I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
September 1, 2011
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about you all over the years, it’s that, like me, most of you have dreams that extend far beyond your circumstances.
Some of you want to write a book. Some want to launch a business. Some want to find a job that lets you stay home with your children. Some want a career that makes you feel like you’re more than a mom. I believe that all of us have ideas swirling inside our brains on how we could make our dreams a reality, and change our lives and our family’s lives for the better.
But we’re afraid. Afraid of being laughed at. Afraid of not being up to the challenge. Afraid of financial ruin.
And so we stay mired in our every day lives, wondering about what could have been, had we chosen to take a chance.
Well, I have a story for you today about one woman who did take a chance. It’s a story that I hope will inspire you to step outside your comfort zone, and try to make at least one of your dreams or personal goals come true.
The woman’s name is Julia Hartz, and she’s the co-founder and president of Eventbrite.
Eventbrite, as you probably know, is the website that pretty much everyone uses to manage and sell tickets to their events, whether they’re having a conference for thousands of people from around the world (I’m thinking specifically of BlogHer ’11, which uses Eventbrite for its ticketing) or holding a yoga workshop in Opp, Alabama, with three spaces available. Like Paypal or Ebay, Eventbrite is the site everyone (short of those who merit Ticketmaster status) uses for ticketing. There’s no real competitor.
So for Julia Hartz, coming up with the idea of Eventbrite was PURE GOLD.
But before she could launch the site, there were a few major obstacles in the way.
For one thing, Julia already had a great job as a television executive at F/X, working on shows like The Shield and Nip/Tuck. For another, Eventbrite was an idea she had dreamed up with her long-distance boyfriend. Logic would tell you that a) You’re crazy to leave a high-powered television job for an idea and b) You can’t start a business with a boyfriend. IT WILL NEVER WORK.
I’m sure those thoughts went through Julia’s mind more than once. But when her boyfriend proposed, she took a leap of faith worthy of a plotline on Sex and the City, quit her television job, and moved from LA to live with her fiance in San Francisco. “We moved in together, started a business and were planning a wedding all in the same month,” she told me wryly when I spoke to her over the phone.
Forgive me, but if I had been Julia’s best friend, I would have told her she was CRAZY. It would never work. It would end in heartbreak, failure and possible bankruptcy.
And I would have been dead wrong.
Today, six years later, Eventbrite is a raging success and Julia is still married to her business partner, Kevin. Together, they have a 3 1/2 year-old girl, Emma, and another baby on the way.
When I interviewed Julia recently about her business, her success, and how she makes it all work as a mom and entrepreneur, talking to her was like talking to an old friend- one with great business advice. She was warm, personable and straightforward. She fondly recalled working around the clock with Kevin to get Eventbrite started. She believes that their business relationship has been a success because it started up right alongside their new life together. Their business and personal lives are inextricably intertwined, and now Julia can’t imagine not working with her husband. “We have complementary skills,” she said. “I’m really good in one area and he’s great in another area. They don’t overlap each other.”
Beyond that, she credits two key factors to Eventbrite’s success: focus and execution.
“We’ve always been focused on the techonology around ticket sales,” she explained. “We’re focused on how we help event organizers sell more tickets online. For five years, we’ve been working on that challenge and we’re the solution.”
As for execution:
“Our final execution has always been focused on the customer,” she said, “and how do we want our event organizers to feel about the product and how do we want customers to feel when they buy a ticket.”
These two points can apply to nearly any goal you want to set for yourself. First, focus on what exactly you want to accomplish, and how you plan to go about it. The more sharply you can visualize your plan and how you intend to accomplish it, the more likely you are to carry it out.
Second, make sure your execution is meticulous and detail-oriented. Julia and Kevin decided from the beginning that world-class customer service was a priority. Now, it’s something Eventbrite is known for. They never lost site of that goal as Eventbrite expanded, and it has paid off.
Of course, launching a business was one thing when Julia only had her relationship with her husband to worry about. Once they started having children, it became a whole new challenge.
“The question I get most often is, ‘How do you find balance?’ Julia told me. “‘How do you not bring work home?'”
As it turns out, Eventbrite is as much of a part of their daughter’s life as it is their own.
“She’s actually part of everything we do,” Julia said. “She goes on every business trip. She comes to the office often, she basically grew up in the office. She doesn’t feel left behind.” But it’s not all about business. “When we’re home,” Julia said, “we shut off work, we’re not on our laptops, we’re not on our phones.”
I love the idea of setting boundaries — Julia’s is to make sure the laptops are closed when they come home from the office each day. Mine has been to physically schedule out my together time with my children every day, whether we go to the park, watch a movie, or make cookies. That way, I can look at each day on my calendar and know that no one’s getting shortchanged– and I can also do my work guilt-free, knowing everyone’s well-being has been taken into consideration.
Another thing Julia and Kevin do that I wholeheartedly endorse is have a weekly date night. This might seem impossible to some of you, but it’s so important to plan something “child-free” with your spouse each week that keeps the two of you connected. My husband and I try very hard to work in a date night once a week, but even on the weeks when money’s tight or we can’t find a babysitter, we have date nights in. We put the kids to bed, open a bottle of wine, and watch a movie together on TV.
Julia knows that having a second child will mean changes to her business plan, but she is now president of a thriving business and can more easily set her schedule around her family. Her advice for those of you who have entrepreneurial dreams of your own:
“Be courageous and take the leap,” she says. “Understand that there’s no time like the present. I was so petrified to quit my career and start a business, but it worked out really well. It’s important to take the leap, but understand what your goals are and be very real with yourself.”
Are you ready to take the leap?
This post was sponsored by Eventbrite. Learn more about Eventbrite here, and be sure to check out Eventbrite’s new Paperless Post feature, which marries the convenience of online invitations with the delightful experience of physical mail.
‘Dream’ Image via Brittany Culver/Flickr