1-on-1 Interview with Julie Broad, MBA, Author, and Sales Coach
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Shaking Up the Business World
For most professionals, the word “disruption” has negative connotations. Not so for Julie Broad, MBA, who recognizes that business disruptions revitalize industries and change how we interact with the world. Consider how e-readers transformed the publishing industry or how Netflix gave viewers a whole new way to enjoy television!
Broad’s innovative mindset launched her own entrepreneurial career. Her coaching business focuses on helping businesspeople become disruptive in positive ways that lead to success in sales and beyond.
Broad earned a Bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Calgary in Canada, after which she earned her MBA (Master of Business Administration) from York University. She then began a career as a salesperson, rising to Vice President in only four years. When she decided to start her own business, Broad realized that she needed to develop skills beyond what was required for corporate life. She pursued knowledge in areas such as copywriting and marketing, honing her talents in communication and persuasion. Broad’s coaching services help those who aren’t natural salespeople to increase their sales results, improve productivity, and ultimately have more influence in the business world.
In addition to her popular workshops and speaking engagements throughout Canada, Julie Broad is a successful real estate investor, a regular contributing writer for Canadian Real Estate Wealth Magazine, and a recipient of the Top 20 under 40 award for Vancouver Island (2014). She’s also an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and an International Book Award winner. Plus, she has appeared on news programs including CTV, Global TV, DayTime Ottawa, and CFax 1070, and has been featured in publications such as Yahoo! Canada, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Sun, and The Vancouver Province. Broad truly does it all!
Enjoy our full interview with Julie Broad to learn more about the power of business disruptions, the life of an entrepreneur, and what you need to know if starting a business is your dream.
eLearners: Tell us more about your educational and career background. How did your experience lead you to where you are today as a successful author, entrepreneur, real estate investor, and speaker?
My MBA prepared me for corporate life as an employee. I was able to rise from a sales person to a VP level within four years, but the same skills that served me well in a corporate career weren’t as valuable as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you can’t say “that’s not in my job description.” If something has to be done, you either figure out how to do it or you find the money to pay someone to do it. Both are things you don’t learn how to do in school.
I had a background in sales roles but you quickly learn that you need something that gets the phone ringing or customers coming through the door. In my case, I needed to study copywriting and direct response marketing to ensure that my message was attracting the right people and generating new business.
When you start your own business, you have to get good at sales and marketing, fast. If you’re not bringing money in, you’re not eating. It doesn’t matter if you have the best product or service in the world, if nobody is giving you money for it, you have a big problem.
eLearners: What is business disruption? How has it evolved?
Business disruption is innovation that changes an industry dramatically. One hundred years ago, business disruptions were slow to occur. The affordable automobile, telephones, and the personal computer were all disruptive innovations that completely changed an industry.
Today, disruptive technology appears and is adopted more rapidly. Blockbuster video rental stores disappeared almost overnight once we could watch movies on Netflix or iTunes. The development of e-readers means anyone can be a published author now—no publishing house needed—and you don’t even have to take on the expense of printing your book. Netfilx has revolutionized how we watch TV and how advertisers can reach us (we consume something like 40 billion hours of entertainment totally ad free now). And when was the last time anyone used a dark room to develop their photos?
eLearners: How does business disruption relate to productivity? Can you explain the ripple effect it has on the industry in which it occurs?
We can work from anywhere, accessing our files as though we’re in our office, speaking with people face to face without ever hopping on a plane, and access a massive depth of information in seconds. In theory we should be more productive, but we’re also more distracted. Our smartphone quickly connects us to our work, our entertainment, news, communication with family and friends and our hobbies; as a result, it’s almost impossible to focus. If something doesn’t immediately catch our attention and hold it, we move on to find something that will.
eLearners: What are some examples of successful business disruptors that people should know about?
There are some controversial innovations that could change everything when they become mainstream like Google Glasses (or, Google Contact Lenses). Imagine a world where you have facial recognition software in your eyes, which allows you to not only immediately know every person’s name you see on the street or at an event, but you can also quickly scan everything you can find online about them. Conversations will completely change. What you do to market yourself will become almost entirely focused online so that what shows up on Google Search is exactly what you want it to be.
