533 Julie Ciardi:

Everyone has a hobby, a passion or a talent for something that you simply love to do. The type of thing …where time disappears. Maybe that passion of yours got lost somewhere along the life of “should’s” and all the busy work. So how to reignite it?


I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has made it her passion to help women turn “side hustles” into thriving businesses.

Julie Ciardi is the creator of the Ignite University and host of the IGNITE Your Side Hustle podcast. Today we deep dive into how to find and ignite your true passion and purpose for prosperity – and much more.

First, I want to something – and someone – very near and dear to my heart. My 17-year-old daughter Sydney. During the coronavirus lockdown she wrote the lyrics and music for 11 incredible songs – and the first debuted yesterday. It’s called intrusive – and it’s all about the inner bully voice, the intrusive thoughts, we all have inside that keep us in fear, playing small, thinking we’re not enough.

Here’s the song:

Sydney’s music is available anywhere you get your music – you can find it all at sydneywitt.com – or follow her on Instagram at sydneywittofficial. Her next song ‘seventeen’ debuts sept 22 and is on pre-order.

Now back to Julie Ciardi, a former Fortune 500 marketing VP turned multi-passionate entrepreneur. Julie believes that there has never been a better time for women to create an additional income stream aligned to her passions and purpose on this planet.

All too often we fall into living a life of “should’s” – being driven by obligation and the inner thoughts or subconscious beliefs that stand in the way of our dreams – just like my daughter sydney witt writes about in her intrusive song.

Today with Julie we talk about how to make the leap from corporate to startup – and if you’re ready to make that jump yet, how to turn your passion or hobby into a side hustle that brings in some income. And first…

You’re going to want to listen to every second of this interview, because Julie Ciardi says she’s dedicated to helping women create profitable side hustles that give them joy, purpose and profit with proven, timeless business strategies in today’s online world. You’ll learn how to develop a compelling personal brand plus how Julie got consistent at $100K launches and much more.

Let’s put on our wings with the inspiring Julie Ciardi.

Melinda Wittstock:       Julie, welcome to Wings.

Julie Ciardi:                  Thank you so much for having me, I’m excited about this.

Melinda Wittstock:       Me too. I’m always curious about people who make the leap from corporate, a Fortune 500, into entrepreneurship, because they’re so different. What made you make the leap?

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. It’s such a good question, and I can remember people thinking I was absolutely insane leaving a multiple, high multiple six figure job in a Fortune 500, that I had been in for 18 years, to go into entrepreneurship. But honestly it wasn’t this overnight decision, of course, it’s something that has been in my blood for a very, very long time. And what always held me back was the risk. And I am married to an amazing man, and he is a sergeant in a police department. And while they have a very, very hard job, it’s not corporate. There’s a salary cap, there’s only so much money you can make there. It’s usually not enough.

And I was the primary breadwinner. So here we are, we have three kids, I’m the primary breadwinner. I’m not loving my job, but it was an incredible career. I started, I did the typical career path of right out of college, landing a job with a company that I’d stayed with and rose the corporate ladder with them. And it almost seemed crazy to want to leave. But it was coursing through my blood pretty much from the time that I was a kid. But I was so risk-averse, I was so afraid to take that chance.

So, sometimes the universe, God, whatever, who your listeners believe in, makes the decision for you. So I had this amazing ability to work mostly from home, believe it or not, this is back in 2001 I joined this Fortune 500. And their strategy was working from home. And a lot of their workforce was at home. So I was very blessed to be able to be a working mom. I had three kids in the time that I was with this company.

If I wasn’t traveling, which I’ve traveled across the globe, I was home. So that was huge. Because I got to do the things, be the soccer coach for the little one, I didn’t miss any plays or any of those things. I was always available to be with my kids when they needed me, and I was able to create this pretty successful career. So that was really hard to walk away from, Melinda. As much as the idea of starting my own thing was always with me, that was really hard to walk away from and-

Melinda Wittstock:       Well, you had the benefit of the flexibility that I think pushes a lot of women in their 30s into entrepreneurship to begin with. I mean-

Julie Ciardi:                  You got it.

Melinda Wittstock:       … the fact that you have that flexibility, you can create your own schedule, you can juggle kids, relationships, everything with your business. So it sounds like you had that. So I can see that that would be hard to walk away from. So where do the universe come in?

