What started out with me looking for a movie that captured the 20s/30s vibes, I settled on a recent HBO Max production Julia and got intrigued by the related movie as well, Julia and Julie. And I was just sucked in.
First of all, Julia has a really, really wonderful personality. She’s charming, funny, exuberant and has such passion for cooking. It did make me want to get one of her cookbooks and dive into it. But the show did make me think alot about some of the larger themes in life.
Namely, what happens when you stop listening to others so much and just follow your dream?
Alot can happen apparently. Let’s take a look.
#1 You are never too old to begin anything or to even chase your dream
Our society has a very strange obsession with youth and in some cultures, growing old seems to be a crime. It’s like the minute you hit some magic number, you are deemed “useless”.
The sad thing is, many people do buy into this belief and severely limit themselves.
Did Julia do that though? Nope. She started her cooking show at 51 and published her cookbook around then as well.
For many people, 51 is when they start bemoaning how old they are getting and they start to stop doing things they want. Did Julia let that stop her? Nope. In fact she wasn’t even thinking much when she wrote her proposal to WGBH to let her start a cooking show. And it happened at a time when nobody had even heard of a cooking show, let alone know how it works.
Also, she lived at a time where sexism was rife and rampant and many people – men mostly – laughed at her for even wanting to do such a thing. They saw cooking as inherently feminine and ridiculous.
Did she let that stop her? No. She knew sexism existed, clearly, but she just trudged on ahead.
And I say, that takes immense courage.
#2 Being unapologetically yourself without the need to self-filter or hide your personality
I never once got the sense that Julia was embarrassed of herself nor did she ever attempt to self-filter and hide away parts of her personality to please others. As a former people-pleaser, this was so delicious to watch.
She’s incredibly tall – 1.88m – probably got laughed at by other men/women and had a very distinct and uniquely higher-pitched voice. She never apologises for it. She doesn’t apologise for her passion for cooking or for anything else. She never plays down her qualities.
And I find all of that so charming and refreshing.
#3 Never takes no for an answer, always finds alternatives & pushes back
Another thing that I really admire about her is that she faced so many uphill battles and rejections from others, but she rarely took no for an answer. She’d find ways around it – like how she paid to have her cooking show produced when the male producers at the TV station refused to produce it on their own dime.
For a woman, especially one who was living in times when women didn’t really have a voice or didn’t really get their way so to speak, I found this incredibly admirable.
Julia Child inadvertently taught me about business too
When we think of small businesses these days, or just being an entrepreneur/doing your own business, it seems like there are very fixed ways of being successful and fixed ways of getting to the top.
If you look around you, everyone seems to be doing the same things in their business (this is a post for another day), using the same marketing funnels, listening to the same advice from “experts”, not really standing out in any way.
Julia taught me that you don’t have to do things the traditionally accepted way, you just have to follow your intuition and do things your own way. Authentic intuition is what I call it!
#1: Not all paths begin with success; there are lots of ups and downs along the way
Julia Child had immensely successful cookbooks and cooking shows, but she didn’t start off feeling incredibly confident with her choices. Her show was unprecedented, never done before by anyone, nobody had ever heard of a cooking show!
So she really had no blueprint or success story to model herself after. What she did was she took opportunities when they were presented to her and made the most of it. She experimented, she tried different things. And along the way she was met with alot of rejection and even self-doubt.
But success came when she least expected it. Doing biz is never a smooth one-way street. There will be bad days and good ones, but we need to trust the process and trust that when the right opportunities present themselves to us, we would be ready.
#2: Having self-doubts and re-doing some steps of the process is normal
Julia was never in this position where she was just skating through the entire process, making cooking episodes breezily. Oh she had major doubts. She had no idea what she was doing at some points but she just soldiered on – put one foot in front of the other. She never gave up.
And this is the sort of spirit I would like to adopt in my business too. Self-doubt is the reason why sometimes I have felt an immense desire to just throw in the towel. But she taught me that if you are resilient, doors will start opening up for you.
#3: You are not made for everybody and that’s okay
There was a particular scene in the show that I really loved – when Paul (Child, her husband) said in the 8th episode, when she was hesitating to leave the show, because of some hurtful things the feminist, Betty Freidan said to her about her show:
Not everyone can be your audience. If people do not like your show, there will be others who love it and will want to tune, just to be in her company for 30 minutes every day.
Not everyone will like your business, or the way you write, or the way your course is designed and that is okay. You aren’t made for everyone and not everyone will be attracted to you.
But your tribe will find you and like you – people who value the things you do in the same ways will gravitate towards you.
Betty Freidan was never the target audience for Julia Child’s cooking show. But there were plenty of other housewives who loved her and her shows and it changed their lives.
#4: Blaze your own trail, don’t follow others and you may surprise yourself
If Julia Child had listened to everyone around her, we wouldn’t have heard of her. We wouldn’t have heard of her shows and her amazing recipes would have never reached us.
She went ahead and did the entire cooking show although it was so preposterous and unheard of at that time. She just followed her heart, she wanted to do it so badly so she went ahead and did it.
She ended up surprising everyone including herself. So yes, never underestimate what you could do and never predict what might happen. Just surrender to the process, follow your heart and go do it!
#5 It’s okay if you don’t have an audience, you can always build one
Something that irks me alot about online business in particular is this constant question of Do you have an audience?
Want to sell a course – do you have an audience to sell it to?
Want to write a blog/start a website – oh do you have a target audience for your articles?
Want to open a business – who is your target audience and ideal customer?
Did Julia bother about any of that claptrap of having an audience? NO. She didn’t even have an audience when she started her cooking show. She didn’t even know if she could build an audience. And it was built over time when people started to discover her and tried out her recipes.
She simply just turned up doing what she liked and people just gravitated to her. Yes, an audience of course is important to sell things to. But alot of biz owners make it sound like you are doomed if you don’t have an audience in the first place.
Ideal customers and target audiences are built over time, they are built when you get out there, and put your work in front of people. If you aren’t putting yourself out there because you don’t have an audience yet, you are shortchanging yourself.
Build it, promote it and they will come.
And yes, do check out this wonderful show!