“Take Time To Get Quiet And Pay Attention” Words of Wisdom with Julie Steines and Norbert the Therapy Dog
“I don’t think people should try to emulate my career, but rather, I think people should determine what gives their own lives meaning and move in the direction of their dreams.”
I had the pleasure to interview Julie Steines and Norbert the Therapy Dog. Julie is an author and philanthropist, who brings smiles to millions of people worldwide through the social media sites of her 3 lb. therapy dog, Norbert. Norbert proves that you don’t have to be big to make a BIG difference in the world. Julie and Norbert volunteer as a pet therapy team at children’s hospitals, and Julie is the author of four Norbert books that spread a message of kindness, compassion and care.
What is your “backstory”?
Adopting Norbert, my first dog, changed my life. I was living in a small New England town, writing books to inspire others to find ways to make people smile, when Norbert and I were invited to appear on a national television program, Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family. It was there I met my husband, co-host Mark Steines. I moved to Los Angeles, we got married a year later, and a year after our wedding we welcomed our new baby daughter into the world. It is like a modern day fairy tale with a little dog as cupid.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I never planned that Norbert would be a world-famous dog with over 1.6 million social media followers, so I am amazed how this journey with him has organically unfolded. He is a magical little creature. It has enabled multiple philanthropic efforts, which is wonderful.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We just completed publication of Norbert’s Little Lessons for a Big Life late last year with Simon & Schuster. My husband, Mark, took the incredible photos of Norbert for that book, and my mother and I are the co-authors. We are working on developing a new Norbert plush toy, which has been in high demand since we sold out of our first edition plush toy.
As a social influencer, how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I never planned that Norbert would be a world-famous dog with over 1.7 million social media followers, so I am amazed how this journey with him has organically unfolded. He is a magical little creature. It has enabled multiple philanthropic efforts, which is wonderful. Having the engagement of so many people is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I work to honor their participation in the Norberthood — a worldwide community of people who believe in kindness.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I love Rachel Carson, especially her book The Sense of Wonder. I think we all need to be good and respectful rewards of the earth.
I have long enjoyed the children’s books of Dr. Seuss, especially Oh the Places You’ll Go. Who doesn’t want to believe that you can “steer yourself in any direction you choose?”
I once attended a presentation by Deepak Chopra. His talk and his books make me think about the power of our own thoughts and the ways in which we are all connected.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
I hope that my writing, through Norbert’s voice, is inspiring and uplifting. I want people everywhere to believe in themselves and their ability to make the world a better place for themselves and others. If a little 3 lb. dog can make others smile, then each of us can do the same.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
I believe we all have a story to tell. I think it’s important to share your unique vantage point with the world and the believe that your voice matters. And write, write, write! Let your passion for things you care about shine through.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
I don’t think people should try to emulate my career, but rather, I think people should determine what gives their own lives meaning and move in the direction of their dreams.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. Listen to the whispers of your heart and trust your intuition. Take time to get quiet and pay attention.
2. Sometimes our greatest challenges are preparing us for the next step of our journey through life. Learn from everything.
3. Adopt a dog as soon as you can. It will change your life.
4. Giving and serving are deeply fulfilling. Making others smile makes you smile, too.
5. Take some risks and put yourself ‘out there’ if you want to make things happen. Always believe in yourself.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
I’ve always wanted Norbert to meet Betty White. She loves dogs, and I think Norbert would love her.