Your Brilliant Career

Style your career - A conversation with Steve Cordony

Episode Summary

In this episode, Gillian sits down with Steve Cordony, Australia's leading interior and event stylist, to discuss owning your career, personal growth, and cultivating success. Steve shares insights into his journey, the importance of balance, building strong relationships, and overcoming imposter syndrome. From meditation to career longevity, Steve offers valuable advice for listeners looking to style their own career paths.

Episode Notes

In this episode, Gillian sits down with Steve Cordony, Australia's leading interior and event stylist, to discuss owning your career, personal growth, and cultivating success. Steve shares insights into his journey, the importance of balance, building strong relationships, and overcoming imposter syndrome. From meditation to career longevity, Steve offers valuable advice for listeners looking to style their own career paths. 

Referenced in the podcast:



Career Glow Up CHALLENGE

RISE Accelerate program

Free Guide: The Executive Woman's Guide to Strategic Self-Promotion

Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Gillian: The best advice you'll ever hear is simple, own your career. Your boss might be fantastic, but the truth is no one will care more about your career than you. 

[00:00:12] And that's the good news, right? Because when you truly own your career, you're in control. You get to plan it. You get to drive it. And you get to love it.

[00:00:20] Few embody this concept like our guest today. I am delighted to be talking with Steve Cordony, Australia's leading interior and event stylist. Steve, you see, has elegantly crafted a career that's not just successful, but also multidimensional. And if you know anything about Steve, you'll be fascinated to hear this conversation, because while Steve's always in the media, this is a different kind of conversation.

[00:00:48] It's more about him, how he got established, how he manages himself now that he is very successful, and what he believes has supported his success. 

[00:00:58]Gillian: Steve is a force to be reckoned with in the world of interiors and events. Probably the best known person in that space in Australia from a profile perspective. He's certainly not one to brag, but he juggles various roles from being Bell Magazine's style editor in large.

[00:01:17] But he also works with all the big brands like L'Oreal, Ralph Lauren, Waterford, Dior, and so many more. 

[00:01:24] If you follow him on Instagram, like so many do, I think he has 650,000 followers, something incredible. 

[00:01:31] Well, you know that he owns this beautiful home in Orange called Rosedale and he hosts some fabulous masterclasses there, which you'll hear us talking about.

[00:01:42] The thing that captivated me the most about him when we spoke was his desire for personal growth. He's always looking for ways to improve professionally, grow as a person, better lifestyle habits. And he's so driven when it comes to his career.

[00:02:27] I feel like he's just getting started in some respects. And I have to say, I love it all. This conversation is bound to stir something within you and what I hope it stirs to get you to think more expansively about your career.

[00:02:44] Steve has made thoughtful choices, and he has curated a career that he loves and you can do that too. So get ready to be inspired, but also ask yourself, what else can I be doing to own my career and style it the way that I want it? Now, before I dive in, I also want to invite you to attend something very special we have planned. It's called the Career Glow Up Challenge. You'll be hearing me talk about this more and more. It's free and it runs over four days, commencing the fourth of March and I'm going to be sharing some great content on helping you build the skills and strategies to get that glow back in your career.

[00:03:26] It will be very practical. It will be a lot of fun as well. I've got some super challenges organised, and you'll be alongside other like-minded women who also want to up their career game. So I will put the link in the show notes and you can join that. And one other thing I just want to add before we jump into this Steve conversation, is if you have been flirting with the idea of joining the RISE Accelerate program, then get on the waiting list now.

[00:03:56] And here's why. If you're on the waiting list, you get treated differently. And it's true. You kind of get treated as a VIP. We open the doors to you earlier. And if you do enrol in the program, there are exclusive bonuses to you. So being on the wait list has enormous perks and to be honest there is nothing to lose being on that list. So I will leave that in the show notes too. 

[00:04:22] All right. It is time to chat with the wonderful Steve Cordony. Let's dive in.

[00:04:28] So Steve, it is such a pleasure to have you here on the podcast today. Thank you for joining me. 

[00:05:24]Steve: Thank you for having me. This is exciting. 