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. So, and it’s funny, because yes. I mean, I say I was working from home, so I had flexibility. But when you’re working for a Fortune 500 and you’re working for obviously a high level exec, your schedule still isn’t your own. Even though you’re home. It makes a difference. But I was yearning for that like, “I want to be my own business. I want to be calling all the shots.” And having that time freedom and impact that I wanted to have.

So, here’s where the universe came in. After all that time, the company decided to change its workforce strategy, and actually had everyone come back into an office, which I’m sure now they’re probably wishing they did not do this move a couple of years ago because of everything going on right now with more and more companies pulling people into more remote work environments. But anyway, we were talking now my back to office for me would have been a two-hour commute one way, so four hours every day.

We went from having that flexibility to be home to four hours a day away from my family. To that was with an eight hour, nine hour job on top of that. So I really would not see my children. And that was a no-go for me. That a 100% no-go. So that was the kick I needed to finally make that decision. And I am forever grateful that that actually happened. Even though it felt awful at the time.

Melinda Wittstock:       Yeah. It’s funny how that happens. We do need nudges from the universe. And sometimes they’re increasingly unpleasant if we ignore them. I mean, it sounds like you listened, you got the download.

Julie Ciardi:                  I listened. It’s funny, beca use I listened, and I was all in. I said, “Okay,” I’m a type A, go-getter, don’t like to lose kind of person. Obviously had a very successful corporate career. I was Vice President of Marketing, I had big teams. I was not going to fail at this. So I knew that in my own DNA, but my husband, my family, my friends are all like, “You’re insane. You’re insane. Try to find a different corporate job then. Why go from corporate to entrepreneur where that’s all this unknown? Just go try to work for another company.”

And I did look into that a little tiny bit. And I was like, “No, this is my chance. This is my chance to make the move.” And let me tell you [inaudible 00:06:09], it was quite the ride, it still is. I know obviously you’ve always been an entrepreneur, but to make that leap when you are so used to getting a paycheck every two weeks that deposits right into your account no matter what.

Melinda Wittstock:       Oh, God, I have no idea what that’s like. Because everything, everything that’s ever come to me, I’ve had to create out of whole cloth. It’s a totally different mindset.

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. It’s a totally different mindset. And I think that, as scary as it is, that ability to do just what you said that I got the chance to create what I wanted this to look like, how I wanted this to be. Now, of course, in the four years into entrepreneurship now for me, having come from all those years in corporate, it has been a test, pivot, test, pivot, a continuous shifting and changing of what, how I was designing my business, what my products and offerings were, and all of that. And that journey has had its ups and downs too. But when I look back, I am just so incredibly thankful that that decision was made for me, that it was time to go.

Melinda Wittstock:       So, right now, in the context of coronavirus, of course. A lot of people are having a lot of decisions made for them. Even if it’s simply the pattern interrupt of the shutdown, and all habits changing, and kids maybe being able to go to school, but not being able to go to school certainly for the winter semester this year, and questionable at least going into the fall now. It’s forced a lot of people to think outside the box, but in some cases is like, “Wait a minute, I wasn’t even really happy doing what I was doing.” Or they’ve literally lost their jobs.

And here you are, your gig is helping women find… Turn their side, like I’m going to say that again. Your gig is helping women turn a side hustle into a business, or at least figure out what that side hustle is and how to make that profitable. So it feels like you have the perfect timing, that the coronavirus is your friend. You have a market. You have a big market.

Julie Ciardi:                  I have a big market. And it’s amazing, because I wish someone had said to me 10 years ago even, “You know what? You don’t just have to have a corporate job by the way.” I had no idea, Melinda, I had zero idea of the online entrepreneurial space, or just the entrepreneurial space in general. Because growing up, the only entrepreneurs that I knew had their own brick and mortar businesses, landscaping businesses, maybe they had construction companies. I never saw evidence of this. And of course, the online space wasn’t in existence then.

And then, even in corporate, I had no idea that this whole other world existed. So I wish someone had told me 10 years ago, or five years ago. Five years ago it’s about when I started to finally understand that this existed. So I would’ve started something while I was working full time. I would’ve totally been having that side gig, and really working to grow that while I had my corporate income coming in. It is a wonderful thing. I mean, multiple streams of income is like the buzzwords.

But, I mean, it really is the truth. When you have something else that is giving you an outlet for creativity, an outlet for some personal growth, an outlet for money and profit, that’s a wonderful thing to have. And I wish that I had known that back then. So part of my mission is to help people like me back in the day, sitting in my corporate job, knowing that this other thing existed and that it was possible to create and build while I was working full time and as a mom of three.

