Courage. I think you have to be courageous to not take the path that everyone else takes. There is no correct path to becoming an entrepreneur, there is just your way. When I started out I knew I did not want a venture capitalist to take my idea and go that route. Instead, I went bare-bones with my lifestyle, definitely a road less taken. To start up the business I lowered my expenses to between 300 dollars and 400 dollars a month! Top ramen never tasted so good!
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur,” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Super Julie Braun.
Super Julie Braun (she/her/hers), 40 years young is a socially conscious volunteer and vegetarian with her company Super Purposes™ based in Seattle, Washington. Through her struggles and obstacles, she maintained the mindset of never giving up by creating optimal organizational skills and priding herself on a self-deprecating sense of humor, being socially and emotionally intelligent, and leading with inspiration. She intends to spend the rest of her life helping others grow by attaining the career and salary they deserve!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
As a young adult, I quickly rose in corporate jobs leading creative teams for Victoria’s Secret, MTV, Nike, Estee Lauder, and Carter’s Childrenswear. I never fit in. I was ashamed of my learning disability; it was a secret I wouldn’t share with others. I knew how to get a high-level position without having a Master’s degree, how to charm my way by developing relationships, negotiate the offer and, regardless of my hurdles, lead with confidence. I created the recipe for getting the salary I deserved.
Today, I am an entrepreneur, and our company helps people get the career and salary they deserve regardless of their challenges. We work with Veterans, stay-at-home parents, immigrants, folks from the LGBTQIA community, and folks with addictions or alcoholism. We have helped formerly incarcerated individuals, people who have lost their passion for what they do, people with disabilities — learning, physical or psychiatric; we are the people who help take fear and formality out of the career. We’ve helped over 16,000 people get the job they deserve.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
We were building SuperInterns.com helping people get internships.
We would ask them “Why are you doing an internship?”
Every single person would tell us to get experience.
We would continue asking more questions like “Why do you want to experience?”
Interns would say “So I can get the job, I wish I knew how to get a job.” Furthermore, “Can someone teach me to get a job, I cannot get the job because I need the experience. I am doing SuperInterns.com to get the experience I need to earn the career I desire.”
It was always an “I cannot get a job vortex,” because they cannot get the experience and that is why we created SuperInterns.com.
The interns that worked with us did not know the recipe of how to manage their career, how to get a job where they love what they do. A career where they are honored and respected by the company they are working with.
Many people were not getting paid the salary they deserved and from that Super Purposes was born.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
Natural born entrepreneur.
At six years old I was told I was “stupid.” I wanted to prove them wrong so I worked harder than everybody else and I started my first business as a neighborhood recycling entrepreneur.
At the age of 16, I tested for a learning disability and, lo and behold; I had a fabulous combo platter of auditory processing disorder and dyslexia. I had spent the previous ten years learning how to verbally communicate and solve problems while delegating my most challenging tasks. I did all of this unknowingly and was getting schooled on how to be a leader.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I have a chip on my shoulder from the many people who told me I could not, that I was not smart enough, or that I would never be successful. I was determined to show them they were wrong.
It was the driving force for me to never give up!
I was told once by the president of a multibillion-dollar company, Robert Entersz, “You’re just like a bulldog. The only time you loosen your bite is to get a better grip.”
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
First of all, our team is from all across North America and ranges from ages 15 to 73. We all value the same belief, which is helping others. Everyone deserves a job with meaning and a liveable wage and salary.
We are incredibly creative. For example, we have comedians on our team. We are kind of unconventional visionary weirdos. We are the antithesis of a boring, bland, beige company.
We are taking the fear and formality out of the job search.
Our story will be told through our docuseries which follows the lives of five unemployed individuals in their career journey.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Grit: The ability to never give up, to just keep plugging along. There is no failure, as long as you don’t quit. I knew pivoting from one company to the other, from SuperInterns.com to Super Purposes, was going to take a lot of money and dedication. I decided to get rid of as many expenses as possible. I sold and gave everything away, whittling down all of my belongings to fit into one suitcase. Everything now fits into one suitcase. I led the digital nomad of life by taking care of other life, and by taking care of other people’s homes. I would not have a mortgage or even rent to pay. I did this to be able to channel all of my money into developing the company I have today, Super Purposes.
- Leader. I am a communicator by nature, a natural delegator. I try to lead by inspiration not motivation, and I continuously explain why we are doing what we are doing versus how we are going to do it. As a startup, all 119 of our teammates at Super Purposes volunteer their time and energy because they share our same values of helping others.
- Humorous. When I think of anything difficult, challenging, or traumatic the survival skill in me comes out. I lean on humor. Comedy is the universal language every human being seems to understand. Career is a very traditional, boring, torturous topic. The interview process feels intimidating and it makes no one want to work on it. The whole thought of getting a job, starting your career, how to get a job, how to earn an interview feels like an interrogation and a chore itself. It is all intimidating making nobody want to work on it. Our point of difference from everyone else is finding hilarity and taking the panic out of work. We put humor in human resources.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
“We are worried about you. Why don’t you just quit being a business owner and go get a job?”
To which I said “I know you care about me and I appreciate that you are worried. I’m doing fine, please know that my heart’s desire is doing what I’m doing. It’s not easy and I will remember that I can’t tell you too much because you worry. I’ll save my complaints and worries for other entrepreneurs who can relate to what I’m going through.”