[00:05:26]Gillian: Well, it's very exciting. And I know so many of our listeners, just like myself, Steve, love the work that you do and thrive on your Instagram posts, they’re absolutely magnificent as well, but I feel today is such a precious opportunity to have a bit of a chat with you about your work and the career that I feel you've almost designed for yourself because it's such a unique career. So to start our conversation, it'd be great to hear your story. How did you become the Steve Cordony that we all love and admire. 

[00:06:01] Many, many, many, many years. No, do you know what? And, and look, I've talked a little bit about where I started and all those kinds of things. And I think there's the natural progression of, okay, my mother was an interior decorator. My dad was a builder, so I was always around home and interiors and renovating.

[00:06:19] And then I did lots of performing arts and creative arts when I was at school. Then I studied interior design at Enmore Design Centre, got affiliate with Bell Magazine, went into the world of interior styling and magazines and editorial and creating these fantastical, I guess, sets and experience within the pages of the magazine.

[00:06:39] And then, you know, kept on building my freelance work, advertising work and build up this sort of network of clients and talented people around me as well. That sort of helped me shape what I'm doing today, which is very much, my business. I kind of, I freelance back to various different people and editorial magazines.

[00:06:59] But at the core, you know, we do events, we'd host masterclasses. I have a presence online and work with lots of different brands and collaborate and create campaigns. And so, that, I guess, is, in a nutshell, the progression in various sort of black and white terms, but I think for me, it's sort of on a more personal note, you know, being around it with my parents as I was growing up and then, going through high school and, early twenties, which I knew I wanted creative things, but I was sort of struggling with, you know, identity at that point. And so you kind of become more ambitious and, and so you kept on pushing and pushing. And then, you know, you get to the end of twenties or early thirties and you start to know who you are, and then you kind of keep driving and you keep building.

[00:07:42] Then, you know, I met my partner and then we embarked on this big journey with a house together, and that also led to sort of me moving into a digital space and sharing all of those experiences, creating this, you know, our dream home. Um, so that also, you know, contributed to my work life. And so, yeah, and so now we're here at 40 and, you know, I feel like everything is kind of in place, but ready for, for the next chapter.

[00:08:06]Gillian: Yeah, it's so exciting, Steve. Do you feel like that process of accumulating all those different things into your career, because it's kind of been like this process of different opportunities emerging over the time. Do you feel like it's just been organic and you've been able to attract those and see the opportunity. Like, what do you think has enabled that? Cause I think that's one of the things that makes you very unique professionally is that you've got this multidimensional brand. That is Steve Cordony. 

[00:08:33]Steve: You're absolutely right. And that's why I sort of mentioned not only, okay, I studied here. I did this. I grew up here. I, you know, got with this magazine, but also the kind of the personal side of it as well, because they kind of go hand in hand. And I think the ambition and the drive was always there because of, personal reasons.

[00:08:52] But then at the end of the day, I always wanted to create beauty around me and I think it seems very vapid and very sort of simple and I always say, look, when I get really stressed on a shoot or whatever I'm doing, I'm like, okay, I'm not a doctor. I'm not saving lives. You know, let's just pull it back a bit.

[00:09:13] But that is, I know my innate kind of purpose, I think. And so that passion continually drives me to create the best, most beautiful thing that I can or experience or event or space. For people to enjoy and if that's my little sort of legacy at the end of my life or whatever I end up doing, then that kind of, makes me happy.

[00:09:35]Gillian: Yeah, I love that. And you do inspire us. I remember after going to my first master class with you in Orange, there was table landscaping everywhere. It’s so good to experiment and play. And I think after having an experience with you, that's, that's half the joy, right? You go away and you play with your house and you take all those tips and do things.

[00:09:56]Steve: And that is part of it. Like, you know, there's the business side of things, but there's also that human connection and that human experience, which I think, you know, you take the masterclass that you came, for example, that was born out of, we were so behind the screen and so disconnected from everyone that I wanted to bring people together around the COVID time, obviously and create these experiences where people could feel like that we in this sort of fantastical world and, and leave being inspired to create those moments, you know, on a Sunday family barbecue. So, you know, that makes me very happy.

