Overdrive sat down with EO Toronto’s Julie Mitchell, principal of Parcel Design, to learn more about her passions outside of business, her biggest fear and her inspirations as an entrepreneur. Julie has been an EO member since 2005.
What’s the first question you think someone should ask themselves before becoming an entrepreneur?
JM: “What aspects of running a business am I truly outstanding at, and where will I struggle?” It’s critical to ponder and confront what you completely stink at. For example, I’m great at brand strategy and idea generation. I’m terrible with managing details, being patient, hiring, bookkeeping, and according to my husband, saying “sorry” when I’m wrong.
What one word would you erase from everyone’s vocabulary?
JM: Eh … as in: “I’m Canadian, eh.” You will never hear me say that, unless I’ve been drinking a lot of bourbon, which I really only do at the Global Leadership Conference.
What past or present leader would you want as a business partner, and why?
JM: Richard Branson. I could fly Virgin Airlines for free and get invited to Necker Island!
What is the strangest business idea you’ve ever heard?
JM: My mom (a retired business owner) wants me to partner with her in the luxury laundromat business. I’m struggling to put “luxury” and “laundry” together. She’s convinced it’s a gold mine. Me? Not so much.
What was your first “eureka” moment in business?
JM: The importance of hiring a capable assistant. I used to work 12-14 hours a day to get it all done. I was afraid to hire staff; it just seemed like so much revenue to give up. My first administrative hire cost US$50,000, but it brought so much relief. I finally had someone who could wrestle with the database, arrange couriers, figure out a strategy to kill the rats in the basement and deal with the accountant.
What is your biggest fear in life?
JM: I never want to lose perspective. I didn’t come from a privileged background, but I feel unbelievably privileged. I want to forever appreciate being fortunate, and I never want to lose sight of the fact that I live an interesting and satisfying life of abundance. Also, I want my son, Charlie, to experience just enough adversity, hard luck and hard work that he values his success and enjoys the life he builds for himself.
If you could be one person for a day, who would it be and why?
JM: I’d love to experience being an elite athlete … maybe the fastest woman in the world? Really, something that gives me an incredible sense of capability and doesn’t come with the baggage of Hollywood-style fame.
What is the ultimate goal you want your business to accomplish?
JM: We have an amazing team, and I’m working hard to minimize turnover through internal brand engagement. Ultimately, I want staff members who continue to feel challenged and find great satisfaction with their work. It’s hard to keep them consistently happy, but I’m trying!
Who is the most influential entrepreneur in the world?
JM: Craig and Marc Kielburger have incredible vision and have done admirable work with their organization, Me to We. They’ve created a powerful brand that continues to inspire youth and emerging leaders to get their hands dirty and really make a change in the world.
What’s one vice you’ll never give up?
JM: If I’m being totally honest, I love having one cigarette every night before dinner and after a glass of wine. I guess I will never be the fastest woman in the world!
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