Rise’s Radical Renegade is a monthly series featuring interviews with trailblazing career mavens. Meet Dr. Julia Mclnnis, Co-Founder and Director of Programming at Halo Incubator – a New York based incubator focused on helping imaginative, passionate women solidify business plans, shape strategies, and raise capital, while amplifying their voices along the way.
Why did you start your company?
I really wanted to make startup training accessible to women who would not otherwise have access to it. I also felt that a lot of the current incubators and accelerators are too focused on VC-backed companies. You can have a crazy successful company that would never in a million years attract venture funding. And I want to support those types of companies, especially as we’ve seen so many VC darlings go belly up over the last few years. I’m motivated by our community! The passion and excitement that our founders bring to Halo is infectious, and I always feel recharged and amped up to accomplish more after working with our community.
What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way?
One of the major lessons that I’ve learned is to pay attention to the unexpected. Sometimes an opportunity or idea will come up that isn’t really part of my original plan but often those expected events have been the most effective at helping me take what I’m working on to the next level or bring my career to a more fulfilling place. I’ve also learned to enjoy the journey of accomplishing a goal more. I used to get really hung up on getting to the end result and would ignore the process of getting there; now I’ve realized how important the journey is for me and how much I need to like the process of what I’m doing in addition to achieving the end result.
Tell us about a setback you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
With my startup I really struggled with wanting to build the company that I thought my industry wanted versus the company that the industry actually did. I fought it for a while but in the end I took my ego out of that battle and realized how much I had misjudged about an industry that I thought I knew inside out.
What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in their careers?
Great question! The first is that starting over is easier than we think — in fact it can often be a relief. Whether that’s with a new company or a totally new industry, having clean slate is one of the most liberating feelings. The other is to have an honest conversation with yourself about what you really enjoy. If you could do anything what would it be? And then if you’re not currently doing that thing, ask yourself why. I’ve found that asking myself questions like those has helped me identify what I don’t like about my current situation and how I can improve it.
We all know how difficult work/life balance is, how do you draw the line to create separation in these two spheres?
I’m not sure if it’s ever really in balance but I try to draw some hard boundaries and stick to them. That means that on a day to day basis I make sure to set aside dedicated time for myself (even if it’s just going for a walk after work while listening to music) and then time with my family and friends. Some days it’s not a lot of time but even the little bits are important and help me recharge. With everyone working from home it’s gotten harder to have that separation but what’s helped my husband and I is if there isn’t anything urgent for us to work on at the end of the day, we shut down our laptops and put our phones to the side. It helps take away to the urge to respond to late night emails that can otherwise wait until the AM.