How Julie Meissner of Garrison Point Advisors Tackles The Extreme Work Life Balance Of Being A Woman Business Leader During COVID-19
Everyone is in this together. Very few times throughout history has the entire world experienced a similar event at the same time. Know that many, many people across the globe share the same emotions, and together, we will get through this.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Meissner.
Julie is the COO and CCO of all Garrison Point Capital (“GPC”) endeavors and is a founding partner of the wealth advisory arm of Garrison Point, Garrison Point Advisors (“GPA”). She oversees operations, technology, legal, marketing, compliance and design initiatives for both GPC and GPA and as a Principal of GPA, she leads strategic growth initiatives, advisor engagement, and advisor development. On an ideal weekend, Julie can be found with her husband and two daughters, reading, doing yoga, biking, riding horses, or hiking with her animals.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Absolutely, I grew-up with two parents that were incredibly entrepreneurial but not every venture worked out as expected. By 6th grade I had to leave the school I attended because my parents could no longer afford it and we sold our house and moved into a rental. It was an exceptionally memorable experience for me because I lost my friends, my neighborhood and all the connections that I cherished but I still had my family, which was all I needed. My parents were hard workers, and they both taught and expected that from me as well. They turned our life around by building an accounting and tax business over the next several years which became my after-school job. I greeted clients, entered data and assembled tax returns. I found people’s financial lives fascinating because what you saw behind the scenes often didn’t match with what they portrayed in the world. I was hooked! I knew that I wanted to learn as much as possible about money and investing, so I could create a different path for my future and help others do the same.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
After starting Garrison Point Advisors, we were in more of a temporary office for two years with the expectation that we would be moving into a new space. After spending 6+ months building out a new space for our team, we got to reap the benefits of our build out for about 4 months before the start of COVID-19. Luckily, our team was able to adapt quickly because we were built on the foundation of being able to work from anywhere, but we are also very excited to get back to our new, awesome space!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have started to really build out our digital footprint and have spent a fair amount of time building out a blog on our website. A large part of what we focus on with our clients is financial literacy and education, but we hadn’t incorporated a way to educate on a broader scale apart from one-on-one conversations. We feel that through our blog we are able to give people insight into who we are, what is important to us, with a bit of financial literacy and education as well.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
So many people come to mind, and each played a pivotal role in my journey. Whether it was my club volleyball coach in high school that pushed every physical limit I had previously known and taught me to visualize outcomes or my incredible English literature teacher that taught me how to give voice to my opinions and research my convictions. The list is long but three years ago when I decided that I wanted to start a wealth management business I sat down with my current partners and discussed what I wanted to accomplish. I was still navigating the details of what to create and how I was going to do all of it. They opened the door and allowed me to run with my ideas and that freedom launched a collaborative group of team members and a company that challenges the norms of our industry and strives to do things differently. I’m very grateful that I was given that opportunity.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
Honestly, balancing the job share with my husband of our home duties & supporting the school workload of our two young girls, has hands down been our number one challenge. I naturally step in and carry about 75% of these tasks (we outlined this together and he doesn’t dispute this %, in case you were wondering). I was planning, organizing, cleaning and I had a side-job in tech support for Zoom classes (my husband works in tech, so this was clearly in his wheelhouse), it was not working.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We really had to communicate more and set-up tasks that each of us owned so I could keep my sanity. I had to be clear with what I needed and make sure I asked for help before the frustration started. I also began daily walks on the trails in my town, so I had some solo time and space. That pause has made all the difference and really allows me to come back refreshed and ready to jump-in to whatever arises. We still hit bumps, that’s a given, but we consciously shift the work-load more fluidly depending on each of our demands at work and we give each other space to re-energize and relax daily.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
This is tricky because I feel like the biggest challenge that I face at work is directly tied to my family challenge. I love what I do and the people that I work with, so being separated from them, indefinitely, and giving 100% while working doesn’t happen in the same way anymore. I’m constantly switching hats every hour between work and parent duties and while I do connect daily with my team on video calls, the casual conversations and points of inspiration now have to be scheduled. We have adjusted and have done well in this environment, but I don’t feel that I’m running at full speed given my other full-time, and equally important, duty as a mom. I will say that my girls now understand what I do and really support that I need independent work time and quiet during the day.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I’m honest with my team about my current ‘normal’ and my kids often appear on my video calls at the worst possible time but I’m fine with that now. I let them know about any challenges I’m having and they step-in to support me every time. I also have learned that being perfect is not the goal and the messy details can produce amazing results. Now I just embrace the unexpected and that grace has yielded tremendous opportunities for humility with others stepping into leadership roles in beautiful new ways.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
This is something that I am definitely familiar with! Something that has helped me a lot is allocating certain time periods for helping my kids with anything that they are struggling with, whether it be schoolwork or technology issues. We typically don’t spend the day in the same room, so I have some space to myself to work and if a question falls outside of this window, my kids know to wait until it’s the right time. For example, the last ten minutes of every other hour are dedicated question time and I coordinate a morning break in my calendar that matches my daughter’s schedule. I also try to allocate a certain portion of my day to spending time with my family since we are all at home together. We try to eat lunch together most days and always eat dinner together.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
- Reading!! Getting lost in books has been a great escape.
- Taking space and having alone time — even if it’s 10 minutes I need alone time and quiet to recharge
- Walking in nature to get out and enjoy the outdoors — this is priceless
- Meditating daily — I find 20 minutes every day to just sit and I find this incredibly grounding
- My animals — we have 3 dogs and 3 cats so there is endless opportunity for snuggle time and comedic relief.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons to Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
This is something that we have been really focused on as a team because it is a trying time for many. Actually, just the other day we covered this topic in our Book Club team meeting because ironically, we are reading: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World — and Why Things Are Better Than You Think. We all went around and shared one piece of positive news that we had heard within the last week.
1) Slowing Down Fast-Paced Life
2) Pets. Dogs sales and adoptions have soared since early March. Both breeders as well as shelters are having a difficult time keeping any dogs in inventory!
3) Developing New Hobbies
4) Other Illness. In the Southern Hemisphere, where winter fell a few months ago, other seasonal respiratory illnesses, including the flu, have yet to appear on any large scale. Because of social distancing measures and safety, these numbers have remained extraordinarily low compared to years past.
5) Everyone is in this together. Very few times throughout history has the entire world experienced a similar event at the same time. Know that many, many people across the globe share the same emotions, and together, we will get through this.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Being patient and remembering that it is a difficult time for everyone right now, so it’s great to be a good listener and offer support where needed. We also think it’s great to use your free time now to learn something new — whether it be taking an online class or starting that hobby you’ve been dying to try.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. — Robert Frost
This quote resonates because my life has had numerous and often unexpected turns and twists. The timing doesn’t usually feel ideal but when given those life path choices I’ve benefited from taking the leap to follow the less traveled road and trusting my instincts.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
About The Interviewer: Karina Michel Feld is the Owner and Executive Producer of Tallulah Films. Karina has 20+ years of experience in TV, film, and print and is a respected member of The Producers Guild of America. The mission of Tallulah Films is to bring together directors, entrepreneurs, film investors, and screenwriters to produce award-winning TV and film projects. Tallulah Films continues to be drawn towards films that are meaningful, influential, and uplifting. Karina is also Co-Owner and CFO of Fresh Patch LLC (as seen on ABC’s “Shark Tank”).