Rising Through Resilience: Julie Menden On The Five Things You Can Do To Become More Resilient

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine


Put Things Into Perspective. We often go right to “worst case scenario” and create these big stories in our heads. People who are really resilient are able to put things into perspective and see the bigger picture and realize things really aren’t as bad as they might seem at first, and that there is always a way to get through it. If you find yourself going down this path, a few questions I use with clients to help them are:
-What story are you telling yourself? How true is that really?
-What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?
-If you are really stuck in the negative spiral, checking in and asking “What is the gift or opportunity here?”

Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Menden.

Julie Menden is a Leadership & Performance Coach. She works with emerging and high potential leaders, and business owners, to get out of their own way and step into their confidence to accelerate their results. Julie uses her background in Leadership Development coupled with her experience as a Certified Coach and Mental Fitness Coach to unlock the inner and outer blocks for clients to be able to reach their full potential and thrive.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?

I grew up in Wisconsin and graduated with a degree in Interpersonal Communication with a Focus on Health and Wellness. For me, I always have had a passion for being able to connect with others, and help to support them in their own growth, communication, and learning. I started my career in this space working as a Career Advisor, and then finding myself in a large Corporate job working in Training and Development. I loved what I did and found myself growing up the ladder there, getting a new position every year for the 6 years I was there. Although I always saw myself working for someone and in a “safe” Corporate job, I eventually got to a point where I was looking for something more and a way to impact people in a deeper and more meaningful way. That is what led me to get certified as a coach and launch my own business.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Honestly the most interesting piece of my career journey is the fact that I did a total 180 degree turn in how I defined what my career would be. I NEVER considered starting my own business. I was the “play it safe” and work for someone, follow this plan of what others do, work really hard and dedicate yourself to your company, and then continue to grow and get rewarded. Up until a few years ago I was one of the most “risk adverse” people you would meet. The idea of doing something different than most, of starting out on my own thing was not even a consideration. Through a series of events, through a lot of reflection about why I was feeling unhappy, constantly stressed, and no longer fulfilled, I discovered that I was meant for something else now. My biggest takeaway from that is to trust yourself. Trust yourself when you have this feeling or this knowing that it’s time for a new journey. The other lesson is to be open to things going differently than you “planned”. As someone who always followed a plan, I felt like it was wrong to veer from that plan I so perfectly crafted in my head. I learned that we can choose to re-route that path that we are on and trust our intuition when it’s time to take a new route.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My coaching + training company stands out because of my unique background and blend of experience. Having worked in training & development and leadership development, I gained a lot of insight and experience in struggles people have in their growth, and also what does and doesn’t work for long-term sustainable results. I take a blend of training and coaching to help someone grow in their development by learning new things AND then discover what could get in the way of implementing them, and how to remove those blocks, in order to reach their goals and potential. I use coaching and techniques based in neuroscience, positive psychology, cognitive psychology, and performance science and I also integrate a variety of tools like assessments and a mental fitness app that allows my clients to create new daily habits, which leads to sustainable results and big shifts.

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?

My husband. We have been together since we were 16, through so many transitions from high school, to college, to first jobs, to buying houses, switching jobs, and then to starting businesses. He was the one always right by my side encouraging me, reminding me to do what I loved, and that I could do whatever I wanted. He was my cheerleader to start my own business and is so supportive in whatever I want to do. At one of my Keynote events this past year, he was able to be there and looking at him right in the front row, was the best part of the event. Afterwards he kept telling everyone about my event and how proud he was. It truly is a unique and special opportunity to have a partner like that through so many of life’s transitions and to celebrate the wins.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

I define resilience as being able to bounce back from setbacks, to see the opportunities in situations, and to be able to respond to life’s challenges with a positive mindset. I think some of the key traits of resilient people are

  • An ability to adapt to situations
  • Can see opportunities in challenges, instead of just focus on the problem itself
  • Able to thrive, instead of just survive
  • An ability to maintain their emotions and mindset, despite some of the challenges that may come their way
  • Can navigate change and ambiguity
  • Generally tend to be more upbeat and able to spread more ease in challenge, vs. spreading tension and anxiety
  • Bounce back after “negative” or stressful situations happen
  • I also think resilient people tend to be more open to trying things, to not seeing things as “failure” but as opportunities to learn and grow

