Julia Benfield is the creator of extraordinary experiences; promoting fun, innovative and inspirational events through her visionary brand Sneaky Experience.
She is on a mission to empower and inspire women to embrace their purpose, and to be confident in owning their story.
Through the power of creative storytelling, Julia and her team actively work hard to banish female stereotypes and encouraging strengths and individuality to their audience.
My mum. Ever since I can remember my mum worked (sometimes 2-3 jobs at once) and juggled family life at the same time. We didn’t have a lot of money, but she had big ambitions for our family; she worked hard and saved hard, and eventually achieved what she’d hoped for us all. As soon as I was able, I had 3 paper-rounds and a Saturday job at the local market; I’ve continued to work hard throughout my life and I can’t thank my mum enough for installing this work ethic in me - it’s made me tenacious, ambitious and fiercely independent.
I’ve been inspired by many of the women I’ve worked with over the years. Most of my working life I’ve had female managers – mostly they’ve been amazing role models – gutsy, strong, independent and confident. They challenged me, they recognised my strengths and most importantly – made me aware of those qualities. They encouraged me, guided and supported me. I’ll always be thankful for their input, and now, when I look at the person I’ve become, I appreciate that I have turned into that gutsy, strong, independent and confident woman.
Believe you can do it. I wish more women believed they have everything it takes to follow their dreams and live the life they want – it’s never too late. You’ll find it’s not anywhere near as scary as you think it might be, and you’ll discover talents you never knew you had. I was lucky, I was inspired by a colleague who took the leap to follow her dream and inspired the confidence within me to do the same, and I’ve never looked back. My superpower is delivering happiness and positivity and having my own business has allowed me to do just that.
Find your purpose. This was the turning point in my career. Why was I doing this? Not for the glamour or the money. Finding your why is not as easy as it sounds; keep asking yourself over and over again – even when you think you’ve got the answer, still ask WHY! If you persist and are honest with yourself, you’ll get there, and I promise you, it will be as if someone has waved a magic wand – you’ll start the day excited about what opportunities may present themselves, what challenges you will overcome, and will be more confident in why you are running your business. Once you believe in your why, you’ll want to share it with the whole world.
Spread the risk – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. None of us knows what’s around the corner (think 2020); it’s important to understand your business and your audience, so you’re prepared for the challenges – they will come, and when they do, your resilience will take you by surprise.
It’s not all been plain sailing. I’ve worked in male-dominated sales environments (and yes, it’s every bit as you’d imagine); I had to ‘play the game’, be one of the boys and had to work ten times harder to get any recognition. Finally, though, I took charge. I found somewhere deep within me, the confidence to start my own business – this was a HUGE leap out of my comfort zone but boy, if ever you want to feel empowered!!
More than the testosterone-fuelled office though, the biggest thing that has hindered my career has been my limiting beliefs…my doubts…that destructive, debilitating imposter syndrome; am I clever enough, have I got anything of value or relevant to add in that meeting, do I look/act/speak the part?
I left school without any qualifications – not one O’level, I guess I’m just not academic. For many years though, I believed I was a lesser person for this. Going back to the why – it was only when I found my purpose that I started to unleash my superpowers – my creativity, my determination and passion, my optimism and infectious happiness.
Gosh – incredibly important. All my immediate team are female – not intended I should add. I have huge respect for each of them, their ambition, their kindness, their desire to lift the bar and to constantly strive for more in every aspect of their lives. They inspire me to stay determined, to hold onto my goals and to have fun on the way.
I am the author of my story, I am responsible for all the chapters in my life and as I pen these pages, I think what a different story it would be without the women I’ve encountered on the way. On International Women’s Day, I’ll be thinking of the inspirational women who have helped shaped me. I just hope my story will empower and inspire another person in my life. Keep doing this, and every year we’ll have made just a little more progress.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many women in my life that have helped shape the person I am today. Too many to mention, but in particular:
Liz Hart, Nicola Goodley, Julia Richardson – thank you for recognising my strengths, believing in them and empowering me to write my story.
Thank you, Emma Hollis. Without you, I may not have taken that leap.
And to my mum – who believes in me, sends me treats on the days I struggle to believe, and ultimately for making me proud to be the person I am.
#ChoosetoChallenge | #IWD2021