[00:10:28]Gillian: Yeah. No, I love it. I love it. I heard you say once that you're very ambitious, driven, and a bit of a workaholic, which will resonate perfectly with our listeners because the women that come to our programs and that, they're very driven, they're very ambitious, and they have a fierce work ethic, just like you. Do you think that has been the main formula for success, or do you think other things have been at play?

[00:10:52]Steve: I definitely think that, you know, having drive and ambition and, and being, you know, quote, unquote, a workaholic is part of being successful, but I don't think it is the be all and end all. And I think as long as you follow your passion and kind of forget about all the noise, because there's so many different variables, right?

[00:11:13] And there's so many different things that I've gone through, right? I'm going to leave a full-time job to go freelance. Oh my goodness, can I afford this? And so there's all these different, things that you go through in your mind and you kind of go, okay, well, I want to follow this journey and this dream, how do I make that happen?

[00:11:29] And so that, stress or that anxiety actually gives you more of a push, right? I'm going to make this work. I want to make this work because I know wholeheartedly that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And sometimes you can kind of go through those moments where you're like, oh God, is this ever going to come off?

[00:11:44] But just keep going because if you know deep, deep, deep, deep down in your soul that this is what you're supposed to burn in, whatever it is, whether it's becoming a lawyer, whether it becomes a dancer, a singer, a stylist, an interior designer, a builder, whatever it is. If you follow that and you know wholeheartedly, then I think everything else will just come and, and yes, I was ambitious and yes, I was driven and met lots of amazing people and was at the right place at the right time and in certain parts of my life and my journey over the past however many years but I think you have to put the work in and, sometimes it was to my detriment 100 percent because there was so many times where I was just burnt out, completely over it, not inspired and that probably I went through about three or four iterations of that over the years and it's only in the last two or three years that I've just worked out how to create that balance.

[00:12:37] And I know when I'm kind of getting run into the ground, when I'm doing too much and I put my, my physical health and my mental health at equal playing field with my drive and ambition now. And so they go hand in hand because they have to, because when it gets too far out of balance or out of whack and the pendulum swings too far one way or the other, it's not enjoyable. I'm not feeling creative. I'm not giving the best to my relationships. And you have to have that balance. And it takes a while. And I think you need to go through those down moments or those overworked moments to kind of appreciate better times and to kind of go, okay, hold on. This is not balanced. I need to find that kind of equilibrium.

[00:14:0] Steve, everyone talks about you as being this really nice guy, you know, I think most people would love that to be that experience, but for women who are ambitious and want to go places, you know, one of the lines we're often fed is like, don't be too nice.

[00:14:35] Don't be too lovely. You won't be authoritative enough. And there's books written on it, you know, nice girls, they don't get the corner office, all of that. What do you say about being nice? 

[00:14:45]Steve: Do you know what? The thing that frustrates me about that is just that it's so different for male and female. I'm not even gonna go into that because it's just too long-winded. Right. Honestly, at the at the core of it, I think you're either a nice person or you're not. You know, and there is times where I know that I've been too forceful, too aggressive but also you've got a lot of people around you and you've got a lot of people on you. My name is at the top of whatever event that I'm doing. So you've got this added pressure, which is not tangible, but it's in you. So to me, I don't care if you're male or female, but if you're a nice person, people are going to gravitate towards you. And, and the energy that you give out is what you receive, but that doesn't mean that you need to be a pushover, I don't care if you're in a boardroom or you're on set or you're, you know, running a company, I think that you need to be author authoritarian when you're in a position of looking after people, a group, a team, it could be two people, it could be ten people, it could be a hundred. You can't do your job if you're grey. Oh, I'm not sure about that. Oh, I don't want to be too forceful. No, you've got to make decisions. You've got to be a strong personality. And if people are going to call you a B I T C H, then, you know, that's just their sort of small-mindedness and as probably kind of envy, I would say. 

