THE BLOG

Strong Jules in Heels

13/01/2015 15:25 GMT | Updated 14/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Like many entrepreneurs, I'm a bit schizophrenic. I have to project confidence while constantly de-risking situations which I realise would make a lot of people collapse. To make matters (worse/better - choose), I have become partners to many entrepreneurs as their financial backer / confidant/ advisor/ Board Director/ bag carrier.

I'm an entrepreneur because as the daughter of a great one, I didn't have a chance to escape the fate. Growing up, as my father built the pulmonary medicine industry in California, I saw the incredible toll it took on him to manage his partners, team, hospitals, burgeoning business, while broadcasting on TV the perils of smoking, the demise of tuberculosis, and championing great respiratory healthcare. Only much later did I realise, you honestly wouldn't choose the life if you had a choice. But that's the rub: you don't have a choice! Like many obsessions and addictions, I would choose to be otherwise, but I didn't choose being an entrepreneur. And a long time ago, I realised that what you believe, you make happen. Because my father was an entrepreneur with little time, and he probably didn't know what else to say, he said pretty much one thing: 'Anything you set your mind to, you can achieve, Julie'.

I will always remember one particular basketball game in high school where we ended the first half 49 to 8. It was an appalling performance against a team who were good but were beatable. As I left the court at half time, I avoided the eyes of my coach, Salty, who just stared at me, and said, 'When are you going to decide to win, Jules?'

If he believed in me, I guess I should to.

We came out the opening jump with a basket in 5 seconds, and played a flawless game, basket after basket, pulling up next to the other side at 72 to 72. It was as if we had found a groove or a well-worn road, like muscle memory - it was all execution against a design that had been agreed to. With 20 seconds to go, we made the last basket, and then sat on the ball as the clock went to zero. Slowly I realised that my team and I had won the game against all odds. We hadn't just beaten the other team. We had changed our thinking. The win in our heads was much more important than what had happened on court.

That game stayed with me for a long time as I realised I was the same person the first and the second half of the game; I had merely decided to win at halftime!

My amazing friends who are also my shareholders at Ariadne Capital and the Limited Partners in our venture capital fund, and I pioneered the 'Entrepreneurs Backing Entrepreneurs' model for the financing of entrepreneurship in Europe in 2000. I threw in the first £550 K of cash, but then asked the founders of Betfair, Coller Capital, Easynet, Genia, Hotmail, QualComm, SES Astra, WILINK and Worldpay and NXD's of Amazon, Dialog Semiconductor, and others to back me in bringing this model to market. Earlier this year, as I thought about entering our 15th year at Ariadne Capital on the 8th of December, I thought about what winning would mean to me in the next 15 years. It would mean something about being Strong Jules more consistently. Jules has always been the term of endearment for me. In the next 15 years I would consistently and systematically play the game of the second half. I would build not only my business, but help those other entrepreneurs who I cared about to build theirs, and I would never ever get hit.

In short, Strong Jules is my better self. Because my secret is that like most entrepreneurs, I am not her every day. I am schizophrenic and slightly dysfunctional...travel, deals, pressure, sleep. Being an entrepreneur is not about working for yourself; it's working for everyone else in fact.

The most important thing is that I've found my team, not just my mojo. I've always gotten oxygen from my team. And when I win, it has always been a team effort. I watch the incredible achievement and intrepid journey of entrepreneurs as talented as they come: Candace Johnson, Christina Domecq, Emma Sinclair, Dagny Taggart, Sara Murray, Anna Hejke, Alison Cork and so many more. In believing in them, I always find it easier to believe in me.

What's great about being 48 is that you can have a license to be Strong Jules without having to apologise for being her and for being strong. It seems to me that there are a generation of men and women out there who will get in touch with their version of Strong Jules over the next decade as the world becomes feminine as I believe that it is becoming.

By putting myself in the market and in the arena, I can learn from others, and make a contribution to building that muscle memory, that way of thinking, that neural network of playing the second half of the game.

When my previous business, First Tuesday, was sold on the 20th of July 2000 for $50 million, I remember signing the paperwork, standing there frankly stunned, and thinking where do I go - like - right now? And I remembered Tom Teichman, my first boss in the UK, who took a bet on me in the summer of 1998 and said, 'Follow me everywhere, and I'll teach you how to be an investor.' And he did, and I did. So as the ink was drying on the paperwork of the First Tuesday sale to Yazam, I texted him and told him, I probably need to talk. He said, 'well done - the first one is the hardest'. I said it wasn't everything I had wanted it to be. And he said, 'No apologies Jules'.

Consider this your invitation to make no apologies about who you are and whether you are her all of the time. If you bet on people and yourself, and find it easier to believe in yourself by believing in others, and count yourself lucky that others have believed in you, then tell us your story here.