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Episode 434: The Magic of Mentors with Julianna Newland

Episode Summary

In today’s episode, we learn from a true wordsmith, Julianna Newland, why getting good at putting nouns and verbs is a shortcut to becoming successful leaders. Julianna shared insights on the importance of finding the right mentor, getting and securing a job in a Fortune 500 company, and nurturing a solid network. You’ll also hear Julianna’s thoughts on mentorship, how to get the right mentor, successfully manage hybrid work environments, and maintain high trust levels.

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, and we are so grateful to have you as part of the show today. We have a terrific guest, I’ll tell you about her right now, but I guarantee the subject we’re going to talk about will be helpful for all of us. She’s a trailblazer, and she’s actually gone from the serene quarters of private schools to the rough and tumble-world of business. She was educated by nuns and had her skills honed at the University of Indianapolis. She majored in English and Political Science, clearly preparing for a life in the business world. Her career really leapfrogged from a Fortune 500 company through the intricacies of the state government to the hidden processes of nonprofits. So I mean, she’s got a lot of experience, and she didn’t just break the glass ceiling as the first female in her public affairs management role, she knocked it out of the park. So, so fun to have her here. Welcome Julianna Newland.

Julianna Newland: Thank you, Steve, very much. I’m happy to be here and appreciate the invitation.

Steve Shallenberger: She’s got a great background, I love that background because you’re coming from so many different areas and you’ve had a wonderful career. I’ll just tell you a little bit more about her, and then we’ll jump right into our interview. Julianna’s journey isn’t just a story of climbing the corporate ladder. I mean, this woman, she scaled a skyscraper with her bare hands. Having been employed for more than 30 years, she has seen hilarious shenanigans of both men and women and the processes and programs that often are a challenge for any of us. Her book, All Up In Your Bizness: Managing Your Business Crap, there you go is a labor of love and giggles. This book is to be enjoyed as well, not only tongue in cheek, but it also looks at the many business circumstances, such as interviews, office kiss-ups, performance reviews, and working from home, and it offers some wonderful advice to readers. It’s not just a book, it’s a survival guide for the business world. So Julianna, as we get into this today, tell us about your background including any turning points in your life that had a significant impact on you.

Julianna Newland: Well, as you mentioned, I’ve had several different jobs during my career. The longest time was with a Fortune 500 company which was 24 years here in Indianapolis. I’m the oldest of five children, and grew up in a middle-class family. All of my jobs that I had had very strong writing components, so I’m glad the nuns taught me well. I can shove nouns and verbs together pretty well for different types of speeches and all those things that I wrote during those 34 years. The things that had a significant impact on me, I would not want to rank these in order, but I’ll just put them out there. Working at a Fortune 500 company was a big turning point for me, and taught me a lot, I learned a lot. My position was very outward-facing, I worked with lawmakers and governors over the years, and so that was a starting point for me, was learning how to represent a Fortune 500 company in a public atmosphere. I’ve been married, and that was a major turning point for me, I’ve been married for 40 years, and my husband and I adopted a son 26 years ago. And I’ve also spent a lot of time in community service. I think that’s important to give back to your community, and I’ve done that, and those created a few turning points for me as well. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, thanks for that background just a minute or so you told us so much about yourself, thank you so much. Tell us how you got into a Fortune 500 company and what tips you could give to our listeners on how to be successful in companies. How do you create value? How do you make a difference? Because you’ve really done it. 

Julianna Newland: Well. How I got the job is I was approached by representatives of Lilly who knew me from my lobbying work for the State Health Department and wanted to know if I would be interested in doing public affairs for Lilly. So I agreed to interview and I got the job. What advice I would give would be to network as number one. You have to really network within any company, but especially a Fortune 500 company, so that other managers who are outside of your department know you, and know your skills. Try to get yourself appointed to lead teams, that’s another good thing, especially in interdepartmental teams where you can show your stuff to other managers. And try to find a mentor. I’m a big believer in the value of mentors especially for women employees, female employees. And I think if you could try to find a mentor and have a very valuable relationship where you can ask questions, have the mentor give you advice on how to work your way up the corporate ladder, or the business ladder if you will, and just answer those tough questions that you might have. 

Steve Shallenberger: That’s really great advice to develop a network and then to create relationships where you can have a mentor relationship. What have you found is the best way to create that network? How do you expand out? How do you build relationships? That’s the first one. The second question is, then, how do you identify potential mentors and create that relationship? I agree with you so much, I look back and look at the mentors in my life, and they have had a huge impact. But it’s more than just that. Not only did they have a dramatic impact on my career and everybody that I’ve touched, but they became some of my closest friends and very special relationships. So do you mind hitting both of those, the network within a company, whether it’s small or large or whatever, how do you create really meaningful, high-trust networks? And then how do you identify mentors and set up that type of relationship? 

