Julia Stewart has carved her own path to success from food server to CEO, to brand founder. She shares her extraordinary journey with Dr. Jessica Metcalfe on her podcast “Speak Kindly, You are Listening”. From her trials and her triumphs, she distills five key takeaways to inspire us all to embrace the challenges, to learn and to thrive:
- Be the best you can be: continuous learning is key. Julia advises to seek cross-functional training and reminds us to treat feedback as a gift to grow.
- Tenacity is essential: “The school of hard knocks made me want to overcome challenges even more.” The notion of not giving up and seizing opportunities for growth led Julia to expand her marketing career to take on operational roles, and eventually to become a President and a CEO.
- Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail: Julia achieved exponential growth by embracing innovation and venturing into uncharted territory, like implementing 24-hour service and introducing breakfast options at Taco Bell. She made the shift to entrepreneurship during the Covid pandemic and founded Alurx to help people with what they value most, their health and wellness.
- The notion of service and service leadership has been her passion since her first job as a food server at IHOP when she was 16 years old: “You get daily feedback from everyone, hearing the good, the bad and the ugly.” In the hospitality business, she loved the accountability, the daily interaction, and being part of the “family”. She helped thousands of franchisees become successful.
- Do your homework when you are interviewed: ask about the culture, diversity, performance appraisals, and decision making. Julia reminds us to be intellectually curious and nurture relationships.
Finally, Julia’s most invaluable advice is to forge your own path with confidence. Years of experience taught her to make critical decisions about her career quickly, such as leaving Applebee’s the day after she was denied the CEO position she had rightly earned: “If you believe that you are not valued, it is time to go. It’s not about failure and if done correctly everybody wins.” Julia Stewart's inspiring journey serves as a testament to the power of determination, authenticity, and empathy in achieving both personal fulfillment and professional success.