#132 Unconventional Paths to Business Authenticity

Today's Guest: Julia Stege

Today, I interview Julia Stege, who struggled to find her footing amidst doubts about her artistic abilities and societal expectations. Growing up in a family where creativity was both encouraged and stifled, Julia found herself navigating conflicting messages about her abilities. Despite doubts about her artistic prowess and pressures to conform, Julia pursued her passion for graphic design.

As Julia ventured into the world of design, she encountered further obstacles. Traditional marketing methods felt inauthentic to her, prompting a deep soul-searching journey. Rejecting the dishonest tactics prevalent in mainstream marketing, Julia decided to forge her own path. Her commitment to authenticity led her to establish the New Renaissance Business School, a platform dedicated to empowering spiritual entrepreneurs to embrace their multi-passionate nature and build businesses aligned with their values.

Through her teachings, Julia emphasizes the importance of listening to one’s inner voice and staying true to oneself. Her message resonates deeply in a world where conformity often prevails. In Julia’s story, we find inspiration to embrace our uniqueness and make a positive impact with our voices, despite the challenges we may face along the way.


Julia Stege, known as The Magical Marketer, specializes in assisting spiritual business women and conscious entrepreneurs in clarifying and expressing their purpose through branding and marketing strategies that enchantingly attract their ideal customers online. 

She is the mastermind behind the Branding from the Heart™ System and the acclaimed author of “Branding from the Heart: How to Share Your Purpose through Marketing that Attracts Your Tribe and Inspires a Revolution.” 

Julia’s expertise as an award-winning branding artist and writer has earned her collaborations with prestigious clients such as NYC MOMA, Carnegie Hall, the U.S. Postal Service, Birkenstock Shoes, OWN Network Show Host Iyanla Vanzant, and the renowned Restaurant Franchise Cafe Gratitude.

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Transcript of Interview

Transcript of Interview

Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast

Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing

Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com

Episode #132 Julia Stege

“Unconventional Paths to Business Authenticity”


(00:00) Doreen Downing: Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing, host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing my listeners to one of my coaches. Julia is one of my favorite people on this earth because what she’s helped me do is bring out more of my authenticity and isn’t that what I’m all about anyway with this podcast?

Find Your Voice, Change Your Life. There are many ways in which we voice ourselves and Julia is somebody that’s guided me to more of the visual expression of who I am, so I just wanted to say how grateful I am. I get to highlight this and feature what she does today. 

(00:55) Julia Stege: Thanks, Doreen. 

(00:56) Doreen Downing: Yes. I’m going to read just a quick little note about your bio. Julia Stege helps spiritual business people and multi- passionate entrepreneurs to clarify and express their purpose through marketing that attracts their tribe and inspires an authentic connection online. 

Very short, simple, sweet, and to the point, which is part of what communication is about when we’re trying to reach people. How do we do that? 

What I’m going to do today with you, Julia, though, is to start more in your history, because of the psychology that I bring to this. How do people get to be the way they are and it usually starts with where we land, in what family, and how we are seen, heard and, applauded and said, “Yes, go for it,” or not.

So, if you could just give us a snapshot or two of what childhood was like for you. 

(02:06) Julia Stege: Well, I was born into a somewhat creative family, at least my father’s side. My grandmother was a landscape architect. She started her own business in 1945 and became well known in Connecticut for designing landscapes for individuals and families mostly, like homes that look like they just grew that way.

And my aunt went to art school from the age of 17 and was a painter and fashion designer. My father was a writer and a cartoonist. So, in a sense, I was encouraged creatively. In another sense, I was discouraged at the same time. 

Maybe you’re not good enough, especially when I didn’t get into art school at first. Up until that point, they were willing to be open to me applying to art school, but when I didn’t get in, they were saying things like, “Maybe you can’t do it.” So, I flipped out, but I went anyway, and applied from within, and got in. Thank God. But then, here I am at art school and there are a lot of artists that were better than I was, so there was always this sense of, “I don’t know if I’m really good enough.” 

