Julie Ellis, a co-founder of Mabel’s labels and the author of Big Gorgeous Goals, has a unique perspective on success. When she and her co-founders sold Mabel’s Labels to Avery, she felt both proud of the accomplishment and sad about losing what they had enjoyed building. This is a very common but rarely discussed part of Great Work.
So much of what we talk about focuses on getting started and overcoming hurdles, staying at it, and building toward success.
But what happens when we get it?
What happens when we do the impossible, summit the mountain, and achieve the dream?
What do we do with the reality that even though we are grateful for the success we’ve achieved, we are also confronted with the loss?
This is Julie’s story. Julie’s process of recovering her excitement for the work that was ahead of her helped her to develop her philosophy on Big Gorgeous Goals, which in turn became her book.
Join us as we discuss:
· How to set big, gorgeous goals to pursue in your one wild and precious life
· How to believe in a goal that you feel like you have no business wanting or pursuing
· How to discover joy and excitement for the work that is ahead of you
· How to assemble systems, structures, and people to support your big, gorgeous goals
Join the Great Work Community! Amandacrowell.com/great-work-community
Click here to get your own copy of Amanda’s book, Great Work.
About The Guest:
Julie Ellis is an author, keynote speaker and leadership coach to corporate leaders and scaling Entrepreneurs. Julie provides her unique experience and expertise to her coaching clients, gained through 25 years of working first in the corporate world, and then as a leading Canadian entrepreneur. She is a co-founder of award-winning Mabel’s Labels, one of Canada’s greatest small business success stories.
Julie’s book, Big Gorgeous Goals is written for women entrepreneurs who want to step out of the small box they find themselves in and set world domination in their sights. In discussion with over a dozen women entrepreneurs, Julie explores their stories of why and how they have achieved great things in their lives and careers, and pairs that knowledge with her own stories of how she built, grew, and sold her business to a giant in her industry.
About The Host:
Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist, speaker, author, and coach focused on changing our perspective on the world of work. It IS possible to do Great Work—the work that calls to you from the inside– without sacrificing your health, happiness, and relationships.
Amanda is the Author of the book, Great Work: Do What Matters Most Without Sacrificing Everything Else, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda’s TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED’s Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.
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You know, we have like one wildlife, and we need to like playing it safe in this life isn't going to bring the great work. It's not going to land us in that zone. So we have to chase the big, gorgeous goals.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, author of the book, great work and the creator of the great work journals. Every week on this podcast, we're here asking the big questions. What is your great work? How do you find it? And why does it matter? Whether we do it? What does it actually take to do more of your great work without sacrificing everything else? And how does the world change when more people are doing more of the work that matters the most to them? Stay tuned for answers to these questions, and so much more.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Julie Ellis, a co founder of Mabels labels and the author of big gorgeous goals has a unique perspective on success. When she and her co founders sold Mabels labels to Avery, she felt both proud of the accomplishment and sad about losing what they had enjoyed building. This is a very common, but rarely discussed part of great work. So much of what we talk about focuses on getting started and overcoming hurdles and staying at it and building towards success. But what happens when we get it? What happens when we do the impossible, summit the mountain and achieve the dream? And most of all, how do we handle it when we finish a chapter of our great work? What do we do with the reality that we are happy about our achievement and so grateful for our success? And we are confronted with the loss. This is Julie's story. Over the course of the following years, Julie recovered her joy and excitement for the work that was ahead of her. And in doing so she developed the philosophy of big, gorgeous goals, which became her book. So who is truly LSU ask? Well, as I mentioned, she's a co founder of the award winning Maples labels, one of Canada's greatest small business success stories. Julie's book, big, gorgeous goals is written for women entrepreneurs who want to step out of their small box and set world domination in their sights and discussion with over a dozen women entrepreneurs, Julie explores their stories of why and how they have achieved great things in their lives and careers, and then pairs that with her own stories of how she built grew and sold her business to a giant in her industry. Let's welcome Julie to the podcast. Welcome to the podcast. Julie.Julie Ellis:
Thank you so much. I'm so happy to be here. Amanda,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I'm excited to have you here. So Julie, we're gonna start where we always do, which is can you just tell us a little bit about your great work?Julie Ellis:
