Fresh Blood Podcast Episode Guest - Julia Goldstein
Julia’s story is a perfect example of how our lives are rarely a straight path forward, our journeys are winding and the things that we learn along the way help us create our best selves.
Julia Goldstein is a former engineer, turned professional writer who in her forties, decided to branch out and start her own communications agency, which focuses on serving purpose driven companies. She has successfully grown and managed her company over the past decade, leading to the launch of two published books, Material Value, and Rethink the Bins where she shares her passion for materials and sustainability.
Julia is now expanding the offerings of her agency. J L F G communications into online courses. She is a lifelong learner that thrives when she pushes her mind and body to new challenges.
[00:00:00] [00:00:00] Jolie Downs: [00:00:00] Today we are speaking with Julia Goldstein. Julia is a former engineer, turned professional writer who in her forties, decided to branch out and start her own communications agency, which focuses on serving purpose driven companies. She has successfully grown and managed her company over the past decade, leading to the launch of two published books, Material Value, and Rethink the Bins where she shares her passion for materials and sustainability.
[00:00:35] Julia is now expanding the offerings of her agency. J L F G communications into online courses. She is a lifelong learner that thrives when she pushes her mind and body to new challenges. And I am really looking forward to learning more. Julia, thank you for joining us on Fresh Blood. Could you tell us a little bit more about your story?
[00:01:01] Julia Goldstein: [00:01:01] Sure. As you said. I'm an engineer turned writer. I get to really surprise people that I have this engineering background that I can write because people say, wait a minute, that doesn't go together. But it's possible. I have an engineering brain and an artistic brain together, and I've been a lifelong musician.
[00:01:26] And when I was an undergrad studying engineering, there were a lot of other students there. Who also played music. And so I don't know, the writing is part of the, to some degree creative piece of that, but I'm very analytical. So I'm often writing extremely technical content, but I also like the variety of being able to explain things so that ordinary people, without expert knowledge can understand what I'm talking about.
[00:02:01] Jolie Downs: [00:02:01] And that's a talent right there to be able to do that. How did you come to want to start your own agency?
[00:02:13] Julia Goldstein: [00:02:13] I've been self-employed for a very long time since let's see. The last time I worked full-time for a company was 1995.
[00:02:23] Jolie Downs: [00:02:23] Oh, wow. Okay. Tell us about this.
[00:02:27] Julia Goldstein: [00:02:27] I was working full time. I had my first child in January of 96, took maternity leave, went back part-time and then for various reasons that job just wasn't the right place for me to continue anymore. And I started rethinking what was I going to do? But I built up contacts and I started doing contract work.
[00:02:57] And that I could do very much part-time even less, less of a fewer hours per week than I was doing. When I went back to my regular engineering job,
[00:03:08]Jolie Downs: [00:03:08] Your contract work was writing focused?
[00:03:11] Julie Goldstein: [00:03:11] actually, it was more engineering focused.
[00:03:13] Jolie Downs: [00:03:13] Oh, wow. Okay. That's interesting.
[00:03:15] Julia Goldstein: [00:03:15] Yeah, because that's what my background was. Even though I started noticing when I was working as an engineer, I was the one writing the articles for publication in trade magazines. Even when I go back to looking at when I was in college and we had a thing called engineering clinic, where small teams of students did projects for companies. Kind of a capstone project.
Yes. I did want to involve computer programming because I didn't like programming. I was scared of it. And I said, I'm going to do a programming related clinic. But honestly, my teammates did most of the coding and I was the team leader. I was the one who was the liaison with the person at the company, our contact there. And I was the one who wrote most of our final report.
[00:04:09] Jolie Downs: [00:04:09] So that was a strength even then for you.
[00:04:12] Julia Goldstein: [00:04:12] Even then it seemed like a natural fit. Now, about 20 years ago, I was doing again, a contract project and it was starting to get into more of a project management type of role. And I was going to need to spend. More hours site per week than was really going to work out very well for my life balance.
[00:04:38] I had two young children at the time. I needed something with more flexibility, and I thought back to the writing
[00:04:49] I was looking for an option with more flexibility where I wouldn't need to be onsite all the time. And I thought back to the writing that I'd done, I reached out to a contact at a trade magazine, one where I had written an article as an engineer and the timing worked out and they were looking for a technical editor.
[00:05:13] So I was the Silicon Valley office.
[00:05:19] joliedowns: [00:05:19] This is great. So you found yourself in a position that you had two young children, what you were doing, wasn't quite working for. You wanted to find more flexibility. And so you took the time to evaluate your skillset, what you had going on, what could be a possibility you reached out to connection and you found a new Avenue for yourself.
[00:05:38] Is this correct?
[00:05:39] julia-goldstein: [00:05:39] Yes, it is.
[00:05:40] joliedowns: [00:05:40] That's wonderful. That's wonderful. So please go on to what happened from there.
[00:05:47] julia-goldstein: [00:05:47] I continue doing writing for that magazine for probably about eight years. And it was on and off when the, you were mentioning downturns earlier, when the downturn at the end of 2001 happened and into 2002, we had just bought a house. Again, I still had the young kids. So the fact that the contract work slowed down then was actually okay.