Julianna Newland: Networking really is when you reach out to people that you may interact with in different business circumstances. And what I did, I just said, “Can I get some time on your calendar to get some coffee, I’d like to learn a little more about you and your job and share my information?”. And from that, you can ask them to think of opportunities where you could make yourself available for a team, an interdepartmental team that they’re putting together, or a departmental team, so you can work your way into leading the team. But just look within your own department first, and your peers in your own department would be a good place to start networking. You want them to know you best. And also think about areas where you would like to gravitate to eventually in the company and talk with that management team, one-on-one. Managers are used to new people coming to them and asking about their jobs and opportunities to work together, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Now, a mentor is a whole different ball game. Mentors, that’s a very special relationship that you have with a mentor, and you have to be able to trust each other, keep confidence, keep conversations confidential, and have the mentor look out for your backside and think of you when opportunities come for promotion. For mentors, you don’t necessarily have to jump up to the top of the ladder, you can look at mentors within your compartment, or managers that you’ve been in meetings with and were impressed by their candor and other things. Just ask them, say, “I’m looking for a mentor. I specifically want someone who has background knowledge of ABC.” and they’ll either say yes or no. And then set your expectations and make sure you’re on the same page because you don’t want a mentor to think you’re going one way and actually going another way. So make sure you’re on the same page and thank them. Take them out to lunch, take them out to coffee, and thank them for being your mentor. 

Steve Shallenberger: How do you cultivate that relationship with them so it’s a win for them too, so it’s satisfying for them?  

Julianna Newland: You’re offering to them a person, a capable person, who could perhaps join their department or work on projects that they have under their guidance, and make sure that you are providing information to them that they would find helpful. And you just have to ask. You have to be open and candid and ask. Ask if there’s anything within your department that you can let them know about, and think of projects where you can have a combined relationship and use that to your advantage. 

Steve Shallenberger: Okay. How many mentors are a good number of mentors to have? 

Julianna Newland: Probably one. I would say, really one or two in a business setting. You don’t need to have coaching coming in from all angles. As I mentioned, this is a very special relationship, it needs to be nurtured. You probably won’t meet, but once every other month, or once a month, maybe a little more frequently initially, so you can get to know each other. But I would say one or two.

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, Julianna and I had the opportunity to visit before we started today and just reflected on what a powerful role mentors can play in our lives. I just want to point out that you said maybe one or two within a business setting. Mine, actually were exterior to my business, and I had four or five, but they all had different backgrounds. In my case, I was running a company, and I could actually compensate them for their team, but these were 30-year relationships. They went for a long time and had a huge time. But thank you for bringing this up today. And how about outside of a business environment? Is there a place for mentors in children’s lives or somebody to talk with? What’s your experience there Juliannna, and how do you do it there with children?

Julianna Newland: I’ll talk about children in just a minute. I just wanted to mention that you can find mentors with community service organizations that you can volunteer to be a part of, and you can find someone to have a special relationship with as a mentor who is in the leadership of these community service organizations. I think there are mentors in children’s lives now, but they just don’t know their mentors, teachers, older siblings, parents, coaches, and so forth. But for this, I would say children starting in the sixth grade is where they can understand that relationship a little better, and especially in high school where there are a lot of challenges that high school students face, that’s a good time to bring a coach or an older sibling into a mentorship role and talk with them.

Steve Shallenberger: I know that you’ve seen this Julianna, that an idea can change a whole life. When somebody catches a vision of what’s possible or something that they can see themselves doing where it makes a difference. Have you found in your experience a way to bring those kinds of ideas to the forefront that is inspiring and lifting and helps people get on the right track?

Julianna Newland: I was lucky because I worked for an executive vice president who thrived in that kind of environment and wanted his team to have that kind of environment where we would have team meetings and ideas were tossed down and responded to by the different people on the team. Once he understood what you wanted to do, in my case, I wanted to build a project from ground zero on up. And he said, “Go for it. Do it.”. And he said, “I’ll be here if you need my help, otherwise, I’m staying out of your way.”. So that was interesting and helpful. But that way with most of these team members, she’s a very outward-facing person and a very popular and good writer. 

Steve Shallenberger: So let’s be clear with all of our listeners here, we’re talking about good, better, and best. Never let it rest till the good is better and the better is best. It’s making a difference here. And so Julianna, you’re not talking about the kind of employee that shows up at 8 o’clock and leaves at 5, maybe 4:59. Checks the box, and says, “Okay, I’m done with work now.”. You’re talking about an employee, an associate who’s there to make a difference, right?

