Conversations on Passion: Julia Winston of BRAVE Communication LLC
Conversations on Passion is an interview series with those who have found and are living their passion in some form. If you'd like to be profiled, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For this part of the interview series, I've had the pleasure of connecting with Julia Winston of BRAVE Communication LLC. She has been teaching and coaching leaders at non-profits, corporations, and other businesses to improve their communication skills and get their ideas across more effectively. She also writes about communication and its impact on our relationships at her blog, The Living BRAVE Blog. Keep reading below to find out how she defines passion, why she does what she does, and some great tips on finding your own passions.
What is passion to you?
Passion is an intense compulsion, desire, and attraction to someone or something that forces one to take action.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping people have respect-based, trust-filled, communication-smart relationships with others especially at work.
How did you come to find your passion?
In hindsight, I have had this passion all my life. It was 8 years ago that I realized that I could turn my passion into a career. I have a gift for teaching, but I never wanted to teach children. I wanted to teach adults. So I got into training and development (T&D). In the T&D word, I decided to focus on training the soft skills—the communication skills necessary to deepen relationships and be more effective.
I thought it was sad that after college, most adults stop learning how to develop themselves. It seemed that once college students entered the workforce, it was time to begin to prove that the money spent on college education was not in vain. A worker spends 40 hours or more at work surrounded by other people having interactions. But what is being done to be make sure those interactions are respect-based, trust-filled, and communication-smart?
I found a mentor who dedicated her life into making deep relationships work at work. Under her tutelage, I learned how to instruct leaders in improving their communications.
Is there a relationship between your formal education and the work you do now? Did your passions influence what you chose to study?
Yes and no! Growing up I went to a math and science intense high school. I thought I would be a genetics engineer because that's what I really liked. I was sitting in my science class one day when my teacher, Ms. Rotundo, started lecturing on amoebas. In and of itself the topic made for a perfect sleeping pill but you couldn't fall asleep in class because the passion Ms. Rotundo had was so contagious that everyone was captivated. I decided right then and there that I would not be a scientist because I didn't have the passion for it like Ms. Rotundo. I wanted to find that thing I was passionate about.
When I went to college, like most freshmen, I took an assortment of classes to see what struck my fancy. Intro to Mass Media with Carla Heath was the course that redefined my college career and made me a Communication major. The course was about the influence mass media had on the way we communicated. I was captivated. I found my passion and it was evidenced by the way "going the extra mile" wasn't extra. I just wanted to do it.
Three years after graduating college, I met Lynne, my mentor. A year after meeting (and stalking her), I went to grad school to get my master in Human Resource Development. The degree allowed me to learn about adult learning theory and how to be a better teacher and trainer of teachers and trainers.
How did you find your mentor and how did she impact your passion for communication?
I first saw her when we were both at a meeting about forming a business ministry at my church. She and I never spoke at that meeting, but later I saw her in the parking lot at the mall. I re-introduced myself to her and asked her about her business Perfect 10 Corporate Cultures. I knew it was a divine appointment. When we met, I felt liked I had come home. Here was a women, who was the CEO of her own company and had revolutionized an industry by caring about people. I asked her if I could shadow her on jobs to learn more about her curriculum. I did so enough that she let me teach a piece of course here and there. I did all of this on my dime, she didn't pay me a cent. Soon, she asked if I wanted to be a trainer, and later I served as a director of training for and helped select new trainers.
Has your passion changed over time? How so?
My passion has changed over time and I hope it will continue to. Early in my life, my passion for healthy relationships began with my learning how to better communicate with those in my life. Then it morphed into helping family and friends. It later grew to helping leadership teams. I have found that my passion has intensified as the digital age has taken over our lives. With the growing dependence on social media, it seems people have more ways to connect, but are actually less connected to other human beings. My passion is growing as I see obstacles to meaningful communication present themselves.
Do you believe in having just one passion?
No. One can have many passions. I love the arts—particularly dance and acting.
How did you build your passion beyond a hobby? Did this impact your love for your passion?
My passion has led me to start my own business so now my passion is my career. I did wonder if turning my passion into a business would somehow diminish or cheapen my passion, but I decided to try it anyway. While I don’t like all of the business aspects, when I am coaching my clients into their light-bulb moment, and I see them become brave communicators, it is worth it.
What about your life experiences do you think helped you in your pursuit of your passion?
I think all of my life experiences have prepared me for what I am doing. They compound to make me really great at what I do.
Are there are any tips you would give to others to help them in their search for passions?
Get quiet. You cannot find or discover your passion in distraction. You need to get quiet, unplug, and listen to what gets your heart beating and gives you that childhood Christmas day (if you celebrate it) excitement.
Listen. To what repels you and what attracts you. I learned what I didn’t like way before I could ever name my passion. Learning what you don’t like is just as valuable.
Ask good questions. If you hate research, what is the one thing you would like to research or learn more about? If you could do it for free, what would you? If you could be a spokesperson for something, what would that be? What is that thing that compels you to become better so you can do it better?