[00:06:22] I had a lot going on and I had the luxury and I have for decades now have a husband who works full time at a job with benefits and not everybody has that. So going out on your own where you don't know what the income's going to look like. It's not a steady paycheck. Some months you might have loads of projects and lots of income coming in, and some months you might have none. So you have to be able to handle that. And I've been in a fortunate position that I have been able to handle that. So in late 2001, 2002, when things were slow for, I don't know how many months. I could cope with that. And eventually they picked up
[00:07:11] joliedowns: [00:07:11] How did you deal with it emotionally and professionally? What did you do during that time? When you're in your own business and you go through a downturn, even if you have a husband, who is bringing home a paycheck with benefits, that gives you a huge comfort level by far, but you do still have to deal with the emotional aspect of going through that process and the professional thought process too. What do you do during that time to, to put yourself in the best position? And I'm curious how you dealt with it during that downturn.
[00:07:47] julia-goldstein: [00:07:47] I didn't really consider myself, a business owner at that point. Yes. I filed a schedule C because I was an independent contractor, but it was really very much part time. So in some ways I didn't feel like I had a real career. And that did bother me because there's, I'm someone who wants to accomplish things I'm driven to achieve stuff.
[00:08:26] And I wasn't really, I definitely had plenty to do with managing just all the day to day activities, but I didn't want to only be at home with my children. I wanted to eventually do more. So I guess during that point, I was waiting it out and the projects eventually came back. I do remember feeling glad I wasn't an employee because if I had been, I probably would have been let go but because I was on contract, it didn't cost them anything to keep my name on the masthead and they could just wait to give me work until things picked up again.
[00:09:20] joliedowns: [00:09:20] It is the best thing that people can do when laid off during downturns is to freelance until they can find that next great thing.
[00:09:29] julia-goldstein: [00:09:29] Yeah. So sometimes contract work can give you that opportunity, but it doesn't always come. So you can't necessarily count on it.
[00:09:43] joliedowns: [00:09:43] No. So when things came back and started up, when did you decide to start doing it more full time?
[00:09:53] julia-goldstein: [00:09:53] That didn't come until much later. Now, an interesting thing that I also did was I started teaching music. There was a program called music for minors, where they're looking for volunteer music, docents to teach in elementary school classrooms and my kid's school. One of the budget cut items that had happened.
[00:10:18] In schools all over California was that music and art were getting the cuts. Even back when I was in high school and I went to say, Oh, can I go and volunteer to teach music at the elementary schools? And they said, I'm sorry, we cut our programs. And that was even back in the eighties. So I thought I've been a musician since I was seven years old, but I don't know how to teach music.
[00:10:47] And then I found out about this program and they had a whole training class and I said, okay, sign me up. And I started the program at my kid's school.
[00:10:58] joliedowns: [00:10:58] That's great.
[00:10:58] julia-goldstein: [00:10:58] The program had been existing for a while, but I said let's pilot it for first grade because I had a first grader. So that was, again I always feel like I needed to contribute in some way, and I wasn't getting paid to do that, but I feel like I was doing something valuable and it was fun singing and dancing with the first and second graders and teaching them music concepts.
[00:11:23] joliedowns: [00:11:23] Oh, yeah. And that's so important for them. Not only that, but what wonderful memories for yourself too.
[00:11:30] julia-goldstein: [00:11:30] Yeah. And it even led to some paid work teaching music. I was paid as a substitute teacher. So the pay was very dismal. Nobody could make a living as a substitute teacher.
[00:11:46] joliedowns: [00:11:46] but you weren't doing it for the pay anyway. So that was.
[00:11:48] julia-goldstein: [00:11:48] but it was gratifying that my experience doing it on a volunteer level had gotten places to reach out and recommend me to teach.
[00:11:59] joliedowns: [00:11:59] That is very satisfying. And doing that while you were consulting, basically.
[00:12:05] julia-goldstein: [00:12:05] Yes while I was still doing the writing for the magazine as needed. And then the magazine went under in again, another downturn, but that one the publishing industry was not what it had been a decade earlier. This is not news to anybody. Everything was going online. I would sometimes be asked to write a piece and they'd say, okay, for the print magazine, you have 400 words because they could only print as many pages as they could, based on how much advertising they got. But online, they said, Oh, you can expand it. You can write a thousand words or however long you think it needs online. But again, the magazine went under, so that dried up and I started thinking what's next? Am I really going to try to make a career of teaching music? No,
[00:13:14] I wanted to go back to the writing. And I had talked to a contact who did marketing writing for companies. And I thought about doing that. And that's how I really began delving into the idea of the current version for my business.
[00:13:40] joliedowns: [00:13:40] And it basically formed in that second downturn, essentially.
[00:13:45] julia-goldstein: [00:13:45] It was actually 2011. the other thing I did in 2010 is I decided to go back to school.
[00:13:52] joliedowns: [00:13:52] Oh, good for you. Where did you go back to school for?
[00:13:55] julia-goldstein: [00:13:55] I went to my local community college and got a certificate in business leadership. Yeah, I hadn't been a student for quite a while at that point.
[00:14:12] joliedowns: [00:14:12] It's satisfying when you haven't been for a while. Isn't it.
[00:14:15] julia-goldstein: [00:14:15] Yes. And it was definitely a different experience. There were students who were almost technically they were young enough to be my kids. I was 42 and some of the kids were in the classes were 18, 19.
