1753 – The Power of Mentorship with Julian Harris

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Founder of Julian Harris Services Limited, Julian Harris.

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Julian Harris, a seasoned leadership coach delved into the often overlooked challenges and isolation faced by leaders, particularly founders and CEOs. Julian shared his insights on the importance of having a mentor or sounding board to share concerns and seek guidance.

With his extensive experience working with leaders, Julian emphasized the importance of having someone to talk to about these concerns.

As a business grows, these two roles can become distinct, each with its responsibilities and challenges. Julian, leveraging his background as a former attorney, explained how he helps clients identify their passions and delegate tasks effectively, a crucial skill for both founders and CEOs.

Without a sounding board, leaders can find themselves lost in their thoughts, leading to unclear decision-making. Julian's coaching approach focuses on helping clients find clarity, connect with their innate wisdom, and tap into their creativity.

Julian also stressed the importance of self-care, comparing it to the safety briefing on an airplane, where you must put on your oxygen mask before helping others. Looking after oneself is crucial for effectively managing business and personal relationships.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Challenges and isolation faced by leaders, particularly founders and CEOs
  • Importance of having a sounding board or mentor for leaders
  • Role of a founder versus a CEO
  • Potential consequences of not having a mentor
  • Pains and complaints that leaders often share with a coach
  • Coaching philosophy and approach to helping clients find clarity and connect with their innate wisdom and creativity
  • Importance of slowing down and taking time for reflection in decision-making
  • Julian Harris' experience as a leadership coach and working with leaders who feel lonely and struggle to find someone to talk to
  • Value of a decelerated day for deep thinking, self-reflection, and exploring important questions

About Julian Harris:

Julian Harris, founder of Julian Harris Services, is a seasoned commercial lawyer with a 20-year track record, having served notable brands like Nike, Twinings, Sports Direct, Asda, Manchester United, and Primark.

His vision for making a substantial impact led him to establish his coaching venture, where he now specializes in working with business leaders aiming to change the world.

Based in London, Julian seamlessly integrates his legal expertise with leadership coaching, helping clients on both sides of the Atlantic.

With a passion for drawing out the untapped potential in individuals, he empowers business owners and leaders to become the best versions of themselves.

Known for his attentiveness and thought-provoking questions, Julian facilitates clarity and confidence among his clients, even when they struggle to recognize their strengths.

About Julian Harris Services Limited:

Julian Harris Services, founded by Julian Harris, reflects his transformative journey from a legal career to coaching, driven by a desire to create a more profound impact on the world.

Motivated by the brevity and preciousness of life, Julian aspires to leave a meaningful legacy by facilitating positive change. As a coach, he focuses on aiding individuals who share a vision of making a difference in the world, aligning their goals with his own aspiration to contribute to a better global future.

With a commitment to helping others, Julian's coaching endeavors become a conduit for realizing his vision by empowering those who seek to bring about positive change, embodying the ethos that small actions can collectively make a significant impact on the world.

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Julian Harris Services website at

Check out Julian Harris Services on LinkedIn at

Check out Julian Harris on LinkedIn at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach, or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now. Julian Harris. Julian, you are a leadership coach. You are found on the web at lonely at the top, Julian is great to have you.

Julian (00:01:12) - Great to be here. Nice to see you, Josh.

Josh (00:01:14) - Thank you. Likewise. Likewise. I should also point out you have a personal website as well Julian Harris

Josh (00:01:20) - Well, Julian, I'm kind of gathering that we're going to be talking about kind of this leadership dilemma, right. That those of us who make the effort to start a company and there were surrounded by people that might be on the team. But yet, you know, we have challenges. We have things that come up in our lives that maybe sometimes it's a little hard to find someone to spill to. Our family may not be appropriate or team members may not be appropriate. Our clients may certainly not be appropriate. It's a tricky business sometimes.

Julian (00:01:53) - Yeah, it really is. And that's the reason why I chose that URL for one of the websites. Lonely at the top. I've spoken to many people, a number of my clients as well talk about. They talk about the isolation of being the CEO, of being the founder, of being the person to whom everyone looks. You know, when things are going well, then it's great. You know, it's your team. That's what you know. The team have done this, but when things aren't going so well, it's on you.

Julian (00:02:22) - And that can be a really lonely place to be. And as you say, Josh, you know, it's hard sometimes to talk to your spouse, your partner, your family about what you're going through. If you have a board of directors and many do, you can tell them some stuff. But there's plenty of stuff that you you definitely don't want to talk to them about. So it can be a very lonely place to be.

