Super Julie Braun is the Founder & CEO of Super Purposes. Her company helps people get the salary they deserve regardless of their challenges by taking the fear and formality out of the career search. Her company has helped over 16,000 people by providing online courses, “How to Get a Job in 12 Weeks!”
SJ and the creative teams at Super Purposes are currently producing a 12-week Docuseries, “From Ground Zero to Career Superhero!” in which 5 unemployed job seekers get help on their career journey.
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Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Super Julie Braun: 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.
As a young adult, I quickly rose in high level corporate jobs leading creative teams for Victoria’s Secret, MTV, Nike, Estee Lauder, and Carters Childrenswear. I never felt like I fit in; I was ashamed of my learning disability; it was a secret that 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 that I deserved.
Today, I’m 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.
Animals, the environment, living the digital nomad lifestyle, minimalism, Sudoku enthusiast, sobriety, and cupcakes are my passions. I don’t own a car, I’m a 40+ year vegetarian, an activist, and a socially conscious volunteer.
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your view point, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Super Julie Braun: Made. I believe we have a natural inclination – our gifts at a very young age. But depending on our environment, how our caretakers raised us (good or bad), the challenges we experience, those things do determine if one should be an entrepreneur or not.
With a big smile on my face, I would say that if you like pain, become an entrepreneur! It is complex and challenging; it is a roller coaster ride filled with highs and lows, moments of doubt, crying the corner in a fetal position (I say this with both laughter and seriousness), and powerful, proud confidence-filled moments.
Sometimes people just don’t fit in – like me – if “fired” is your middle name due to wanting to do things in a better way; you, my friend, are made to become an entrepreneur. I enjoy working with others; I want to be creative to develop something of significance — from nothing but a seed of an idea.
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Super Julie Braun: My former boss of many decades ago, Bob Entersz, once said to me, “You are just like a bulldog; the only time you loosen your grip is to get a better bite.” That backhanded compliment speaks to the tenacity and grit that a true entrepreneur must have to be successful.
It also helps if you have a good sense of humor, infectious enthusiasm, gratitude in your heart and confidence that can fuel you to the moon and back that your idea, your vision, will materialize.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Super Julie Braun: Super Purposes was born from SuperInterns.com. We focused on helping people get amazing internships that they could leverage into a good job. We also helped companies grow by the power of interns. It was a tricky business model. Many business people think they are exceptional managers; the truth is, most are not.
Over the course of years, we kept asking, “why are you doing this internship?” “To get experience,” they would answer. We would follow up with, “Why do you want to get experience?” and the answer was ALWAYS “because I want to get a good job.” I knew then; we had to pivot the business, but it took me another four years to make the pivot.
Once we made the pivot in 2018, we knew we were on to something super. We now focus on helping people get the salary they deserve. We teach people the formula — the recipe — to create the dream career filled with passion and purpose. Today, we are focused on the Employee Revolution, helping people go from “I have no idea where to start” to accepting multiple job offers and being part of guiding their careers to where ever they want to go.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Super Julie Braun: It’s going to be tough. You are going to stretch in ways you never knew existed. You will likely have financial problems; you might lose your home, your spouse or partner, your friends, family, and your social circle as you start to unravel your magnificent obsession. They may encourage you to quit. They may tell you that you are crazy, you have no business doing what drives you to do. They may chip away at your confidence out of love, envy, or care.
It is not for the faint of heart. Anyone who acts like being an entrepreneur is easy is lying. They may be in the most profound denial you’ve ever seen. There may be 1% of overnight successes. However, you will probably be with the rest of us, the 99% who are endlessly thinking about our business, people, and revenue.
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Super Julie Braun: My goodness, yes! My first wrong assumption was, “I’m exceptional. I’m going to do better than any other entrepreneur so that I will have an amazing in the first year.” WRONG. I struggled like everyone else. I lost everything. I lost my homes, material trappings, pride, friends, family members, boyfriends, and business partners.
But what I gained was a sense of self, confidence that no matter what, I have a team of brainiacs, my incredible free-thinking team of super-intelligent people who can help me figure things out. I gained a sense of security in my heart that no one can take away. I got sober. I woke up to understand that I care more about people than stuff.
I see how we are accomplishing a significant milestone right now and are starting to reach some important goals that we have set. But, of course, we will always have wins, losses, and fresh new problems to solve. (Envision me clapping my hands in excitement and joy.)
