Julia Holloway: Balancing yourself for constant change, authentic connection and meaningful success

As a woman, I've made it a quest for the feisworld podcast to identify influential women my listeners can learn from. I've encountered many female leaders in and outside of work who have so much to offer other women (and men). However, their stories are not always readily available. There are projects such as the The 3% Conference that are challenging the shortage of women's voices in leadership positions. I hope to become part of this movement by promoting women as guests on my podcast. As other podcasters have also noted, finding women to be guests on the show can be difficult. I have come to that conclusion (sadly) as well since launching the feisworld podcast in October 2014. I will keep searching for and finding these women with compelling stories to contribute.

One such woman is today's guest, Julia Holloway. I sparked a friendship with Julia a few months ago. Unlike some of my other guests, I have not known Julia for years but our connection was obvious and immediate. At the time, I was seeking advice from women who were experienced balancing a full-time career and a business of their own. In this world where women often take on more responsibilities at home and at work than men, it was not an easy search for me, and imposing an hour-long interview on them seemed like a lot to ask.

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Julia was very kind to let me into her world and conduct an interview about her professional life.

Julia is a strategic distribution consultant at a leading US provider of annuities and insurance. In addition, she runs a company called Julia Holloway Consulting where she focuses on business consulting and leadership coaching for corporate and individual clients. Julia's company will be the focus of our discussion.

Those of you who have contemplated starting companies of your own are in luck! We won't go into details on how to set up a company. There are plenty of tools and resources online for that purpose. Julia will help us understand the multifaceted nature of being a consultant and a coach, and what she finds most rewarding in her practice as well as how she overcomes challenges.

In this episode, Julia explains the Five Coaching Elements integrated with Tai Chi movements in a workshop she calls "The Alchemy of Awareness":

"If you create a bigger architecture of awareness with your body, mind and behaviors, that gives you a broader access to yourself and to the world. Furthermore, the more you can ground your awareness, the more choices you have." - Julia Holloway

Awareness is not only meditation or the constant struggle to control your mind. Julia teaches her students about their mind and body connections. Topics and exercises in her workshops involve questions such as: What is awareness? How does it come to you? How does the brain function?

Julia also introduces the Learner/Judger™ mindset created by Dr. Marilee Adams:

"Learner/Judger™ mindset distinctions allow people to shift from blame-focused questions that impede success to solution-focused questions that facilitate it. Whether we ask Learner or Judger questions frames our thinking, listening, behaving, and relating. This is why we focus on our mindset first. The goal is to build a more resilient Learner Mindset." - Inquiry Institute

Julia's mind-body workshop is part of the Julia Holloway Consulting and Coaching practice. I further invited her to help us understand the connection between business and therapy.

Coaching (as part of therapy) has changed significantly over the years. Instead of only focusing on people who are struggling with improvement, coaching today thrives on enabling peak performance.

To deconstruct the approach for personal coaching, Julia reveals the trajectory of a typical engagement - a process that is about helping people unlock their own potential so that they can approach problems with the tools (and sometimes the answers) they already have. It is a facilitated coaching process rather than an event because what's presented on the surface often isn't enough to achieve the goal.

I couldn't help from asking Julia about her daily ritual and meditation method. "Meditation is about letting go your thoughts. You need to lose yourself in the body, whether through Tai Chi, Taekwondo or other practice that works for you." Julia also keeps a gratitude journal to capture a daily dose of happiness that makes her feel eternally grateful.

Before closing the interview, I stumbled upon a favorite moment with Julia, when she offered advice for women, regardless of their age, rank and industry. Please make sure to catch that minute 48:45.

"Remember that making lateral movements is an option, so don't worry about getting up there too fast." - Julia Holloway

Julia's home and her office (where we conducted the interview) felt like "chick heaven" to me. I was sipping on a cup of delicious Oolong tea and surrounded by gorgeous blankets, pillows an other decorations that look as if they came straight from the most-loved items at Anthropologie. Only later I found out that many of them were designed and handmade by Julia. I was impressed by her artistic talent and self-expression.

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Show Notes (Times Are Approximate):

  • How can we have more meaningful conversations? [7:30]
  • Julia's Tai Chi Workshop: The Alchemy of Awareness [8:15]
  • Learner/Judger Mindset exercise (inspired by the book - Change your Questions, Change your Life by Dr. Marilee Adams) [11:10]
  • My own fascination around why Asian philosophy is practiced more regularly by people outside of Asia [14:15]
  • Julia's quest to feelings that led her into the practice of Tai Chi [17:30]
  • The Commonwealth School - Julia's memory from her high school [19:30]
  • Julia's company: Julia Holloway Consulting and Coaching  [23:30]
  • The difference between corporate vs. personal coaching [29:30]
  • The trajectory of a personal coaching engagement [31:30]
  • "You must enlist trust from client and provide feedback in order to understand the goal" [38:00]
  • Julia on her daily ritual and meditation [40:30]
  • A happy accident that reminds me to slow myself down [43:30]
  • Julia applies her coaching practice at a law firm [45:30]
  • In closing, "What's your advice for women - regardless of their age and rank at the company" [48:45]

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