[00:15:42] We're so quick to sort of say the negative to people, but they don't know that you're, you've got a team of 50 people that you've got to manage and so you can't be everyone's best friend. It just doesn't work like that. And so where I like to have a really good working environment, I've got a great team around me and it's usually fun, but we're also here to work. Like you're getting paid, I'm getting paid, you know, we've got clients that need, to get their deliverables. And so you have to kind of have a balance of all of that. But also I think there's just people that are mean and people that are just nice, you know what I mean?

[00:16:41] Yeah, yeah. yeah. But I think that's a great differentiation because I think, it's very easy to fall into the pleasing category, you know, and then you're not saying no and then you're over consultative and that's a big fat waste of time because nice doesn't mean being soft and lacking assertiveness or those leadership qualities.

[00:16:59] Nice could be just being courteous and respectful and communicating well and navigating problems well, staying poised under pressure, those sort of things. 

[00:17:10]Steve: Absolutely. And look, at the end of the day, everyone's human and everyone's going to lose it at some point and that's just a fact of life, you know? 

[00:17:18]Gillian: Yeah. 100%. You mentioned before that you have lots of great relationships in the business, which is evident and I've seen you interact like with your team and Saskia from Grandiflora and stuff. And you do have these wonderful relationships. How do you cultivate. Good relationship, Steve, because it doesn't matter what you do, like that ability to be able to attract a, the right people and then be able to nurture and add quality value in that relationship is very important.

[00:17:47] What are you observing yourself?

[00:17:49]Steve: I think I'm drawn to certain energies and without being too kind of hippy woo woo, I think generally we're drawn to people for a reason, right? And so I think I've worked with so many different people over the years and there's different people that I kind of put into the, you know, the work category and I know that this is where I need to go for this person, or this is where I need to go for their expertise, and you build this network around you and I think that's the one thing that I'm, you know, grateful for, that I've had so many, you know, whether it's a stylist assistant or photographers or florists or event hire people or editors or sub editors. It’s just, you kind of cultivate these relationships and over the years, you just build up this network and then obviously, like I said, you're kind of drawn to people with similar energies and, and similar, I guess, creativity to you. And that's why, you know, Saskia is a dear friend and, and I just love that I'll walk down to the street to her store and we'll have like conversations and chats, you know, in the afternoon and we're just talking about anything, but we kind of get so much from each other and we're, you know, talking about creativity and like, oh, I saw this thing the other day. Oh my God, wouldn't that be an amazing event or whatever we're talking about? And so I think you instinctively kind of gravitate towards similar like-minded people.

[00:19:07] But I think over the years building up that network of people where you go, okay, I've got this event or I've got this product coming out. I need to kind of tap into my people who I think can kind of help me push it from a PR point of view, marketing point of view, who will I go to?

[00:19:23] And so I think building up that network and I started that very early. So when I was styling assisting, I would go through the backs of the magazines and I would look at the directory and go, this company is doing fabrics, get online, Google. What do they do? Awesome. And create my own little sort of black book.

[00:19:43] And I started that before because I was like, well, there's so many different stores out there and so many different companies and brands that I need to be aware of, I'm going to do this, you know, and go into it. So and then I just started visiting these stores and I was introducing myself and I was like, hi, you know, I'm a stylist assistant and I'm working with Bell Magazine or whatever it was at the time.

[00:20:01] And just started to kind of build that network and I was never kind of scared of kind of going into these stores and meeting these people. I just wanted to kind of connect with them. And I guess it is a bit daunting, even up until three years ago when I was in Milan for design week and it was an editor of really big international magazine.

[00:20:19] And I was like, oh, I'm at this event and you know, she's there as well. I'm going to just go, go and say hello. And it was just very, you know, very transactional, but it just sort of like you introduce yourself, you have to put yourself forward because otherwise they're not going to come up to you, and as long as it's done in a nice manner and, and I just sort of wanted to say, hi, you know, love the magazine Steve from Australia, interior designer and it was as simple as that.

[00:20:42] You never know what comes from it, you know? And so putting yourself out there, having great people around you, you know, being drawn to those same energies, but also building that work network is, is really important.

[00:20:52]Gillian: Yeah, I love that advice. That's such a motivating advice, Steve, because you have to put the effort in, right?