[00:14:36] joliedowns: [00:14:36] what was that like for you?
[00:14:37] julia-goldstein: [00:14:38] It was definitely a different experience.
[00:14:45] But I took some evening classes that had a wider range of students of all ages. Although I also took acting classes
[00:14:57] joliedowns: [00:14:57] Ooh. Oh, that's really fun. I bet that helped in a lot of different ways you probably wouldn't have imagined, at least that's what I would imagine.
[00:15:06] julia-goldstein: [00:15:06] Yes. It was about being present in the moment. I'm never going to be an actor, but just some of the exercises they had, I remember one where it was called crossing a line. And you're working with one other partner. And the idea is to convince them to cross over this imaginary line on the floor, because what you have to offer is something compelling to them.
[00:15:35] joliedowns: [00:15:35] That's a good exercise right there.
[00:15:37] julia-goldstein: [00:15:37] Absolutely.
[00:15:39] joliedowns: [00:15:39] We should all be working on that exercise.
[00:15:44] julia-goldstein: [00:15:44] Yeah.
[00:15:45]joliedowns: [00:15:45] I'm right now mentally applying it to my business.
[00:15:49] julia-goldstein: [00:15:49] There are things definitely you can apply to business. And one of the other classes I took, which was called human relations in business, which was super valuable, a lot of the things that the instructor was saying seem perhaps obvious, act like other people matter. Something about just the way it was done it made me shift along my thinking and realizing that especially early in my career, some of the ways I was interacting with other people were not really helpful in helping me.
[00:16:25] joliedowns: [00:16:25] Yeah. I've noticed that a lot of times think that even though things are obvious sometimes. They're so obvious that we stop recognizing them and we stop bringing awareness to our own actions and what's happening. So it becomes less obvious and all it needs is someone pointing it out and all of a sudden you're able to see it all over the place.
[00:16:44] You just wonder how you missed it.
[00:16:47] julia-goldstein: [00:16:47] Yes. The advice seek to understand then to be understood.
[00:16:58] joliedowns: [00:16:58] That's good. That's what we all need right now.
[00:17:02] julia-goldstein: [00:17:02] And I've heard variations of that for many different people over the last decade.
[00:17:08] joliedowns: [00:17:08] It's a needed motto for right now, I would say in our culture. So in 2011 is when you really started building your communications consultancy. So you started building that and I know you've written a couple of books in between there. What was your motivation for your books?
[00:17:46] julia-goldstein: [00:17:46] Yes. I had for a while thought I'm a writer. I should have written a book by now.
[00:17:57]It was the beginning of 2017 and I was recovering from having the flu and so I was resting a lot and I was thinking. And that was honestly the point where I decided I was going to really write a book. It was going to be about materials and sustainability because I've been fascinated with materials like plastics and metals ever since college. When I took a material science course that inspired me to. Go to grad school in material science,
[00:18:43]but I also wanted ideally to shift my client base toward companies that I thought were really making a positive difference in the world. And I thought if I get this book out there, that can help bridge that can help me build a bridge. That'll allow me to reach companies. That'll give me credibility in that area because I would attend conferences and feel like everybody's either been doing sustainability since the seventies, right? If they're a generation older than I am, or they're young people who got degrees in sustainability related fields that didn't even exist when I was in college, because in the eighties, that was just not what was going on in this world.
[00:19:53] joliedowns: [00:19:53] No
[00:19:54] julia-goldstein: [00:19:54] at least not in this country.
[00:19:55] joliedowns: [00:19:55] No.
[00:19:57] julia-goldstein: [00:19:57] So I wanted to reimagine my brand so that I could be really writing for those companies where I really wanted to help amplify their message. I enjoy the work I was doing for the companies that I was writing for. But some of them, I wouldn't be so proud to mention out loud. And I won't name any names.
[00:20:28] joliedowns: [00:20:28] So now do you work with companies that you're only proud of mentioning out loud?
[00:20:34] julia-goldstein: [00:20:34] I'd like to say I'm a hundred percent there. There's none that I feel really, that I would not want to be connected with. A lot of the stuff I write is behind the scenes. And so I'm not really going to say, Oh, I write for this company or that company or, Oh, that article that it says the CEO wrote. No, that was me.
[00:20:56] joliedowns: [00:20:56] Yeah. Yeah. It's not part of your job description to share that.
[00:20:59] julia-goldstein: [00:20:59] No, the stuff that has by-lines though. It's interesting. And that's another thing that I've done because I've worked doing some contract work for magazines. Cause it's helpful to have by-lines that have my name out there. And there was one I was doing for screen printing magazine and they suggested a topic.
[00:21:20]I shifted it. I said, could we look at sustainability issues in the screen printing industry that I'd really want to write? And they said yes. And they pointed me to some companies to interview.
[00:21:36] joliedowns: [00:21:36] How long did it take you write the book?
[00:21:38]julia-goldstein: [00:21:38] I started the research in early 2017 and I had a self edited draft ready for the copy editor in November of 2018.
[00:21:55] joliedowns: [00:21:55] Really good.
[00:21:57] julia-goldstein: [00:21:57] Okay. No, I did use content from blog posts because I'd had, I started a blog in 2015. Again, that was another thing. Oh, I don't have a blog. I should have a blog. What writer doesn't have a blog. yeah, so I started that in 2015. And so I found, I did find stories from there that made sense to include in the book. Again, the interviews that I did with two dozen business owners, consultants, executives, those took place in 2017 and 2018.
