First, I would tell her that there is a plan for her life, and that there’s a unique contribution she’s meant to make. She just needs to play her mental game well.
I would say: “You weren’t born to play small, Julie. Build the life that enables you to make the biggest contribution fastest to the world. The world belongs to the bold, to the optimists, and to those who are trying to build things that are bigger than themselves.” I would tell her that – and then remind her never to forget those words.
At 18, I was still a babe in the woods, unaware of how much the big wide world would change me. My choices to study English Literature and Humanities at Valparaiso University, and then at their UK exchange programme in Cambridge, England, meant that I was more interested in learning and thinking than finding a job. But those choices were good ones: that multi-disciplinary training has contributed significantly to the way I do my job today. I am constantly pulling horizontally from other walks of life, industries and sectors to analyse the companies and management teams that we work with at Ariadne Capital today. I’m always looking for validation that one set of evidence is not a fluke. I’m always looking for the broader reality.
As a young woman, I was constantly throwing myself into new environments without any safe refuge. I moved to Paris when I was 21, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. I knew no-one, I had very little money, no market knowledge and no connections. Suddenly I’d gone from a world, at home and at university, where I was encouraged to be a sort of renaissance person (“Do your best at everything!” “Work hard!”) to a world where no-one really cared that I was there.
I knew that something big was going down, that everything around me was changing. I had to figure out fast what I could bring to the party. Having the natural fearlessness of the later born child surely helped. Being an introvert meant that I would spend a lot of time thinking about what I should do, but also plotting and planning how I would get ahead. As a youngster, I was always one for a good game of Risk or Monopoly with my uncles, and I decided early on to make my travels in Europe just another game: Project Julie...