Josh (00:02:45) - Um, and I'm a big fan of this, you know, this concept of, you know, sharing. Right. And so when we just listening to an interview and they're talking about secrets, right. And when we are holding a secret and it doesn't have to be like a secret secret, it could just be I'm a little nervous about our cash flow. And you can decide who you want to share that with, but there may be some consequences to sharing it with your spouse, although you should be able to that still may evoke some other concerns. Maybe you don't want.

Josh (00:03:15) - And as you know, if it's not a serious issue, you just, you know, have some natural worry or whatever. Maybe you can bring that up, maybe you can't. Maybe you can bring that up to your team. Maybe you can't. Right? But there's a power in sharing that worry, concern or quote unquote secret with somebody else that when we share that, then it doesn't feel so burdensome. And when we don't have those burdens, then it's like we can think more clearly. We we can, I think, work more rationally without some of those fears. Can you talk about that dynamic a bit?

Julian (00:03:52) - Yeah, 100%. There's an emotional cost. That's what a phrase or one of my clients used recently. There's an emotional cost that comes with being the CEO, being the founder, being the leader. And you're right, there are some things that you don't want to or maybe shouldn't talk to your team about. Plenty of leaders, no, don't want to kind of worry their immediate team, for example.

Julian (00:04:15) - So who do you talk to about that stuff? And I know from my own experience of having a coach, having a different coaches in my life, I talk to them about stuff that I don't talk to anybody else in my life about. So I think it's, you know, this sounds a bit self-serving, but I think having someone like that in your life is super important.

Josh (00:04:38) - So let's talk about the role of a founder versus the role of a CEO, because they're not the same thing.

Julian (00:04:45) - They're not. They can start out being the same thing. So in the startup world, the founder and the CEO is often the same person. And when the business is small, then the founders, the person with an idea and it kind of running the business. But there will come a point in time, if the business is successful, that the founder can't really think like a founder anymore. They have to think like a CEO, and that's not for everybody. There are plenty of stories out there where founders have realized that at some point in time, the being a leader is not they're not suited to that.

Julian (00:05:23) - And so that kind of a case in point, Josh, that you're right. Often the founder and the CEO, the founder and the leader become two distinct roles.

Josh (00:05:32) - Yeah. And what is your background? I know you have kind of an interesting background as a recovered attorney and share with me why that is relevant to the work you do today.

Julian (00:05:43) - Yeah. Okay. Well, if I told you my story will probably run out of time. But yeah, you're right. I maybe once, once a lawyer, always a lawyer. But I was practicing for 20 years, largely in house, in big business. So some kind of big UK European brands, many in the retail sector. I was always looking for a sense of purpose and fulfillment that I saw that my dad had. It was so obvious, you know, so obvious growing up. That's why he was a lawyer and that's why he had. I never found that in the law, but I did. I found it in the work I do as a coach.

Julian (00:06:19) - I think being able to draw out from my clients what they love doing, what gives them passion, helping identify what they're not so good at. Maybe that's something that they can delegate or stop doing often. Again, in the in the startup context, many founders or they're wearing so many hats at the same time, and as they grow, they continue to wear them where perhaps they shouldn't be wearing them any longer. So I think that's a skill that maybe I've kind of subconsciously, unconsciously developed during my career.

Josh (00:06:54) - Yeah. What are the potential consequences of a leader? Not kind of getting that sounding board, that mentor?

Julian (00:07:04) - Potentially. It's the opposite of clarity, not being able to see the wood for the trees. For me, clarity. Helping my clients achieve clarity and clear thinking is one of the kind of, I think, one of the fundamental of my job, because if you don't have that clarity, it brings with it so many downsides, wrong decisions, or taking too long to make decisions, stress, anxiety, you know, the list goes on.

Josh (00:07:32) - And when you are working, very particularly Julien with a client, what are some of the complaints, not complaints, or what are some of the pains that you hear your client share with you? You don't have to be too specific. Yeah.

Julian (00:07:49) - Yeah. Let me see if I can generalize for you. Many of them come from judgments they make about themselves as leaders or as kind of people more generally. And that can manifest in many different imposter syndrome, a lack of confidence, kind of second guessing themselves. Everything comes back to the story we tell ourselves about ourselves and about the people in our world.

Josh (00:08:19) - Yeah. And then Julie, what does your coaching engagement typically look like? So if someone has never had a coach as a leader, maybe they started a company 3 or 4 years ago. They maybe are experiencing some anxiety or frustration and they're wondering, huh, I wonder if I should make the investment in a coach. Like, what does that typically look like?

Julian (00:08:43) - Yeah, it's a good question and not an easy thing to answer, because every engagement that I have is tailored to that particular client.