And then also, for those women that have started that, I know the hurdles, I know the mind blocks, I know the worry of what others are going to think, and all the things that tend to creep up, that I want to help them knock those down. And I help them how to simplify their approach to growing their side gig, especially if they’ve got that mean job, or they’re a mom, and they’re trying to juggle it all. So I think this is huge.

Melinda Wittstock:       Yeah. It can seem overwhelming. Because I think a lot of people have a great idea, they just don’t know where to start.

Julie Ciardi:                  Totally.

Melinda Wittstock:       And it seems like there’s a lot of things you have to do all at once. It does make sense though. For anyone listening here right now who is gainfully employed, has a nagging feeling that they’re meant for more, that there’s something else, and has a hobby, something that they love to do. When you’re launching a business, there’s a bit of research that has to happen, there’s a little bit of preparation. You can launch right into it, but you want to figure out who’s your customer? Who’s going to buy? How much are they going to pay? How am I going to produce whatever it is I’m producing? How do I want to design a business around my lifestyle? There’s a whole bunch of things like that that can definitely be done as you’re working before you actually take that leap.

Julie Ciardi:                  Totally. And you can even be building it and actually making money at the same time while you’re working. And I think that, as anyone that I’m working with, the last thing I want them to do is to leap before they’re making money. It’s really make sure that you are, whatever it is that you’re building, or that you’re creating, that you’re actually already making money. And I would say, have a plan in place. And everyone is different, everyone has a different situation financially, but if you depend on a day job for your bills, we do not want you jumping. So the goal is to actually be building and time blocking in your week to make it happen, where then you’re able to actually be running the business on the side.

And it’s funny because my very first business that I launched four years ago was actually, believe it or not, a brick and mortar boutique. And I had that running, Melinda, while I was still working as a VP of Marketing at this Fortune 500. I had a team, they were working during the day. But I opened the business in November, and I left the following July from my corporate job. So it 100% can be done. And it just sets you up for success in terms of when you are leaving and making that leap, and now you’re getting into that scarcity mindset of needing money, it doesn’t bode well for your business [inaudible 00:13:11] that.

Melinda Wittstock:       It really doesn’t. The minute you get into that scarcity thing, you start making bad decisions.

Julie Ciardi:                  Yes. And your energy.

Melinda Wittstock:       Every time, your energy is off, you start being desperate, you start constraining your activity, so you can make just all the wrong decisions that way. So that’s such important advice. Right?

Julie Ciardi:                  Totally.

Melinda Wittstock:       So you need, it’s so important to have a safety net. The other thing that you said, though, that was, I think, so important is the reaction you got from the people around you. That like, “You’re crazy, what makes you think you can do this?” Usually, I find people are well meaning, but they’re constrained by their own fears. And in trying to protect you, they can inadvertently really constrain you, or really make it difficult. So first of all, how did you get around that with the naysayers? I mean, like your husband, people who are close to you. How did you get around that?

Julie Ciardi:                  Well, it’s interesting. This is something I love to coach women on, because it is a real blocker. I mean, this could make or break whether or not you actually take the chance and start the thing. I’ll get to the husband piece in a minute. But my family, my parents, I think I built up a lot of trust that they knew that I probably would be successful, they wanted to believe that, but they were nervous, they were nervous. But the other thing, you can remember of course, when you’re starting a business, you need an accountant, you need different people that are there, a lawyer for different things.

So, I was shopping around for an accountant, this is when I was in that research phase, still I had no business yet, nothing was growing, and the accountant I sat with looked at what I was doing currently, and what I wanted to do and he literally said to me, he’s like, “Why are you doing this?” He’s like, “This is really risky, are you sure?” He goes, “Are you sure you want to do this?” And I was like, “I am so sure, and I am so sure I’m getting a different accountant.” So he was not my person. He was not my person. And I walked out of there.

And I think back to that, and it was I had to borrow just my own belief and my own desire to make it happen, and that was easy to walk out of an accountant’s office and find a new accountant. When it’s your husband, that’s a whole other ball game. And I really do love to help women with this, because it can be a real challenge. And when we think about building, nevermind leaving a multiple six figure job, but even just taking the time away from family, from the day-to-day to be working on a business, you know it takes time. I mean, it’s not like all of a sudden you have this idea for a business and now the money is coming in. I mean, there’s a ramp up that has to happen, whether it’s the research phase, the building phase, the now getting customers phase, money coming in.

