Updated: Jan 13
Join Lou in a conversation with Juliet Harrison, a senior industry publishing professional. Juliet talks with us about:
her favourite word 'schadenfreude'
her love of theatre
being resilient and juggling work-life with family
her career path in academic publishing and how she got to where she is today
tips about continuing to develop and adapt to changing environments
the best advice she has been given
a little bit of Yorkshire thrown in for good measure
and her favourite reads and podcasts
Louis Theroux Jon Ronson podcast - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000hw0b
The Secret History by Donna Tartt - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-History-Donna-Tartt/dp/0140167773/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1YJ1CFNCEVHD7&keywords=The+Secret+History+by+Donna+Tartt&qid=1640169877&sprefix=the+secret+history+by+donna+tartt%2Caps%2C118&sr=8-1
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Life-Shortlisted-Booker-Prize-ebook/dp/B00UXKJ1HK/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1GDNMYZ0MYUEX&keywords=A+Little+Life+by+Hanya+Yanagihara&qid=1640170076&sprefix=a+little+life+by+hanya+yanagihara%2Caps%2C78&sr=8-1
High Sobriety by Alice King - https://www.amazon.co.uk/High-Sobriety-Confessions-Alice-King/dp/0752889559
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Million-Little-Pieces-exploration-addiction-ebook/dp/B002VHI8T0/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36PYMIJ7XS9WI&keywords=A+Million+Little+Pieces+by+James+Frey&qid=1640170228&s=books&sprefix=a+million+little+pieces+by+james+frey%2Cstripbooks%2C52&sr=1-1
This American Life - https://www.thisamericanlife.org/
A Marriage Story - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7653254/
Comfort Eating podcast with Grace Dent - https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/series/comforteatingwithgracedent
Lou - Welcome everybody to our, "Behind the Fluff, Inspiring the Next CMO" podcast series. We have got some fantastic resources to inspire you at www.internationalbunch.com/beinspired. Now today, I would like to welcome Juliet Harrison. Juliet is an industry senior publishing lead and someone that I really admire and work closely with as part of our voluntary work with the ALPSP Membership and Marketing Committee. Hello, Juliet.
Juliet - Hi Lou, lovely to see you.
Lou - Lovely to have you here.
Now, before we get started, I have one question for you, something we ask everyone before we start is that we have a campaign called #IntBunchWordOfTheDay and we would love to know what is your favourite word and why?
Juliet - So I don't know what this necessarily says about me, but my favourite word is a German word that you may have heard called schadenfreude and the meaning is pleasure derived from someone else's misfortune. The reason I like it is because it's such a human emotion to feel that and I think particularly with the onslaught of social media and the fact that people are always posting things to make other people feel bad, it's a real raw human emotion to take pleasure out of other people not doing so well and I just love the fact that there has been a word invented for it. So whilst it's not from the English language, I'm going to take ownership of it as something that we all secretly enjoy.
Lou - I think that's brilliant. I mean, I do love a bit of car crash TV. So that kind of stuff, yeah definitely, definitely resonates with me. Oh, I'm really looking forward to this interview now.
Juliet - I know. It sounds terrible, doesn't it?
Lou - You've set the theme now.
Okay, so first things first, we really want to know a bit more about you, so what's the best thing that you have discovered in this last, funny, old pandemic year, even longer than a year now that we've been in?
Juliet - I think the main thing and this is probably true of a lot of people with young children is that I can work really effectively in very, very short bursts. So I have, just for a bit of background, I have four and now seven-year-old boys, so during the peak of the pandemic they were three and five, so it was a very, very challenging time, but it showed me that actually I can be very, very focused and get a huge amount of work done in a very, very short amount of time and I think, probably what a lot of businesses have also now started to realize is that this standard working week from nine till five is not necessarily making the most productive use of people's time and people actually work better in different ways, so I hope that as a result of that when I go back to the office that they'll remain an element of flexibility, though it seems to be looking that way.
Lou - Yeah.
Juliet - But I don't think actually working big chunks of time is the most productive way that we can be and actually, I think sitting down and doing a bit and taking a break is a much more effective way of working and actually gives you the focus that you need.
Lou - Yeah, absolutely and taking breaks is so important and it's too easy for us to sit here and then a few hours later go, oh, I haven't even got up to get myself a drink or I haven't just got up to do anything, get some exercise and I think a lot of people have suffered with that over the past year, just that working so much and you know we've worked from home or remotely here at The International Bunch all of the time of the business and I've been working remotely since 2012 and it's just too easy to get stuck and you also tend to work more time because you're not commuting, so you're working more time somehow. So yeah, it's really, really important, our health and especially our mental health over this past year.
Juliet - Yeah and actually I think, I mean, it's useful that you can be flexible with your hours and I think that's something that will continue to be how people work, but then the boundaries of work and life can get blurred, can't they? And you don't ever really switch off and so we actually recently got a puppy which I never ever thought I would do, but actually, the physical having to go out and take a dog for a walk has been really, really beneficial because it gets you, it forces you into that different headspace and you always come back feeling more positive.
Lou - What puppy did you get?