Well, I think at its purest thing, my great work is about setting really big goals that feel scary. And like you have no business to wanting them chasing them or doing them. And somehow you have to like get out of the space and the mindset that says you can't.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah, yes. And so is that something that you have personally done? Yes.Julie Ellis:en we started the business in:Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah, yeah, that makes a ton of sense. So I want to return to the sad place in a second, but I just want to, like baked into that story are like, seven big gorgeous girls. Right? So. And I think that the, that your capability to set an impossible goal, a big gorgeous goal, and then meet it, and then see beyond what seemed impossible before to the next thing, which is now feeling just this side of possible is, is your great work, right? And so And of course, it's also the title of your book, big, gorgeous goals. So I want to just talk about like, what is it about you or not Nisa about you, but what have you learned over time that makes you able to do that? Like, why are you who we should listen to? I think you are, but like, why are you the person we should listen to in this space? Where I think you're really talking to people in a very vulnerable spot, right, like you can have what you want is a kind of a confronting thing to say. And so why should we listen to you?Julie Ellis:
I think, because I've been there. Yeah, you know, it's not just me coming at this from a while I did it. So everyone should do it. Like, I've had the highs, I've had the lows. And you know, then in becoming kind of a professional coach, yeah, I could sort of see that path. And, and, you know, you learn about things like the, you know, the inner voice that keeps you back, and all of those things that come into play. And I just think I have this, I'm at this little special corner, and suddenly realize there's a lot of people that hit this corner, and I can really help people unlock what's holding them back.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah, I think that sounds right, right, because you're not just an entrepreneur who did it. And, you know, serendipity and opportunity all came at the planets aligned. And you know, but you've not just done it yourself, but like, over and over again, for yourself. To go from a small company to a midsize company is actually a massive accomplishment. Very difficult to do, and especially with four founders. And then you got into massive distribution channels that are completely impossible. I read her book, this is why No, it's a good book, you should read it, and then sold your company and then critically went on to build a practice helping other people do it. So it does make you sort of uniquely qualified.Julie Ellis:
Yeah, yeah. Um, before I was an entrepreneur, I worked in big corporate at for a financial institution. So I've, and before that my university degree was in dance. So I have this like, a eclectic bunch of things that come together into this unique place where I really feel in a great position to work with people who are in non stock spot.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Okay. So then what do you do with people who well, you can this might be a good way to transition back into your own story of being in that stuck spot? What was it that helped you break out of that? And, and what is it that helps other people break out of that stuck spot?Julie Ellis:
I think trying something I was I was comparing it a little bit like you have to start fishing, and see what you catch. And you might not want to catch what you want. But you're you know, you're gonna catch something. And it's gonna help you figure out maybe you don't know what you want. That was part of my problem. I didn't know what I wanted. And I felt like, my skill set is eclectic background. I am not a qualified anything. I don't have I'm a I'm a qualified coach now, but, but at that time, you know, I wasn't an accountant. I wasn't a qualified HR person. I had no I let it for eight years, never written a line of code, you know, so I kind of felt like this. Like, it was a great skill set. As a generalist, I can take on a team and bring them up and I don't need to know what this subject matter they do. That's one of the things I'm good at. But like as a, you know, Coach consultant, where does that fit with somebody like, I'm not the expert, they're gonna hire to solve a problem that's specific. And I think that's part of what got me kind of stuck. And so then I started fishing, I did a little bit of consulting. And, you know, probably could have built a business around that. But, you know, writing big reports, and that kind of thing is not either a happy place for me. So I ended up, you know, going and working for somebody actually, who wanted to step away from running their business for a little while and take some time. And so stepped in, and, and ran that team. And, you know, we had, you know, children's products. And so it was a good fit and great team. But ultimately, that catching that fish made me realize that I didn't actually want to work for somebody else. Hmm. So I started to get clarity like I left males, because I didn't want to work for somebody else. But I couldn't quantify that at the time, ya know, then after the second one, I was like, Okay, I'm gonna go do something for myself now. Now, it's my turn to go out and build something that I that lights me up and makes me really want to, you know, get up every day instead of my computer and do work and feel energized by it.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