My husband, his mind was, “This is great.” And I would say fairly quickly I was bringing money in. But in his mind, it was, “When are you going to be making exactly what you were making in the corporate world?” And I kept telling him, I said, “That’s going to be a little bit of time. That’s going to be a little bit of time.” And to really believe in yourself that you’re going to get there, and it’s funny because he looks back now and he’s like, “I’m sorry.” He’s goes, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t more supportive and I was not more patient. But you knew.” And I said, “Yep, I knew.”

So you have to really find that inner strength and belief, it creates a massive personal development journey and growth journey to be able to get there, because there were times I could’ve went in a corner and decided I’m going to go find a job again. And so, that inner work is really a key to all of this.

Melinda Wittstock:       It absolutely is. I mean, there are all kinds of studies, going back to the people who we surround ourselves with. We are in… The five closest to us are really predictors of our success. And if those people, if your family are not the people who are going to really understand entrepreneurship, or really going to be there for you in this way, even if they’re well meaning, you need your business family. You need mentors, a mastermind, coaches, all of that, and really, you’re right, you so have to work on your mindset. That positivity, clearing out old subconscious beliefs and drivers and things like that, that can really unnecessarily constrain you.

Julie Ciardi:                  So true, and I’m so glad you brought that up, because that was the piece that I was so surprised by in this journey is, and I had some colleagues in my Fortune 500 days that I cared about and we became sort of friends. But I had no idea the kind of women and people I was going to meet in my entrepreneurial journey that were so like-minded, so supportive, the whole business besties has been incredible, and then the fact of the matter is, you don’t go it alone, why on Earth would you try to figure this out by yourself? That mentor, coach, people that have done it before you, I have invested from day one.

So like I told you, I wanted to open a brick and mortar boutique, guess what I did? I hired a coach, I didn’t know anything about, I don’t know how to do that, I hired a coach that actually specialized in opening boutiques. That’s how niched people are in their coaching and what they can do. And I hired right away. I mean, I always tell women that are looking to start anything. Work with someone that has come before you, and not only will it go faster, but you are going to then be able to have that support system when you hit those days when you’re just not sure, “Can I do this? I don’t know.” You need that support system, don’t go it alone.

Melinda Wittstock:       It’s so, so true. So, there you are. So you first business is this brick and mortar, and then you made another entrepreneurial transition into what you’re doing now. What was the impetus there?

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. It’s so funny, like I said, yeah, this journey has been a lot of different pivots to figure out exactly where it was that I was going to land. And I don’t think we’re ever done. I have all these other ideas in my mind.

Melinda Wittstock:       I’m on business number five. [inaudible 00:20:13].

Julie Ciardi:                  There you go, perfect, so you get it. You totally get it. So it was, I always had this dream of opening a clothing store. It was just something I always wanted to do. And it was funny, because sometimes you go through something, and there are lessons and things that you’re learning along the way that it’s actually for a bigger purpose. And being able to create a brick and mortar business from scratch, the whole thing from designing the intent of the store, the look, the feel, the brand, the actual building out the location, having all the clothing coming in and picking all of that, and doing all the things, staffing it. And actually, I brought that to six figures in revenue in four months. I mean, it was-

Melinda Wittstock:       That’s amazing.

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. It was incredible. And it was so fun, I have to say it was scary, but it was fun. And I just, I mean, it was like adrenaline. I was like, “This is incredible.” And you want to know the thing that, women started coming out of the woodwork online and in the towns near where I live saying, “How did you do this? How did you leave corporate, launched this entire business, had it be successful, all the marketing you’re doing. Tell me how you did this? Tell me how you did this?”

And I needed to go through that whole process so I could help others. And it really became very clear to me very quickly that okay, my mission, my goal is bigger than owning a store. I need to be helping other women achieve what they’re trying to go for. I’ve always been a good coach, leader, mentor, I was that in my Fortune 500, it all came together crystal clear. And again, you go, you take imperfect action. So the imperfect action that I took is while I still had the boutique, I started a podcast. I started a podcast over two years ago.

And that was my first sense of like, “Let’s see how this resonates.” And boy, did it resonate. And so you pivot. I actually sold, I sold my first business, I sold the boutique, and I shifted 100% online to supporting both one-on-one and group, I love the group coaching, it’s my favorite thing in the world, to help women be able to start or grow their thing. Whatever that side hustle is, whatever that passion project that they’ve been working on, helping them to be able to bring that to life.

