“I’m not a one-trick pony; I do a lot of different things.”
This might be an understatement for Dr. Julie Ducharme; she is a multi-talented entrepreneur, professor, bestselling author, speaker, and athlete. Her achievements are extensive, including, but not limited to, owning four companies, delivering keynote and TEDx presentations, earning MBA and Doctorate degrees in business and organizational leadership, running nonprofits, and writing award-winning books. She spent years in academia as dean of a business college and still serves students as a visiting professor and mentor. In fact, mentorship and encouragement are central to Dr. Ducharme’s passionate work; she currently headlines a traveling conference through her nonprofit female empowerment group, Lead and Empower Her, to support other women in their pursuits.
Just one conversation with Dr. Ducharme reveals her engaging charisma and genuine capability– but not everyone recognized her potential along the way. Many have delivered words of discouragement, even a college professor who notably insulted her intellect:
“They said, ‘Julie, you’re not smart enough to be in college. You should drop out.’ I was there on a full-ride scholarship and it was really shocking. […] For a long time, I had those words in my head from this person. It’s funny how we let someone who doesn’t care about us at all have so much effect on us, yet we don’t take the words of the loved one who tells us we’re beautiful, we’re wonderful, we’re smart…”
This is not the only discouragement Dr. Ducharme faced; in fact, stigma about her gender and self-doubt about her abilities almost kept her from starting her first business:
“When I started out, there were a lot of things people told me I couldn’t do […] I was trying to figure out the balance because people would say, ‘Well, women don’t really own businesses,’ or “You’re not going to make a lot of money,’ or ‘It’s too risky, you shouldn’t try it.” So that kind of deterred me for a little bit.”
With the help of her father, Dr. Ducharme soon arrived at a powerful realization: “Nothing is stopping me except for me.” Since then, she spearheaded her first entrepreneurial venture, Julie’s Party People, in her early twenties and discovered her natural leadership abilities. However, even after establishing herself in the business world with this highly successful company (and multiple others), Dr. Ducharme faced resistance: “In the industry I was working in, it was a real negative if you were a woman and I wanted to show people that women can be great leaders. Their leadership is different, but it is still worthy. And I am still worthy.”
This empowering message is central to Dr. Ducharme’s work, including her published books. Due to her dyslexia and learning challenges, others did not expect Dr. Ducharme to become a published author. However, she once again proved her drive and wrote now-celebrated books such as Authentically You: Empower Your Way to Success and Leading by my Ponytail: Why Can’t I Wear Pink and Be the President? She is passionate about “helping women navigate how to still be a woman and embrace your femininity while also being a leader.”
Like any great success story, Dr. Ducharme’s journey contains setbacks:
“I have failed so many times. I had to. But if I hadn’t failed, I wouldn’t have gotten better; I wouldn’t have found the other opportunity. Don’t be attached to failure. The best people in the world look at failure as important. Once they fail, they are one step closer to finding something important.”
With this growth mindset, Dr. Ducharme has forged past barriers in her professional pursuits, whether self-built or enforced by others. She is a strong advocate for empowering “what [she] likes to call ‘your genius’– the genius that God has given you.” As a person of faith, Dr. Ducharme believes that God creates each individual with this unique “genius.” She believes that one’s talents should not be socially restricted based on gender, and that women can be successful in multiple capacities. Dr. Ducharme is simultaneously a powerful businesswoman and faithful wife and mother– two roles that are often seen as juxtaposed. She sets an example for her own daughter in pursuing one’s God-given gifts, even encouraging her daughter to publish her first book at thirteen years old.
Now, thanks to her business skills, resilient drive, and support from others along the way, Dr. Ducharme has demonstrated her talent as a celebrated public personality with a deep catalog of titles and experiences. As I pursue higher university degrees, ranking entrepreneurship and professorship among my future dreams, I highly value Dr. Ducharme’s experience and wisdom. Her words inspire me to actively publish my writing, an experience both vulnerable and highly desirable to me as a lifelong writer. Most of all, I admire her cultivation of a generous heart and encouragement for others. For her, “it’s all about giving back,” a mission supported by her belief in young women as future leaders. She is “always willing to help,” generous with her resources, nonprofit efforts, network connections, and advice to help the next generation of women.
Her final words ring true for anyone stuck in a place of self-doubt or hesitation:
“The only real barrier that stops us is ourselves. […] Fear is really really powerful. Fear can stop people from doing a lot of things. So I would say you have to remove that fear in order to move forward. Because if you don’t, a lot of people go to the door and they stand at it. And they even might turn the handle, but they don’t walk through it. Removing fear is usually the make or break of people who move forward or people who don’t move forward. The worst thing that happens is it’s a no, and it doesn’t happen. […] I just always go for it.”
Thank you to Dr. Ducharme for sharing so many words of wisdom and inspiration. Readers can engage with her resources and conferences by visiting her website.