ImagiNation with Julie Stewart

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Julie Stewart

Audiencentral, Owner/Principal

Occupation: Owner/Principal, Audiencentral, Digital Media Agency

Age: 42

Favorite Productivity Tool: Trello

Most Recommended App: I would have to say Trello again, as we use for our project management.

Last Book You Read: Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed



Tell us about your journey? I went to college in Atlanta, but had a strong desire to use my Public Relations degree in my hometown of Rome, Ga.  As you can imagine, there are not a lot of roles there for this industry. So my first job out of college was as an Assistant at the Chamber of Commerce in Rome, Ga. I thought I could network with business owners and find my future position.  After three months, I could clearly see there was nothing there so I moved back to Atlanta taking a position as a Marketing Assistant at the AJC.

The AJC set my foundation with networking, professional growth and understanding the marketing and sales environments.  I started out working in the Marketing Department where I did promotions for Sports, Arts and Entertainment. I moved into a Coordinator Role soon after. It was the best job for a mid 20s person as I attended everything fun event in Atlanta with VIP access; however, I realized this was not going to pay the bills long term.  I then moved into a local Print/Digital Media Sales Role and then quickly moved into National Digital Media. I had about 5 promotions over 10 years and was always at the top of my game during my tenure. In 2008 when the newspaper industry started to drastically change, I decided to take my experience and go for higher paying positions.  

My first adventure was with a start-up company.  I traveled non stop and even though I had high success for the Southeast region, start-up’s don’t typically make it.  I was laid off after 1.5 years. I then moved to a Digital AD Network where I was laid off while in training due to non-performance.  My ego was crushed because how could this happen when you are in week 2 of training? My Manager confessed 2 years later it was nothing I did, but they decided they wanted someone internally in the role.

At the time, I knew I was pregnant and had to get a job fast or no one would hire me for a National Sales role…and may I add…how times have changed since then.  I took a role I didn’t think I would care for at CityGrid Media on the National Sales side and ended up staying 3 years. I originally thought (my ego was big as I had been working with large National accounts) I was too good for the role, but it turned out to be a good position.  At three years, they eliminated pretty much the entire company and rolled it up under the parent company, IAC. I was offered a nice package, but without a job again.

I knew I always wanted to start my own business and felt I had the drive, success rate and determination to make it happen.  I was tired of the frustration and always worrying about getting laid off and not being able to provide for my family. I had a really good friend from the AJC who started her own business about 4 years prior and insisted I join them.  After much thought, I joined them and have never looked back. I used my severance pay to live on and knew I didn’t have an option to not make it happen. My business is 4.5 years old and has grown each year. We are a local digital media agency specializing in SEM, SEO, Display, Content, Web Design and more.

What what's your favorite part of your day? The most favorite part of my day is when I look at my TO DO List and it feels somewhat accomplished. I also enjoy exercising to allow myself to clear my head and recharge.  And of course, spending time with the reason I do this…my kids and husband.

When do you feel most successful? Success comes in many forms. I feel success when clients come to us for solutions to grow their business, when we are referred due to our good work and when we cheer with our clients over the success we accomplished.

What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? I work hard but strive for balance to help try to prevent those draining moments. I find balance through my exercise – yoga, biking, and kickboxing. Trying new adventures, traveling and spending time with friends and family.  But at the end of the day…I love to take a day off and do nothing, with no TO DO lists which seem to dictate me.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? To set realistic goals and expectations.  

How do you optimize your day? I like to have a plan and work it with a structured TO DO list listing out in order of priorities. I typically review my calendar notes and appointments the day before to create my plan. I am focused during the work day, but also spend some hours in the evening after my kids go to bed.

Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? Tough one to answer because I have so many people who inspire me in different ways. I give credit to one of my first Mentors at the AJC who spent the time to mold me as a young professional.  I also give credit to people who are successful in general and who are driven. I always knew I wanted success and felt when you challenge yourself you can find success.  

I also give credit to my Dad.  He was an entrepreneur and smart businessman who raised me to be humble but inspired me by example to work hard for what you want.

What does imagining more mean to you and your story? Nothing is impossible when you put your head to it and want it with all of your heart.  

If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? I wish I had time to connect and gain new clients daily. ☺ Otherwise, I am always interested in people and their backgrounds, so spending more time learning about others.  It’s a great form of education and networking.

Favorite social media platform? Facebook.  I like it because I can choose to follow what I am interested in to get news and updates while having the ability to stay in touch with people I would not normally be connected with anymore.