Juliet - We got a little black Labrador called Mo, so not so little now, he's a giant now, but it definitely helps with kind of getting that headspace that you need, that otherwise, you wouldn't necessarily give yourself.
Lou - Yeah, absolutely. Pets are wonderful things, aren't they? There are several people I know that have acquired themselves pets when actually, they have a really very busy professional life and used to travel a lot, but now it's that re-adjusting and saying, maybe I don't need to do this or maybe I need to work out my balance, as they say, of my work and home life, but as long as you can shut that computer down and walk away from it and actually have some time, that's harder to do
Juliet - It's a nice thing.
Lou - And it actually makes you more effective, I think, in the long run. I think the longer you work without a break, the less productive you are or the quality of the work gets worse.
Lou - Know I think, absolutely right, absolutely right, so...
Who inspires you?
Juliet - Well, that's kind of an ongoing theme here, but I think probably at the moment it's people and particularly Mums who have had to work and look after children during lockdown. So I count myself in that group, but I'm also aware that I have a husband that works part-time and is a huge help in terms of childcare, so I've had a lot of benefit as a result of that, but looking at the research, the amount of redundancies and the drop out level of work from women over the past 18 months has been much more proportionally higher than that of men, so it's a really, really big problem and I think a lot of companies over the past few years have been looking at the gender pay gap that's a really important thing, but actually, we've taken a huge step back and this is in the developed world, if you think about the developing world, there's much, much bigger problems there. I think the other issue is that women, in my experience, tend to take on the mental load of things and not necessarily, they try and absorb and absorb and absorb without necessarily realizing that it's not good for them and so then you end up either getting ill or just suffering in silence. So I think we're coming out to the end of it and I think it has been useful in a lot of ways. It means you get to spend more time with your family, but it's not, parents shouldn't, my view is that parents shouldn't be teaching their own children, the dynamic is all wrong and it just doesn't work.
Lou - Yeah.
Juliet - So, I'm really, really in awe, particularly parents and single parents that have had to do it over this period and haven't had any kind of support layer.
Lou - Yeah, the resilience is incredible and I think we've all learned a lot from each other. I have to say that that first four months in the UK, when all the different nations in the UK went into that lockdown, I think that was probably one of, if not the most toughest, mentally time of my life.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - I mean, I say to people, it nearly broke me, but I think if I was completely honest, it probably did break me.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - But it's amazing how we just keep going. If we can, we just keep going and we prioritize things and then we just deal with things later because we know that our children still need to be fed, our partners still need to be happy, just keep them at that level, so that you're just not tipping yourself over the edge. Yeah, so yeah, absolutely, completely appreciate that and completely agree with that as well.
So, when you were young, I always when I say this question, I think of like, I instantly like put someone in some kind of like little outfit, like a little Superman outfit or Wonder Woman whatever, a little vets outfit, but when you were young, what did you want to be?
Juliet - I always wanted to work in the theatre actually. I did a Theatre Studies A-Level and I was really into performing arts and singing as a child and that was always the route I always thought I would go down. So I went to university and I did an English Degree and then a Film Studies Masters which I guess related to a point, but for whatever reason, it didn't come off. Probably I wasn't talented enough, but also I probably wasn't brave enough to pursue it, but whenever I go to the theatre now, I still get a pang to think, wouldn't it be wonderful to be the people on that stage. So yeah, that's if I wasn't, I think, if I wasn't doing academic publishing in an ideal world, that's what I would love to have been doing.
Lou - You still can when your children get a bit older and you get that bit more time, time is a wonderful thing if we ever get it back.
Juliet - Absolutely.
Lou - But you could join your local theatre club.
Juliet - Yeah, well, that was the plan actually, there's lots of amateur dramatics that goes on where I live in, Ilkley, so I am planning to sign up in the next couple of years, so watch this space, might be coming to the local theatre near you.
Lou - Yeah, amazing. Come to Swansea, that would be brilliant. When they all open up again, God, I just can't wait and I think that probably cinemas, libraries, theatres are going to see a real revival because we all really appreciate what we've lost and what we've not had for so long. So hopefully there's going to be some amazing things coming out of this.
Juliet - I think so. Since lockdown eased, actually, I've already been to the cinema twice, so I absolutely love it.
Lou - I'm not even sure if in Wales they're open or not.
Juliet - Well, it's a posh cinema where you can get a bottle of wine, so even more reason to go.
Lou - I love it. Our daughter is three, so trying to get her to watch a film for a concentrated amount of time is quite hard. We did one where we took our van and we did like, how they do in the US, those big screens and you sit in the car.
Juliet - Oh, a drive-through, yeah.
Lou - Yeah, so we did like a drive-through one and it was brilliant. Everything was bought to the van and you could order on your phone and it was so easy, it was so good and we watched "Shrek" and it was brilliant, but she did get a bit bored partway through and the tablet had to come out and we had to have lots of conversations, so yeah.
Juliet - It's about 45 minutes, that's their cut-off point, isn't it? Before you could lose them.
Lou - If that, if you're lucky.
So, if you were to have dinner tonight with anybody in the world, alive or dead, who would it be?
