Julianna Dawson is the Founding President and CEO of Whole Life Change LLC.
In a previous life, she was a Director of a medical publication and managed projects for FORTUNE magazine and Newsweek in the US, Europe, and Asia.
Julianna is also an Author, Certified Life Coach, Speaker, Poet, Wife, and Mom of twins… and our latest featured Mompreneur.
Here’s our interview, with video and podcast snippets embedded within the text so you can choose whether you want to read, hear or watch the interview.
Meet Julianna Dawson CEO of Whole Life Change LLC
Lauren: What do you do for a living?
Julianna: As CEO of Whole Life Change LLC, I help female entrepreneurs with jobs, businesses, or families who want more from their lives make it happen with Life Coaching, Mentoring, Marketing, and other Done For You Services.
I’m a Life Coach, Author, Poet, and Motivational Speaker.
In a previous career, I did project management for FORTUNE magazine, Newsweek, and other companies, servicing FORTUNE 500 companies for them from Microsoft to Merck and Pfizer, to name a few.
Lauren: If you wear many hats in business, which of these do you love most, which takes most of your time, and which brings in the most income?
Julianna: I do wear multiple hats in my business. I love most working directly with clients one-on-one (usually on Zoom) to help them design and build a unique Whole Life Change plan that they then experience and live into.
Lauren: Is this your first entrepreneurial pursuit?
Julianna: This isn’t my first entrepreneurial pursuit. I started a Marketing and Management company years ago.
I ended up getting an offer from my largest client to come on staff during the 2008 to 2010 recession while others were losing their jobs; therefore, I took it because it offered certainty, and I was still able to create new products, sell them and bring them to life.
How Whole Life Change LLC Was Born
Lauren: When did you decide to become an Entrepreneur?
Julianna: I’d been an “entrepreneur with a job” for many years. Still, it was only in August of 2017, after my last day at my then job of 14 years, that I decided not to begin job hunting like I always did in the past and instead focus on becoming the business owner I’d always seen myself as being.
Lauren: Why did you decide to become an Entrepreneur?
Julianna: Entrepreneurship was always inside me as a burning desire. I believe it’s in everyone to some degree ready to flourish whenever we choose to nourish it.
My entrepreneurial streak would come to life whenever my employers encountered a problem. I’d come up with an idea and sell it first because employers usually wouldn’t understand the concept or believe it would work.
Therefore, they’d usually tell me, “Sell it first, then we’ll build it.”
This is remarkably like what I’m doing now:
I sold myself my idea for this business, and I’m investing my own money and energy to build it out—taking on all the risks of success or failure.
That choice came to me because one day, I mentioned that my job was coming up with ideas, selling them, then pulling together teams including experts from around the world, and managing the process of building them out to a friend who ended up being one of my first life coaching clients.
She said to me, “Why don’t you do the same thing you do for them for yourself?“
And I said that’s a great idea. Therefore, that’s what I’m doing now.
A Difficult Pregnancy Led to Whole Life Change and Julianna’s First Book
Lauren: How did you come up with the idea of Whole Life Change?
Julianna: I remember this precisely because it was March of 2012. I was pregnant after waiting eight years during our marriage (scared to have kids because of the responsibility), then trying for six additional years.
So, a total of 14 years, I had a miscarriage, and then once I got pregnant, I had emergency surgery to save my twins from a 90% chance of not making it. I was put on bed rest, only allowed to sit up at a 45-degree angle to eat or lay on my side or back for five months.
As you can imagine, I had a lot of time to think. That’s when I came up with the idea, and I called it Whole Life Change.
I even paid a designer to make a logo for it back then.
A friend of mine, Renee—one of the most thoughtful and creative people I know—thought to put it on a “Trailblazers” award I was being presented with that year, but I couldn’t make it to the event to receive it because of the surgery and mandatory bed rest.
My mom was kind enough to accept the award for me.
Eight years later, during the pandemic in 2020, after years of dabbling part-time after work and on weekends, when I finally had enough income coming in to consider it a viable business, I applied for and got approval for Whole Life Change LLC.
Who Julianna Serves
Lauren: Who did you have in mind when you started your business?
Julianna: When I started this business, I had “female entrepreneurs with jobs, businesses or families” in mind.
You could say, “mompreneurs with jobs” age 40-55, usually with kids, though not necessarily, and interests or passions for starting their businesses or pursuits outside of their job such as to write a book, to help others by coaching or teaching in their areas of expertise developed through years of practice.
… and that’s precisely who I serve.
