CAREER CHANGER: From Stuck to Brioso…

by Jun 26, 20123 comments

“I don’t think anyone would find me inspirational,” were the first words out of Julie’s mouth when I told her I wanted to share her career change story.

“Hold on,” I sputtered, “don’t you realize I see you as heroic?”

As a leadership coach, I frequently draw upon Julie’s radical career change to illustrate what redefining your success can look like. Of the courageous women I know, Julie is easy to point to and say, see, you too can reclaim your joy for living.

Goal set & met

I met Julie when she began dating my brother. At 19, she said her goal was to become a VP at a major corporation by the age of 35. I was secretly appalled, being 21 and having little clue what I would ‘be’ when I grew up, I worried my brother had found a not-much-fun kind of girl.

Julie met her VP goal well ahead of schedule. An actuary earning $200 thousand a year, she was the major breadwinner in a household made up of my brother (a physics teacher) and my two nephews.

Over the years, Julie and I both worked six days a week, leaving little time or energy to connect. We did become “can’t – have to work” allies.

Life is short

A couple of years into her VP role, one of Julie’s employees took his own life. An otherwise stoic Midwesterner, his death still brings emotion quickly to her voice. This tragedy catalyzed ‘life is short’ questions. Am I really meant to be doing this? How involved am I really in my kids’ lives? When was the last time I was fun?

Needing answers, she sought a coach to help her think things through. As a savvy business woman, Julie had sessions with three different coaches before hiring one.

She laughs when she recalls that they all concluded, “I was stuck.”

About a year into coaching, Julie turned in her resignation. She planned to take three months off. Three months became six, six became a year. Wonderful things started happening. Julie got super involved in her boys’ lives. But a driven achiever doesn’t just stop being driven.


How can you find and convert your passion into income? For Julie, the theme that kept coming up in coaching was how much she had always loved music. She says the best advice for a career changer is to take that first step…

In 2006, she started cold-calling preschools and it was scary; would they allow her to come and teach a music class? She got a few takers, began teaching, was certified in Kindermusik and joined professional music teachers’ associations. Shortly after that, Julie launched her own business – choosing the word brioso – which means “with vigor and spirit”.

Julie’s Music Brioso isn’t generating $200K yet but her days are spent singing and laughing with children.

Recently, as she was getting ready for work, my brother caught her humming and teased, “you never hummed as an actuary.”


Dr. Anne Perschel Subscriber
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