Julian (00:08:51) - But what I can say in terms of a philosophy, what I believe really passionately, is that we all have what I call a little bit of divine light at our core and what that looks like. That is the source of our wisdom, our creativity, our connectedness to others and to the world around us, our love. And when clients come to me, that divine light is often obscured by what's going on between their ears. And so what I try and help them do is the metaphor I often use. It's like clouds obscuring the moon. What I help them do is I help them to get to a place where the clouds part, and they're able to see the moon clearly, because from that point, that's the point at which things become clear, at which my clients can then connect so much more deeply with their own innate creativity, wisdom, connectedness, love, and that that helps them be better leaders, better husbands, better wives, better partners. So working with me as a holistic experience, yes, the context is business, but I'm working with the human being in front of me.

Julian (00:10:06) - You know, as I say, holistically.

Josh (00:10:08) - Yeah. Kind of your inaugural conversation or discovery call, as it were, as you call it a deceleration call. Yeah. Why is that okay? Why do you call it a deceleration?

Julian (00:10:18) - Yeah, yeah. Thanks for asking. So deceleration to me, it's a fancy word for meaning slowing down. Yeah. Because again, when you're a, when you're a CEO, when you're a leader, when you're a founder, when you're an owner, the business and life is 100 miles an hour when you're running at that pace. That's not an environment which is conducive to clarity. That's not an environment conducive to helping you see the moon. So deceleration is all about slowing down, right? When we slow down, when we slow our thinking down, that's when we're able to get clear. Yeah. That's we're able to see solutions, see strategic decisions.

Josh (00:11:04) - Right. I'm a big fan of that, in that I think that our inclination is when things feel out of sorts.

Josh (00:11:14) - I think our initial inclination is to just work harder, and we may not take the time to pause, reflect and, you know, contemplate, you know, or and think very deeply and thoughtfully about our next move, when in fact, usually I suspect that your experience is that that's really the key to really clearing the logjam.

Julian (00:11:39) - Yeah, 100% slow down to speed up. As one of my coaches, Rich Litvin, loves to say slow down to speed up. I think it's so powerful. What would what.

Josh (00:11:50) - Else might be included in that intentional deceleration or that intentional thoughtfulness? Like what could we do during that time?

Julian (00:11:59) - One of my favorite things to do with clients, and this is something that clients can do by themselves, is I have a decelerated day. So it's a whole day where I spend with clients, and we walk and we talk and we have some food and drink and we walk and talk some more. And that's like the Decelerator call, you know, expanded over a whole day.

Julian (00:12:23) - And it's incredible what comes up for my clients during and after those days. And so it's a period of time for reflection, for deep thinking, for asking them questions that they may not have asked themselves or they're too afraid to ask themselves. So there's a space there which feels safe for clients to kind of explore. So those are some of the things in terms of deceleration that are available to everybody.

Josh (00:12:55) - Julian, your web page is Julian Harris. Co.Uk. And then lonely at the top For someone that's been listening or a conversation, they're like, okay boys, you've nailed it. Yeah, I'm probably frantically working. I'm burnt out, I'm stressed. I don't enjoy going into work. I don't enjoy like I've just two overwhelmed. What would you recommend their next step be?

Julian (00:13:24) - Yeah. So first of all, I would say I get that I completely understand because I've, I've seen so many people like that and it's be comforted that it's, it's normal. Right. That is normal. But if you want to have a conversation, reach out.

Julian (00:13:41) - And I say this to everyone, it all starts with a conversation. So sure, have a look at those websites. That's absolutely fine, but feel free to email me directly. So my email is Julian at Julian Harris Yeah. And we can get it into a conversation that way.

Josh (00:13:58) - Also wonderful Julian Harris again lonely. Co.Uk. From there you can grab a call with you as well. Anything else you'd recommend that people take advantage of?

Julian (00:14:09) - Wow. Josh where do we begin? Take some time for yourself. That's my absolute essential. Something that I recommend my clients or my clients do as well. Again, a lot of people listening to this podcast, watching this podcast will leave extremely, extremely busy lives. And the metaphor I always use, and if any of my clients are watching, I apologize. You've heard this so many times from me before. You know, when you're on a plane, you know you're starting the journey and the safety briefing comes on and they say if the oxygen masks drop down, put yours on first before helping other people.

Julian (00:14:45) - For me, that is that is a metaphor for business and for life. You've got to look after yourself first, because if you're not looking after yourself, you won't be looking after your own business well enough. Or your spouse, your children, your partner, your friends, your family. So take some time for yourself. Build that into your schedule. It's for me, it's a non-negotiable.

Josh (00:15:05) - Yeah. Julian Harris, again, thank you so much for joining us. Lonely at the Top Dog. Co.Uk. Thanks, Julian.

Julian (00:15:11) - Thanks, Josh.

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