Only it started with women, but then men began asking me for help.
Lauren: Who is your target market? If I were to give you a referral, who would I be looking for?
Julianna: My target market is mainly females, age 40-55, usually, mothers, with years of experience and expertise in their field of occupation who are looking to expand by starting or growing a business, to write a book, loves teaching, self-development, coaching, and helping others.
Lauren: What has been the number one highlight of your career?
Julianna: There have been so many highlights in my career that I’m grateful for that I can’t pick a number 1.
Still, there were things I enjoyed tremendously, such as traveling the world first class for Newsweek International and visiting places such as Paris, Switzerland, Zurich, Singapore, Hong Kong; being taken to St. John and St. Thomas Virgin Islands by FORTUNE magazine and receiving an achievement award as part of our then special projects team. The first year I made the six-figure income that I’d set a goal to hit since being a sophomore in college was an important milestone.
Still, I didn’t celebrate that long and almost immediately went on to desiring a multi-six-figure income.
As I was bumping up against the $200,000 mark bouncing between $140,000 and $190,000 a year for many years on the job, it was a multimillionaire that I met at an event that was telling me about how his money didn’t satisfy him that I believe unintentionally inspired me to stop striving for more and more money and to think more about what I wanted in life overall.
Lauren: What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome in your career?
Julianna: Being a black woman in Corporate America and rising to become a top 2% earner in New York meant dealing with some serious challenges I didn’t expect.
For example, I got a letter once from a beautiful white woman I adored apologizing to me for preventing me from getting a promotion seven years prior.
If you can imagine the emotional burden that she carried for so long and the shock I had of having racism, something I’d intentionally brainwashed myself into believing didn’t exist in my world bubble, confirmed in such a dramatic way.
The concreteness of that confirmation changed me at the core. I had to rethink where I’d put my efforts and chose to bet on me, which has been the greatest challenge.
Losing a job you no longer wanted is bittersweet because I was relieved not to have to explain why I’d quit a six-figure job to my husband and children.
Still, when that steady paycheck stopped coming in, the transition from the certainty of a job with a salary, plus commission and bonus to $0, and then building back up from there has been one of the most significant challenges–including all the risks that come with it.
Plus, my choices weren’t all great.
For example, I decided I didn’t have time to invest in figuring out how to collect from unemployment insurance and never did during my transition because it took everything I had in me to transition. Hence, I used more of my savings than was necessary.
No regrets, though.
Highlights and Challenges of Motherhood
Lauren: What has been the number one highlight of Motherhood for you?
Julianna: My number 1 highlight of Motherhood for me?
I want to answer this question with a poem I wrote in about 7-minutes while getting on the Metro-North to head to work after maternity leave.
It’s on page 22 of my 2nd book, Inspiring Words: Finding Yourself, called When My Babies Cry.
When my Babies Cry
When my babies cry,
It’s as if
They left something inside me
Where the umbilical cord was attached.
And those cells
Become so powerful
That they overthrow all my senses.
They stir me
And make my stomach churn
Until I can taste it in my mouth,
Spurring me into action,
Coming to their immediate aid
But relentlessly preparing—
Preparing to be there,
So that when they cry,
I’m there to soothe
In the way that only I can.
When my babies cry,
I become brave,
I gain supernatural strength.
I become capable of doing things
I never before
Knew I possessed the power to do.
I grow, when my babies cry,
Like a tree being fed with superfood:
My leaves green and full of luster!
When my babies cry, I cry
And water the tree that is me
With my own tears,
Stretching and growing more and more
Reaching to heights that I’d
Never before dreamed or even desired
When my babies cry, I want more
So I can give more—
Not just to them, but to the world,
To make it a better place for them as they grow.
Lauren: What has been the greatest challenge for you to overcome as a Mother?
Julianna: The most significant challenge for me to overcome as a mother has been accepting AND respecting that my desires for my children aren’t necessarily my children’s desires for themselves.
Lauren: Has it been tricky balancing work and home life?
Julianna: It has been tricky balancing work and home life, but I’m happy with where we are now.
During the coronavirus pandemic’s onset, we couldn’t simply call in a babysitter whenever I had a client meeting like before. I didn’t want to bring anyone into our home during the pandemic to isolate with us as another option either because that would keep them away from their own family.
Therefore, I was forced to do it all myself, which didn’t work. Consequently, I was then forced to learn how to ask my husband for help, and I got that help, little by little. We both grew from the experience and realized that we could do way more than we thought possible.