(03:38) Doreen Downing: Comparing. My goodness. 

(03:39) Julia Stege: Yeah, comparison-itis. But in terms of graphic design, I was at the head of my class and I got the best job and luckily it turned out, but I noticed over time that I didn’t fit in the normal marketing scene at all.

And I escaped from traditional marketing at the age of 25. Just completely into the unknown. And I did that a few times in my life. Just abandoning normal society, standard trajectory, finding myself in midair. 

(04:20) Doreen Downing: I love that. I love that description of yourself in the world and your sense that you could do that. That’s one of the things today with listeners is that there are people who have that experience of—and you just opened your arms up like this, like you were flying in midair. 

But what one of the things I’ve learned from you is that there’s an inner system or inner guidance or something like, even though you might have your arms up and “Where am I going and what’s happening and I’m in the unknown,” but the trust that there’s something else happening, isn’t that what you are?

(05:10) Julia Stege: I don’t know. I don’t know about trust, but it comes to the point where I just can’t not do it. So interesting though that we’re having this conversation. I hadn’t really thought of it, but I’ve abandoned the traditional way in a big way, several times. 

(05:28) Doreen Downing: Several times. Yes. 

(05:30) Julia Stege: Just even going to art school to begin with was not normal.

(05:36) Doreen Downing: Why not? Because your family was all in the arts. 

(05:40) Julia Stege: You know my aunt was whispering in my ear, “You should go to art school.” Like I said, there were some, maybe you’re not really good enough conversations. So, in high school, I was rejected from the art honor society three years in a row, and then I was rejected from art school. Luckily I got into my major. My major was graphic design. So, there were some good things, but I just found that I didn’t agree with society the way that it was presented. 

I was from the Northeast. They’re still puritanical in a lot of ways, still rooted in the Puritan way and also the Protestant work ethic is a big thing in the Northeast. Like you have to work hard. Then you’ll be accepted by God or whatever. When I left Manhattan, I was only 25. All my friends had completely just gone right into that whole marketing for cigarette companies. 

(06:44) Doreen Downing: Oh, Mad Men, Madison Avenue, huh? 

(06:48) Julia Stege: Yeah. A little later than that. Madison Avenue, exactly. Cigarettes, alcohol, and pharmaceutical drugs and banks.

(06:58) Doreen Downing: Wow, yeah. 

(06:59) Julia Stege: They had me do some bank stuff. I could do it, but—Burger King also, they grow fast food, stuff that kills you. That’s how they used us and at a certain point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I just—I couldn’t stand it. So, I don’t know if that’s trust. It’s just that I can’t deal with it.

I went to Illinois, escaping from Manhattan. I went to graduate school in media studies and that was weird. That was at the beginning of the computer revolution. 

(07:34) Doreen Downing: Oh yeah. Punch cards. 

(07:35) Julia Stege: So, I learned computer graphics. It was a little bit more advanced than punch cards. I was doing graphic design using computers and stuff, but still, I escaped from that and went into selling T-shirts at Grateful Dead concerts. This is in the early nineties. Jerry Garcia was still alive. I was using the computer to design the T-shirts.

But I learned that when you work for yourself, you make more money than when you work for other people. I learned that I could make, in a couple of hours hanging out at a football game, more than I would make in a week working at a corporation looking at the clock. So, I experimented a little. But yeah, I was sort of a revolutionary type. So, it’s just a matter of not being able to do things the normal way. 

(08:29) Doreen Downing: But you had to listen to something that said, I can’t take this anymore and I won’t. That’s the message I want to zero in on today for the listeners is are you listening to yourself? Are you that uncomfortable in what you’re doing that you’re—I keep coming back to willingness or trust, but you’re saying it’s almost like you get to “Hell no. No way. ” 

(08:55) Julia Stege: Well, the universe will conspire on your behalf. 

(08:59) Doreen Downing: I love that. I love that. 

