, which was really cool. I wasn’t expecting it. The New York Auto Show was in town and it was the first time they were having it in two or three years, so a lot of people were just excited for it to be back, live, in person. I had eBay motors reach out to me and I partnered with them because they hosted their first auto show around folks who have purchased automotive parts from eBay and they’re building it into their current cars. The whole messaging was around, “You don’t need to necessarily buy a new car.”  EBay has like 120 million parts for sale and sometimes they’re parts that you can’t even get from the auto manufacturer themselves because the car is so old or retired out, but you can source it on eBay, which is pretty cool.

 

Ken Kanara:  I want to talk a little about this whole word “influencer,” because there’s definitely a negative connotation with it. We see a lot of “influencers” that are just taking pretty pictures of themselves, right? To me, it’s the reason why I roll my eyes when I hear “influencer.” But then, you have someone like you that’s truly passionate about a hobby or a subject area, and you’re actually sharing interesting, usable content. What do you think about the influencer job or career evolving?

 

Grace Ma: It’s a really interesting topic. It’s funny that some people have put a negative connotation to it. I don’t know why that formed the way it did, but I think it’s part of our lives whether we like it or not. A lot of companies and their marketing and advertising these days lean that way. You’re seeing people cut the cord on cable television and they aren’t necessarily sitting in front of TV as much—everybody’s on their phones. This is where the influencer community has grown so much. TikTok, Instagram…there’s a whole slew of other apps that are out and people’s attention spans are also really short. This is where influencers come in. They do videos that are 15 to 20 seconds long and that’s what gets people’s attention. You can actually communicate a lot with that time. I think it’s part of our lives whether we like it or not and I think it’s going to continue to grow moving forward.

 

Ken Kanara:  Yes, and there’s something interesting about, I’d say, your approach versus, let’s call it, the negative stereotype, which is—because I do think of you as an influencer—but if there’s something out there that you’re promoting or you’re saying, there’s a high, high degree of trust as well. How do you ensure, for those of our listeners that are interested in potentially pursuing this sort of career path or route, how do you maintain that?

 

Grace Ma: It comes down to you filtering the opportunities that come through. You, yourself as an influencer, you become a brand almost. You have to determine what that brand is that you want to be. You can’t possibly be saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes into your lap, which would not be in line with the messaging that you’re trying to display. It’s about understanding that company who’s approaching you, or that individual, and what their mission and strategy is and see how it aligns to yours.

 

Ken Kanara: Okay, now that makes a lot of sense. What about plans for @lady.GT3 as it relates to your different social media accounts? Where are you headed with this?

 

Grace Ma: I would love to continue to grow it. It’s actually a full time job, even though I don’t do it full time. That’s a myth that I need to debunk about influencers. You see these pretty pictures, you think it’s really easy, but it’s not. It takes a whole team to produce, especially if you become big and it becomes more mainstream. Often, you see these YouTube stars around and they literally have a posse of people following them around at events because they have some body doing makeup, they have another person filming—it’s a lot. I would love to be able to continue to grow it. I love sharing my passion with the world. And, hey, if it could become my full-time job one day, I think that would be the best-case scenario because it wouldn’t feel like a job.

 

Ken Kanara: I’ve seen some of the production that you’ve done, even on the weekends, there’s stuff with the Classic Car Club. Could you talk about the events or things that you focus your different productions around?

 

Grace Ma: I think that’s another way I’ve found to evolve and grow my brand, as well. I can’t be sitting behind my computer and making all of these videos on my own. I guess you could, some influencers do that…different content. I’m involved with a couple different car clubs/car communities in the Tri-State area, Classic Car Club being one of them. It’s a social club where they rent out their fleet of exotics but they also have a lounge in the city where you can dine there and bring clients, etc. It’s a fun place to hang out. I’m part of a driving club called Northeast Drivers Club, which is awesome. We’re just a club of like 500 people who are really passionate about cars and we get together on a weekly basis. There are always drives where members have routed out different drives to do. Through that, we also do events. That’s what led me to the racetracks. I also track, on my free time, when I can. I call myself an amateur racecar driver because it takes a lot of time to be a professional; you have to be at the track every single week. There are events like that and then we also do other social events. We also give back to the community. We actually have an event coming up with the New York Giants, which I’m super excited about, with one of the wide receivers—again, somebody I met through my Instagram influencer gig. He’s into cars and he partners with a youth group called the Far Rockaway Colts, which is tied to the NYPD, as well. These are kids from underprivileged backgrounds and communities and they come together via football and he supports them as part of the Giants organization. He wanted us to bring 20-30 cars to the event to showcase to the kids that this could potentially be you one day and explain to them how we got to where we were. It’s just more of a motivational thing. We try to give back to the community as much as we can through my driving club.