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain
Super Julie Braun: My answer is probably going to be pretty unconventional. I wouldn’t give myself any advice. I don’t think had I received counsel from a future me, I would have taken it. I guess if I’m 100% honest, I needed to make every mistake, every oopsies, every “OMG, did I do that?” to be where I am now.
I wouldn’t change a thing. I have a massive tolerance for physical, emotional, psychological, and financial pain. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but I accept it as part of my journey.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Super Julie Braun: So many of my friends and family who care about me said things like, “Just go back and get a job.” Even my CPA told me at one point, “this isn’t a business. You aren’t making enough money. It’s a hobby.” Can you imagine? Hurt my feelings a little bit, but I dug my feet in even more instead of quitting.
I highly recommend that you shield your family and friends from your crazy ideas, your dreaming and keep it very top-level “things are going OK.” kind of answers. Instead, wait until you get a few successes before you share what you are doing.
I don’t blame friends or family for feeling that way; they often want to protect us from the pain. However, they care, and they can’t imagine themselves doing what we, the Entrepreneurs, do without little if any cause or concern. Thankfully, I have a very high-risk tolerance, which is an essential criterion for embracing entrepreneurship.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Super Julie Braun: We have always been a remote/virtual company. So the pandemic didn’t create any significant new challenges for us. What is a ‘thing’ is the Great Resignation. People were going to discover working from home. However, it would take a few more years or even decades for everyone to get how to work remotely. COVID-19 put us all on the rocketship slingshot around the moon in a few months.
Everyone was affected, and most people who were working in an office were now working from home. This period gave everyone a moment to slow down. To experience zero commutes, cook at home, play with their children, take care of their elder parents or grandparent, get to know their partners or spouses.
Because of that, workers have learned to live with less. They are now awakening to this new way of working and are quitting right and left if they must go back to the physical office. The power has shifted in the matter of a year to the employees. Thus the Employee Revolution! If you start a new business, my advice is to have excellent people skills. Make your company a people-first culture because otherwise, no one will want to work with you.
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Super Julie Braun: If you are still reading this, you may be thinking, “This entrepreneurship thing sounds like hell!” (insert evil diabolical laugh.) However, it is also amazingly satisfying.
One myth that comes to mind is “Starting a new business guarantees freedom.” But, unfortunately, it’s mostly a legend. I found I worked hard the first five years with zero freedom. After that, I developed tons of discipline to build services, revenue, and processes, sell our services, have endless meetings, and create relationships.
Then I eased up a little on years 5-10, and today, I work with a lot more work-life blend than ever before. So I do have freedom, but it is never guaranteed and certainly is hard-fought. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my liberated digital nomad lifestyle, and I love what I do every day.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Super Julie Braun: #1, grit! It’s the ability to put off immediate gratification in the hope of gaining something of significance later. The rest are not in a particular order: confidence, vision, humor, people skills, expert communication abilities, sales and persuasion, enthusiasm, and hiring people smarter than you.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Super Julie Braun: I’m a big fan of the movies Moneyball and Pursuit of Happyness. Both visit the frustration and anxiety of difficult times and are incredibly moving and uplifting. In addition, I feel as if they give a good dose of reality. Sixteen years after the launch of “The Secret,” I’m still attracted to both the movie and book by Rhonda Byrne. https://youtu.be/san61qTwWsU – While I don’t focus on ‘things,’ I practice manifesting personal and professional happiness, growth, and higher levels of satisfaction.
I can personally say that I’ve watched Simon Sinek’s TED talks on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” so many times, I’ve lost count. I also think anything by Daniel Pink is genius; Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin’s books are also on my favorite list. “Think and Grow Rich” is a fantastic book by Napoleon Hill is a classic. I love my very well-read dog-eared paperback.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Super Julie Braun: I can’t think of anything. Is that weird? Probably.
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Super Julie Braun: Mother Jones, aka Mary Harris Jones, born in 1837, died in 1930. Famously said, “I’m not a humanitarian; I’m a hell-raiser.” She was a fiery speaker and fearless organizer for mine workers. Mother Jones ushered in Socialism, worker’s rights, feminism, and activism. She is considered one of our fore-mothers of free thought; I wish we had a better appreciation for her and other women in leadership.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Super Julie Braun for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Super Julie Braun or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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