(09:01) Julia Stege: When I was in Manhattan, I had been fired so many times, but then that got me a year and a half of unemployment, which was like being rich in DeKalb, Illinois in the eighties. When your rent is $80 and I was getting like $800 a month from unemployment. It was sort of bad that I kept getting fired. It was just because they didn’t trust me because my clients liked me a lot. 

One of my bosses just lost all of his clients because he was a cocaine addict. It was the eighties. He lost the whole Burger King and fired me. I guess you would say I have a low tolerance for “No, I can’t do this.” I know that it causes illness if you don’t abide by these things. 

Then, I had money from my job so I was able to—I mean, things conspired. I was a part of a group of revolutionaries and they asked me to move to San Francisco, which was the only place I could think of moving ever. It was like, that’s amazing. There were people there that could help me. I had some money tucked away from the job and everything worked out. 

Then Jerry Garcia died. That was terrible, right? We were relying on the Grateful Dead for money. But then, my friend got into computers and website design in ’97. So, hey, could you design these websites I’m programming? Oh yeah. So, almost immediately I was designing websites and everything just worked out and kept leading me, but then I was in the internet marketing world, which was brand new.

And I found that as there started to become a thing called an internet marketing guru, they were just using those same marketing techniques from Madison Avenue. 

(11:09) Doreen Downing: Oh, fascinating. 

(11:12) Julia Stege: They say, “I’ll teach you the same techniques I used to convince children to smoke cigarettes.” It’s not untrue. It’s a terrible joke, but it’s not untrue. How do you trick people into buying from you? So, I felt like that’s the opposite of what I want to teach. I don’t want to teach anything about how—I don’t want to help people to lie. 

I was already at odds with them—the internet marketers—from the very beginning. And they start talking about how you have to niche everything into this tiny little box like you’re supposed to be like everyone else when actually you need to stand out. 

There I found myself again in a situation where I had to go. I had to say things that were the opposite of what everyone else in the industry says. I’ll tell you that wasn’t exactly easy. I remember the first time I said something like, “Well, I can’t guarantee that being honest is going to get you more clients and make you more money than lying to people.”

(12:24) Doreen Downing: Oh, wow. 

(12:25) Julia Stege: But I can tell you that it was more sustainable and fulfilling. 

(12:32) Doreen Downing: Yes. 

(12:33) Julia Stege: To be honest, to be authentic. And you’ll attract people that are like you. But I saw people getting rich off of lying to people, so that seemed to be the way to go. That’s still the way they go and so I had to be the opposite of everyone again.

It’s gutsy to have a voice, to actually know what you’re going to say and say it when you know that other people are going to tell you that you’re wrong. “I make more money than you. You’re wrong,” or “Oh, your clients sound terrible,” or other things I’ve heard.

You can’t say that magical marketing. You can’t say that. It’s like the opposite of what you should be saying. 

(13:19) Doreen Downing: Well, thank you for the introduction to who you are and I’m going to take a quick break because I have a couple of questions and I want to bring out a few more of some of your nuggets, your wisdom nuggets.

We’re back with Julia Stege, one of my wonderful coaches through the years that helped me line up more with what’s authentic for me as I promote my business online around speaking that is from the heart, from your soul, someplace deeper than just being a performer, so I’m not a public speaking coach that helps people get on a stage to do TED Talks, but I do help people get on any stage in their life because that’s what I think.

All parts of our life are stages. Julia today already has shown us some really profound ideas about how to be more lined up with yourself. There’s been some patterns. Julia is somebody who gets involved because she’s involved and an action type person.

But then she wakes up to the situation and says, “Oh, this isn’t what I want. This isn’t what I need. This doesn’t feed me. What do I need to do? Oh, I need to leave. I don’t know where I’m going.” But also, one other thing before I get back to what I want to ask you is that what you told us about the universe conspires, so that if you are caught in a trap that maybe you’ve built for yourself anyway, there are ways—it’s not just where there is a will, there’s a way, but it is something about lining yourself helps the universe line up with you and open doors. 

