Talk Boutique is excited to welcome Julie Legault to our speaker roster. As a Human-Centered Designer, Julie works to translate scientific and technological innovations for public acceptance, crafting experiences and products that invite culture shifts.
One-on-One With Julie
What’s an accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of how I was able to leverage my design skills and navigate the world of entrepreneurship to build a sustainable biotechnology education business. As a designer, you are not taught about business or entrepreneurship, and yet it has been a worthwhile challenge to jump that high barrier so that we can be able to have a growing impact in the world. To see products you invented in the hands of excited kids and adults all over the world makes everything worthwhile! It has not been and will continue not to be an easy road, but the joy and reward in having new people discover a love for biotechnology, for innovation and finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems thanks to our company’s work continues to fuel my passion.
Describe a major business or other challenge you experienced throughout your career and how you resolved it. What lessons did you learn in the process?
Stern negotiation and business development was not in my nature nor skill set, but is of course a necessary part of growing a business. Finding a great mentor who was able to teach me the value that I and the company brings to the table and how to communicate that value was crucial to overcoming early challenges. I learned that when negotiating, awkward silences can be your friend!
How did mentors influence your life? What’s one core message you received from your mentors?
Many of my mentors have been women entrepreneurs who have themselves faced some of the difficulties in navigating what was and can still be a “man’s world”. I’m lucky to now consider some of these mentors friends and be able to call on them often. I cherish all the time, advice and support I’ve received over the years and would say that the emerging guiding principle is to be true to your vision while being able to recognize when (and how) to ask for help.
In the last few years, I have had the chance to start giving back to the community of young women innovators and future entrepreneurs myself, and I hope to be able to pass on the insights I’ve received with the same passion and thoughtfulness.
If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
There are a lot of parasites in and around the startup world. They like to attach themselves to up-and-coming or ‘hot’ project and then siphon away a lot of time and energy from the team while bringing little value. They are also the type to disappear in a snap when the going gets tough. I would not waste my time and energy there but rather keep my focus on the driving force of Amino Labs, and my favorites, our users!
What is the last business book you read?
Does science-fiction count as business reads? Some science fiction can actually transmit some actionable business insights. The authors are, after all, world-building, writing about what they envision the future can become, which is what entrepreneurs do as well. The last really good science-fiction with some near-future business insights I read was Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized. It’s a four short-story novel with some very thoughtful (and fresh!) ethical takes on current issues. Other than that, the last true business book I (re-)read was the Lean Startup by Eric Ries. I find that there is always something new and valuable to discover every time I read that one.