Julia Lemberskiy – CEO Interview
When did you know you wanted to start your own company?
As a child I wanted to ‘do business’ as this is what I saw my parents and grandparents doing, without really knowing what it means. I self-taught myself business as a teenager and did some small ventures before registering my first company days after turning 18 & being legally able to do so.
What was your original idea for this company, and are you still doing that (or did you pivot, if so, what is the new focus and why)?
My current company, JJ Studio, happened ‘by accident’ – my colleague Janeesa and I thought we might lose our jobs at Uber soon and started brainstorming & testing startup ideas as well as accepting small consulting gigs when someone would reach out to us asking for help. This has since grown, in less than 5 months, to a consulting boutique with over a quarter million in annualized revenue which is then reinvested to fund several smaller businesses such as products and services we have designed & tested.
How long did it take you to finally take the leap, and what was it that pushed you over the fence?
If we hadn’t been laid off due to the pandemic it would have likely taken us a couple more years to take the leap.
Who inspired you to pursue your dream, and why do you think they believed in you?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs and have seen this self-determined lifestyle growing up. While some were less successful than others, it wasn’t the success that attracted or inspired me but the type of life and flexibility that comes with it.
Who is your favorite mentor and why?
I started my business education when I was 15 by reading all books that Robert Kiyosaki had published at that time so I saw him as my first business mentor. Since then I’ve had a wide range of mentors – at organizations I’ve worked at, in my family, as well as in non-profits I volunteered at .
What was the hardest thing about starting your company, and what did you do to make it through the first stage?
Going from ~4 years as an employee to being my own boss required me to break various habits. I, at first, was missing the structure, as well as having to report to someone on my work and getting guidance on what to do next. Accountability as a result was a challenge too. It helped a lot to have a co-founder in Janeesa to get through this phase and settle into this new rhythm.
What has been the hardest lesson to learn?
When you are employed – if something isn’t getting done it either wasn’t worth getting done or someone else will realize its importance and get it done. Being your own boss you don’t have the luxury of letting things ‘fall through the cracks and hoping someone will pick it up.’
What has been the most amazing thing you have experienced while running this company?
The huge lifestyle change! From working 100 hour work weeks to being able to do what I want, when I want (spend time with family, travel, etc) while making the same or more money.
What is the weirdest thing you have experienced while running this company, and how did you react to it?
The ‘status change’ was interesting to see ie when I would meet a new person who asks me what I do and I respond with a senior management role at Uber – people were impressed. When I tell them about my current business the reaction is very different. I’m guessing because people can’t ‘quantify’ the success.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made while running this company?
Doing it with a co-founder.
What is the biggest mistake you made while running this company, and why do you think it happened?
Trying to do too much, too quickly, rather than prioritize one idea after the other.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your company?
The company was founded due to a Covid-driven layoff at Uber.
What keeps you passionate about your company?
Its future potential. We are in the very early days and have already seen incredible success while most of our ideas are still to come.
What daily routine have you developed to help you take care of your mind, body, and soul?
I’ve started ‘budgeting’ my time better ie at the beginning of the week writing down all the things I need to do across the business and private life and allocating ‘time budgets’ to each, then monitoring that I don’t go over.
What one thing would you like people to take away from this interview?
Everyone has ideas and unique talents that can be turned into a business. Sometimes you just need a little ‘push.’
About the Community
On the podcast, Sean talks with entrepreneurs about the reality of their struggle to succeed, as well as answering questions from the community, and sharing nuggets of wisdom from his own life.
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Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.