Juliet - So first of all, my Mum died a few years ago. She died in 2013 of breast cancer. So I was about 30 and it was a really, obviously, a really challenging time and it was just before I had my first child, so she never got to meet my children. So partly, I would invite my Mum so I could see her again and I could introduce her to my lovely boys, but in terms of famous people, I am obsessed with Stevie Wonder.
Lou - Really?
Juliet - Yeah, as a child, my Dad always, he had the "Inner Vision" soundtrack and always played it in the car on car journeys and so we all listened to it and I actually got to go and see him at Hyde Park in 2019, supported by Lionel Richie, so possibly the best day of my life. So I'd love to actually meet him and have a conversation with him. So he'd be on the list and actually, for my first wedding anniversary which I think is paper, my husband got me a poster of Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie at the GRAMMYs together which I have framed in the upstairs hall. That's the level of obsession that I have and in addition to that, I think probably Louis Theroux, just because he's so interesting and he's been taken to the nation's heart, hasn't he? And just the amount of interesting experience that he's had. I've also listened to some of his podcasts that he's done recently through his series. He did one with Jon Ronson, which I thought was fantastic. So probably that would be small, but perfectly formed line up.
Lou - That would be quite a dinner, wouldn't it?
Juliet - Quite the dinner.
Lou - What would your Mum think, being sat with Stevie Wonder and all these other guys?
Juliet - Oh, she'd have a great time. I mean, I might even add Stephen Fry to the mix just for a bit of culture as well. So yeah, we'd have great music as well, wouldn't we?
Lou - Oh, oh yeah, excellent. Now that would be quite a table. I would enjoy that table.
Juliet - Absolutely, you're invited.
Lou - And I can't believe that Lionel Richie was supporting Stevie Wonder.
Juliet - I know and I wonder how Lionel Richie felt about that? But I think that's the right order, isn't it?
Lou - Well, he did it, oh yeah, oh yeah, absolutely. Okay, so let's talk about your career.
Now, tell me about your career and how you got to where you are today.
Juliet - So I came to publishing, I guess, relatively late in terms of a lot of people come out of university. So I joined Emerald when I was in, I think, when was it? 2008? I was 25. So I had travelled the world before that and done kind of bits and bobs, so I started at the entry-level job, I was an assistant publisher and I worked my way up. I became a publisher on journals. I was a commissioning editor for about five minutes on books and then we restructured and I went back to being a publisher and then the head of publishing took a punt on me and promoted me to an Executive Publisher, so I was managing quite a big team. Initially, it was the social sciences team and then it was the business management and economics team and that was a team of publishers working globally, so I had a team out of Boston in the US, in a variety of subjects and on a variety of content forms, so books, journals and cases. I knew what I was doing with journals, I was confident in how the journals process merged on with books to a degree, but not really dug my toe into the teaching and learning space and also the cases role gave me an ability to dip my toe into the product management aspect of the role as well, so I felt it was quite an interesting move.
Lou - Yeah.
Juliet - I feel like I've had progression the whole time within that, so I don't feel that I've been static. I've tried a lot of different things and I've developed a lot of different skillsets. I'm also on a number of different committees, so as you said, I'm on the ALPSP Membership Committee and up until recently, I was on the STM Early Careers Publishers Committee which I decided that I could no longer consider myself early career, so I stepped down from that, but that's helped me to develop my networks beyond the organization that I work at. So I think for that reason, I'm still quite varied in terms of the relationships that I have.
Lou - But I think, yeah, there are pros and cons to being at an organization for a length of time and of course, if you work at different organizations, you're going to have different experiences, but I'm sure if you met that 25-year-old self back then now and looked at the organization that you joined then, it's probably completely different to what you have now. So you have grown with an organization that in turn itself has also grown and you've moved between departments which I think is also really important and you have work with so many different people and we as individuals are so unique, no one can replicate the experiences that you as an individual have had, even if I'm in the same conversation with someone, with you, we're both experiencing something different. So we're all incredibly unique like that. So I wouldn't see that as a downfall and at the end of the day, it's about the people and it's about the people that you have that join you in organizations. So I think, credit to you for managing to stay in an organization that's had restructures, I think that's a great thing.
Juliet - Oh yeah, yeah, it's obviously and it's always been pretty positive and actually two years of that I was out on maternity leave, so there's that element of taking time out and then having to get back up to speed, that's always a challenge as well.
Lou - So what have you been most proud of in your career?
Juliet - I think it's to do with the relationships that I've made actually. So I've talked about some of the committees that I've been on and particularly the Early Career Publishers Committee, I'm still in contact with all of those, the people that were on the committee when I was on them and actually, people underestimate the value of the relationships and the friendships that you make when you are in the workplace. You spend a huge proportion of your time at work and actually, those friendships can become really, really valuable to you and they become your allies for a period of time, so they remain really important to me. So there's people that I used to work with that I went to the cinema with on Monday, actually and I think the other thing is that you also don't necessarily realize the value of those relationships professionally until further down the line when you need to call on them.
Lou - Yeah.