Melinda Wittstock:       That’s wonderful and so important. I think women have a really important role to play as entrepreneurs in this particular moment in our history. I think we approach it differently than men. And I think we bring something to it, an empathy, an intuition, sort of a more of a holistic approach, that when we step into our feminine power, we really, we’re not trying to be dudes or not second-guessing ourselves, but really finding that value, we’re really good at this.

Julie Ciardi:                  I’m glad you brought that up too, because I have to say, I know you didn’t have that corporate background and I’m a little jealous of that. So when I was in corporate, okay, when I was in corporate, I felt like a little bit of a fish out of water, always doing something a little different than everyone else, because I was in a literally suits, total guys with white hair kind of company. And the women tried to act like the guys. I swear, everywhere I turned it felt like it had to be masculine. And that’s just not my style, that is not who I am. And I think that’s why other women in the company that were, especially women that were just coming in earlier in their career were really drawn to me, because I was not normal in this company.

And so, I believe, and so when I left there and came into this entrepreneurial world, I was like, “Yes, here are women that are leaning into their feminine power and what that can do for people.” We had to take a test, I’ll never forget this, we had to do this, kind of like a personality test, but it wasn’t Myers–Briggs, it was something else. And you basically landed in one of four colors. This was back in my Fortune 500.

You’re a yellow, blue, green or red. And it was the different attributes. In a room full of 40 people, I was one of two people in the red. What I tell you, I was definitely different inside of this company, I actually really was. And the red, it was about that you have empathy, that you can read people’s emotions. I definitely always felt like I had emotional intelligence to me, that I didn’t see everywhere, I could really feel the energy in the room and I could tell what was going on without anyone saying anything.

So, I think that we bring that kind of thing into the world in this really unleashed way when we’re entrepreneurs. And we have this bigger impact that we can make with that. So I am with you. I could preach about that. I think that more women, who are putting into the world their love, their impact, their purpose, all of that, just we are going to be better. We are going to be better. There’s no doubt in my mind.

Melinda Wittstock:       It’s so important. I mean, I see so many women know, that I’ve mentored over the years, and also just this comes up in the podcast all the time, some of the things that we struggle with particularly, is first of all not recognizing the power of these unique gifts we have, this empathy and this intuition and an ability to really collaborate and connect the dots. Those things are all innate to women, and they’re big strengths, and they shouldn’t be minimized, that’s number one.

Number two is we tend towards things like perfectionism, like thinking we have to make everything perfect. And that is different from mastery, and it can really hold women back in business. Like perfecting things so much so we don’t ask for help, or we hire too late, or things like that. How does that manifest with some of the women that you mentor through your programs?

Julie Ciardi:                  Expecting to be perfect, worrying about what other people think, and comparison are probably the top three things that I see when I [crosstalk 00:26:50].

Melinda Wittstock:       Comparison.

Julie Ciardi:                  The comparison. But that perfectionism, oh my goodness. If I waited to be perfect on everything that I was doing, I mean, I even changed the name of my podcast. I am the kind of person that says, “We got to start, and then we are going to build it as we go and we’re going to perfect it as we go.” Which it’ll never be perfect. So, that’s one of my superpowers, I truly believe, because I don’t expect it to be perfect to keep going, or to start, I should say. I love to help women with this particular hurdle. I give them that extra push to go for it, because the most amazing thing that happens, maybe it’s a podcast, maybe it’s a book they’re putting out, maybe they were starting their own coaching business, or whatever, maybe they want to be a virtual assistant.

Whatever their thing is, instead of making it perfect, if they just start, if they just put that first thing out there, they can just get over that hurdle. What happens is amazing. All of a sudden, they get inspired to keep going, and to iterate on it, to keep… I don’t even like to say the word, to keep perfecting it, because you’ll never get it perfect. But to keep mastering it, and getting it to that next level. The biggest thing someone can do to get over that perfectionist piece is to close your eyes and put that thing out there however it is.

I worked with a master life coach that she would always say, “Your B minus work is someone else’s A plus. And if you can put that B minus work out there, you’re going to impact lives and you’re going to make a difference, do it.” Or make money, whatever it is. So getting people comfortable with going B minus, for their B minus work, and aiming to keep working over time to get it into the A plus range, you’re going to have so much more success. Because otherwise what happens is it paralyzes people and they just don’t even start.

