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Julie Cropp Gareleck

Julie Cropp Gareleck

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

I’m Julie Cropp Gareleck, CEO, entrepreneur, and now author. For over two decades, I have dedicated my career to working with companies, whether an early-stage company, or a global Fortune 1000 brand on developing the right strategies to support growth. It has been a mission to not just provide incredible smart strategies but also deliver results that provide a positive impact to our clients. As an author, it is my mission to empower and motivate entrepreneurs, business owners, and prospective business owners, providing real experiences and advice on what it takes to be successful.

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

I am excited to join Ellevate Network to build relationships with women who are working to deliver impact in their respective fields!

How would you define your professional mission?

It has been a mission to not just provide incredible smart strategies but also deliver results that provide a positive impact to our clients. As an author, it is my mission to empower and motivate entrepreneurs, business owners, and prospective business owners, providing real experiences and advice on what it takes to be successful.

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

I have been fortunate in my career to celebrate many milestones and accomplishments. It would be hard to find one that is most memorable as they are all part of my journey. Although one that stands out happened just recently. I was featured on a TV spot where I discussed my business, Junction Creative, and the launch of my new book. When I came home from work, my 8-year-old daughters excitedly greeted me to tell me that they had watched the segment when they came home from school. One of my daughters looked at me and said, “Wow, Mommy. I have no idea what you were talking about for most of it. You’re pretty impressive.” It’s those moments that remind me why I work hard every day to impact not just my clients but also my daughters.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

Born into an entrepreneurial family, I was convinced that business was not my passion and that becoming a reporter was more intriguing. After college, I punched my international card, in Paris, working for Angela de Bona, the top PR Agent, representing the top fashion photographers in the world. A venture to Philadelphia after Paris directed Julie to work for a leading entrepreneurship institute.

In a few short years, I was recruited to join a venture capital organization, focused on early stage companies in Technology, Biotechnology, among other industries, as its Executive Director. I earned her place in the Board Room at the age of 25. I

A transition to Atlanta over 16 years ago enabled Julie to take her strategy experience and work as a senior strategist for interactive advertising agencies. It was here that I identified a gap between business-based strategy and what was defined as strategy at agencies. Junction Creative Solutions was born out of the need for strategies that intersect key business segments and the need for a firm that can manage the implementation. For over 14 years, Junction has worked with nearly 350 brands helping do just that.

In early 2022, I reached another career milestone. I wrote my first book about my experience working for my family’s restaurant. It details my journey from the corner booth to the corner office.

What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?

It’s true what they say. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.

Who are your role models?

My parents have served as incredible role models in my life. Not only did they instill values and work ethic, but they led by example. They provided a front row seat as I watched them build and grow their own business. The experience shaped how I approach my business whether dealing with accountability, adversity, a multi-generational management, or growth. This experience for me is what prompted me to write my first book so that I could share with others the lessons I learned from the corner booth to the corner office.

What is your morning ritual?

Coffee first. After I get the kids onto the school bus at 6:45, I take the next 1-2 hours for myself, whatever that looks like. Sometimes I catch up on emails, I write, or I just sit and enjoy the coffee.

What would you say your personal superpower is?

I wish I could say flight! I’d have to say that while I am not psychic or telepathic, I have an innate ability to read human behavior and adjust my approach based on the behavior. I read body language and tone to determine what communication style I should take. I automatically adjust or shift my behavior so that my communication is more receptive by the individual.

What does success look like to you?

I ask this question of my clients before starting any engagement or project, yet I don’t know that I have ever defined it as one thing for myself. As a young girl, growing up in a small town, success was moving to a city and building a career. As I’ve progressed in my career, I realize that success is a journey not necessarily a destination. And I’m pretty excited about what’s next.

Is work-life balance a problem for you? What is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?

Accept that “work life balance” is more of an ideal. What is means for you will change as your professional responsibilities evolve and your children grow. At times you will have to sacrifice one for the other and it will feel impossible to manage. When you learn where your boundaries are, it’s much easier to adapt. Set boundaries for yourself that allow you to have a productive work life while also preserving your home life.

I learned that I had to let go of what I thought work life balance looked like. I embrace the challenge and work hard every day to maintain a healthy balance. There is no perfect way to achieve balance. Find what works for you.

What advice would you offer future leading ladies wishing to break into your industry?

My industry is constantly evolving whether it be another new social platform or an AI content tool. For the last twenty years, we’ve had to learn or relearn different strategies to drive revenue for our clients. It’s not enough to just know the newest and most exciting platform. Understanding the technology is important but understanding how to apply the technology to drive revenue is even more critical. You have to be willing to learn from those who have been in the industry – they bring insights that you won’t find online.

What is the best career advice you ever received?

Early in my career, I was experiencing a few challenges with an employee. She was nearly 30 years older than I was and in a support role in our office. She was happy to share her personal stories and weekend news, but when it came to getting her work completed, she was less than interested. She routinely called me “honey” as opposed to addressing me by my first name. I’d catch her swearing under her breath or complaining to the other employees in the office when I walked into the office. She made the environment uncomfortable, not because I had done anything wrong. Rather, I expected her to be accountable for the work that was assigned to her.

I remember complaining to my father about this experience. He so aptly explained to me that as the leader in any organization, you will always have a target on your back. If you don’t want to take the hits, then don’t stand out in front. He couldn’t have been more right.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

As a working mom, it’s a constant struggle to maintain appearances, be exceptionally focused at work, and ensure that your children have everything that they need when they need it. The days are long, but the years go quick. Be intentional with how you spend your time and be present in those moments. Be the best version of yourself, whatever that may look like!

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.