So, like, try things and then study those things. Like what? Yes, about this? That didn't? Yeah, that makes a lot of Yeah.Julie Ellis:
Yeah, I think it was very paralyzing for me, you know, to be sort of feeling like, okay, so is the best thing I ever did in the rearview mirror. I'm like, That is a paralyzing thought. Yeah. Right, in the after of selling your business. And so I needed to find a way back to excitement and joy about the work that was in front of me.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Right. Well, so you're really talking about, like, an interesting experience of being very successful. And what comes after that, you know, because nothing lasts forever. And if you had stayed at labels, labels, you probably would eventually, but I don't know if this is true, but if possible, that you would have reached the point where you're like, I want to go, do you know, now I'm running this massive company, and you know, I want something different anyways. But the idea of like, having a massive success, and then finding yourself on the other side of it, not sure what to do, I think is like, a lot of people have had that experience, you know, yeah.Julie Ellis:
And I think there's something about being really driven to climb, right. Like, we climbed for almost 13 years with that business. Built it, we, you know, it was a constant like, Okay, what's next? Okay, what's next? Okay, what's next? And, you know, we never we didn't often sit and enjoy. Yeah, we said, oh, well, okay, that was great. But now we've got to get here. And but now we've got to get here. So when I came out, and, and sat on what I think is very normal to sit on a plateau after you have a great pinnacle, I didn't know what to do with it. Right? Because there's nowhere to climb. No, and I needed to sit and rest and think, and you know, kind of like, put the puzzle back together again, in a new way with different pieces, and then start to move again. But you know, figuring that out is hard. And I think you know, there's a risk of getting stuck in that stage a little bit too, for like that pressure to like, pick the right thing first,Dr. Amanda Crowell:
is amazing. So first, I what I hear you saying is like first, just honor the fact that you might need to sit there on that couch for a bit. And then start fishing, and learn little bits and pieces of what is going to work for you and what, what really matters for your next step. And then how do you go from that sort of inkling from the fishing to a big gorgeous goal? Because that feels very named? Right? Like the largest goal. So how do you transition from, from that to the named Big, gorgeous goal?Julie Ellis:ccelerator program. So we had:Dr. Amanda Crowell:
for sure. So, that's interesting. So when you started actually telling, so I want to back up to something you said that, I think is a really interesting point, which is, you felt like you couldn't share any negative feelings about this, like positive experience? And is that something that you find is often part of the equation for the people that you work with?Julie Ellis:
I think, you know, any kind of entanglement of grief and gratitude can be difficult, right? So because one of the reasons I didn't have the words was I did not want to look ungrateful. Yeah. Right. Like you're told the entrepreneurs dream is that you get to found it, build it and sell it. And that's what we did. And it was to a giant in our industry, like, all the things that people tell you are the entrepreneurs dream, except that maybe they weren't exactly my dream, or it wasn't exactly at the right time, or, you know, it left me, you know, unprepared. I was unprepared. And that was about me, you know, I wasn't ready to let go yet. I didn't have to. And so I think that it's figuring out how to navigate that entanglement is really important, because, of course, you can be grateful, while you grieve the loss of something that is is not, you know, and when I was grieving, the loss of like, actually didn't exist anymore. After the acquisition, ah, you know, I was grieving the loss of what we built and what it felt like and, you know, then you get acquired by a publicly traded company, and the treadmill begins and the financial reporting and the planning and the like, all kinds of changes come down the pipe. Right. So, so what was happening? wasn't what I was grieving. It was what, you know, what we had lost? Yeah. And so finding a way to have that be more like grateful for what was as opposed to grief at what no longer was, was a was the transition, I think, yeah.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
I love the idea of the entanglement between gratitude and grief. And I'm willing to bet, and I'm curious what you think that any big, gorgeous goal, and in a combination of gratitude and grief?Julie Ellis:
