We had the good fortune of connecting with Nolo Grace and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nolo, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
It’s funny because I consider myself a risk-averse person in many ways, and yet I’m also very impulsive. I can make seemingly high-stakes decisions quickly and mull on others with more obvious solutions in a state of inaction for years and years. For me, I think a lot about the emotional aspects of risk because that’s been the main theme in my life recently—how far out of our safe zone we are willing to go to pursue something important to you.
For me, the biggest risk I’ve taken was to leave my old career as a corporate executive and life in NYC behind. I knew it wasn’t working, but it was lucrative, and I was exactly on the path I thought I had wanted to be on. The idea of leaving that all behind with no idea what I would do next seemed insane, especially after the years of working around the clock and completely dedicating myself to my career. It definitely did not work out right away, and I felt lost for a long time. I got used to taking risks and seeing that they would eventually work out, usually never in the way I expected. Through repetition, I started to have more trust in risk-taking and also listening to myself.
During this period, I started making music. It was what I had always wanted to do but never pursued seriously for various reasons. I had a lot of blocks and limiting beliefs, and the process of starting anything new can be frustrating. There were periods where I gave up on it, but I couldn’t fully ever let it go. Earlier this year, I started releasing music as an artist under the name Nolo Grace. It has been difficult for me to share and put myself out there in that way. It’s shown me a lot about myself and helped me grow in a way I never could have done representing a corporate entity. I think that’s been one of the great rewards.
I feel strongly that if there’s something important to you, you owe it to yourself to pursue it. There is a risk associated with not doing something as well…like unhappiness, always wondering “what if,” never achieving your dreams. For me, the risk associated with staying on a path that wasn’t making me happy was far greater than taking the leap of faith. The process of change is uncomfortable, but if you never step out of your comfort zone, it is hard to create meaningful change.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have a multi-faceted career. I’m an artist/producer, Senior Advisor at a private equity firm, and Board leader of a major nonprofit. Most days, I’m juggling responsibilities across all these areas.
The part I’ll focus on though is my music. I love all aspects of music-making—songwriting, producing, singing. The fact that I’m focusing on all these areas feels expansive to me. I write songs about my life and personal growth, and I like making dreamy, layered beats. I used to write a lot of sad songs about toxic relationships, but I’ve connected to a more spiritual path in life, and so my recent music reflects that.
As for my backstory, I grew up in New York and the Boston area. My parents are Korean immigrants, and they were focused on my academic achievement, getting into Harvard, and becoming a doctor or lawyer. My mother struggled with mental health issues, and my home life was difficult. Music was encouraged insofar that it would help college applications, but the approach I had to life from an early age was all about hard work, sacrifice, and struggle.
My early career was as a corporate executive, and I also worked in the international development field. It’s funny because I never wanted to work a desk job, so somehow it never fully felt like me. I was a workaholic, fueled by stress and pressure, and I cracked under the weight of it all. I left my life in NYC and my career behind, became nomadic, and eventually settled in LA. Over the past few years, I’ve rebuilt it from the ground up from a vision of what I truly want instead of an external idea of what I should be doing.
I’m really excited about where my artistic journey will take me. Excited to build something big! Nolo Grace rising!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A few of my favorite food and drinks spots in LA are:
• Covell Wine Bar in Los Feliz, neighborhood gem
• Bowery Bungalow in Silver Lake for Mediterranean
• Quarters, Park’s, or Genwa for Korean BBQ
• Café Gratitude for tasty vegan food
• Gjusta in Venice for the porchetta melt
• Yamashiro, a beautiful Japanese restaurant in the Hills
• Republique, pastries!
• Malibu Wines because I’ve been meaning to go but haven’t made it yet
A few other experiences:
• Dancing at Dance Yourself Clean at Teragram Ballroom
• Hiking Temescal Canyon and Switzer Falls
• Biking from Venice Beach to Manhattan Beach and stopping for food and drinks along the way
• Little Beach House in Malibu (with someone who’s a member)
• Broad Museum
• Zuma Beach
• A concert at Hollywood Bowl
• Huntington Garden
• Yoga and a soundbath
• My house and garden in Silverlake!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I guess if I had to dedicate it to one person, it would be Peter Opperman. I experienced a “Future Self” meditation he led at Ceremony Meditation in Venice. With binaural beats playing through a headset, he led the class on a journey to meet our future selves. This is going to sound weird, but in that meditation, I saw my future and husband. When Peter formed a course and community around his method, I joined, and it was completely transformative. It created the space for me to tap into what I really want, helped me move past my own limiting beliefs, and allowed me to connect with a beautiful community of inspirational people. I had given up on the idea of making music at the time, and my romantic life and career was a mess. Two years later, I’m living my dream life. I’m married, releasing music, friends I love, and have a business idea incubating.
XKYLAR Tessa Nesis