SF Recap: Changemaker Chat with Julie Hanna

If They Say No, Find A Different Path

We had the privilege to host Julie Hanna, a self-described “recovering entrepreneur” at San Francisco’s first chat of 2017. Julie shared the most powerful insights and lessons she has learned in her personal and professional journeys. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Talent is Universal, Opportunity is Not: Julie’s journey to the front lines of the tech revolution in the 90s began as a child on the front lines of Black September in the 1970s. As an immigrant and refugee of war, there was often a sense of impermanence in her life. This made her dream about a world that worked differently — “a world that understood that pity is the near enemy of compassion.” Her early experiences have guided her to build a career that aims to democratize access to information, capital, and much more, as a powerful way to transform people’s lives.

Be a troublemaker. Break rules. Then break glass: As a troublemaker from day one, Julie was accustomed to being told that she was wrong and being ostracized. Confessing that at times, she was unaware of the boundaries that existed – she would forge ahead with strong determination to get what she wanted (and believed was right!). “If they say no, find a different path.” It instilled in her the sense of creating a future that she wanted to live in, starting with fighting to be one of the first women to play baseball with the boys under Title IX.

Ask ‘Why?’: It’s the first and last question Julie will ask in any circumstance. It allows her to figure out the best approach, what she values, and how best to prioritize her time. She believes curiosity is one of the most under-appreciated qualities and more of us need to be heretical. “Nothing of consequence that ever progressed the world came out of following conventional wisdom.”

Radical empathy is key: Julie believes two of the most overused and least understood words are empathy and compassion. To Julie, empathy is “the simple act of being able to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes; to crawl in to their head and know what the world is like from their perspective.” While it’s simple, it’s not easy. Julie defines compassion as “the active effort to alleviate the suffering of another person, but this is not possible without being able to empathize.” Empathy and compassion can lead to everything from better personal and professional relationships to building the world’s best products.

“Everything will be OK”: Julie’s advice to her 20 year-old self. We all worry if we’re going fast enough, hard enough, or doing the right things. This keeps us from being present. “A meaningful life is not linear. It’s a lot of trial and error. Just getting in and trying draws us closer to what we want to move towards or away from.”

We are all entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurship is the relentless pursuit that things could be better– and that requires messing up, being rejected, and being told that you’ve screwed up. Women have to stop trying to be perfect. If you’re being good and perfect, you’re not going to take risks. If you don’t take risks, you’re not going to hit your moonshots.

On Friendship: Be intentional about who you let into your life. Friendship is not just about trust and fun, but about being able to revel in the best of each other and wishing the best for each other. You know a good friendship when you are so committed to the best for that person that you may risk the relationship for them (e.g. telling them something they may not want to hear).