I think that's probably a true statement. Yeah. Because, because it's complicated, right? I mean, it's it's not straightforward. You know, you're you're grateful for the opportunity and for what happened, but you grieve, because it's over or because maybe it didn't turn out exactly the way you planned. Right. The other thing I think, with big gorgeous goals is they're not that it's not a destination. Gorgeous goal. It's a journey. It's about the journey, really. And like, you know, you might end up a little few feet to the left of where you thought when you planned it out. Or maybe you get, like partway there, or maybe you overshoot, like to me it's more about the journey, and about doing things that are big, unexpected outside your comfort zone, then to set some goal that small and safe and always achieve it and tick off the box.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Right. Exactly. It's about who you have to become. Yes, it is. So again, things in your work with clients, and in your experience yourself of doing this over and over again, what kinds of things are people realizing who are they becoming, in order to be the kind of person who can, you know, go after big, gorgeous goals?Julie Ellis:
I think they are learning that. So one of the things that was definite that came out through all the people I talked to and interviewed for the book, they need systems, they need people, and they need processes in order to work on their big goals. So whether that's like the support of their family to go chase them, or the support of their team, or someone who works for them, like whatever that looks like, and it looks different, depending on where you're at what you're doing. But you need those people, those support people. And then you need, you know, processes that will help you to, like get going and be systematic about it. And you need systems that are going to come and help support you. So I think you know, and what that looks like, some person's big gorgeous goal still feels like unbelievably hard to somebody else who who's setting their own big, gorgeous goal and stepping out of the box. And I think it's because we all start from different places. And so you you will have a different sense of how big is big right?Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Mm hmm. Right. And so comparing your big gorgeous goal to somebody else's sounds like a very inefficient way.Julie Ellis:
Since you think it is inefficient, and I think, you know, the only thing to examine within yourself is, does it kind of scare the heck out of you? Because if it does, then you're probably in the right territory for big gorgeous gold for you.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right. So something that terrifies you and then get start fishing for how to get started. So I think you must fish even if you knew what your big gorgeous goal was, like when you went to write your book. Right? That was a named goal. It was big and gorgeous. Yeah, was there still fishing involved in it? And what did that look like?Julie Ellis:
Absolutely. Well, I think about the original vision of the book. And the finished vision of the book, like interviewing the 16 women came along the book journey, not in the beginning plan, the structure of the book as well, like, when we, you know, one of the images that I used in the writing was about the iceberg, right? We see people do these amazing things, it's the 10% of the iceberg that sits above the water, you don't see the sort of like blood, sweat and tears that's in the 90% below, right. And it's that, you know, highlight reel of somebody's life, you see, you see the great achievement. And so we actually ended up structuring the whole book around that motif. And it's really just, you know, so there's the 10%, that's like, the quick part, there's the 90%, if you want to dig deeper, and then you know, you can take away some lessons. And so those kinds of things, you know, where the goal was evolving as, as we were working our way towards it.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
And let's stick with the book for a second, because I know, you know, I, too, have written a book, and I think it's safe to say that it is both challenging and rewarding. What was it like for you that with that particular big, gorgeous goal? Like, what kinds of challenges did you personally have to face to get it done, and to get it out there and to sort of promote it? What's been the challenge of that?Julie Ellis:s of:Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Yeah. Yes. It is harder, especially if they come back. And they're like, which it sounds like you did. Like we actually, we need to take this down. Like the bones are here, but we need to take it down to brass tacks and rebuild it. I feel like the that first round of editing is like, it's like a construction project. Yes. Yeah. That's daunting.Julie Ellis:
Yes. And then suddenly, once you get through the construction project, you know, like, the house isn't finished, but you can kind of see it, it's there. It's framed, you can walk through it. And yeah, what the rooms are gonna look like. That's what it started to feel like, and then you're like, Okay, now let's make it pretty. Yeah, let's pick the paint colors and the shingles and the outside color. And then it kind of goes faster, but it's that first, like, strip you down and build it back up that I found, you know, really challenging. Yeah, yeah. I agree.