Juliet - So I think that's incredibly important and then I'm also really proud of the progression that I've made. When I joined publishing, I didn't have a publishing degree, I was completely new to it and within a relatively short space of time, I was kind of promoted and promoted and got to a relatively senior point and I was managing people with a lot more experience than I have, so I think that's potentially down to the soft skills that I have. I feel that I'm a good manager and that I understand and can support people in the way that they need to be supported and I think it's helped that I've managed people from different cultural backgrounds and different parts of the world because it requires a different approach. So those soft skills, I think, have served me quite well and when you're new to a role, that's a really important part of embedding yourself within a team and getting people to like you, it just professionally is quite important and I think that's something that I'm quite good at.
Lou - Yeah, absolutely and it's like when we work together on the ALPSP Membership and Marketing Committee, your experience and expertise is so incredibly valuable to us, don't you go anywhere. But it's great to have such a mix and blend of different experience coming together.
So thinking about what you've been most proud of, then what have you found most challenging?
Juliet - I mean, we talked a little bit about the past 18 months and how difficult this has been, but there is also, as you probably know if you've ever worked in the publishing industry, there's restructures happen quite consistently and there was quite a big restructure that happened within our division last year which impacted me and it meant that I had to make this decision about what role I wanted to take and I guess professionally, it would have been considered a step-down, but I took it as an opportunity to say, actually, when I'm thinking about what professionally the next step is for me, there's certain skills and experience that I don't have. I've got a lot of experience in relationship management and stakeholder engagement and I feel very confident in doing that. Portfolio management is also something that I consistently do, but I don't have some of those more product management type skills and I'm not so familiar with this part of the teaching and learning space. So I took this role, but I also thought, well, what else is it that I need to do to make myself desirable? So I'm now doing a Degree in Project Management with the APM, so it's a four-year course, so by the middle of 2022, I'll be qualified and I just think it means that whilst it may open doors in terms of project management specifically, what I found working in publishing is that most projects that sit within a publishing company touch the publishing department in some way and there's always a dearth of skills and experience in terms of having someone that can support on the management of those projects and if you have someone that understands the workings of that division, but also can apply the principles of project management, I think that could become quite a compelling skillset. So I'm hoping that will make me more desirable and it will open up more opportunities for me in the future so that I can continue to progress and develop, but it's not been easy. You take these professional hits and it is difficult and I think it's about what you do next and what you take from that and what opportunities you create.
Lou - Yep. No, absolutely and the project management side is transferable skills to lots of different departments, so I think it's an incredibly important skillset and it's also a very sustainable way of thinking and about how you can continue to bring value to your organization because projects will continually need to happen.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - We need to make sure that projects get finished and often projects just get stuck and it's having that ability and that expertise and that know-how to say, right, we've got this blocker, now we need to remove that and we need to move this forward, even though it may end up in a situation of saying, this is not going to happen, this is not viable. You're making a decision about that project. So yeah, I think that's a really intelligent way of thinking about it and that's very exciting in what God, in only a years' time, you're going to be qualified?
Juliet - Yeah, yeah. So it will be like a junior project manager. So after four years, I'll be fully qualified, but enough to be able to start applying it, I think and some of the feedback I've had is I think that in the past, often companies bring in project managers externally and because of some of the industries that project managers work with, they often known to very rigidly apply the principles and actually within a publishing company, in particular, you have to be a bit more flexible about understanding what aspects you need to use and what aspects aren't necessarily going to work within that industry, so I think being able to use both skillsets is going to be incredibly important, but yeah, balancing a degree and a full-time job and two young kids is proving interesting.
Lou - And a husband.
Juliet - And a husband, yeah.
Lou - Yeah.
Juliet - Yes.
Lou - Yeah, very much so.
Juliet - I'm in the middle of my second assignment, it's going okay with it's financial modelling, so it's not my strong suit necessarily.
Lou - Yeah, I don't envy you at all. So what is though, when we talk about just the fact that you're doing the project management side and everything else that you've done and actually now you've moved to a different type of role and you're in a different sphere as well.
What is your ultimate career goal?
Juliet - So it's interesting, I think up until more recently or maybe up until I had children, I was very ambitious and I guess I was kind of saying, what's the next step? Where do I need to go? And it was always kind of a head of publishing type position and actually, I think the last 18 months have given me a lot of time to reassess and actually, what I want to ensure that whatever I'm doing, my ultimate career goal is that I'm enjoying it and I think you start to become more confident in your abilities and understand what you're good at and I think I want to be able to just continue to do what I'm good at. I'm very good at engaging with people and working with people which is why I like working in publishing because it's talking to people all the time and learning about different disciplines, but I think actually, it's very, very hard to find a job that you enjoy and not get caught up too much in the internal politics and find that you're actually doing all of the stuff that you don't really enjoy and have very little time to focus on what you do enjoy and I'm always quite inspired by my Dad who's a composer and for him, work is not work, it's just his hobby and it's doing what he loves, so I think it's continuing to develop myself to make sure that I'm employable and I'm learning all the time, but also saying, if I take a role and I'm not enjoying it, maybe it's not applying the skills that I most readily have and I want to be able to use. So it's actually quite a big ask, I don't think anyone enjoys their job all the time, but I think I've been quite lucky in my professional career so far, that on the whole, I have enjoyed it. It's an interesting industry to work in and there's lots of really clever people with lots of interesting ideas and because it's changing all the time, you don't have the ability to get stuck in a rut because you having to adapt consistently.