Julianna Newland: Oh, absolutely. I know it’s challenging when you’re balancing family and older parents’ responsibilities, but you have to give your heart and soul to the employer and be loyal. I think that’s one thing that I noticed, not to be disparaging, but a lot of the younger employees, Generation Z, are not as loyal as we Baby Boomers were. I jokingly refer to them as the one-and-done employees, just like the University of Kentucky basketball team, if they don’t like their manager, they’re out the door, rather than trying to work it through. But I think that the mentors will help in these difficult situations and if you’re having problems at work, talk to your mentor. 

Steve Shallenberger: I love it. That’s great. If we talk about nothing else in the rest of this interview, what we’ve talked about already is creating these kinds of essential, wonderful relationships is worth the whole time. So thank you for bringing those up. I’m sure you agree with me on this one, I hope so. Another mentor, grandparents. 

Julianna Newland: Oh yes, absolutely. Very good, very good. 

Steve Shallenberger: They have an interest, they have all this experience, they love the grandchildren, and sometimes can influence them in a way even a parent can’t. Because there’s a step removed and because we can give them candy.  

Julianna Newland: We’d write down and rehearse. 

Steve Shallenberger: Oh, that’s great. Okay, so I’d love to get your point of view on something that’s happened in our lives, and that is a hybrid working situation. So what are some of the suggestions you might have to successfully manage hybrid work situations? 

Julianna Newland: In the hybrid work situation, I think there are three things that are very important. One is accountability. I think employees have to be accountable to their manager, especially since they’re working off-site so much. Then comes communication. You have to communicate with your manager and with your teammates because you can’t just stop in a hallway and chit chat about something if you’re not working in the office. And the hybrid situation is something we all know that it’s come about since the pandemic. People worked at home, and then they said, “Jeez, I kind of like this.”. So not all companies, some companies have made it easy for employees to work from home, but I think the balance of hybrid is good because you need to be in the office as well, and you need to be able to interact with your employees face-to-face, your colleagues face-to-face. But also when you’re home working, you can do a load of laundry and things like that while you’re working on these two projects at the same time. 

Steve Shallenberger: Trust is such a vital part of any successful team or business, so one of the challenges of working at home is maintaining a high level of trust. Because when you’re together and seeing each other every day, as you said, it’s a lot easier to be sensitive to the issues going on. What are your thoughts about ways to mean high levels of trust when somebody works at home or has a hybrid work situation? 

Julianna Newland: Communication. I think communication is the key. You have to be open and you have to communicate with your team because if you’re missing an action, a lot for team discussions, because you’re at home and you’re not participating in the conference call or whatever, your manager may decide to make you permanently miss an action. So it’s very important, trust is absolutely number one. But I think with open communication and understanding. We’re trying to get used to this change in the work environment. And some companies have said no hybrid, and some companies have gone with the hybrid, but you have to work within the environment that is set out for you. 

Steve Shallenberger: Well, tell us about your book. Why did you write the book and what’s in it? 

Julianna Newland: It’s a very short book. It’s very short, and it’s witty, I think. It has a lot of my voice in it. It is my look over 34 years of the workforce, the work environment, how men and women interact with each other through things such as asking for a pay raise or doing performance management reviews, office hookups, working in an open office, how they interact with each other. So I’ve taken these and broken them down into little bits and bytes. I give my advice on most of them to the younger employees. But I also write very sassy, somewhat sassy, because that’s more my style. But I think the new employees, or even older employees, will find it helpful as they see through my eyes what I’ve seen over 34 years. It’s an eclectic book so I want to say that I also include a muse, which is a two in my book. She’s a two-foot-tall, nyff-like character who is supposed to advise me and help me with my creative writing, but she thinks her purpose in life is to go clotting. So that creates a lot of friction between the two of us, who we are supposed to be in a useful relationship with, so that’s another big piece of the book. And then finally, I asked two bartenders at a favorite restaurant of mine to create nine original craft cocktail recipes. And they did, and they’re wonderful. And I gave them each a business name, such as “Networking” or “Thinking Outside The Box”, and they’re included throughout the book as well.  

Steve Shallenberger: Well, it sounds like you had a lot of fun with the book.  

Julianna Newland: I did. And I was able to relay 34 years of observations, good and bad, but there are no names and no names of people or anything. It’s not meant to be derogatory at all, and it is not derogatory at all towards anyone, but it’s a lot of common sense that I found over the years. I would just shake my head and say, “Just use common sense in these situations.”. So that is the advice that I give. 