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yes, very challenging. So that, but you did it. You made it do? And what do you think the what do you think the strategies were? Because what I'm trying to get us like, big, gorgeous goals are complicated. They're like, great work. We Julie and I sometimes talk about our books as book twins, because we really are sort of in the same space. And I just wonder like, what is it about doing? Like, what are the skill sets of big gorgeous goals that if you can recognize them in yourself will give you confidence like whatever my impossible goal is, I can do it because I can go fishing, like you said, I can. I can acknowledge that grief and gratitude are inextricably linked. And in the A space when talking about the book reflecting on your own experience of it, like, what was it that made it possible for you to not? Because I think most people give up on their books? I don't think most people finish their books you did? So like, what was it about? What did you have to bring to it? What sort of self resolve or self expertise? Like what made it possible for you to hang in there through what sounds like a really vulnerable experience?Julie Ellis:ember, say, early November of:Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Yeah. Which in fact, are very similar to the things you said, right? People processes and systems, like, it has to stop being just you and your idea. Other people need to be involved. There needs to be like, deadlines on paper, people who are gonna follow up on it. Yeah, I could totally see that. That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. And so the other question, we talked a little bit about the challenge of doing big, gorgeous goals and great work. What are the joys of it? Like, why is it worth it? Actually, to do this?Julie Ellis:
It's hard. Yeah, it is. It can be so hard. Some days, you're like, why? You know, we have like one, one wildlife. Yeah, we need to like playing it safe in this life, isn't going to bring the great work, it's not going to land us in that zone. So we have to chase the big gorgeous goals, the things that make us feel a little uncomfortable and outside of where we might rather sit. And, and, you know, that lands us in our great work. And I think that, you know, there are times like maybe you can't always chase the big gorgeous goals, maybe, maybe you're you're chasing smaller versions or pieces of them at certain points, you know, your kids are young, you're like all the different reasons, but But it's important not to get so far off the path that you start to play it safe all the time. And that you can find your way back to those big goals. Because I think that is really what gets you into that sort of like zone of genius of of the work, you're meant to be doing that you're great at that you you know, that fills you with that, you know, you are achieving the you know, and it's not even like financial or level oriented or anything, but you're just in that zone, where you're doing what you're meant to do.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
It's like it fills you it makes you feel alive. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. Agreed. Well, I think that you would be a really interesting person, for people to work with most of all, well tell us who is the best person to reach out to you for potential coaching, right? Like, is it the is it the person who's super stuck? Is it the person with the impossible goal, they just can't bring themselves to believe in like who, who should reach out to you to get your genius coaching.Julie Ellis:
I think it's people who are on that cusp of taking the step and they need someone to believe in them to go with them on the journey, you know, at their side, and, you know, keep telling them they can do it, helping them when they hit walls help the problem solving the you know, despondence of I'm never gonna get there. The thrill of oh my gosh, look what I'm doing. Like it. It's that roller coaster. And I think having that sort of coach or wing man or person who can be that sounding board and help navigate the good, and the tough times in that in that path.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Well, Julie, this has been fascinating. And I bet I'm not the only person who feels that way. So I bet that there are a lot of people listening, wondering, how can I get to know Julie better? So what do you recommend that they do?Julie Ellis:
Well, for starters, they can check out my website at big gorgeous goals.com, where they'll find links to purchase the book. And anybody who wants to purchase the book is invited to come to an event that you and I are having with our friend KP on February the 21st.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
That's right. That's right. Yes, you need to come and listen to Julie share her wisdom live and in person on Zoom. On February 21, as you said, lunch and leverage, it's called.Julie Ellis:
Yeah, and really, it's about what you need to do in your life, any changes you might need to make or things you might need to adjust, so that you get the leverage to chase those big, gorgeous goals that you're really yearning for. And the price of admission is to buy a copy of the book. So if you go to the website and do that, anybody who comes to the event, the lunch and event and buys the book will also receive a code for a free audible download.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Wow, wait a minute. So they come to this event, by buying your book for however much it is on Amazon or wherever. And then they get to come and see you live and in person. And they get the free audible book that's like the you're basically paying them to come to the event. That's awesome.Julie Ellis:
Yeah, it's the trifecta.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
The trifecta I love it. Yeah, well, I think obviously, I hope everyone will come, I will be there. 100%. I'm excited to hear what you have to say more of what you have to say. And I hope everyone comes. I'll put the link to the event in the show notes along with the link to the book. And thank you so much, Julie for your time.Julie Ellis:
Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it.