[00:22:37]And then because I chose to self-publish and that's another whole lengthy discussion. The short answer to that is I didn't have a platform and I could have gone and written proposals and tried to get them accepted. But this way I had control over the creative process and could make the whole thing happen a lot quicker. So the book came out in April, 2019. And I know if people don't know the timeline of books from sending it to a copy editor in November to having it out and published in April with endorsements, it's fast.
[00:23:15] joliedowns: [00:23:15] It's very fast. Yes. No, it's very impressive. I love how you were able to make that happen. I love that you, you had that revelation to yourself as you were recovering from the flu that you are a writer and as a writer, you should have books. And then you just decided I'm going to write a book and then you did.
[00:23:35] That's exactly how it should work.
[00:23:38] julia-goldstein: [00:23:38] It didn't happen instantly, but there were all these different points along the way where I said, okay I've done this much. Now it's going to happen. And somebody at one point said you said publicly that you were going to write a book. I said, I did. And they said, yes, you posted something on LinkedIn.Okay.
[00:24:00] [00:24:00] joliedowns: [00:24:00] Oh I am writing a book.
[00:24:04] I, I'm enjoying your story, Julia. And I love that that you were able to, you made things work for yourself. When you had young children, you were able to, be home with them and work for yourself. From there you expanded in grew a company from, then once that was good, you challenged yourself to write a book and then you wrote a second book.
[00:24:21]And now you're expanding into online courses. What I'm curious about hearing about, everyone has a different definition of success. And so I'm curious what your definition of success is. And then also what you feel is one of your greatest successes in life and in what you learn from it.
[00:24:45] julia-goldstein: [00:24:45] Yeah, there are these conventional ideas of success.
[00:24:48]I guess you're supposed to make a certain amount of money or have a certain title. And sometimes I feel like I've fallen down in that, but then I have made things happen. And when I think, what do I want to achieve with this? Ideally. I want to reach people with a message and I can do that through books. It's not just, Oh, my friends are going to buy my book because I wrote it. It's people I have never met are saying, Oh, you've got to read this book. Or this inspired me to suddenly change my habits and by reusable this, that, or the other, and with the second book, which just came out at the end of November.
[00:25:49] joliedowns: [00:25:49] Congratulations.
[00:25:50] julia-goldstein: [00:25:50] Thanks. It's a practical guide aimed at individuals.
[00:25:56] joliedowns: [00:25:56] This is the book Rethink the Bins, correct? So this helps the common household with their recycling ideas and how to be more sustainable.
[00:26:11] julia-goldstein: [00:26:11] Exactly. Giving practical advice saying here's what's happened. What happens when the stuff leaves your curb or the building behind your apartment? Here's why recycling is such a challenge and here's some steps you can take to try to make it work better. And I talk about composting also, and that people can take away practical tips.
[00:26:39] And I think, wow, I need to sell thousands of copies of this book, not to make back the money that I've invested in it. That's helpful too, of course, but to share the message and say if thousands or even millions of people start doing this, we can actually make a difference. And it's not Oh, better recycling is going to save the world, but I do have an opportunity.
[00:27:07] And then I realize, Oh, advocacy, and what else should I do? And how else can I make a difference in the world? that's part I can also do through my work with companies, because I think that the business world needs to be a hundred percent behind addressing climate change and use of resources and environmental issues.
[00:27:39] Can't be just separate. From the financial reality of business.
[00:27:44] joliedowns: [00:27:44] No
[00:27:46] julia-goldstein: [00:27:46] So if I can make little bits of progress by putting ideas out there, then to me, that's success.
[00:27:58] joliedowns: [00:27:58] I completely agree. That's what success is. It's accomplishing what you set out to do and whatever that might be, whatever that looks like to you, whatever that life looks like to you. And and that's what I see you doing is creating the life that that you want, and that works for you and impacting the people in the ways that are important to you.
[00:28:17] And. Yeah I know that, okay. Change the recycling. You made a comment, Oh, it's not change the world but if we all make these small changes, it is, it's those small changes and the small change, here, maybe me making that small change, isn't going to change the world but when you put something out like that, that helps people on a grander scale, make those smaller changes. And those smaller changes begin to add up and it can have a massively impactful way on the world. So it is a very powerful thing what you're doing and inspiring. And honestly, we all need to be talking about recycling.
[00:28:48] Our recycling is in horrible danger that the whole field of failing, so we all need to be smarter and better about our own personal impact on this world. So I commend you for what you're doing. I find that the challenges in life and the obstacles and the failures are really where there's so much learning that's happening.
[00:29:11] Can you tell us about a time that you failed at something or had a very big obstacle challenge and how you overcame it?
[00:29:21] julia-goldstein: [00:29:21] Yes, I will tell a. Story that I don't always tell about my decision to not continue teaching music and to go back to the writing, I actually got fired from a teaching position.
[00:29:42] joliedowns: [00:29:42] That's so hard when that happens.
[00:29:44] julia-goldstein: [00:29:44] It was very distressing.
[00:29:48] joliedowns: [00:29:48] So many emotions, right?