 

Ken Kanara: That’s awesome. My big takeaways from this first part are, one, you need to be bold. You need to pull up and shoot and not be afraid to reach out to people. Two, is it takes time. This is not a quick photo on Instagram type of thing. Three, you need to be authentic and know what to say “no” to. Then lastly, there are a lot more ways to get involved, like with these in person social clubs and everything like that, and ways to give back. That’s really cool. This does sound like a full-time job, Grace.

Luckily, we’ve got two more of your full-time jobs to talk about, which are also related to your passions. You’re also an investor in early-stage companies, is that right?

 

Grace Ma: That’s right.

 

Ken Kanara: What does that mean? How is that different than investing in the stock market?

 

Grace Ma: It’s definitely a different world. I got into this a couple of years ago. I think with the pandemic a lot of people’s free-time opened up and I thought to myself, “What other channels of income can I create for myself?” It’s really important to not be dependent on just one source of income. So I started looking into different startups that were around the friends and family stages of their maturity level because that’s probably the easiest way to get in, in terms of low cost. I also have a broker that I work closely with, who’s a good friend of mine, and he started introducing me to private placements, which is RSUs—shares of private companies that are sold on a secondary market.                    

 

Ken Kanara: Okay.

 

Grace Ma: Through a combination of the two I started doing a lot of research, and like I said, with the power of the internet, all of this information is so easily available right now. If you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re not making the most of what you can with your life, in a way. Through that, that’s when I started looking into companies and trying to understand what they do. I just generally am a curious person and that’s what I like to do. I like to evaluate what different companies do, how they’re trying to bring their product or service to the world and how they’re trying to change the world and make it a better place. I think the companies that do well in that respect are the ones that end up being very successful over time.

To your original question of, “How is it different that the stock market?,” I don’t know if there is a huge amount of difference because at the end of the day, there is a huge amount of due diligence involved. The due diligence for private companies is a little harder to get access to the information, but if you’re out there networking, you will eventually find this information one way or another.

 

Ken Kanara: Okay. Evaluating a stock of a publicly traded company is obviously very different than evaluating an early stage team that has five founders. That must be a lot of work. How do you think about evaluating the different opportunities?

 

Grace Ma: Yes, there are a lot of different elements to look at. For me, the key things I look into are what is the service or product that they’re building out. A second item is the leadership team in place. I think oftentimes, especially in these early stage companies, you’re actually investing in the team that’s in place over the product and service, because the product and service likely will evolve over time. You’ve seen this time and time again with a lot of companies right now, like Shopify. They started as a company that was out there selling used snowboard equipment.

 

Ken Kanara: Oh, really?

 

Grace Ma: Yes!

 

Ken Kanara: Oh, wow. I never knew that.

 

Grace Ma: And look where they’ve evolved to. Even Uber. Uber started as a rideshare, but they’ve got Uber Eats now and they’ve evolved themselves, too.  A lot of times, the companies that do well are the ones that evolve, but if you have the right leaders in place, with the right vision and they’re all aligned, that can take you to “infinity and beyond,” as silly as that sounds. Having the right leaders there are so critical. That’s why they call the initial rounds, “friends and family,” because you’re pulling money from friends and family…I know people personally, in the VC realm who only want to invest in friends and family type companies, that their friends and families are operating. They wouldn’t take on a stranger’s early seed stage company and write a check to them.

 

Ken Kanara: In a funny way, you could almost think about it—and I never thought about it until you just said this, but you could almost think about it as, it’s more arbitrary to invest in a stock of a company. Yes, you can read publicly available reports and everything, but it’s more…I don’t know…there’s probably more to it if you actually know the person, they know you, and they’ve got your dollars and have every responsibility to do the right thing.

 

Grace Ma: Absolutely. There’s definitely more of a connection there, but I’m not saying not to invest in the stock market. I think diversification is important. This is just one realm of what I like to do to help diversify myself.