In truth, my family and close friends rarely ask me about my work because they know I will only tell them the surface, “Things are super!” Every day can be challenging but extremely rewarding. There is a reason why it is called a roller coaster.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Flexible hours, work from home, time off, low hours. Instead of working the standard 40 hours a week, it is 10, 20, 30 hours per week. We are always making sure employees do not feel guilty about taking time off because they are allowed to have personal lives!
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
It does not happen overnight, it is something that is built over time. Being truthful, transparent, open, and honest with everything good and bad, happy and sad. All of these things lead others to see you are the real deal. Credibility is about over-delivering by any means necessary. If someone is not happy, make them happy. If someone does not get results, they get extra coaching. Authority for us is based upon remarkable outcomes and years of experience.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
If we go to google and we search “how to interview,” we would get 1,190,000,000 results. If there are over one billion results, how is anyone able to find what they need and why is it difficult for people to find a job? There are so many options, and it is essential to build trust, credibility, and authority so that career seekers know who to go to and get help to fix their problems.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
A common mistake is being too broad in their offering or in their business, not finding their niche, and not understanding their target audience. Saying, “Everybody needs what I sell” makes them really shallow and wide instead of being narrow and deep.
Pick the group of people who you want to serve. What group of people get you really excited? If you like to work with creative artists, build your business around that. If you love lawyers, build your business around them and serve their needs.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
You will always have highs and lows because it is the nature of the business. As soon as you figure out a solution to one problem, another problem will reveal itself. You will have successes and even when you have successes you are waiting for the other shoe to drop; what is going to happen next.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Every time one of our clients gets the job they have been searching for, my heart wants to explode out of my chest.
One military spouse had been looking for a job for five years. She was highly educated and she had tons of experience, but for whatever reason — discrimination due to too many moves and unexpected transfers — she had not secured a job comparable to her abilities.
In 22 days she got her first job offer. In 28 days she got her second job offer. She only needed a little tweak in her career search to get the job she deserved.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
One of our former clients took our online course, repackaged it, and sold it online as their own. We had to speak with attorneys, go into mediation. All of the hard work, all of the heart you put into developing and someone knocks it off. I was devastated and cried for a week.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
I just shook it off and I moved on because it was a distraction. That is not to say it was not a difficult year; it was an emotional and financial detour from our goals.
I stayed focused on the next project because, after all, it never really was about personal stuff. It’s business. Personally, I am thinking about other people and not only my teammates but also people that are out there trapped in jobs they hate and need our help.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Sticktoitiveness. You have to ride the rough waves. There was a time when I had 37 cents in my wallet and a negative bank account balance. I will never forget it. My friend asked me if she could borrow some money. I laughed, pulled out my wallet, put the change in my hand, and said, “Here’s my 37 cents!” We laughed so hard. Although it seemed bleak, both of us knew it was ultimately going to be okay.
- Courage. I think you have to be courageous to not take the path that everyone else takes. There is no correct path to becoming an entrepreneur, there is just your way. When I started out I knew I did not want a venture capitalist to take my idea and go that route. Instead, I went bare-bones with my lifestyle, definitely a road less taken. To start up the business I lowered my expenses to between 300 dollars and 400 dollars a month! Top ramen never tasted so good!
- Communicating your WHY. The Why is really important! It creates the big picture and it gives people a purpose and reason to collaborate with you. It is no longer only about gaining experience but also about wanting to be a part of something unique and different that helps people. During the COVID pandemic, when unemployment soared and people were worried about health and finances, resources were scarce. But so many people came wanting to work with us. It was because they wanted to take part in creating something really special.
- Having a sense of humor! This is what makes our company very unique. We work with people that face some tough circumstances, like LGBTQ discrimination, disabilities, and milspouses that constantly have to move. But we find a common thread and laugh in the face of adversity. We have comedians working on our team and we’re a bunch of wack-a-doodles. Rolling with the punches, that’s our culture!
- Vision — Picture your dream because it’s the over-the-rainbow of how you want it to be. It gets me through the rough patches and every time a problem arises, I tell myself, “This is going to be that part of the book where we’re failing miserably and having the boo-hoo-party!” Our docuseries was a vision I had many, many moons ago. Well, that vision has materialized, and now I see Netflix ringing our bell and picking us up!
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
We know a gentleman named Jeremy that served in two wars as a Marine. He was in an accident that broke his back, leaving him disabled. He spent the last 10 years getting three degrees plus a Ph.D. in Homeland Security Management. For 10 years he has not been able to get a job. This year, in the last two weeks, he’s landed two very promising interviews. He just never seems to give up or get down. You need a lot of positivity and hope to be resilient.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
When I was a kid, my family moved every six weeks because my dad fixed up houses for a living. We’d stay in one room while he fixed the rest of the house, and when the project was finished we would move to the next one. I exercised my resilient muscles a lot as a kid.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
Finding the humor in every problem or setback. Yeah, I do complain, but I laugh it out and move on to solve the problem at hand. I say to myself or who I am trying to solve the problem with, “NOW what are we going to do?”
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
Pivot, reframe, shift. There are always reasons why something can’t be done. Frustration! I hate it. It makes me frustrated! But when you’re frustrated you’re on the brink of change. So reframe the situation and say, “We hate this situation, what are we going to do about it?” It’s like when you’re getting dressed and thinking, wow, these pants are so tight! It’s so awful, but what are you going to do about it? Put down the donut and go for a waddle around the block!
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
“You are in the middle of your miracle.”
I have to give credit to my Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) friend, Sarah, who told me at the beginning of my sobriety I was in the middle of my miracle and not to give up.
How can our readers further follow you online?
(All links here)
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!
Thank you for your consideration and the wonderful opportunity to speak with you. And thank you for my free therapy session!!!