Lou - Yeah, it's an ever-changing landscape.
Juliet - Oh yeah, absolutely.
Lou - And then something else comes in and that was low priority and so that becomes a massive priority and changes the whole landscape, like open research, for example.
Juliet - Oh yeah, yeah.
Lou - Open access has always been around in some form or another, for years and years and years and years, but open research is kind of wider adoption of it, the acceleration of it, it's much more prominent and so, yes.
Juliet - And there are so many opposing views isn't there as well? So navigating the landscape and also just staying up to speed with the industry developments is a job in of itself, actually. So finding the time to carve out that time to do that work is really important.
Lou - Yeah, it's really hard as well because there's so much noise out there and it's trying to find the right channels that you're going to get the right information and also, you're not just going to have someone's opinion, you're actually going to read some authoritative news and we've had some recent changes in the industry that I think, what's been really interesting is when people are quite isolated in terms of the team that they work in and they don't have enough knowledge or the broader knowledge about what the whole of the ecosystem of academic publishing or scholarly comms is, from the libraries and the service providers between publishers and libraries and then the publishers themselves and the societies and all the various different stakeholders, it was like the acquisition of ProQuest by Clarivate Analytics.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - And when I spoke to some people who are very focused in the publishing sphere because that's where they spend their time, that when I talk to them about, oh, did you hear about this? And they didn't know so much about ProQuest, they kind of heard of them and didn't know so much about them and they were like, "Oh, millions surely, not billions" and I'm like, no, no, billions because they just didn't know how big that these other types of organizations are that are also in the sphere. So it's such a complex and huge industry.
Juliet - Yeah and I mentioned that a big part of your day-to-day role is just trying to stay up to speed with all of that.
Lou - Yeah, I swear, it's too hard.
Juliet - It's too much.
Lou - I just bombarded with information all the time and then loads of marketing information and this is what's happening in marketing and I'm like, ah gosh, yeah.
Juliet - And actually, I find Twitter to be a really useful resource for that to kind of just pull out the people that I follow, that I particularly trust in terms of what they're directing me to. That can help to calm the noise down, but also then, you get sucked into a Twitter hole, don't you? And two hours have gone by.
Lou - We do, we do, we do, but then the interesting thing is because you and I had done some research about this the other day with some colleagues on the committees and it was talking about where people are discovering industry news and I think I had said, oh, is there any kind of hashtag that anyone's using? And everyone's like, "No, not really" and like you said, "It was about following specific people that there's trust in" and in terms of what they're going to be retweeting, what they're going to be talking about and so I think that, that's really important, actually trust is incredibly important in the industry and often something that I think is sidelined and I hope that now that we've had this eye-opening experience of a pandemic for the past 15, 18 months, however long it's been, that organizations and the industry are going to apply more trust to their colleagues and the employees that they have and I can see that's definitely happened. It's been quite eye-opening for many. Well, I think for all of us, to be honest.
Juliet - Yeah, yeah.
Lou - We haven't been in a pandemic before. Well, we haven't, we weren't around when the bubonic plague and-
Juliet - And I actually had an interesting conversation with someone earlier this week from the ALPSP Committee actually, who was saying that in the past, if you wanted to do, I guess what we would categorize as deep thinking, you'd work from home and now we all need to go to one office and do that because suddenly our home life is just so impinged on everything else. So I think that balance of work, working from an office or working from home is going to be increasingly important, but I still think the social aspect of work is what we're missing and I am finding with online conferences, it's this bit of having the social, it just doesn't work remotely and you find out some of the most interesting information at the pub after a conference or during a conference dinner, don't you?
Lou - Oh yeah, in the bar.
Juliet - Yeah, absolutely.
Lou - After a few drinks, oh my gosh, have you heard this? I had to do that. Juliet I had to do that last week or the week before, I think it was and I literally said to a couple of people, right, we've got to have a chat and I said to them I have no idea, my head's been down, getting on with some white papers and things, I've got no idea what the gossip is. Tell me some gossip and they're like, "Oh, let me tell you" and I'm like, this is what I miss from conferences, where's all the goss?
Juliet - You just need and they're just, that's how the relationships really develop, isn't it? And actually, even when you do things like commissioning, commissioning remotely is tricky as well because you can't develop that rapport with people in the same way, so I think everything will have its, there will be a hybrid approach to a degree, but there's still going to be that need for face-to-face interaction. That will never go away and I miss going to London as well, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to start doing that again.
Lou - Yeah, me too, me too. Even if we have to go on with masks on, I don't really care.
Juliet - No.
Lou - I literally Juliet, I just can't wait till we have our first face-to-face conference, whatever that is, I'm there.
Juliet - Everyone's going just be so, well, either really excited or just really, really anxious and not know and understand how to behave.
Lou - Yeah, everyone's just going to go out in the evening. We're all going to get very drunk because we're not used to alcohol as much, well, maybe some people are Because a lot of people have drunk more at home.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - But we're all just going to get very, very drunk. There's going to be lots of great gossip and then the next morning, when they have like a start-up session, no one will be there because we'll all be very hungover and be thinking, oh my gosh, I've got to get to that first session and everyone will stink of alcohol, it will be coming out of their pores, it will be-
Juliet - Oh yeah, I miss those days.