 

Ken Kanara: Do you get actively involved in these investments? Do you meet the founders? Do you advise? What’s the extent of it?

 

Grace Ma: It depends. If I’m getting in Series D, which is a little later stage, through my broker via private placement, no, I’m not going to get involved, because it’s more of a transactional thing that they’ve helped me identify. In the earlier round C-stage companies, yes, that’s when I have an opportunity to talk to the owners, talk to the founders, and understand their road map and their vision. It’s really cool to understand what they’re trying to scale to.

 

Ken Kanara: Alright, let’s shift gears one more time, pun intended, to travel. There’s a relatively new focus for what you’re doing on social media right now, which is @ladygracetravels, I’m not mistaken?

 

Grace Ma: That’s right, thank you.

 

Ken Kanara: What is @ladygracetravels all about?

 

Grace Ma: What I told myself is, I travel quite a bit, my husband and I…

 

Ken Kanara: Yes she does, sorry to interrupt, she travels a ton.

Grace Ma: (Laughs) …because I’m traveling so much I figured I should document this. What I also do when I travel is I make mental notes to myself of, “What did I like about this place?,” “What did I not like?” In terms of traveling, I just want to share my love for traveling with the world and I want to help people who might be going to the same destination sometime down the road by telling them about the pros and cons about the destination or what I experienced and give them tips, because I’ve found benefit in that. Before I even leave for a location I do a lot of research. I’m on TripAdvisor combing through reviews. I don’t just look at the star rating and say, “I’m going to go to this place, eat here or book this this accommodation.” I actually read the good reviews and the really bad reviews so I see both ends of the spectrum. Because I acquired all this knowledge, I figured I should share it with the world because it’s something that I can give back to the community.

 

Ken Kanara: You just recently went to Granada, is that right?

 

Grace Ma:  Grenada.

 

Ken Kanara: Oh, Grenada. I’m sorry.

 

Grace Ma: Yes, listen…up until the point I got to the airport I was calling it Granada. Then I heard the lady on the loudspeaker reporting the flight from Grenada and I was like, “Where am I going?”

 

Ken Kanara: That’s good to know.

 

Grace Ma: So, just to share with you, there are two. Grenada is spelled the same as “grenade”

 

Ken Kanara: Oh! You just said it wrong again!

 

Grace Ma: No, no, no. I deliberately said it wrong. I said Grenada is spelled the same way as Grenada.

 

Ken Kanara: Oh, okay, okay.

 

Grace Ma: That’s why people call it Granada, but Granada is in Spain and Grenada is in the Eastern Caribbean. They’re two different countries.

 

Ken Kanara: Oh, okay. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know there were two.

 

Grace Ma: Yes, there are two different locations, one in Spain and one in the Caribbean.

 

Ken Kanara: Okay, alright. Got it…but getting back to the whole point…you do a lot of research and you also go to some pretty random, hard-to-get-to places. You mentioned you’ve been to the Arctic Circle three times? I think you drove cars in the snow there, right? What are some of the wildest trips you’ve ever done?

 

Grace Ma:  Those are good times. I would say, up there for me…South Africa is really cool. That was my first time on that continent. I’ve never done a safari before and I absolutely fell in love with it. The culture there is so different from what we experienced in Europe and some of the other countries. Asia is in and of itself a unique entity. I love Japan, that’s one of my favorite countries in the world in terms of food, culture, and efficiency. It’s a very clean society. Where else have I been? Oh, so many…I also love to hike outdoors, so where there’s really good hiking I am naturally attracted to it. I’ve been to the Azores, which is a municipality in the Atlantic that belongs to Portugal. That’s a really cool hidden gem. There are no resort chains on the island, as well, so it’s still very untouched and it’s beautiful there. I love Portugal it’s so easy to get to from the U.S. You could do a weekend trip out of it with the flight schedules. A lot of places are unique.

 

Ken Kanara: One of the things that I think is so cool about you is that you never seem to get stale. It’s not just the influencer thing, it’s that at least every month you’re doing something interesting, whether it’s through the car club, with the Porsche thing, or you’re going someplace.  A lot of us have trouble because we get into our little routine. For me, it’s like, “Oh I’m going to play golf every weekend.” Then it’s like eight weeks just went by and I didn’t do anything with my life. How do you keep it fresh the way that you do?