Steve Shallenberger: Okay, you have some cultures and some companies, they get, right? They’re close, they have a good working relationship, there’s high trust, they have fun. But you have some cultures, actually, where there are backstabbers and people just punching the clock. Sometimes they have somebody else punch the clock for them. I think your book probably deals with all of this, doesn’t it? 

Julianna Newland: Yes, I think specifically with backstabbers is a very delicate situation, as you can imagine. Think before you act, you need to talk with the person who, I think you should talk with the person who is the backstabber to identify the problem and ask why. First, you have to make sure you understand what the problem is because it may just be a misinterpretation, and try to work it through. Ideally, you want to work it through as opposed to letting that anger just rise up within you. And look to the mentor again, look to the mentor as a possible person to bounce off ideas of, how do I handle this.  

Steve Shallenberger: Okay, very refreshing, fun. So as you think about your book, what are three of the most important things you can recommend for all company associates, whether they’re newbies just starting off or experienced people? Three of the most important things that would help them contribute to their company, create value, and make a difference. 

Julianna Newland: Open communication, I think I’d put it at the top of my list. There are a lot of things that get misunderstood because they’re not spoken. We assume people can read our minds, and that’s not the way you want to work in the business situation. You want to be open and communicate well and you don’t have to write a whole book, just make sure people understand where you’re coming from, and what ideas you have to improve the team or improve the project. The other thing I would suggest is to rely on your mentor, to find the mentor and rely on them, whether it’s a small company or a large company. They’re going to help guide you through your career path, and I think that’s important. And don’t do just what is expected of you, go the extra distance. I’m in a performance review, if you come in and say, “Well, I did all these things that were on my work plan.” that’s good, but does that make you an excellent worker, or just a good worker? So those are some things that I would keep in mind.  

Steve Shallenberger: Yeah, go the extra mile, right? Yeah, look around, say, “How can I help? How can I make your life better? How can I make our company better?”. 

Julianna Newland: Right. Exactly.  

Steve Shallenberger: Well, what a career. You’ve got so much to share. I’d like to just give a little time before we wrap up today to share any final tips that you would like to leave with our listeners today. 

Julianna Newland: Be a good communicator. I preach that a lot, but I believe that what is very important is to be a good communicator. To be honest and trustful, trusting and trustful. Those are the top two that come immediately to mind. I think that if you are trustworthy and you’re a good communicator, I think you’ll get along just fine. 

Steve Shallenberger: What have you found the best way to be a good communicator, Julianna?  

Julianna Newland: You need to know what style of communication works best for the person you’re trying to communicate with. Some people prefer just one-on-one brief chats in the hallway, others prefer to email, and others prefer a phone call, personal or face-to-face. So you have to know the communication style of the person you’re talking with. Be brief, get to the point, no extra flop, just say what you need to say and offer. And don’t always whine. I always say, “Look out for the BMWs at work. Those are the bitchers, moaners, and whiners.”. Stay away from them, because that’s just going to drag you down. And don’t be a BMW. 

Steve Shallenberger: Okay, good job. I love it. Yeah, have a good attitude and be a contributor. Just get with it. They had a podcast guest the other day who said, “Just say to yourself, when you have an opportunity, I get to, not I have to.”. That’s what you’re saying. Well, Julianna, how can people find out about what you’re doing?

Julianna Newland: Well, I have a website which is www.allupinyourbizness.com. Now it’s being changed over, several changes being made to it, but I think if you read it now you’ll get my bio, some articles that have been written about my book, and other things that might be of interest to you. A Video trailer, a book trailer, I should say, is on there as well. But the best way to kind of keep up with what I’m doing is by following my website.

Steve Shallenberger: The website, did you say it’s www.allupinyourbizness.com? 

Julianna Newland: Correct.

Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Well, it’s been a delight to have you on the show today, and thanks for sharing all of your experiences. It’s been amazing.

Julianna Newland: Well, you’re quite welcome. I enjoyed it.

Steve Shallenberger: Well, thanks to our listeners, it’s been a privilege to have you with us today, and it’s an honor to be able to talk about these things together. I always wish we could be in the same room and see your eyes and your face and feel your spirit. But I feel that anyhow, thanks for being with us. This is Steve Shallenberger, wishing you a great day.

Steve Shallenberger

Founder, Becoming Your Best

CEO, Executive, Corporate Trainer, Entrepreneur, and Community Leader

Julianna Newland

Author and Communications Expert

Micro Influencer, Award Winning Author, Editor

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