And, what happens when the technology also can read your facial expressions? Negotiations will completely change if you’re now accessing a body language reading app that is feeding you information about the emotional state of the person you’re speaking with. Heck, relationships might change, because your husband may finally clue in that something IS wrong even though you said there’s nothing.
But, already around us today:
Airbnb is the largest hotel company in the world and they don’t own a single piece of property. Uber is probably the largest taxi company in the world, and doesn’t own a single car. AliBaba is the largest retailer in the world and they don’t have any inventory.
Five years ago these names weren’t widely known, but today these companies are not only widely known, they are used internationally. The ability to connect, select and review both vendors and customers is changing industries. In your industry, it’s possible some sort of app that connects the customers to the vendors will completely change how you do business, too.
eLearners: What types of strategies can people use to help breed innovation and enhance influence?
Look at what other industries are doing that is different and interesting. It’s easy to stay focused on your competitors and what they are doing, but look at how Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX has been so innovative. He looks for technology in other industries and applies it to the ones he is in. It’s why he set up a car manufacturing company in Silicon Valley. He looks at totally different industries to find people who are doing things differently, making their own innovations, and then tries to apply it to the industry he’s in.
eLearners: Take us through a typical day or week on the job.
The beautiful thing about being an entrepreneur is that there isn’t really a typical day. I travel to a lot of conferences as a speaker and as an attendee so I am often on the road. I just returned from a conference in Las Vegas and a training seminar in Los Angeles. This week I’ll be in the home office spending most of my spare time finishing a new book, and preparing for an online course I teach to people all across Canada via webinar.
If there is a more typically day when I am in the office, it usually involves a few hours of focused writing or content creation first thing in the morning followed by a Crossfit workout. The afternoon is when I take calls with clients, prepare for upcoming talks, create course materials and work on marketing and sales. My client calls or webinar courses are usually in the early evening so my day usually winds down around 7pm.
eLearners: What types of qualities or personality traits are well-suited to a career in business? How can they be developed or improved upon?
Everyone has skills that will work in business. The better thing is to align your skills – the things you’re really good at and really love to do – with the roles you’ll play.
Then, you need to understand where you are weak and get help. Most entrepreneurs are terrible at bookkeeping and paperwork. That’s fine – you are usually much better out there selling what you do or creating/innovating. But you need to know that if you are weak in a critical area, then that is the first place you need to bring on help.
I heard Gary Vaynerchuk (of Wine Library and Ask Gary Vee) say you should “quadruple down on your strengths” and not worry about improving your weaknesses. Find other people to fill them in.
eLearners: What are some of the pros and cons of starting your own business?
You can create a business that supports the life you want to live. When your life changes, you can change your business to suit your life. You have more freedom and a lot more control.
The challenge is that you have to hustle. There’s no paycheck unless you create it. If somebody else won’t do something that has to be done, you have to do it. If someone doesn’t show up – the work still has to get done. If you get sick, there is no sick pay. You will be under an enormous amount of pressure because you won’t eat if you don’t succeed.
But, that’s also a bit of a rush. If you like a challenge and you are also striving to improve, starting your own business could be the best thing you ever do.
eLearners: What advice do you have for students pursuing degrees in business? What are the biggest challenges, and how can students prepare themselves?
Of course you want good grades, but it’s not as important as you might think.
If you do nothing but cultivate strong friendships in college with smart, creative and innovative people, you’ll gain massive value from your education. If you do this and stay in contact with these people, ten years after graduation from a business degree your network could be full of successful business people, high level executives, and people with knowledge and connections that might help you (and you can help them, too).
There’s another piece of college that is valuable. You can get face to face meetings with the industry and community leaders. These are people who will not give you time when you’re in the working world, but if you get to know them and connect with them while you’re a student, you may still have access and connections to them when you graduate.
Getting in the door is almost always the most difficult part, but as a student, through your faculty, university associations, and alumni network, you can often spend 30 minutes with some of the smartest and most successful people in your area. It’s YOUR chance to get in the door now so you don’t have to fight to do it later.
eLearners: Is there advice that you feel would be valuable to students who hope to become business disruptors in their careers?
Travel. Read all kinds of journals, books, and magazines. Be open to trying new things. Know that the next great innovation is probably not something new, it’s just a new combination.
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