[00:20:59]Gillian: You cannot expect just because you've got the right job that things are going to come on a silver platter. You have to be on the front foot and make the effort, do the research, do the due diligence and build it up.

[00:21:10] I think that's great. I think that's, it's so motivating to hear that.

[00:21:14]Steve: You have to put yourself out there because, especially in this day and age, there's twenty other people down the road waiting to do what you want to do or waiting to work with a brand that you want to work with. And so if you don't put yourself out there and it doesn't mean you have to be forceful or kind of so in your face, but if you don't kind of, vocalize or share you know, what you want to do or what you want to get out of something, then the next person is going to come along and they're going to do it for you.

[00:21:40]Gillian: You see, you're also speaking up about what you want to do. It's just not an intro. You're taking it an extra step forward, which is so good. A lot of women will say, but I experienced imposter syndrome and sit in that space. And, you know, the statistics say that 70 percent of us experience imposter syndrome.

[00:21:58] What, what about you, Steve? What, what do you do? Like, how do you cultivate that confidence when you need it? 

[00:22:03]Steve: Oh my God. Absolutely. And this is something that I've struggled with since the start. Actually, not even the start. To be honest, the start was just going, going, going. And then it kind of comes when you have, sort of a bit of success, a bit of a following and then you start going, God, am I good?

[00:22:20] Or is this just mediocre? It's just, you kind of battle with it all the time, right? And I’ve kind of gotten better in the last few years working with lots of different people and, and talking to people and trying to get past that. But I also think there's a reason why I'm at a point in my life where I'm doing what I'm doing.

[00:22:36] I'm making a successful living out of my hobby, essentially, because it is really my hobby. You know, I love to style, I love to zhuzh. And, and I get to work with these brands that I never could have dreamed to work with, you know? And I was just, my team, just before we were updating our media kit and the brands that were in there, I was like, and I just sort of stopped for a moment.

[00:22:57] I was like, wow. Like these are the brands that I just admired growing up. I've had the chance now to like, work with them and, and you know, travel with them and all those things. And so innately our nature and our brain, our brain is sort of wired to kind of go negative, negative, negative, and so you kind of have to listen to that, but also you need to push that to the side and go, well, I'm doing what I love to do. That's the main thing. I'm making a successful living. I'm not hurting anyone in the process and step into that, you know, step into that energy because there's a reason why everyone's doing what they're doing.

[00:23:31]Gillian: So you spoke before about, you know, having moments in your career where you felt like it was just too much and you had to back off because of the exhaustion and we've all been there, but it sounds like now you've got better rituals and routines that allow you to look after yourself, you know, your well-being and all of that.

[00:23:51] What are some of the things you do to look after you? 

[00:23:54]Steve: The number one thing that's helped me, and I've mentioned this in a few different sort of things that I've done, is probably meditation. So I meditate twice a day and have been doing that for four years. And it's kind of amazing.

[00:24:06] I think me, I know how my brain works and it's never not on. Not only because I'm creative, but just because this new world of, this is always around and we kind of always taking in information, every second of the day and our brains are just so overloaded, right?

[00:24:23] And so to have 20 minutes in the morning when I wake up, 20 minutes of an evening or an afternoon, depending on where I am, what I'm doing to close my eyes, go into my transcendental meditation. It just gives my brain a 40 minutes in the day that it just sort of switches off. So that's probably number one.

[00:24:38] But then I also think, I’ve finally gotten to a point where I know that if I keep on going, going, going, going, and I can feel my body when it's getting like exhausted and when I need to pull back and when I need to kind of, bring in more balance in my life. I bring in those daily practices, whether it's going to the gym in the morning, making sure I meditate, eating well, socialising, not being on my computer on my iPhone every five seconds, which look, let's face it, I am. But you know, trying to put that away and have like a sleep routine, which is like no phone half an hour before bed, keep it away from the bed, all those different things.

[00:25:15] I've integrated that now into my daily life. And I'm not perfect every single day. Trust me. It's like some days I forget to meditate or some days I'm actually just too consumed with what's going on but then I know by the end of the day, I'm like, okay, the next day I have to get back on track. So I've kind of integrated it into my daily life now and it can be anything.