Lou - I'll be going, oh Juliet, did you hear what happened last night?
Juliet - Exactly, we'll get there, we'll get there.
Lou - We'll get there, yeah, we'll get there. Oh dear. So, brilliant.
So if you weren't doing the role that you're doing now and money was absolutely no object, what would you be?
Juliet - So I mentioned before I started working in publishing that my husband and I travelled, so we love travelling, but something that we continually returned to when we're travelling was the idea of opening a B&B together. I think I would probably be front of house because my husband's not necessarily as much of a people person, shall we say? And he could be doing kind of the behind the scenes stuff, but we always thought-
Lou - Right at the back in the kitchen, not seeing anybody.
Juliet - Doing the paperwork, yeah, Making the beds, no, probably not, but we always thought that we would potentially work quite well together as a team and I know that's something that's really, really hard to get right and you don't actually make a lot of money, but that was always kind of a pipe dream for us. So maybe in the future and I think generally, probably everyone says this but just travelling and I think what we've felt really sad about over the past 18 months is that we've not been able to take our children abroad and I think a big part of what has shaped us and to be the people we are is that our parents took us abroad a lot as children and it challenges you and it puts you in difficult situations and it helps you to develop and apparently, part of the reason that as an adult, time passes so quickly is because you're doing the same things all the time and actually, you don't have many new experiences and so the passage of time seems to pass more quickly and so for children, because they're constantly having new experiences, they perceive time to be longer.
Lou - Yeah.
Juliet - And so, I think that's incredibly important and I hope that I'll get to a point when I'm retired and I can do more of that, I can travel and just have new experiences because you get to a point in your life when I think we can get frightened of new experiences and I think it's always important to be pushing yourself out of that comfort zone, but saying that, I'm not sure if practically, I could work with my husband 100% of the time. So maybe that won't happen.
Lou - Maybe you could buy some lovely property with self-catering cottages and he does that, you do the front of house, but still working, but you do like, speaking to people.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - And then yeah and he can just, yeah.
Juliet - Yeah, yeah, I think couples who work together, I have a lot of respect for, I'm not sure it's necessarily healthy for your relationship, but I know lots of people do it, so we could give it a go.
Lou - It's got to be right for different people, hasn't it? We're all different individuals and our relationships are also, function in different ways, so absolutely
Juliet - Yeah and lockdown has really tested those relationships, actually, if we're still together now, we can get through anything.
Lou - I said to my husband the other day because at one point I just wanted him to leave, just to have a bit of a break from him, I'm like, could you just go away for a few days? But that was when it was like no one's going anywhere and it's like, oh my gosh, we just need a break from each other and he felt the same. So yeah, I said to him, if we can get through a pandemic, to be honest, I think we can get through anything. So I think you are right.
Juliet - Absolutely. Because you'll know what it's like with young children. You never get any time to yourself and you need that headspace, you need the silence and not having that because we're all cooped up together has been really hard.
Lou - Really hard, we've just got a Peloton and I got on it last night for my first proper exercise and in fact, there is an industry group, who-
Juliet - Really?
Lou - Yeah, yeah, yeah, who are on Peloton apparently, I haven't sorted that out yet, but I got on it last night and then my three-year-old was, I don't know, for some reason, she's not dependent on me at all, but she started crying about something and I was trying to focus on this woman shouting at me on the screen. I found it really distressing and I was just like, I just want to be able to do some exercise on my own.
Juliet - I know, just stop asking me questions.
Lou - Dave, sort Poppy out! Can't take it. Oh dear.
Juliet - Get a dog?
Lou - I've got two and two cats and a snake and six chickens.
Juliet - Oh, wow!
Lou - And our fish, I don't think we need anything else.
Juliet - No, probably not.
Lou - I was probably like, bye.
Juliet - Just say, Juliet made me do it.
Lou - Exactly, I'll blame it all on you. So who's Juliet? No, well, that's it you see. So it's funny though when you talk about new challenges when you're older, actually, that's really interesting because, well, when we used to be in the car a lot, going to places, whether it was commuting, whatever, when you used to get somewhere, a journey that you might do a lot and then you suddenly go, oh, how did I get here?
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - It's often in your own head and it's like you know, you're so used to doing it, but I think and I hope the pandemic has taught people because it's a bit like when I faced redundancy and I've been made redundant twice, is that actually, opportunities come up and you shouldn't be shy and you shouldn't be scared and you realize, well, I can do these things and so there are opportunities out there and so when people say to me things like Hannah Baldwin who's done this "Inspiring the Next CMO" podcast, she had said, "Oh, well, I would like to open up a deli", but that's something that she would love to do, she'd like to go to the South of France and she'd like to look after lots of dogs and things and a lot of people think, well, because I'm at a certain age, I can't do that and I say to people, you know what? My mother was in her, I think she was in her 40s or early 50s and she retrained as a solicitor from being an interior designer and she had to obviously then try and get employment with a solicitors and she was up against people who had just left university, but she did and she became a solicitor and now she's a retired solicitor and she did it later on in life, so I think, even the world is your oyster and you can do anything.
Juliet - Absolutely.
