Burn-the-Box: Julie Jakopic


Fearless Females Forum is a monthly showcase for inspiring women who found the courage to meet their calling, solve a problem, or take a road less travelled.


Julie Jakopic, Founder of iLead Strategies, couldn’t decide which box to fit into as a kid.

An actor, a swimmer, and president of the world affairs club in high school, she felt welcome by peers in all three ‘boxes,’ yet always a little bit outside them too. She sensed that sticking to one box wasn’t where she belonged—but how to play across boxes in our check-box comfortable world?

0c3e6472d0f8da68a5bdd930ea2003“Living outside of boxes wasn’t always easy as a kid, but its great as an adult,” Julie says. From cosmetics to energy efficiency to human services, Julie’s found success applying a courageous “forget thinking outside the box, burn-the-box” philosophy.

To date, she’s shared the stage with luminaries like President Obama and change agent Neale Donald Walsch, and focused her energy, insights and intellect connecting across and between adult-style boxes—private, public and non-profit sectors. Julie helps multi-sector leaders transcend “the crazy pervasive things that cross them all.”

It takes courage to “burn-the-box” of established perceptions, especially when other people’s comfort zones seem to demand that you stay inside. When Julie decided to launch her own business, iLead Strategies, she faced a whole new set of risks that required more than a dose of fearlessness.

Fearless Females Forum:  5Cs with Julie Jakopic 

View More: http://donh.pass.us/julie-jakopic

“You only get one life and ‘later’ never arrives. Live the life you desire.”

  1. What’s the most courageous decision you’ve made? 

Starting my own business was a big leap. Starting to host my own conference was even bigger. It took deciding that my ideas were worth sharing in a big way under my own banner. That I was enough and the work spoke for itself. That the risk of failure paled compared to the risk of missing my dream. Creating Don’t Await It, Create It WOMEN was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It’s an amazing opportunity for women to build relationships, lead boldly, and accelerate change in the world. Sharing tools for leadership, vision, and strategy development with leaders not only helps them, but also all those they lead.

  1.    What choices are most important to you?

I think the choices that matter most are about aligning how you invest your time with the life you want to live and the legacy you want to leave. I grew up believing that to get the life you wanted and have the impact you wanted, you had to work hard and sacrifice. Almost that you had to pay in advance in misery for what you wanted. That’s crazy. Our gifts are most often in what comes naturally (dare I say, easily?) to us. Our greatest impact is when we are moving with grace toward sharing what we love, not when we are fighting and struggling.  All that fight takes energy away from our impact.

  1.    What fears have you conquered?

We live in a culture that pushes us to follow well-worn paths that never fit for me. It was never easy to not follow, it was always too painful to do so.  It took a long time and some experience for me to learn that the world wouldn’t end and that I was safe not following.  Learning to trust my own voice took a lot longer and was much more difficult than it may have appeared to those watching. But that voice has always served me well.

  1.    What conversation made the most impact on you?

So many. But probably a conversation with the amazing Susan Lowell Butler. Susan was a change-leader.  Before she was 30 she became the first woman director of the National Education Association. She was a mentor, my friend, and iLead Strategies’ first client. Our first meeting, though we were both night owls, was over breakfast at 6 a.m. because that was when she could fit me in.  She took 2 minutes to size me up and nail me for being too worried about being liked to play big. In that first meeting, she challenged me to never play small, to stretch, to play full out. And she cheered me on every step along the way.

  1.    What do you want women to get clear about?

You are enough. You are brilliant and brave and your leadership is needed. Your dreams matter. Your voice creates change in the world. You only get one life and “later” never arrives. Live the life you desire.

Don’t Await It, Create It WOMEN 2015 

Julie’s Don’t Await It, Create It Women 2015 conference is being held on January 16 – 18,logo160 2015. If you’re in the Washington, D.C. area (or can get there quickly), she’s arranged a special discount for you to join her at a luxury Alexandria, Virginia hotel.

Head over to DontAwaitCreate.com for all the details, including what looks to be an extraordinary agenda  and enter ‘Legacy‘  as your promo code on check out for a $200 discount on registration.

According to Linda Rivero, CEO of Global Action Women who attended last year’s conference, “Don’t Await it, Create It is one of the best events I’ve been to, truly. I’ve been to many, many, many women’s conferences, women’s business conferences, conferences and I have gained so much from this. We left with clear goals, an action plan, and the support to carry it forward.” 

My thanks and gratitude to Julie for being a Fearless Female willing to share her story!

How about you? Are you ready to share your Fearless Female story too? If you’re ready, or know a woman you consider fearless, check out Calling All Fearless Females  for details.






Women-in-box image via www.cesperu.com. All other images courtesy Julie Jakopic’s iLead Strategies.


  1. […] Julie Jakopic’s Burn-the-Box […]

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