Melinda Wittstock:       Yeah. It’s so true. This is the biggest thing. So, when you’re working with women, tell me a little bit about your program. How you help them get going?

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. It’s interesting. When I knew I wanted to help women, I also knew that I didn’t, the whole working one-on-one, I love it and it’s great. But there is this power that happens when women that are in similar spaces, they’re trying to launch that thing, grow that business. When they come together to create a community, it is so powerful. So I love teaching it in group setting. So what I offer them is really a 12-month coaching program where they’re together. And it is, literally I cry, I get goosebumps and I get tears in my eyes when I watch everybody helping each other and cheering each other on and going out there and doing that first Facebook Live, to let people know what they’re doing and launching their business. And you’ve got all these women that cheering each other on.

So, what I do is I have this 12-month program where I am helping women to get past the mindset hurdles, because that’s where all of it happens.

Melinda Wittstock:       It’s always there. It’s always there.

Julie Ciardi:                  They want to jump to the tactics, everyone wants to jump to the how. And I teach that, I teach the marketing, I teach the social media, I teach how to sell, I teach all of those things. And I teach the tech. But that’s just the how. The mindset piece is the biggest piece. So there’s the mindset piece that is huge, we also obviously are training on the tactics and the how and all of that.

But here’s the other piece that’s so huge, accountability. When I was in corporate I had a boss, I had performance reviews, my bonus was hinged on my performance reviews. And there was all checks and balances in place to, even if you’re a driven person, you had the checks and balances to make sure that you were really performing at top level. And you were getting done what you needed to get done, even at things you don’t want to.

When you’re an entrepreneur or you are starting that side thing, you get [inaudible 00:31:15] quick or you don’t have the success in maybe that first action step you take, you can stop, it can totally stop you. Bun when you have coaching and accountability wrapped around you, keep going. That is one of the big things the women that I work with will say is, “I literally wanted to hide, and I wanted to stop, but you wouldn’t let me.” So, having that support structure is huge. So that’s something else that we’ve baked into the program so that you can’t really hide, we’re here to support and give that accountability for what the goals are that each of the women have, which is so incredible.

Melinda Wittstock:       That’s awesome. So when you look back at your corporate career, was there anything that you learned in corporate that was, sorry, that is still applicable now? I mean, here you are, you were a VP of Marketing, so obviously your marketing skills are going to be really, really important in a startup. Talk to me a little bit about what you brought with you.

Julie Ciardi:                  This is huge because I have to say that coming into the entrepreneurial space, one of the big shockers that I had, there were many, was that wait a minute, why is no one talking about business basics. I really felt like, at least where I came into the online space, it was shiny objects syndrome, it was which social media platform is going to get you your results quickly, is it Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok now, LinkedIn? It’s like, all of these platforms and marketing funnels, and all of these things. And one of the things that I rely heavily on from my corporate background now is the business basics.

There’s four things, four things that every business owner, entrepreneur, side hustler needs to do on the weekly basis in their business, and I just wasn’t seeing this be taught. And that is, one, you got to always be bringing in new leads, always new leads into your business. The how you do that could be the different platforms, the next shiny object, whatever. But it’s bringing in new leads, nurturing and loving on those leads, so that they know who you are, what you offer, and get that know, love and trust factor.

Making the sales is the third one. You got to make the sales. And then the fourth is delivering incredible customer service and getting referrals. So, if those are the four pillars of business, any business anywhere, not matter what kind they are. I was not seeing that being taught holistically like that. I saw it like slivers and piece parts. And that’s where I think a lot of entrepreneurs get all, especially new entrepreneurs that are starting online business, get all wrapped around the why, or around these little things, and it’s not the whole picture.

It’s like, I’ll ask an entrepreneur, “Well, how are you bringing new leads?” “Wait, what?” So it’s that corporate background was super important to come into the entrepreneur space, where it’s so noisy with a lot of gurus that know a lot, a piece part of something, this has been a huge foundation for me to be able to bring that to people and help them build these business basics into whatever they’re doing.

Melinda Wittstock:       I find a lot of women really are afraid of asking for the sale.

Julie Ciardi:                  Yes.

Melinda Wittstock:       Tell me a little bit about that. How do you help people get around that?

