The Comeback Is Always Better Than The Setback
Julie Greenberg is the cofounder of True Blue Life Insurance. Just six months ago, Julie found a lump in her breast – a health risk she was cognizant of after experiencing her own mother and aunt’s battles with breast cancer.
While fear is an overwhelming emotion for many diagnosed with the disease, Julie’s main fear was being unable to support her husband and five-year-old son if she were to pass away – a fear that was mitigated by a strong life insurance policy.
Since then, she has gone through a few rounds of treatment and has been openly talking about her fight against cancer on social media. The goal? To educate and empower others on the importance of being proactive and preventative before unforeseen health conditions become unmanageable.
I had the opportunity to interview Julie recently. Here are the highlights of that interview:
Jill Griffin: Where did you grow up? Describe your early childhood and its significance in your life.
Julie Greenberg: I grew up in a small farming community with a population of 7,000 in Northern Illinois. My parents divorced when I was two and my mom had to start her life all over. We initially lived in low-income housing, but my mom kept pushing to give my two sisters and me more. When I was in kindergarten, we moved to Missouri after my mom accepted a job with a new company that not only paid her more but offered opportunity for future career growth; that’s when I really started to see how hard work pays off. Eventually, she was able to buy a house and provide us with a wonderful life. We later moved back to Illinois, and she continued to show me that no matter what setbacks you have in life, nothing should stop you from reaching your goals. I believe that I have such a strong work ethic and desire to succeed because of this journey with my mother.
Griffin: When did you first get the whisper you belonged in business?
Greenberg: I know that when people say you’re a born leader, it sounds cliché, but honestly, it’s what I enjoy. I love having a team because I have a natural ability to take initiative with a knack to capitalize on others expertise to help them achieve their own goals. Additionally, I’ve always been part of a team, and that competitive drive through sports throughout my youth ultimately led me to want to own my own business and be in control of my future. In corporate America, you can only climb so high and your income can only go so far, but when you own a business, you can do so much more because there are countless opportunities to get your hands on. When it’s your own, you can take it in any direction.
Griffin: Was there an early teacher that inspired you? Who and how?
Greenberg: Deon Christman was my seventh and eighth-grade physical education teacher in addition to being my volleyball coach. I’ve always looked at him as a mentor because he pushed me out of my comfort zone. He inspired and excited me, making me into a better version of myself. He always referred to me as “Never Nervous Purvis” (Purvis was my maiden name). His encouragement, whether it was in the classroom or on the court, gave me real confidence, ultimately setting me up for success in all future adventures. I can say with absolute certainty that this teacher truly shaped my life – in so many ways.
Griffin: What’s a great piece of business or life advice you received, who gave it to you, and how has it enhanced your life?
Greenberg: My husband, Brian, has always been my biggest cheerleader, constantly supporting me in whatever I was working to accomplish. He has taught me to “fail forward.” What that means is, if you’re failing, then you’re learning. If you fear failure, you will never take the necessary steps to reach your goals because you will always be worried about letting yourself, or others, down. It’s actually quite the opposite; if you’re not afraid to fail, then you will achieve far more than you ever set out to do.
Griffin: Please give me the top 3 bullet points in your Personal Leadership Credo.
· Treat each person the way you treat the CEO
· Pay it forward
· Everything isn’t fun, but remember to have fun
Griffin: Describe a painful setback in your life and what it taught you.
Greenberg: This question really hits home because, as I write this, I’m a week away from starting 30 rounds of radiation to combat my recent breast cancer diagnosis. At 35 years old, I never thought this would be something that I would have to face, but four months ago, my family’s life changed forever. As of today, I have undergone a double mastectomy, one of three planned reconstructive surgeries, and now radiation. I am accustomed to being incredibly physically active, as well as keeping busy with the day-to-day operations of our businesses. This journey has taught me a lot about patience and perseverance. After my first surgery, I was told that I had to take 12 weeks off from exercising and work, which was probably the hardest thing for me to hear besides my doctor telling me, “You Have cancer.” I had no idea how I was going to sit still for 12 weeks. Well, about six weeks into recovery, I was working from home and walking laps inside my house to close the rings on my Apple Watch. Unfortunately, something like this can happen to anyone. Breast cancer occurs in about one out of every eight women. When I found out that I had it, I wasn’t about to throw in the towel and give up.
With the news of my diagnosis, my husband and I are using my journey to talk about the importance of self-exams and emergency preparedness. As owners of a life insurance company – we felt there was no better time to start educating and empowering others on the importance of being proactive and preventative before unforeseen health conditions become unmanageable. In an effort to spread awareness, I’ve shared my story on Facebook, Instagram, and my blog to let others know that even the most influential people have hard times, but the comeback is always better than the setback.
Griffin: What advice do you have for young, talented, ambitious women who want to rise?
Greenberg: Be a “doer” and never accept “no” as the final answer. Also, women need to remember they have a voice. Too many of us fear to speak up or speak out in the workplace and hesitate to seek out new opportunities to showcase their talent and work. Women should lean into power and choose to never deprive themselves of any experience that can help them develop either professionally or personally.