This post is part of our Woman Evolve(d): How She Did It series
This month we’re featuring Julia Wuench, MBA, a leadership and career coach, corporate trainer and keynote speaker with a mission to enhance human connection and fulfillment at work and in life. Using positive psychology and her blueprint The Authenticity Guide, Julia provides critical “soft-skills” training to individuals, corporate and university teams.
What is your personal mantra, mission or manifesto?
Above all else, be kind; You cannot control how many flowers bloom, but you can control how many seedlings you plant; Forgive generously and quickly; STAY SILLY.
What inspired you to launch your current career/launch your business?
My first career was in corporate finance in New York. I learned a ton, but it wasn't a fit for my strengths (a fact I spent a long time ignoring.) After pursuing my MBA at Duke University, I pivoted into a career in social impact.
I was working as the North Carolina Director at a New York-based social impact consulting firm, and at the peak of that role was managing 10 consultants. I had an "aha" moment during that time when I realized that the components of my job that energized me most were developing and growing my team, and being a coach (NOT a manager, and there's a big difference!). I made the difficult decision to resign after sustaining a few pay cuts because of the company's dire financials. My decision effectively closed the North Carolina branch of the firm.
Not being employed full-time (and critically, having a spouse who had an income) finally gave me the head space to dream. I took 4 weeks off and wrote, talked to people I admired, and did some serious introspection. I asked myself the hard question: What do I REALLY want? From there, The Authenticity Guide (a coaching firm working to enhance connectedness and fulfillment at work and in life) was born!
What is unique about returning/pivoting in midlife? Challenges & opportunities?
I pivoted at age 30. With age comes wisdom! I didn't feel like I had to "fake it" or be "impressive" by someone else's standards anymore. Whereas I used to think the title "coach" was a little wishy-washy, I'm now bought in because I believe in the value I bring. I care a lot less what other people think about me and my career choices. Even 5 years ago, I cared a lot more. And it made me unhappy! Can I be a financial analyst? Sure. Can I be a consultant? Sure. Do I hate both those things? Absolutely. Are there people who are much better suited to those jobs than me? Abso-freaking-lutely. At this point in my life, I have less of an appetite for bullsh*t, unnecessary conflict, and verbal abuse of any kind. It's freeing to be able to know what I will and won't tolerate and be steadfast in those boundaries. I would not be in this place without having had a ton of work experiences first.
What’s one intention you have for your work in 2020?
I want to write a book (in progress) and do a TEDx talk (two things, sorry).
What are you most passionate about right now?
Corporate coaching. Since I have a corporate finance background and an MBA, I absolutely get it when it comes to issues people are facing in that world. Coaching emerging leaders in the corporate space is a breath of fresh air for me, because so many of the topics I talk about (like imposter syndrome, confidence, toxic cultures, EQ in leadership) are salient in that world but never talked about. It's very gratifying to get to dig deep with these individuals and their teams.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Generally I see several clients (all over Zoom, even before Covid19), have 1-2 networking meetings in person at my favorite local coffee shops or coworking spaces (I am ALWAYS networking... it's kind of a superpower), send some business development/outreach emails, do administrative business tasks, go for a long lunch walk with my dog, and cook dinner with my husband. Sometimes I'll go visit him in the evening at the restaurant we co-own. I always touch base in some capacity with my nuclear family (Facetime, phone, text). Then my husband and I will binge our latest show (just finished Watchmen), and I read in bed... always fiction and NEVER the news at night (currently reading Postcards from the Edge with my all-female book club).
What’s the one thing that has advanced your career in the last year?
Quitting my full-time job!
Who’s your “tribe” when it comes to professional inspiration or support?
This is always changing. I'm part of some amazing Facebook groups that are great sources of inspiration and camaraderie. I have AMAZING, professional badass women friends from every phase of life. I'm always checking in with them and asking for advice. And my real rock is my husband -- my greatest cheerleader.
Favorite book, app or podcast?
Anything Brenee Brown, The Life Coach School and Skimm'd From the Couch (podcasts), Mindset by Carol Dweck, Fiction: Tell the Wolves I'm Home (to name a short few)!
You’re granted an extra hour in the day, how do you spend it?
Sleeping, hands down. I worship sleep and have 0 shame about needing 10 hours a night. Any less and I'm not a human.
The advice I wish I had given to my 20 year old self is… For God's sake woman, get a B, no one will die. It's okay to fart in front of your boyfriends -- it's not worth it to have a stomach ache for a year straight. Also -- I promise it gets better. A lot better.
The advice that I want to give to my 75 year old self is... If you got a facelift and botox, I'm so not judging you! Also, check yourself into a retirement community STAT and get rid of all your stuff. It's unfair to your kids otherwise! And a big big hug.
Your theme song that played every time you walked in a room would be? Kelly Clarkson "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger" or Lizzo "Good as Hell" or Missy Elliott "Work it"
Best career advice for other women? Always network, whatever else you're doing. Set a small daily goal for yourself and find a way to be held accountable to that goal. Networking simply means forming meaningful, reciprocal relationships. It will pay dividends when you least expect it.
When did you feel you got “you” back? About 6 months into starting my business in 2019. At that point I had significant revenue coming in, and I was FULFILLED. It was the first day I had the thought "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do something I love so much." The critical piece here? I was being HONEST with myself about what my super powers were! I wasn't trying to be someone else. Took me a while, but I got there.
What’s up next? I just launched my first online course so I'm hoping to ramp up reach for that. I will also be taking on more corporate and private clients, and when the Corona-pocolypse subsides, I'll be speaking at a lot of conferences.