 

Grace Ma:  Yes, it’s on two ends of the spectrum. I feel like I’m the type who might never get good at one thing the way you are, Ken. You’re like a professional golfer.

 

Ken Kanara: That is not true (laughs). If you would have seen me play yesterday you would disagree.

 

Grace Ma: We have off days, I’ll give you. I would say that I’m definitely more on the Jack of all trades side versus master of one. It definitely takes a lot of time to hold one craft. For me, I have so many different interests: I love sports, I love travel, I love food, I love learning about different cultures and that’s what gets me excited. I just try to follow my passions as much as I can outside of work because it’s really opened up my viewpoint of the world and it’s brought so many cool friendships into my life. I can’t be more grateful for that.

 

Ken Kanara: That’s true. That’s something we didn’t even talk about is sports for you. You’ve done football leagues, you’ve done basketball…tell us about all the different leagues you do because I actually don’t think most adults in our age bracket even think to do these things or even know they’re available. I know you live in New York, but tell us a little about that.

 

Grace Ma: Really?  Yes, okay, so I guess the beauty of New York City is that any single league you can think of, it probably exists, you just have to search for it. I’ve done college football; I did that quite a bit. It led me to playing football at MetLife Stadium, which is really crazy and a cool experience. I do pick-up basketball. I play softball, golf, tennis, volleyball…I just try to stay as active as I can on weekends and I love finding and meeting new friends who want to stay active. Honest to God, when we work, especially now in this pandemic type of world, we’re always sitting behind a computer. It’s probably the worst feeling in the world to be chained to a computer and I want to get out as much as I can on weekends, which is why I’m always running around.

 

Ken Kanara: Before you were doing what you’re doing now, you did a lot of time in consulting. Have you always had these other interests when you were doing consulting? What advice do you have for folks that are currently in the grind of consulting?

 

Grace Ma: Those were some long hours when I think back to that lifestyle, right? Every Monday to Thursday on the road, it was not fun. I think the model is probably shifting a little since COVID.

 

Ken Kanara: Oh yeah.

 

Grace Ma: I would say, just keep an open mind, really. Keep an open mind and when there are things happening in your neighborhood, just show up. You never know who you’re going to meet. I think that’s the biggest thing. Also, don’t take “no” for an answer. Just because somebody says you can’t come, or you can’t do this or that, there are always other venues. I   actually read a really funny article yesterday that inspired me. It’s about a woman who is now the CEO of Aritzia, the retail company,

 

Ken Kanara: Yes.

 

Grace Ma: She’s been at the company for 35 years and she said, when they asked her what’s the biggest advice she would give, and she said, “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.” She applied to be a salesperson at a retail clothing store like 35 years ago in Vancouver, when it first started out. She got rejected by the founder and she drove a couple blocks down the road to another boutique in the same company and she got the job there. Look where it led her today…to the CEO of this company, and the founder thinks there’s no other person more qualified to run it than her, because she’s done every single role at the company. Honestly, you’re going to get “no” told to you a lot, just in life in general, I think you just have to be persistent. Persistence is so key in anything, in mastering anything, and getting better at anything and being successful.

 

Ken Kanara: I love that.  It’s such a key element of all your success too. Being persistent, being bold, don’t take no for an answer…I can’t help but think that too many smart people…really, they see how things can go wrong versus how they can go right, instead—what their life could be instead of like what their life is. To me, that’s like Grace Ma in a nutshell.

 

Grace Ma: Oh, thank you, Ken.

 

Ken Kanara: No, I’m serious! I think it’s awesome.

 

Grace Ma: It’s not for everybody, right? Everybody has their different lifestyles and such, but I hate being stagnant, and I feel like you’re the same way. We’re cut from the same cloth in a way. If I go tomorrow, I want to know that I’ve done as much in life as I can and I’ve experienced as much as I can in the realm that I’m able to do so. That’s why I push myself to these boundaries and try to find what’s considered fun for me and that’s what keeps me going on a daily basis.

 

Ken Kanara: That’s awesome. I was at a dinner a couple weeks ago, it was like a 21st and dinner, anyways, everyone was going around with a quote that they heard, or whatever, and I don’t even remember my quote, someone told me their quote was basically, “Live fabulously.” I was like, “That that makes a lot of sense.” I love that you have the energy to do it and it almost, to me, seems like more begets more, as opposed to more begets tired.