I no longer believe that I need someone for childcare, housekeeping, laundry, etc., to care for my family and do my work. I can do it all with help from my husband and the growing children taking on new responsibilities.
And sometimes “All” may mean that I choose to do less; therefore, instead of 6 one-on-one clients, it may be 3, and that’s alright because it also forced me to create Do-It-Yourself online options to help more people help themselves while saving money–and it forced me to make three new services—group, Do-It-Yourself and Done-For-You versions of my one-on-one service. Services I didn’t have available before.
Lauren: What do you love most about being a Mom Entrepreneur?
Julianna: When my children look at me and say, “Mom, I want to write a book too,” or “Mom, I want to start my own business.” That’s the thing I love most about being a Mom Entrepreneur because it’s one thing to tell your children something. Still, it’s different from being a living, breathing example of what’s possible and inspiring them without saying a word.
Lauren: Where do you work most days?
Julianna: Most days, I work in my office downstairs in my home.
Lauren: How many days per week do you work, on average?
Julianna: If you mean on the business, excluding work in my home, I work four days a week on average nowadays, less when the kids are home and demanding my attention.
However, if it were up to me, I’d work seven days a week, and sometimes I do, but that’s only because I’ve redesigned my life to work doing what I love, which sounds cliché.
Still, I will be crying over the sink washing the dishes, yearning to start my work some mornings—and I’m okay with it. I feel it’s healthy to allow my emotions about it to flow, and the day I stop feeling that way, I know I need to change the work I’m doing again because I would have grown more.
Because I have obligations to myself, my husband, my children in addition to my work—I believe, in that order—I’m very deliberate about how I go about my days from the moment I awake until I go to bed—and I prefer to go to bed exhausted—spent! I like to feel like I’ve given my all to everything I intended to do each day.
Lauren: How many hours do you estimate you work per day, on average?
Julianna: That depends on how you define work. The way I describe it, I work 16 hours a day because I include exercise, childcare, cooking, housekeeping, my work in my business–anything while awake.
If you mean in my business, I estimate that I work as many as 4 hours a day during the week now, less during the pandemic when distance learning for the kids became necessary.
Still, I can sometimes get as many as 5 hours a day in on weekends because there’s no school for them or work for hubby. Therefore, they play among themselves and help each other without me, giving me the time I couldn’t get during the week while caring for them.
Lauren: Do you have any daily rituals to maintain a work-life balance?
Julianna: My current daily ritual, which I change as necessary, is to get up between 4:30 am and 5:00 am, empty my bladder, stand naked on the scale placed strategically next to my bed, brush my teeth, exercise, and then, if time permits, start work.
At the same time, the kids are usually still asleep. I make them fruit and breakfast at 7:00 am, and I’ll wake them to eat, and get ready for school, then I drive them to school, return home, clean up the dishes, do some housekeeping, sometimes with hubby’s help, laundry, including folding, and then I work.
My nightly routine is chaos, however. I go till I fall asleep, and I go to bed very early—between 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm.
However, I still awake naturally around 2:00 am, the time I used to wake up to breastfeed the twins. Even though the twins are 9, I still wake up; sometimes, I’ll read, fall asleep again, and wake up naturally without an alarm just before 4:30 am.
Julianna Dawson on Living Her Passion
Lauren: Do you feel you are living your passion?
Julianna: Yes! I feel I’m living my passion because it is to redesign my life, live it the way I choose, and then help others do the same. After all, I believe it’s possible. Therefore, I demonstrate it by doing it myself, and then I help others.
I didn’t feel this was a possibility; therefore, I accepted whatever jobs I could find to support myself during the first half of my life.
Yes, I’d make the best of them. I’d do my best at them, but I wasn’t starting from the point of what is it that I want to do right now?
I didn’t believe it possible, and my mentors, such as Tony Robbins and Peter Diamandis, whose books I read and then invested in their programs to learn from them directly in person, really helped me, as well as Angela Duckworth and Alison Armstrong, whose books I’ve read.
Lauren: Do you feel you have already created your best work?
Julianna: I’ll probably never feel I’ve created my best work because I’ll be creating as long as I’m alive.
Each time I’ll be giving my work my best; therefore, someone else will need to determine that after I’m gone. It’s funny because I talk with people about never having to work again while never wanting to stop working. It’s easier because I’ve redesigned my life to have my work be pleasurable.
And it doesn’t mean it’s not hard sometimes. Sometimes it’s very hard. For example, last year, I learned a lot about utilizing technology more, especially for going from “one to one” to “one to many” to reach and help even more people, automation, and freeing up more of my time! The other part is, I’ve also redesigned my life so that income isn’t only earned.