[00:25:34] It can be maybe you like to surf, so try and go for a surf every day. Maybe you like a sauna, go and do a sauna or a cold plunge, you know.

[00:25:42]Gillian: I love all those tips. They're so good. you're so clearly someone behind the scenes who consciously tries to evolve and improve themselves.

[00:25:50]Steve: Yeah, and I love that you said that because that's kind of one of the things that Michael has taught me so much because he is constantly trying to better himself, constantly trying to learn, if there's anyone that is the most even kilter, but actually does more in the day than I, than anyone I ever know, like he's up at five o'clock, he comes in at dusk.

[00:26:09] And he just doesn't stop and he's always doing something he's like, okay, I'm going to start this garden bed now and I'm going to go here, I'm going to go in a garden to overseas to kind of learn more and take more information in. But he's just always so even I'm like, why can't I have some of your DNA?

[00:26:23] But Kind of trying to always better yourself and not from a physical point of view, but just, how can I be better to other people? How can I be more sort of centred within myself? How can I take in more information to learn more within, but also to share that with other people?

[00:26:42] And so that's sort of, yeah, one of the number one things that he's shared with me and I now try to take in as well to be better, to learn more, to be more.

[00:27:02] I love it. So you’ve only done 20 years of your career. Like a often draw a timeline for women when they’re panicking that they haven’t achieved enough. Well you’re probably going be working until you're 60. So you're only halfway. If everything goes well, you're only halfway and careers do need pace from that perspective. You don't have to achieve everything, you know, between 35 and 45, because we're all going to be working a long time. What, what's your vision for the next 20 years, Steve?

[00:27:21] Are there some things that you want to see very different to what you're experiencing now?

[00:27:26]Steve: There's something that came up the other day and it's Martha Stewart and she started her business, her company when she was 50, 

[00:27:31]Gillian: Love that,!

[00:27:32]Steve: Like she's amazing. And I just think that's incredible. And so never too late. But you know what I think. At this point, and I think sort of, it was a bit last year, I was just sort of feeling settled and like, okay, I'm content, I just need to enjoy this for a little bit, and then now I'm in the headspace of like, what's next?

[00:27:50] And so, I've got to do a bit of planning around that. I want to do product, some more product. I've got a book coming out at the end of the year, so that's kind of a big thing that I've been working on, which is very exciting for me. I want to do more travel, maybe a new project, a renovation project that people can follow along and film that.

[00:28:06] Some TV, some media, maybe work overseas and do some things there. So all those different things is just what I'm aiming to do right. I don't know when that's gonna happen. I don't know how it's going to happen or if it's going to happen, but to have that sort of big brain dump on a piece of paper, I feel like I'm at a point now where I can do that and work towards that, which is, yeah, which is exciting.

[00:28:28]Gillian: so exciting. So exciting. That's like a bigger creative platform to leverage from. Isn't it? Like it's, exciting. 

[00:28:35]Steve: There's also less pressure as well because I think growing through my 30s there was a lot of that pressure that I put on myself. Oh my God, I actually should move to New York and work in New York and, oh, I need to be working with these brands and it just sort of, it almost stifles you a little bit.

[00:28:49] And so now to be able to have that and go, okay, this is the big plan, but I'm actually not putting everything onto it and going, if that doesn't happen, then I'm going to feel like a failure because I'm not, because you know, sometimes it's not going to happen in this lifetime and that's okay.

[00:29:03]Gillian: Yeah. absolutely. Absolutely. And Steve, for the very few people who don’t know where to find you, you let them know where, where can people find you? 

[00:29:12]Steve: We put most of the, you know, we've got our April masterclass, which is launching soon, actually probably today, tonight. And so website, but, and everything's, you know, on social media these days. So Instagram is our biggest, our biggest platform @stevecordone. And we share everything there, which is, which is fun.

[00:29:29]Gillian: Amazing. Amazing. Well, look, Steve, thank you so much. I've so enjoyed the chat. It's been such a beautiful insight to you and has delivered so much, and I'm sure it will be a great inspiration to all our listeners too. So thank you.

[00:29:43]Steve: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.