[00:29:50] julia-goldstein: [00:29:50] Yes. I was teaching an extraordinarily challenging class of fourth graders. My sweet spot was first and second graders. They're adorable. They're old enough that you can teach them concepts, but they're young enough that they're not talking back at you.
[00:30:14] joliedowns: [00:30:14] Oh, it's a big difference.
[00:30:16] julia-goldstein: [00:30:16] These fourth graders did. And when you have a certain number of kids in a class that kind of get together and have that attitude, it's tough. And maybe I didn't handle it the best way, but when the principal suddenly came and told me I was fired and I had to leave, Oh my goodness.
[00:30:39]I wasn't sure what I was going to do next. And I sank into a bit of depression and part of what brought me out of it was running. So here I was in my forties, I had never been an athlete ever in my life. And I decided to sign up. For a triathlon training class at the Y
[00:31:05] joliedowns: [00:31:05] Amazing.
[00:31:06] julia-goldstein: [00:31:06] This was one time.
[00:31:07] One of my sons was in the swim class and I was swimming laps during his class. And then for some reason I ran a mile afterwards and I thought wait, I like to bicycle. I wonder what's the shortest possible triathlon out there. And could I finish it? And right about that time. I was a member of the Y that's where my son was taking swimming.
[00:31:30] I saw a sign, it said triathlon training class, a hundred dollars. I'm like let me see, could I do it? And I talked to the director and she said, sure, you can do this.
[00:31:39]I did complete my first sprint triathlon that year. It was a quarter mile swim about a 10 mile bike ride and a two and a half mile run. So in triathlon terms, that's very short
[00:31:55] joliedowns: [00:31:55] In my terms, that's amazing.
[00:31:58] julia-goldstein: [00:31:58] and it was an all women's triathlon, which is great. And I didn't finish last
[00:32:03] joliedowns: [00:32:03] I the fact that you've finished, that you just went and did that. Julia, I think is amazing. And what a great way to, to change, what's going on in your head, because that is, I talk to people all the time who, may have been fired or lay off for various reasons. And it's a very, it's a very difficult emotional place to be. It just brings up, it brings up all kinds of negative emotions inside yourself. And it triggers different things in different people, but it, for almost everybody, it definitely causes a dip and you have to get yourself out of it. You have to get yourself out of your head.
[00:32:40] julia-goldstein: [00:32:40] because when I got fired, it was like I had failed. And I'm not the kind of person who fails at things, but had to, and going back to doing the writing was what made sense. And I've had other times when I've thought I have a contract and then they go silent and I don't know why, but. None of those have been crushing or anything. It's just, okay. They probably should have said something, but people do that and I'll move on.
[00:33:17] And for whatever reason, they're not going to hire me. And there's other projects.
[00:33:25] joliedowns: [00:33:25] Just keep trucking through. That's really the bottom line in life. And for continued success, when you hit a dip, just keep going.
[00:33:34] julia-goldstein: [00:33:34] Yeah. Or sometimes change course.
[00:33:38] joliedowns: [00:33:38] Yeah. It's a matter of taking some stock and realizing what is right for you. And I know, we've all had those points in life and you have to evaluate, and I think the knowing your why really helps with that on if you should change your course or keep going and.
[00:33:53] Because a lot of times, a lot of times what I find is it's very hard for people to make that decision, which direction for us. So when you were sitting there, was it easy, was it an easy one for you to decide to change your direction and go to the writing? Or did you have any struggle there?
[00:34:08] julia-goldstein: [00:34:08] I first had to find my way out of my hole, but then say yes. This particular class was a challenge, but I don't want to be teaching fourth and fifth graders. And yes, I could still keep focusing on the younger kids, but honestly, that's not where my greatest talents and interests lie. I really want to work with adults most of the time.
[00:34:40]Not that I don't like kids, of course, but I just made in my professional life, I wanted to again, go back to the writing and see where that took me.
[00:34:57] joliedowns: [00:34:57] Now with your company. You said that you were looking to expand into new services. So can you tell us a little bit about the success that you've seen with your work and what's your plan on doing in the future?
[00:35:17] julia-goldstein: [00:35:17] Sure I've been thinking about what's the next step, because I've often thought I can do more than just write content. That's a valuable service, but I have had that drive to teach for a long time, even back in 1990. I remember when I was thinking of leaving school with a master's and not getting a PhD, I thought, Oh, maybe I could teach community college.
[00:35:47] Cause you don't need a PhD for that. But then I thought what would I teach? They don't have material science departments in community colleges.
[00:35:56] And then I'm trying to remember when it was it might've been around 2010 when I was trying to figure out what direction my career was going to go next. And I thought about corporate training. Because I could come into companies. And even in one of the engineering projects that I did when I was doing contract engineering in the late nineties, I went in and did a training course on how to use a particular piece of equipment.
[00:36:24] I did a whole day long training session and now. Everything's going online. Especially this year and there's a boom in online courses and to me, Oh, that seems like the next logical step. And I'd been teaching workshops. I've been giving workshops on recycling and some of the reception to those is what convinced me that my next book needed to be a consumer guide, but I thought related to my work, I see, Oh, there's an opportunity to teach companies some of what I do to help them better understand what types of content they need. And to get everybody on their team bought in to why they're creating it and how they can make it happen more smoothly.