A larger and larger portion now comes from investments rather than from a job or even my own business that I now have a job of my own making in—something I didn’t learn and understand until late in my life, and that’s what I want others to become aware of as well so it has nothing to do with not wanting to work or not wanting a job.
Lauren: If you were to die tomorrow, would you be at peace knowing you had lived a full, happy and meaningful life? Or would you feel you were dying with your song unsung?
Julianna: If I were to die tomorrow, I’d feel at peace knowing I had lived a full life, happy and meaningful life—with my song sung.
Julianna Dawson – Message to the World
Lauren: Do you have a message you would like the world to hear?
Julianna: Take stock of your life periodically (not just assets and liabilities, but experiences as well), then CHOOSE what you want for your life, brainstorm your way to a strategy, and then execute it, measuring progress, adjusting, and enjoying the journey while you’re on it. You’ll be happier. People around you will be more comfortable. You’ll inspire others. It’ll be a game-changer.
Lauren: Is there a book, song, or movie that has had huge significance or meaning in your life?
Julianna: There used to be one book, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, which I mistakenly thought was about rich as in money and didn’t read it for many years after it was recommended to me.
There was another book by Mike Dooley, The Top 10 Things Dead People Want to Tell You, that rivaled it, and I remember telling him when we met one day at a Hay House event, which is where I ended up meeting the publisher of my 2nd book, but now that I read so many books each year, it’s impossible to pick one.
Every day I read something in a book I find profound, but I highly recommend those two.
Advice for Entrepreneurs
Lauren: What advice would you give someone just starting out as an Entrepreneur?
Julianna: Believe that you’ve already succeeded before you start and take action as if you’ve already been on Oprah!
What do I mean by that? Well, if you’d already been on Oprah, you’d behave in a way that would respect her. You’d also very likely not be grasping at money or business.
You’d choose who to work with, and you’d do your best work. You’d also invest in yourself and your business with money and energy without worrying and wondering if you’d succeed. So, I say imagine you’ve already been on Oprah and then move from there.
Lauren: Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you started out as an entrepreneur?
Julianna: There isn’t anything I wish I knew when I started as an entrepreneur because I believe everything is progressing exactly as it’s meant to. I didn’t always feel that way, but that’s a conclusion I’ve come to over the years from my life experiences.
Everything is happening exactly when it’s supposed to happen. Whether it’s something that’s challenging or not. It’s all working toward good.
Lauren: Is there anything you feel you missed out on by becoming an entrepreneur?
Julianna: I don’t feel I missed out on anything by becoming an entrepreneur.
Lauren: Is there anything you feel you gained by becoming an entrepreneur?
Julianna: I feel I gained a ton by becoming an entrepreneur. I think I gained the most because I was forced to figure things out, learn, and grow beyond what I previously thought possible for myself by becoming an entrepreneur. I love that!
I’ve grown more since becoming an entrepreneur in the last six months than I grew in 14 years at my previous job–and I loved and enjoyed and will always be grateful for that job and that experience Ray McMahon and Van Velle gave me.
Lauren: Do you feel you chose an easy path or a difficult one?
Julianna: I feel I chose the ONLY path for me because after working in Corporate America for more than 20-years and hitting a glass ceiling I didn’t believe existed, I knew that I had to do this work before I could focus on doing anything else; therefore, one day I may find myself doing something else, but only after building this business, automating it, and having it continue to work even after I’m gone because I believe people need it.
Advice for New Moms with Twins
Lauren: Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you first became a Mom?
Julianna: There’s nothing I wish I knew when I first became a mom because wishing backward isn’t my style. I prefer to plan and proactively take action and to be in awe as I observe reality.
For example, when I saw my daughter sucking her thumb with her fingers covering her eyes just like I did as a child, I immediately understood that DNA passed on way more than I understood before that moment. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in.
There’s no sense wishing I’d live an entire life differently because it was already written into her DNA. Still, when I first became a mom, I knew that I didn’t know a lot about being a mother; therefore, I took Lydia’s advice, another mother of twins who was kind enough to advise me.
I hired a nurse to come home with me and stay a week to teach me how to take care of my twins because the doctor told me around week 16 that there was a 90% chance my twins wouldn’t make it.
I had the emergency surgery to give them a 50% chance at survival, five months of bedrest allowed only to sit up at a 45-degree angle to eat and told to lay on my back or side; I had to relearn how to walk. And having a c-section meant I couldn’t attempt to do things on my own and wish I’d done differently.
