Talking About The Work Revolution with Julie Clow

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Julie Clow. She is a not-quite-40-something who is truly satisfied with where she is in life. In her own words:

“I have been married and divorced – and weathered them both. I have a daughter who is in college, so I’ve navigated raising a child from birth to adulthood. I have served as a consultant and also as a full-time employee for companies. I recently wrote a book called The Work Revolution. I love living in NYC as a single woman, secure and very happy in my career. I finally know who I am, what my strengths are, and what makes me happy. I feel strong and sure that I can make my future any way that inspires me.”

I love her attitude. She truly represents the best of 40:20 Vision…having made decisions and come into her own, she is now ready to both build and pass on her wisdom.

I spoke to her about her book, The Work Revolution, which she wrote after her eye opening experience of working at Google for 5 years in learning & development. Google was a whole new world for her after working in corporate America and feeling stifled for much of her career despite doing well.

“I found [traditional companies] depressing. I didn’t really feel like I could ever fully spread my wings. They valued me but I felt like I was fitting into their box and as long as I fit into their box, it was fine.”

Google on the other hand gave her the freedom to use her talents to make a difference:

“Walking in those doors, Day 1, was just life changing. I thought, ‘Oh! This is what it feels like to be trusted, to have autonomy, to be able to do your work the way you feel like you should be doing.’ I was using my talents and being stretched. It was unbelievable. Having worked there for 5 years, I really got to understand why Google is what it is.”

She went on to work at Two Sigma Investments, an investment management company that is very tech focused and has a similar culture to Google.” It was there she saw first hand that it doesn’t take a Google to have more freedom and creativity in the workplace. Now she sees no reason why everyone can’t have that experience no matter where they work. Her book is a call to action and an action plan on how to start your own work revolution.

Here are some highlights of my conversation with Julie:

Christina (CV): It sounds almost as if you are being a disciple of the Google way of working and how that can translate to other places.

Julie (JC) That’s actually a really good way of putting it. The book is what I’ve distilled to be at the core of what makes Google work. The concepts in the book are backed by behavioral science but I focus on implementation so that other people can execute them in their companies. I want people to be entertained by the book rather than it to be too stuffy or “researchy.”

CV: One of your principles is that today’s work-life balance is that when you’re doing something you love — you work hard and play hard and it all meshes together.  Many people feel it’s time to stop talking about work-life balance but I think it’s still relevant to 20-somethings. Every single 20-something I talk to wants to know A) How do I find my passion, and B) “OMG, I’m so busy right now, how will I ever manage if I decide to have a husband, a child and I’m doing all this?”

JV: That’s a good point there because if you do love what you’re doing, you can find ways of making it work. If you’re miserable with what you’re doing, of course that makes everything seem harder.

CV: I guess it’s the same philosophy that some people follow about relationships and families…that when the parents have a close relationship, it spills over to the children. So if you are in a good relationship with your job, it spills over every aspect of your life.

JC: I agree 100%.

CV: What is your advice on finding your passion?

JC: I think it’s just layer by layer. I never had an epiphany where I thought, “This is it!” For me it’s more about paying attention to the “fire in my belly” kind of feeling when I’m doing something that I really love. It’s taking note of that and saying, “Why do I love this so much? What is it about this?” The way that I phrase it in the book is that it’s not about what you want to be “when you grow up” but the kinds of things you want to do.

For me, I love looking at connections between teams and organizations and thinking strategically. That particular skill set can be lifted and applied in gazillion different places so it doesn’t mean that there’s any one profession for me. I can probably do many different professions that would give me a lot of satisfaction.

You can have passion for a lot of things. It’s really about identifying the kinds of tasks you really enjoy. Is it with people? Is it on my own? Is it being creative? Is it being analytical?

CV Is there anything that you wish you knew when you were 20 that the book reflects?

JC: I do think that if I had known earlier what my strengths were in a more articulate way, not in a gut level way, but in a way that I could put words around, I think I would’ve been much better at navigating some of the potential roles I had that I might have missed out on.

CV: Is the target for the book individuals or organizations?

JC It is actually both. One of the early decisions that I made was to write each chapter with sections specifically for individuals. Let’s say you’re just at the lowest rung of the organization and you have no span of control. What can you do to change your own situation? And then there are sections for leaders and then there are sections for the people running an organization. Each chapter speaks to all 3 levels.

Julie’s book is available at Amazon. You can read more her here and follow her on Twitter at @clowjul.

About Julie:

Julie graduated with her Ph.D. in behavioral analysis in 2000 and has cultivated her lifelong love of learning. In 2006, she began working for Google and it changed her view of work and career- inspiring her to ask if her experiences of freedom and autonomy that permeate the Google work culture could be replicated for everyone. Through her questions and explorations, The Work Revolution was born. After working for Google for five years to cultivate team effectiveness, leadership and the organizational culture, Julie has relocated to New York to serve as the head of the learning and development for a nontraditional mid-size investment management company.


A few principles from the book!

  • It’s not about finding the perfect job, it’s about creating the perfect fit in the job you already have
  • Creativity should be embraced in the workplace, not crushed
  • Some people work in creative ways, don’t judge them for “not working” the same way you do
  • Results are more important and far more valuable than hours logged
  • Don’t feel guilty to quit something you dislike, to give to someone who loves it


Love the last one! Thank you Julie.

on Twitter

on Facebook

on Google+