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

I certainly see the similarities as I think both take strength and a strong mindset. Having the strength to face challenges or adversity, and sometimes do the things that are scary and that will challenge us. I see courage as the first step. Having the courage, the strength to take that first step, to do that scary thing, to face something difficult. Then resilience as the ability to navigate the rollercoaster that will come. To be able to ride the up and down waves and bounce back when there are setbacks.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I don’t necessarily have someone specific in mind, but feel that whenever I hear stories of people who have overcome impossible obstacles, struggles, and life situations all I can think is “wow, they are so strong.” And often, these are the people that have such a beautiful outlook on life now. Their resilience they have developed might have been without much choice because of what life threw at them, but can serve as a lesson for all of us of bouncing back and coming out stronger.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

I’ve been really fortunate to have been surrounded by really encouraging and uplifting people in my life, who have really always cheered me on and believed I could do what I wanted. I’ve always been a very hard-worker and usually able to achieve what I set my mind to. My biggest hurdle would be myself. As what I say a “recovering perfectionist” I’ve continually had to do the work to believe I could dream and think bigger, and that “failure” was a part of the journey. I think just a few years ago I would have said leaving a Corporate career to start my own business would have been impossible for me. I continually had to check myself and make sure that I wasn’t playing small and on a path that seemed easier, but wasn’t fulfilling anymore. This journey is still being written, yet I see now that really nothing is impossible if you have a strong mindset, you are resilient, and you work hard.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

I think maybe at the time it felt like a setback, but in reality, I really don’t think there are setbacks and that it’s an opportunity to learn something. When I found myself at the crossroads of leaving a career path that I had in my mind and was working towards, it felt like I was getting ready to step away from what I was “planning” to do and that I would disappoint those that supported me, or even myself. I had a lot of stress over what the right next step was for me. I really needed to dig in and see what was right for me at that point, and trust myself. From that decision, I got the courage, or reminded myself I had it, to take that new step and that really set the stage for what I’m building now.