[00:37:31] joliedowns: [00:37:31] Awesome. It's really smart. And you can impact so many more by doing the online courses as well. And you already have, it sounds like you already have all the content, if you've been doing the workshops. So that's a really smart idea.
[00:37:45] julia-goldstein: [00:37:45] Yeah. So just again, starting with individual training sessions to say. Here's what a white paper is. Here's what it can do for you and your company and help you. Here's how it can help you spread your message and here's what it should entail. And here's some of the other types of content that you can create in addition to, or instead of a white paper, but also looking into training on some of the sustainability piece of it in what can they do to address waste, especially in their industry. So I think that there's a lot of, there's a lot of different directions and I'm actually about to attend a multi-day workshop. Where I'm going to be really trying to figure out my strategic plan for what direction I want to go and what different types of courses I want to offer.
[00:38:42] joliedowns: [00:38:42] That's great. Outline it all out.
[00:38:44] julia-goldstein: [00:38:44] yes, cause I think a lot of times I tend to go from contract to contract and depending on how much work I have at any given time. My sense about what I should do with my business changes.
[00:38:58] joliedowns: [00:38:58] I was reflecting on the fact that you've gone through a lot of different changes throughout the years, with. Starting as a career woman. And then, you have a family and managing career with family and then you started your own company, you've written books.
[00:39:13] So there's been a lot of different transitions that you've had in life. And I'm curious because right now is a time when there are a lot of people who are in a transition. If you will, whether, because they were forced into it because of COVID or because of COVID now they're reevaluating.
[00:39:27] I'm just wondering if you have any best advice that you would give someone who's in the second half of their life, who might be struggling a little bit to figure out what is the right next step for me right now.
[00:39:41] julia-goldstein: [00:39:41] I think that. By the time you've got a few decades of life experience, you might know more about yourself than you realize. So I think looking back, and sometimes you can even look back to childhood. Not like when you were a really young kid, but maybe even teenagers or young adulthood, but. Really thinking to what kind of work were you doing when you really felt most engaged and like
[00:40:25] you were just driven to make it happen.
[00:40:33] And I know some people have different financial pressures that they've got to look at the reality of it. But I think a lot of us, especially over the age of 50, where you say maybe now I've got the luxury to say, if I don't have to make a certain amount of money every year or every month, what would I really want to be doing?
[00:40:57] And I recognize that many people are not even in the position to have the luxury, to make those kinds of decisions.
[00:41:06] joliedowns: [00:41:06] They need to be asking themselves.
[00:41:08] julia-goldstein: [00:41:08] But if you are. Yeah. And honestly, the money might come. If you can afford to be a little bit patient.
[00:41:23] joliedowns: [00:41:23] You can’t reach any goal that you're not aware of either. So your advice is really spot on to do that evaluation, to look back and figure out what is that dormant pleasure or dormant talent or the thing that engaged me the most. And would that.
[00:41:42] julia-goldstein: [00:41:42] And there's lots of tools. There's personality tests. A lot of people have pointed me to a strength finder. You can do some of these surveys that suggest what type of work or what kind of direction you might want to take. And that was going to be helpful. But I think, I don't know. Sometimes we tend to answer those in a certain way that might actually not really be how we feel and might not really be based on what we've done in past experience. Cause we maybe, I don't know. Sometimes we have a vision of I think I should be this kind of person. And then if you really look back at what have you been doing the last five, 10, 20, 30 years? I don't know a light bulb might go off.
[00:42:29] joliedowns: [00:42:29] I agree. It's interesting. When you look at your own life, that writing that you were studying to be an engineer, but writing was popping up early on. You were an engineer, but. After you had children, I basically other things pushed you into the direction to writing and and then you become a writer and then you become a writer, sustainability and recycling these topics that you're passionate about.
[00:42:52] And then you end up writing a book and then you're going to do an online course, which incorporates the teaching, that you did on the side there. But music teaching. So it just, you, your own story seems to take picked up all the little pieces and they're all just putting them all together right now into the big mosaic.
[00:43:10] julia-goldstein: [00:43:10] Yeah. It's not been a straightforward path, but I don't think I'm the only one. And in fact, I know I'm not.
[00:43:19] joliedowns: [00:43:19] No, this is the beauty.
[00:43:23] julia-goldstein: [00:43:23] It was either the 20 or the 25 year college reunion. Where we went around the table. Okay. Who is doing exactly what their college major would suggest and where to college?
[00:43:36] We had four different majors, math, physics, chemistry, engineering. That was it. So we were all technical kind of people. And there was the one person at the table who got a physics degree. Got a PhD in physics and has been a physics professor for the past umpteen years, but he [00:44:00] was the exception. Most of us had done a lot of disparate things in our careers and we would go on to make even other different changes.
[00:44:15] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t08-54-53pm--joliedowns: [00:44:15] No, I find that to be completely true myself. It's we're all on our own paths. And I find that, some people have very straight paths that they're aware of and they follow from the beginning, but most people I have found I've had a little bit more of a meandering path that might see me entering from one view.
[00:44:35] But when you take a look back, it's very purposeful and in ways that you never saw before, almost like. Almost like the universe nudging you in different directions that you didn't realize pay, but if you look back, you can see it. Just talking to you about your story, I can look back and see it.