(15:32) Julia Stege: I believe that. I mean I have to because that’s what’s happened. 

(15:37) Doreen Downing: Yes.

(15:39) Julia Stege: Every time I jumped off the cliff, there was something to land on every single time. I did some crazier things than I’ve said, crazier than even following the Grateful Dead on tour. Who does that at age 31? All my friends are getting married and having kids and I’m on tour. That’s crazy. But it was fun. It was fun. It was a way to have a life that’s my life. It’s not somebody else’s idea of a life. 

(16:15) Doreen Downing: With that kind of human that you are, which is very inspirational for those of us who come into your sphere, what would you say—I do understand your message being one that is who you are, which is pretty much what I talk about. You do it by offering these groups and these workshops online. Say a little bit more so people get to know what you do and how they can find you. 

(16:49) Julia Stege: Well, the biggest thing I’m doing is I’ve created a school, online school called the New Renaissance Business School. Through the years, I not only realized that I had multiple creative talents that society thought I should separate—I mean, from how you got to either choose to be a designer, a writer, or a counselor. Not all three, for instance.

I noticed that my clients were all multi-passionate. From the very beginning of my business back in the nineties, I was serving multimodality healers and mostly healers and artists. One of my first clients was a feminist astrologer. She used to get flack for that either from the feminists who thought astrology was wrong or from the astrologers who thought feminist approach was bad.

But even just combining those two things, which seems not that big of a deal right now, 25 years later, but there was a trend—a multi-passionate. At first it wasn’t that big of a deal. People were calling me and saying—because I was making websites—”Do I need three websites? I’ve got three modalities,” and I would help them to only have one. It was very practical. 

But after 20 years and realizing that I was a new Renaissance person. One of my coaches was like, “You’re a Renaissance woman.” I’m like, “Oh.” I realized all my clients were as well and that the trouble that they would experience in the regular business and marketing world, even the spiritual business and marketing world was that you have to niche.

I mean, it’s step one. Everyone has, every single one of them says you have to have a niche and they don’t understand this multi-talented, cutting edge thinking, new world creating person that wants to have a real impact. They don’t understand that at all. Like I said, I alluded to or I’ve been told, “Your clients sound terrible,” because they can’t niche.

I’m like, “No, I’m the only one that can serve them because they can’t niche, because no one else was willing to.” So, I found that then again, here I am saying things like you don’t have to niche, that others in the industry will tell me that I’m wrong. They will contradict me with great vigor, but what we’re doing in the school is helping the spiritual entrepreneur. What is that even? Like a soul-guided person. 

You’re in the middle of the night and it says, “This is what you’re supposed to be doing,” or you have a meditation, you’re consciously tapping into what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s clearly stating, “This is what you need to do. You need to learn this thing and that thing,” and they don’t seem to go together, but they will. For you. 

It’s not a coincidence that you’re guided to all these contradictory things. Perhaps they’re contradictory according to society. So, I’m helping these soul-inspired entrepreneurs to do business their way, which is complicated if you’re a trainer, because you’re not really telling people how to do things. You’re helping them to know their own way. 

(20:32) Doreen Downing: Their own voice. 

(20:34) Julia Stege: Their own voice, exactly like what you’re doing. It’s your own way. If there’s a problem, if you feel that a certain type of marketing or a certain way of selling or whatever that you’ve been taught is off for some reason like, “Gosh, I don’t know why, but I can’t do this.” Maybe it’s because they’re asking you to lie a lot of the time. I can’t really lie to my clients and expect that—I had to go through all this because they do tell you in other words to lie all the time. It’s an epidemic of lying or tricking. It’s not authentic. 

If you notice like, “Well, I can’t really do that. It feels like a lie. It feels untrue. It feels fake. It feels shmarmy,” then I’m saying don’t do that. Even if everyone else says do that. Trust—there’s your word—to trust that the information that you’re getting will lead you there.