Julie Ciardi:                  Okay. This goes back to what we were talking about, about how when women show up, we can do things differently. And I really believe that when, if you’ve been doing the getting new leads, and then you’ve been actually loving on those leads. And what I mean by loving on those leads is you’ve been serving them. If you’ve been serving those leads with valuable information, valuable tutorials, valuable insights, and actually giving them value for free, when you go to ask for the sale, when you go to make your sales presentation or whatever it is, you really feel, even in that sales presentation, you can be adding a ton of value.

When you go to transition and pivot to the sale, you’re actually being of service. And I really think that for a lot of the women I work with for sure. They totally want to be of service. They want to help. They want to help solve a problem. If you know that what you’re offering is going to help solve a problem, or make life better or whatever the outcome is, you know that that outcome that you’re selling is going to make a difference of some kind to whomever you’re seeling it to, shift to that mindset.

And when you do that, how you speak about what you’re selling, it almost becomes a no-brainer in your own mind of why someone needs this. And when you feel that way, and again it goes back to mindset, when you can get back to that, when you can get into that mindset of serving and knowing that what you’re offering is actually truly going to make a difference, and I’m not saying, “woo” would make a difference, it could be even in corporate, in corporate sales, and you need to be behind what is going to change for this person or company that I’m selling this thing to? What happens for them? What gets better?

And when you really zero in on that, I think women can be really good about this, versus persuasion, and NLP and all that kind of stuff. Let’s talk about just serving, and it changes the game for people when they show up to actually, I’m using air quotes, to sell.

Melinda Wittstock:       It’s so true. I have a long background as a tech entrepreneur, and one of the things that often happens in the tech world is you have a whole bunch of tech people who build a product without ever thinking about what that product, what problem it’s solving. Do you know what I mean? So then the sale become really difficult, because it’s a solution in search of a problem.

Julie Ciardi:                  You know what, Melinda, it’s funny because, so the Fortune 500 I was in is a big tech company. And I remember even back in the day, because I was in marketing, and everyone wanted to talk about the features and the benefits, and why this one was better than the other thing that’s out and the market. And it’s like, “If I’m the customer, I want to know what is that thing going to change for me? What gets better for me?”

So it doesn’t matter whether it’s corporate and tech. It’s that changing the thinking, it’s like putting yourself into that customer, and get into their head and say, “Why would I want to exchange money for this? What’s going to change for me?” And so, I love being able to help women crack that code, especially women that I work with. They very much like sales has not been something that they have done before at all. So helping them to get into service and changing their mindset on that has been, that works wonders, and I love seeing that change for people.

Melinda Wittstock:       It’s huge. So, Julie, what’s next for you? Where do you see yourself going in the next few years? Because obviously you are clearly a born entrepreneur, even though you came from corporate. So I can see you constantly reinventing. So what’s the big vision?

Julie Ciardi:                  So the big vision is that, well, one, I’m excited I have a book that’s coming out later this fall, which I’m super pumped about.

Melinda Wittstock:       Wonderful.

Julie Ciardi:                  Yes, and really the book is all about teaching what I teach my women inside of my group programs, but in a book form so that I can help more people. Maybe not everyone is going to end up working with me, or become part of my group coaching, maybe they can’t afford that at this point. I wanted to get that message out to people. So, my goal is to literally help thousands of women be able to create their side gig, create their plan B, create their purpose and passion, and make some profit in doing in all the things, whatever their why is.

So, I don’t see myself backing away from that mission, that is, like it courses in my blood. So how that manifests? My goal is that my big group coaching program is actually called IGNITE University. The whole goal is that it is a 12-month program. You’ve got to learn. You don’t just step into entrepreneurship, you got to learn it. And it’s not taught soup to nuts, with all the business basics in many places.

So my goal is to just continue to grow this business in a way that it’s just serving more and more women. I’ve hired coaches to help me do that. So we’re extending. So it’s not just me, and I can’t scale it. So we are really trying to grow this business to help thousands of women create something that’s been in their blood that they want to bring to the world.

Melinda Wittstock:       That’s beautiful. So how can people best find you and work with you, Julie?

Julie Ciardi:                  Yeah. So Julie Ciardi on Instagram. I’m Julie Ciardi everywhere really. LinkedIn, Instagram, wherever you love to hang out, I would love to connect with you as well. And you can check out the podcast too, IGNITE Your Side Hustle.

Melinda Wittstock:       Fantastic. Thank you so much for putting on your Wings and flying with us.

Julie Ciardi:                  I’ve so enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for what you’re doing too. It’s so, so important.


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