[00:44:51] So it's very interesting. Now I'm curious, as we talked about looking back, do you have any regrets that you've learned from, I should say.
[00:45:04]julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t09-00-36pm--julia-goldstein: [00:45:04] I guess sometimes I feel like I should have done more earlier. I don't know.
[00:45:10]I guess I did what I had to do with the time.
[00:45:16] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t08-54-53pm--joliedowns: [00:45:16] I think that's a very human feeling at any point to see a point and think could I have done more? I don't know if anyone, I don't know. And there might be some people out there who look back and I never think that, but I think it'd be hard to live. I think that's the goal in life really is to live life that way, where you have no regrets, but I've never met with someone
[[00:45:44] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t09-00-36pm--julia-goldstein: [00:45:44] No. And I have some that I probably won't mention right now. Everything.
[00:45:52]julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t08-54-53pm--joliedowns: [00:45:52] No, I have many regrets. I don't need to bring up, but it is, what I think is important about regret is [00:46:00] learning from it. And and what I've learned from my own regret is to make decisions so that I don't have future regret. I think about that a lot.
[00:46:10] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t09-00-36pm--julia-goldstein: [00:46:10] Yes. And especially as we grow older, One of the things. It was probably a decade ago and my mom had some medical scares and I feel like I disappeared and I didn't give her the support that I should have now. My parents are still alive and they're in their eighties. I appreciate that. I still have them around.
[00:46:42] And that's something that I know many people my age don't have.
[00:46:49] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t08-54-53pm--joliedowns: [00:46:49] Yeah, you just hit on my big regret.
[00:46:51] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t09-00-36pm--julia-goldstein: [00:46:51] And I,
[00:46:56] I want to make sure that I let my parents know that I'm here and then I spend time with them. And now that means in their backyard at a distance. But. I hope to be able to hug them again.
[00:47:12] julia-goldstein_recording-1_2020-12-08--t08-54-53pm--joliedowns: [00:47:12] Yes, I hope so too. I think that's really important in what you brought up there is. A really important thing that people don't always realize it is. It is something that is taken for granted in life until it's gone. And I was young when my mother passed away and I didn't fully, I wasn't super young. I was in my early twenties. But I didn't fully grasp that while it, while she was dying of cancer that she was actually dying and that it would happen, I think it's hard for you as a child to allow yourself to accept that. And I do have a lot of regret because she isn't here for me to make that up.
[00:47:57] But that regret that I have, I use to motivate me moving forward with other people. And I also talk a lot about with other people, because I think it's important for them to hear my regret and my pain. And what I wish I could have changed because my hope is that it motivates them to not have that regret and to not take their parents for granted.
[00:48:20] And when there are feeling really angry or irritated too, maybe look at me and realize maybe I should just let this go and give them a hug. Cause you won't regret that ever. So thank you for sharing that because I think that's really important with all loved ones.
[00:48:36] julia-goldstein: [00:48:36] Yeah. And also taking care of my health
[00:48:40] joliedowns: [00:48:40] Oh, yes.
[00:48:40] julia-goldstein: [00:48:40] that's part of, and one of the things that I realized that I've got to do, because I am now stuck working from home all the time. I belong to a co-working space, which was absolutely great because I could interact with real people. But in any case I have to get outdoors every day, no matter the weather.
[00:49:05] And there was a time getting into fall people. I live in the Seattle area and a lot of people up here, they get really down. When we start having so few hours of daylight, because it starts looking like it's getting dark at three 30 in the afternoon, almost is I've got to get outdoors in the daylight, no matter how cloudy it is, rainy or whatever.
[00:49:32] And that's something I need to do for my mental health. And I need to get out and walk and run and do all that stuff. So when I'm in my eighties, I can still do a 5k. It's going to be slower.
[00:49:47] joliedowns: [00:49:47] I love it.
[00:49:49] julia-goldstein: [00:49:49] I wouldn't be out there doing it. I did this one race. It was called a double. You do a 10 K and then you have a little break and then you do a 5k.
[00:49:57] So a total of 9.3 miles. Then they had the award ceremony and I wasn't going to win an age group award because my age group was way too competitive. It was like, I dunno, whatever age group, it was somewhere in the forties, there was this woman who is 89 years old. So she got first place in her age group.
[00:50:15] She was the only one there. She averaged a 14 minute mile. 89 years old, went 9.3 miles, a combination of walking and running. I thought, okay, I want to be able to do that when I'm 89,
[00:50:29] joliedowns: [00:50:29] I don't think I've done that. I am inspired.
[00:50:41] julia-goldstein: [00:50:41] we all do what we can. And I have friends who have completed a flag feats that I could never in my lifetime do. And the piece of that is like, Oh, wow. Oh gosh. And then, you know what, that's them. And this is me and we all have our different levels of what we can accomplish and what's our own best effort.
[00:51:02] And I think that's the great thing.
[00:51:04] joliedowns: [00:51:04] I do, but I love these stories. I love hearing about, I love hearing about things like that are just so inspiring and it just, it shows us what we're capable of. That's you know there's no excuses and 89, I'm going to go run, walk nine miles. Okay. Okay. Okay. Let me make the goal. I'm going to go do that in the next couple years.
[00:51:23] julia-goldstein: [00:51:23] you go.