 

Grace Ma: I will say it helps that I don’t have children. Let’s just be honest and push that fact.

 

Ken Kanara: Yes

 

Grace Ma: But, I’ve seen people who do this with children. I’ve seen people travel the world with kids. Obviously, it’s a little different, but if you want something bad enough you will figure out how to get it. I think that’s how most humans are wired. It’s about prioritizing what it is that you want out of life and going after it.

 

Ken Kanara: I never thought I’d quote my dad on this podcast, but what my dad used to tell me growing up is, “People find reasons to do things, or they find reasons not to.”

 

Grace Ma: Exactly

 

Ken Kanara: Grace Ma definitely finds reasons to do things. Speaking…I don’t even know how to transition to this any other way, but the other thing that we’re doing Grace is that we’re building a Beyond Consulting library. We’re trying to compile books because we’re all nerds. Is there anything that has had an impact on your life and that you think other folks should read?

 

Grace Ma: Oh, that’s a tough one because Grace doesn’t read a lot of books.

 

Ken Kanara: But, but, she reads a lot, that’s the thing.

 

Grace Ma: I do. I read a lot of blogs; I read a lot of articles. I would say, stay as global as you can because with media, especially in the U.S., the media is very controlled in a certain manner. I try to read the World News. I’ll open the BBC and not just read CNN, Fox or whatever. I don’t want to read just the US media outlets because there’s so much happening in the world that we are not aware of and it’s not good that we’re so ignorant. Those things have implications to us at the end of the day.

 

Ken Kanara: That’s such a good point. In fact, you know I still read Al Jazeera news and people look at me like I’m cross-eyed and it’s like, well it’s a legitimate source. Just because it’s not CNN or Fox, doesn’t take away from it. That’s a really good point.

 

Grace Ma: That’s what ties to my travel, too. When I’m traveling around the world, I love to immerse myself in local cultures and get to know people. If I’m not like semi-educated about it a little bit I’m going to look like an ass walking into a store doing something that might be offensive to them. So it’s just about being aware of what’s happening globally.

On the investment front, there’s a guy that I really like and I align with his investment thesis, which is more like the Warren Buffett methodology of long term investment. His name is Brian Filotti. I discovered him on Twitter. Twitter is a trove of information, good or bad, if you will. He shares a lot of great investment theses and, basically, what his methodology is, is when the market is bad, that’s when you should be buying, because that’s when most people are running. That’s where a lot of the wealthy get wealthier.

 

Ken Kanara: Awesome.

 

Grace Ma: You shouldn’t be going in the direction of everybody else.

 

Ken Kanara: We’ll include that link in the podcast description as well. I want to also make sure that we get the right ways to contact you for your various social media outlets. Let’s start with the automotive focus, so you’ve got @lady.GT3, is there anything else?

 

Grace Ma: There’s @lady.GT3, that’s my Instagram and my tik T.O.K. My e-mail address is [email protected]

 

Ken Kanara: Okay.

 

Grace Ma: Then there’s @ladygracetravels, which is my travel Instagram account and then that e-mail address is [email protected]. I’m sure if you search my name on social media it will come up instantly, and I’m just a DM away. I get a lot of direct messages from a lot of different people.

 

Ken Kanara: Yes, and it’s funny, because with most guests, I don’t offer this up, but I’d be safe saying this…I know that if anyone was interested in making a shift the way that Grace has shifted her career and focus, you can find her on LinkedIn as well, Grace Ma, and she will happily accept your message, as long as you don’t take “no” for an answer.

 

Grace Ma: Nice one, Ken (laughs).

 

Ken Kanara: Any other sites or blogs, or anything like that that you want to share?

 

Grace Ma: No, I think those are the main ones that have stood out for me.

 

Ken Kanara:  Okay, awesome. For our listeners that want to be informed when we have future guests, like Grace, make sure to subscribe to Spotify or Apple. Beyond Consulting is the name of our podcast. If you want to stay in touch for future episodes, I can’t talk today…If you’re looking for past episodes, you can go to beyondconsulting.info. Lastly, if you want to get in touch with me, you can check out eca-partners.com and Grace, thanks so much for joining. For everyone else, we’ll talk to you next week.

 

Grace Ma: Thank you, Ken.

 

 

Connect with Grace Ma on LinkedIn and follow Lady GT3’s social media for more information.

 

 

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