Hopes and Fears
Lauren: What are your hopes for the future?
Julianna: With all that’s going on in the world, I know it’s going to be challenging in all sorts of ways. Last year I learned that I could deal with much more than I thought possible.
This year, I feel that more growth is in store, that we’re equipped for it all, and it will only make us better.
Lauren: What are your fears?
Julianna: At 14 years old, I was attacked at knifepoint by a rapist on my way home from school. A barking dog gave me an opening to fight, kick, and run.
Still, when I was face to face with several men in a lineup in front of me with no one-way mirror-like on TV, but face to face inches away. The one I believed to be my attacker behaving, probably on purpose in a way that caused me to freeze and doubt myself, and not saying that it was definitively him, my relationship with fear changed.
So, I usually prefer to be aware of fear, learn about it, equip myself, face it, confront it, dance with it by taking action and do something about it.
Usually, the results confirm that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place. I’m tempted to say I fear what I can’t control, but I control what I can, and I’m at peace with accepting what I can’t control.
Lauren: Which tools of the trade have been enormously helpful for you?
Julianna: Persistence! Never giving up. Pivoting yes, but like Churchill said, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty…”
Lauren: Who has been enormously helpful to you? Do you have mentors in business?
Julianna: So many have been enormously helpful to me, even some who may have felt they were hurting me at the time and may have helped me immensely in the long run. Still, I won’t call their names because they may not understand that I’ve come to appreciate what they did.
However, I’ll mention Ray McMahon and Van Velle, the CEO, and president of McMahon Group, because they provided me with a tremendous opportunity and supported me and my growth.
Lee Cunningham, my manager when I was at FORTUNE magazine, was enormously helpful to me in so many ways, from hiring and training me, helping me get promoted, teaching me how to train someone else for my then job so I could move up, being meticulous in her work which set an example for me to follow, and in particular telling me to invest a portion of my money when I was around 25 years old.
Carol Wilk, my Director at Newsweek International, asked me to help sales teams around the world tackle challenging problems that led me from the US to Paris, Switzerland, Zurich, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong to meet with Xerox, Swiss watchmakers, and private bankers and build strategies to solve challenging problems and win business into the millions of dollars with amazing people.
She’d say, if you’re sick, stay home, but if you come to work, I expect you to be your best, and I respected that. Someone else I won’t name, just in case they wouldn’t like it, told me, “No one owns an idea.”
In response to expressing my feelings about presenting an idea and it not being heard and acknowledged until another person in the room who consciously or unconsciously heard it and may have repeated it (a white male/someone who already had a better track record than I did). That stayed with me because I was so angry at the time.
Still, over the years, as I experienced it, again and again, being the only black person and black woman in the room, and even listened to a white female being the only female in the room and a white male being the only straight white male in the room describe having the same experience, it helped me to develop a skill for taking my ideas and selling them and then building them out and disabusing myself of feeling like or caring if I was “the only…” in the room.
Hence, I’m grateful to him now in hindsight. Tony Robbins, not just via his books but in person he helped me believe in myself and my capabilities at a new level—and that change was permanent.
Plus, the network of people that he opened up access to for me, some of who have been clients, and some who have become mentors such as Peter Diamandis, whose moonshots and deceptive growth work influenced me, or Fleming Schutrumph, whose real estate books helped me buy property after I’d decided never to every purchase property again after the 2008 recession and my first property lead me to bankruptcy.
Something I never imagined I’d come back from, but I did. I pay many more mentors, guides, coaches, and teachers to learn from and grow. They show up when I need them. Right on time, and even if we don’t stay in touch, their effects are lasting.
Courses Essential to Julianna’s Success
Lauren: Are there any courses you feel have been essential to your success?
Julianna: There are many courses I feel have been essential to my success, such as:
- learning how to build quiz funnels
- how to automate parts of my and clients systems utilizing various technology tools and CRM platforms
(such as Infusionsoft by Keap, Kajabi, MailChimp, Zoho, Constant Contact, etc.)
How to integrate applications via Zapier, how to advertise on Facebook, and integrate with Google Analytics to target advertising to my audience and client audiences better. Some are self-taught by video instruction or by live online courses.
Various marketing programs and attending events such as Tony Robbins’:
- Unleash the Power Within (walking on fire a few times)
- graduating from his Masters University with
- Date With Destiny
- Life Mastery
- Wealth Mastery
- and Business Mastery
My Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Marketing and Management from Baruch College in New York. I’m a lifelong learner and a ferocious reader.