If you are authentic and you are tapping into your higher self and you’re saying, “Look, you told me to attract these people, new Renaissance people and build a school, could you give me a little more—I’m not going to like trick them into it, so could you give me a little—what should we do today?”

And then trust it, but just like everyone else, also feeling sometimes like maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. I need somebody to tell me what to do. Then I usually don’t like what they say. So, I’ve gone through all pretty much whatever my clients come to me and say that they’ve been told. That you’re supposed to do this. You’re not supposed to do that. You can’t do this. You can’t do that. I’m going to have to agree with you that if there is a level of trust, you have to trust your guidance. 

(22:47) Doreen Downing: Listening to you today so far in your history—if people are just tuning in right now, make sure you go back because it’s been a totally fascinating history, the challenges Julia had to face. But I think that along the way, you did know that you were trusting because you also just talked about guidance and the guidance was not to stay where you didn’t belong and where it didn’t feel right.

So, at least there was a sense of even though—anyway, I’m trying to get to the point that after a long time, you learn to trust guidance and now you teach that, but you didn’t know it in the beginning. You were just doing yourself. 

(23:36) Julia Stege: Yeah, I couldn’t be anyone else. 

(23:38) Doreen Downing: Right. Now you’re saying this is, “Yahoo!” to being yourself and supporting those of us out there in the world that are trying to stay lined up.

(23:53) Julia Stege: There’s a good reason to do that because when you’re really in alignment and that means you’re following your highest guidance, you are a transformational leader. The world needs that right now. We can’t do things the old way. It’s going down the tubes if we do. We need to come up with new ways to transform lives.

I serve a lot of healers, right? We can’t do this healing the same way. We can’t continue to rely so heavily on—like the material on the drug industry and the doctor’s thing and be taken away from our own knowing. I’m not saying anything against doctors. It’s just that it’s too much one way, too little the other way. 

(24:56) Doreen Downing: Yeah. 

(24:56) Julia Stege: And they had to force it out of us. Not to get too much into history, but they did have to force the healing that we already had, that we were using—the natural healing modalities. They had to force them out of us. 

(25:11) Doreen Downing: Yeah. 

(25:12) Julia Stege: So, we’re bringing that back now and we’re bringing back new ways to transform lives and online. We can do it with people around the world. It’s really cool. 

(25:26) Doreen Downing: It is. Well, speaking of online, we’re at the end and I’d like to make sure that people can follow up and find you online. 

(25:37) Julia Stege: Yeah, if you go to magical-marketing.com, so there’s a hyphen in there, you’ll see my AI painting of myself. That’s a whole other thing, being an artist, and getting into AI painting is contradictory according to many other artists, but I like it. It’s amazing what you can do. 

So, I have an AI illustration of myself playing guitar with doves flying around. Right below that, it says something about Soul Tribe Attraction Playbook and so if you want to get started with tapping into your soul and discovering who you’re meant to serve, and getting into alignment with that, I have found that that process that I have there for free on the website is really effective. 

There’s something about focusing in on what it is that you want and being authentic in your voice to use your words and what you say so that your people can recognize you and to be tuned in to what you really want and not thinking that somebody out here has a better idea because they don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. They can’t really guide you. 

(27:03) Doreen Downing: This is wonderful. I hope people will go back with a pencil and write down some of these golden nuggets that you’ve given today, because it really is an inspiration to come back to who we truly are, find ourselves, and then move out into the world with way more confidence. Thank you so much, Julia, for sharing. 

(27:25) Julia Stege: Thank you for having me, Doreen. It’s a pleasure. I didn’t get to say everything, but then there’s more time in the future for connection and getting to know each other better. So, I’m happy to get to know folks that happen by your podcast and help everyone to be authentic online in a way that really helps you fulfill your purpose to transform the world.

(27:59) Doreen Downing: Yeah. Well, if anybody wants an example, doreendowning.com is partly a result of my work with Julia the last year. So go ahead. Thank you again, Julia, very much. 

(28:13) Julia Stege: Thank you.

Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.