How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

I think in general, I’ve always tried to see the positive or believe that things would work out. I mean I think we all have different experiences in our lives that challenge us, that force us to reflect on who we are, what we want, and that require us to dig in to get through it. I would say up until a few years ago I would struggle more with bouncing back, as I mentioned I was a “perfectionist” and could be really hard on myself if things didn’t go perfectly. I eventually started to realize that struggling, that “failing” was all a part of the journey, so I really started to embrace it more and see that it made me stronger. I started to see that every time something didn’t work out the way I wanted, it was because it wasn’t the right thing for me at that time and that things always worked out for the better.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Develop Your Self-Awareness — The key to being able to develop your resilience, is to know where you’re starting. It’s hard to see how we’ve grown or assess where we’re going, if we don’t know where we are starting. You can start doing this by becoming more aware of how you are responding to situations in your life. Consider these questions to developing your self-awareness: How do you show up when you experience a stressor or a challenge? Do you sit in it and feel like you are at the affect of everything, or are you able to see the opportunities in the challenge? What is triggering those stress reactions and do you notice a pattern? This is a big first step and although can be uncomfortable, it’s like holding up a mirror for yourself to see how you are showing up and how that is serving you and what you want, or holding you back. This was a critical first step for me in developing my resilience to get really honest with myself of how I was handling tough situations and stress, and if that was getting me closer to or further away from my goals.
  2. Give Yourself Grace & Compassion. I think in general, we are really hard on ourselves. We tend to beat ourselves up about what we do or don’t do, and how we handle situations. After you reflect on how you handled something or a tough challenge, usually the first thing we do is to put ourselves down. With my clients, sometimes they try so quickly to “fix” things and move past them, that they don’t acknowledge what they are all feeling and just use a “bandaid” approach, and yet those feelings are still festering under the surface. Try giving yourself some grace and compassion. Allow yourself to sit in the feelings for a little while from a place of compassion instead of self-judgment. Then, with your awareness and your compassion, you can ask yourself “now, what do I want to do with this?”
  3. Practice Gratitude and Affirmations. I truly didn’t understand the power of gratitude and affirmations until the last few years in growing as a business owner. It’s a great tool in developing your resilience to be able to practice gratitude for what you have, what you’ve done, and all the things you appreciate. You are able to more quickly bounce back and see opportunity in a time of challenge, when you are grateful for what you have. I now start each day by writing out 5 things I am grateful for. Sometimes they are big things, sometimes they are small things. I challenge you to try this and see how it impacts the trajectory of your day.
    - Affirmations are things you say to yourself. I encourage my clients to also incorporate these into their day because it helps set you up for how you CHOOSE to show up, instead of letting the day go by and reacting to challenges by default.
    - Affirmations are things you say to yourself about yourself, about your abilities, about how you want to show up.
    - Not only do they make you “feel good” they are also actually backed in science for helping your brain on what to focus on.
    -I once attended a Tony Robbins event and I remember him saying “where focus goes, energy flows”. So many people focus on what they don’t want to have happen, instead of what they DO.
    -Try starting your day with a few “I am..” statements
    -“I am confident.” “I am capable.” “I am powerful.” “I am smart.”
  4. Put Things Into Perspective. We often go right to “worst case scenario” and create these big stories in our heads. People who are really resilient are able to put things into perspective and see the bigger picture and realize things really aren’t as bad as they might seem at first, and that there is always a way to get through it. If you find yourself going down this path, a few questions I use with clients to help them are:
    -What story are you telling yourself? How true is that really?
    -What’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?
    -If you are really stuck in the negative spiral, checking in and asking “What is the gift or opportunity here?”
  5. Develop Your Mental Fitness. I love how in the question you reference resilience being like a muscle we can strengthen. That is exactly how I describe it to clients is that this is really developing our mental muscles to be able to handle life’s challenges with a positive rather than negative mindset. Just like with physical fitness, it takes time and practice. If you wanted to get faster in running, you wouldn’t just run once and expect to be faster. If we want to develop our resilience, we need to take action and develop new habits, each day. A few ways you can develop your mental fitness: Several times throughout the day, take a pause and draw your attention to one of your five senses for a few moments. Things like taking a few deep breaths and noticing the air going in and out, feeling your feet on the ground as you sit or walk, rubbing your finger tips together and noticing the ridges, listening attentively to the sounds around you. We so often run from meeting to meeting, or from task to task that we are often operating primarily from our left side of the brain, which is also called the rational or survival brain. To build our resilience, requires us to also be tapping more into the right side of our brain that allows us to see situations with more creativity, curiosity and clear-headed action. Doing these “mental reps” actually helps you activate that part of your brain.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

That’s a tough question! There are so many things that I would love to start and be able to help out people. I think related to resilience, it would be teaching these types of techniques to kids-high school, college, those getting into the workforce. There are so many grown adults that still go throughout this world unconsciously responding to life’s events, instead of consciously choosing how to respond or being resilient through the challenge. Looking back, I would have loved to know some of this when I was experiencing the struggle in those stages and know how to be better equipped to handle challenges. I think kids in school should be learning more about these types of skills.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)

Oh so many! I would say though Tony Robbins. I mean for so many reasons. Talk about resilient. If you know his backstory, he overcame some crazy stuff and yet look where he is now. He also empowers people to be resilient and not sit on the sideline of their lives. He has changed SO many lives between his programs, the money he gives back, the work he does. I was able to attend one of his Unleash The Power Within programs a few years ago and the energy and transformation he brings is amazing.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: http://www.juliemenden.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/julie-menden/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliemendencoaching

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julie.menden/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente helps cancer survivors overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.

Savio pens a weekly newsletter at thehumanresolve.com where he delves into secrets from living smarter to feeding your “three brains” — head 🧠, heart 💓, and gut 🤰 — in hopes of connecting the dots to those sticky parts in our nature that matter.

He has been featured on Fox News, and has collaborated with Food Network, WW, Bloomberg, Amazon, and Facebook. His mission is to offer clients, listeners, and viewers alike tangible takeaways in living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle.

Savio lives in the suburbs of Westchester County, New York and continues to follow his boundless curiosity. He hopes to one day live out a childhood fantasy and explore outer space.



Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor