How Balance and Mission Led This CEO to Success
I met Julie Campistron when we worked together at Demand Media. She led the department that produced the bulk of the content for properties like eHow.com, Livestrong.com and many other large sites. She was always cool, collected and direct — something I appreciated and admired. Today, she has a new and exciting venture, which she balances along with a full personal life. She’s the co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, an app that helps people live more mindful and compassionate lives through meditation.
What inspired the change from a career in publishing to creating a mindfulness app?
It just felt like it was time for me to prioritize doing something “good.” Maybe it coincided with turning 40, but I felt I was spending so much time and energy at work that it would be that much easier to justify if I felt I was working on something that truly made a difference and was of service. Stop, Breathe & Think offered that mission dimension that I was looking for.
Do you think you are currently combining your skills and passion? How does it impact your work? How does it affect your life?
I definitely feel that, and, again, it helps make it all worthwhile. Running such an early-stage startup is a pretty high-pressure job, and I don’t think I could do it without being really passionate about what we do. We are in the middle of fundraising, and I don’t think I could do that successfully without truly believing in our mission and being passionate about our brand and product.
For people out there who want to build an app, what would be your advice?
Sounds obvious, but make sure you are addressing a real need and offering a product that will delight people. I sometimes see beautifully designed apps, but I struggle to really see how their purpose is compelling enough for someone to open the app multiple times a week. That’s the only way you will be successful — if you offer something that someone will be compelled to use often. Would you use your app?
Do you have any additional projects/ventures happening simultaneously? How do you allocate your time?
Stop, Breathe & Think is pretty all-consuming. Honestly, it never really ends, especially so early in the life of the company — you have to wear so many hats, and the to-do list is endless. So no other side projects besides also trying to keep my family fed and organized.
I’m guessing you always have people introducing themselves and asking for favors left and right. How do you prioritize and set boundaries?
Running a startup, I’m in a position where I am also asking favors left and right. I realized very quickly that it takes a village and that I needed to really use the support of my network to make this happen. So I pay that forward, and I try to be as available as possible when I am being asked for favors as well. It’s hard sometimes to make time for it, but I think it’s important. You never know when you will be in the position of needing a favor, and I feel that being helpful to others builds that goodwill that you can tap into later.
How do you keep balance in your life (however you define balance)? What advice would you give to your 30-year-old self?
I wish I had a better balance. For me it’s about being present. When I’m at work, I’m 110 percent at work. When I’m at home, I try and give my kids and my husband my full attention. When I call a friend, I really listen. I try not to check my phone from the time I get home until I put my kids to bed. Basically, I try to do one thing at a time and be focused on it. I had an old boss that said that quality trumped quantity when it came to time with your kids. And I believe that. When I am with them, I am really with them and fully engaged. Same when I work. The area I wish I did a better job of is taking care of myself physically. I should work out more. That was the same pre-kids at 30 though too! Regarding advice, I think I would say the same thing to my current self: This is a marathon, not a sprint. Things take time. Be patient. Stay confident. It is so easy sometimes to burn out trying to achieve success too quickly, and it often leads to getting discouraged. Things rarely come quickly or easy. You learn that with experience, and it helps you pace yourself better and have the stamina to hang on longer until you get the outcome you were looking for.
What personality trait has helped you the most professionally?
I think it’s being adaptable and embracing change. Chaos and change create opportunity. Taking risks creates opportunity. If anything, the opportunity to learn, evolve and grow. I always ask myself: “What’s the worst that can happen?” And usually it’s not that bad. Being resilient and having the ability to go with the flow and seize the opportunities that often come with difficult and unsettling situations has been my biggest strength — and one that I would encourage everyone to develop. Another former boss said that as long as you are willing to learn, the sky is the limit as to how high you can go. I believe that, but I also believe that you learn only if you put yourself in uncomfortable and challenging situations.