[00:51:24] Yeah. And that's the thing, setting goals, committing to them, writing them down, telling people that's part of what makes them actually happen.
[00:51:35] joliedowns: [00:51:35] A hundred percent and really Julia, if you drop me off anywhere in Europe, I can easily do 10 miles. No problem. I have to think. I just need, I need the right scenery to keep me going.
[00:51:49] julia-goldstein: [00:51:49] Oh, yeah, scenery. That makes a difference.
[00:51:54] joliedowns: [00:51:54] Yeah. So, before we go I appreciate what you were sharing here because you've worked from home for many years. Is there any other advice? Cause a lot of, there's so many people now working from home that never had before. Is there any advice you'd give people to successfully work from home before we sign off.
[00:52:09] julia-goldstein: [00:52:09] If you haven't figured it out by now. No.
[00:52:12] joliedowns: [00:52:12] Okay.
[00:52:17] julia-goldstein: [00:52:17] And it also depends on whether you're living all alone or whether you've got family members. Part of it is setting boundaries, making it so you're not just on your computer all day, because if you are working from home, you probably have the kind of job that as long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you can work from anywhere for me, it's get outdoors every day.
[00:52:44] And. And maybe when I get outdoors, I'm running five miles. Maybe when you get outdoors, you're just taking a 20 minute walk in your neighborhood, or maybe you're doing pushups. I don't know, but getting outdoors and being active to whatever level that means for you every day. I can't imagine who that wouldn't benefit, just to bring that break in your day. Don't work all night, get enough sleep.
[00:53:13] joliedowns: [00:53:13] Thank you so much, Julia. I really appreciate you sharing your story there. There's so much to learn here. Thank you.
Julia’s story is a perfect example of how our lives are rarely a straight path forward, our journeys are winding and the things that we learn along the way help us create our best selves.
Julia started in science, found a strength in her writing and eventually shifted into the communications world, running her own agency and becoming an author.
Along the way, she had many experiences that added to the color and depth of her life. She went back to school when she was older, after she had kids, which I LOVE – we are NEVER too old to keep learning, we should all keep advancing ourselves at every age and there are so many ways for us to do this. Including the very free library.
She took acting classes, which taught her the ever important lesson or being present in the moment. We can all learn from doing things that challenge us, helping bring us into that present moment. That popularity of the mindfulness practice is all about bringing you into the moment, you can find that same mindfulness by pushing yourself in new ways. When you are actively learning, you will be in that moment.
Julia left us with an important thought here too – Act like other people matter – imagine how much the world around you would change by simply acting like other people matter – regardless of how you actually felt. Really think about this. How you are interacting with other people. Is it serving you? Is it making your life easier? Happier? More fulfilling? If the answer is no, perhaps a new tactic is needed. Seek to understand and then to be understood. Or, as quoted in my favorite Ted Lasso scene, Be Curious. Not Judgmental. You’ll find your life opening up in so many more ways.
I appreciated that Julia shared a vulnerable moment with us about being fired. I was fired once in the past and can attest that is a shattering experience. It is a precursor to a variety of negative emotions that can eventually color your world if you let it. There is always a lot to be learned in every experience and that, is first and foremost, where your focus needs to be. What can you learn from this experience about yourself, about your previous work relationships, about your work and what is it you really want moving forward? What is right for you? What kind of work do you want to be doing? What kind of environment do you want to be working in? If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you be doing to fulfill you? You never know what will come, but knowing what you want is the best way to help bring that vision into your life. Write it down.
Then take stock of all your accomplishments, again literally write it down, make a list of everything that you did both professionally and personally – what problems did you solve? What goals did you reach? What makes you you, what are those things that are a natural part of you, that you bring forth into the world? Make that list. Feel good about yourself. Grow that feel good feeling and move on proactively looking for the opportunity that will make your soul sing. Being fired is an opportunity for something new.
This is the most important thing I learned from my own experience and from the countless candidates I’ve recruited over the years who have experienced the same punch to the stomach feeling is this – A firing is the universe moving you forward from a situation that was not right for you. You weren’t doing anything to change it, so the universe did it for you.
Figure out what is right for you and move on.
Julia’s professional example is one to take note of. She built up her communications practice focusing on helping companies making a global impact. In the process, she found her why, the thing that is her passion, inspiring others to be sustainable. She decided to use her skill set, a strength in writing to start a blog and then write a book. This gave her the opportunity to use her voice to make a difference and inspire people to be sustainable. This is also a great professional stacking tool, giving her credibility in her field, boosting her image and differentiating her from the crowd. This helped her expand into conferences, speaking opportunities and she is now creating an online course. This is something you can be doing within your own career, regardless of industry, as well – how can you expand or up level your skill set? how can you use what you’re doing to help more people? – how can you impact the world in a bigger way? Then choose the ways that feel the best to you.
Julia also left us with some much important reminders, especially during this time we are living in. Take care of your health. There is no success without your health. This includes your mental health – make sure you are taking care of yourself in all ways. Eat healthy, get outside, connect with people, connect with nature, be creative, move your body – take care of yourself.
Finally, spend time with your parents and your loved ones – you never know what life will bring. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that. Every day is precious. Every person is precious. Go give love and gratitude to all the beautiful people in your life, we are so lucky to have each other. I’m wishing everyone a life full of love.
Until next time,