Lou - And I hope the pandemic has taught us that as well.
Juliet - Yeah and I went to a conference a while back. I can't remember which conference it was, but there was a really brilliant keynote speaker, he said, "When you think about the passage of life, you see education just as this point at the beginning and then you have work and then you retire and actually, education should be peppered throughout your professional career. You should always take breaks to go back into education" and I think that actually, it's really important as an adult to continuously be learning. Why should you just stop when you get to 18, 21
Lou - Yep, I actually agree.
Juliet - So, I think it's really encouraging, so the degree I'm doing is through the Government's apprenticeship scheme, so that companies if they can support their staff to do training in the workplace, it's only going be a benefit to the organization actually.
Lou - Yeah, absolutely. I absolutely agree with that. I was an appalling student, I was never-
Juliet - Me too!
Lou - Yeah, yeah, I was living in Malta, enjoying life very much there with my mother and my stepfather out of the country a lot, so I was having a ball, but as I got older and I went to university without A levels, managed to get in, but I really appreciate that sentiment that you said there around education and I certainly got better with education as I got older and I've been professionally qualified in other different areas and I've really enjoyed that, but I think it also took me to have a specific mental attitude to that and really-
Juliet - Exactly.
Lou - To know the value of it, but also apply your own experiences to some of the things that you're being taught and I'm dyslexic and I think that my dyslexia held me back when I was younger. I'm really sorry if you can hear this noise every now and again, one of my chickens has just laid an egg, she's like, "I've laid an egg! I've laid an egg! I've laid an egg!" So I'm sure that people will hear it in the recording. Yeah, so absolutely, absolutely agree with that sentiment about education.
Juliet - And actually, my Dad said that it's a story that he always tells, that when I was at university, I came back after the first term and said, oh, university, it's been really hard. I've been really busy recently, so I've had to cut my clubbing back to four nights a week. So I think I'm probably more applied now than I was at university. So I think actually you are probably a better student as an adult because you're used to applying yourself to set amounts of time and actually when you get to 18 and go to university, that's not necessarily at the forefront of your mind.
Lou - No, it's like when you're at uni and they say to you, "You wait", you wait and you're like, what are you talking about, it is really hard and then you go to the working world and then you do education as well as working and then you're like-
Juliet - Hang on, what was I talking about?
Lou - Four nights for clubbing, wow, that would be great. Don't do that now. I don't remember the last time I went clubbing, mind you, clubs have been closed for a long time.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - So, now I say this about three inspiring books are your must-read and why? But you may not read professional books because some of the people that we interviewed don't and they prefer to talk about books that they like reading that aren't professional or even blogs or podcasts that they are into.
Juliet - So yeah, I'm not actually going to talk about professional books, it's just books that I've read over the course of my life that have had an impact on me.
Lou - Yep.
Juliet - So the first is a book called "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt which I read in my, I think my third year of university and it's about a group of friends who meet at university, so it was very relevant to me at that time and they are at a university, a bit like Oxford or Cambridge and they're studying Greek Mythology and something terrible happens, an incident happens and it's about how they react to that, but it was just so significant for me because I remember reading it when we were visiting some friends in Paris during the university holiday and my partner and I, now husband kept saying, "We're in Paris, can we go and experience Paris?" And I just could not put this book down and I think it got me at the right time and it was sort of a significant point in my life, so I'd really recommend that and Donna Tartt is just a wonderful writer. The next one is one I've read more recently and it's by an author, I hope I'm going to pronounce this correctly called Hanya Yanagihara, it's called "A Little Life" and again, it's about four friends who meet in college and are friends then throughout their life, but they all experience trauma and it's about how they respond to trauma and I don't know whether that's potentially a theme in terms of the types of books that I'm interested in reading because the other two which are on a theme, there's one called "High Sobriety" by Alice King, and she was a writer and a wine critic and it's about her battle with alcoholism and there's one called "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey and again, it's about his recovery from addiction and I think I find those types of books very interesting because I think we potentially are on the precipice, everyone has elements of addiction in their personality, whether it's to alcohol or to food and I'm always interested in why some people can't get on top of it and whether it's related to trauma in their life or whether it's just a personality type and I think society is quite condemning of people with addiction problems in saying, "It's something that you can control, it's in your gift, it's your responsibility" and I don't think that's always the case if you think about the number of people from different backgrounds and different ethnic groups who struggle with addiction problems. So I always find it interesting to read about the different experiences that people have had, so I'd really recommend both of those books that are kind of particularly on people's relationship with addiction and actually in my own experience, through lockdown I turned to a glass of wine or a beer if I'd had a stressful day and I see how it's insidious and it can start to just become increasingly more and more a part of your life. So I think it's really important for people to understand more about that.
Lou - It becomes very habitual.
Juliet - It does, yeah and it's just how you deal with stress and there's a programme that I used to watch called, "Fresh Meat" about students at university and someone said that they didn't drink and one of them said, "Well, what do you do if you're happy? Or if you're sad? Or if you're stressed? Or if you're angry?" It's just kind of the British reaction to anything, you just have a drink, isn't it?
Lou - It's like, I think when years ago and I used to smoke, if I was stressed, I'd instantly have a cigarette and yeah, you do depend on certain things because of what specific emotion that you're feeling at the time and you do associate that behaviour with that emotion.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - And yeah, addiction's are a very, very interesting area and I think you're absolutely right. It's a bit like mental health as well in the respect that I think until we had the pandemic, mental health was being talked about, but not as openly as it is now and also appreciated because I think so many people have experienced mental health more significantly than they ever have before or even didn't think that they had experienced it and have now and then realized, oh, right, it's like that, amplified by 10. Yeah, I can completely understand how you can't snap yourself out of that. So I think we're much more empathetic now as well. No, those sound like brilliant books.
Juliet - Yeah, they are all great and I guess the benefits of lockdown is that probably lots of people who are naturally introverted and didn't really enjoy going into the office, have probably, actually really welcomed the change. I know my sister is not particularly outgoing and she's not an extrovert by any means and so having that peace and that kind of comfort area for her has been really important. So there's been a huge benefit for lots of people in terms of their mental health, as one of those who have struggled with that thing.
Lou - Absolutely right. Some people I've spoken to have said to me, "I've loved it". I haven't had to mix with people. Everything's been easily accessible online. I've had stuff delivered. It's been really great. It just been my partner and I and we've got everything at home. Yeah great and I'm thinking, oh, how the other half live? Lucky you, at least someone had a good time.
Juliet - Yeah, it's like you said about how people experience things in really, really different ways. The same experience can be completely different for two people.
Lou - Absolutely, absolutely and you never know what's going on in our heads because that little voice that's talking to like me right now, you can't hear that voice.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - So what's your most favourite book or podcast or blog?
Juliet - So one that I used to listen to a lot, I haven't for some time because of children, but I used to love one called "This American Life" which is quite a long-standing podcast. I think it's been going for about 20 years, but it's just about stories of people based in America and it always tends to be on a theme, but I'm quite drawn to stories that are about real life. I'm not someone that's quite so much into nonfiction. Sorry, that is nonfiction, but historical books or it's about the experiences of people and I think that's what I enjoy in terms of films and television programmes as well. I watched a great film called "A Marriage Story", I think, last year, that was just about the breakdown of a marriage and there's so much trauma and there's so much emotion in people's day-to-day lives and this is just a way of experiencing that in a short chunk and the journalist who does "This American Life", he interviews the people who talk about their own experiences and so it's from their own mouth essentially, rather than it being reworked. So it's quite a simple idea, but a lovely podcast, if people haven't listened to it.
Lou - Yeah, I hadn't heard of that one. So everything that Juliet's talking about, we are going to be making sure that there's a link included, so everyone will be able to link out to that, but no, I haven't heard of that one. That sounds a really good one. I think the great thing about doing these interviews is I have discovered some incredible podcasts and books and different places to go and resources to go. So selfishly for me, it's been really helpful.
Juliet - Well and actually, there's one that's just been launched and I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I'm very excited. So it's Grace Dent, who's The Guardian food writer, just interviewing people about the food that they eat, but the sort of the comfort food that they eat because I think that does say a lot about people, doesn't it? What they eat in the privacy of their own home rather than in a posh restaurant, so that's next on my list.
Lou - She's been doing a few programmes recently that have really humanized her a lot more and to begin to see her more as a person. I think I watched her on "Mastermind" the other day and yeah, she really fascinating and she just became a bit more human to me.
Juliet - Yeah.
Lou - And I'm like, yeah, she's very funny.
Juliet - The picture advertising the podcast is her in a bath of chips and gravy. So a woman after my own heart. It's very Yorkshire.
Lou - Love it. So if you could travel back in a time machine and tell your early career-self anything, any piece of advice or just anything, what would it be?
Juliet - It would just be just to be more confident in your voice and what you have to say. Don't question your ability so much and maybe take more risks. I think traditionally and this is probably a generalization, but I think traditionally, boys are kind of praised and told to speak out and girls are often told it's more about pleasing people and not necessarily having a voice in quite the same way and I think that translates professionally and that you come into the workplace as a woman and you're not as confident and you're nervous about saying the wrong thing or how you might be perceived.
Lou - Yep.
Juliet - And I wish that I just cared about that a bit less and just said what I thought because if it's the wrong thing, it doesn't matter. It's just the learning and what I do now professionally, regardless of whether I think a question is stupid, I ask it anyway and I might caveat it by saying, this might be a stupid question, but can you explain this more? But that comes with experience and it comes with confidence and you can't, you have to do something for a certain amount of time to gain that confidence, but just not to worry so much about saying the wrong thing, I think.
Lou - Yeah, I think that's really, really key solid advice. The fact of asking questions, a question especially when you don't understand something, ask the question and don't worry if you feel like you're going to be stupid because I bet there's someone else there who wants to ask that question who also didn't understand, and sometimes it's due to people's delivery and in their head they'll be like, yeah, everyone understood this, but it's like, well, actually, no I didn't and it's like when I mentioned earlier about myself being dyslexic if my dyslexia is playing havoc with me and I'm like, I didn't quite get that, you know what? I'm just going to ask the question because I want to walk away from this and get it because I want that person to know that I'm going to get on and do it and understand what I'm doing.