An Exclusive Interview with Julie Condliffe, The Best-Selling Author
Julie Condliffe is a solicitor, successful Property Investor, Partner, and No1 best-selling author. She is one of the elected few Law Society Social Mobility ambassadors. Here is a link to her biography. Julie shares her story of how she moved from homelessness to being a multimillionaire savvy property investor.
Despite her unenviable background, Julie Condliffe always had a dream of becoming a solicitor. Not only has she become a solicitor, but Julie Condliffe has also set up her own legal practice and helps make a positive impact on others.
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So great to meet you! Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself?
Great question. Where do I start? Life started for me in a small impoverished home in Zimbabwe. From the moment I was old enough to comprehend the world around me, I saw that life had dealt us a difficult hand.
There was little food to go around. I still remember the gnaw and scrapes of hunger in my stomach as we struggled to survive. It is something one never forgets.
God bless my mother, she was my greatest friend and the light of my life. No matter how much struggle we went through, she was my anchor, my rock, and my lifeline. I promised myself from a young age that I would do everything I could to provide for her as she did for me.
I think my family recognized this spark inside me because when I was old enough they scraped together everything they could and handed me five hundred pounds. It might not sound like a lot, but to us, it was literally everything.
I saw the hope she had placed in me, I saw the belief in her eyes. She really thought that I could make it, even when I didn’t believe it myself. They wanted a better life for me, and they sacrificed all they could do to give it to me.
Leaving my mother and the land I was born in was the hardest thing I ever had to do. It was like tearing a part of my heart away. But, I left knowing that I would come back and see to it that my mother and my family had the life that they deserved.
I would sweat, and bleed for them. And, so with a lifetime’s worth of savings, I said goodbye to my mother and came here to the United Kingdom. The years that followed were nothing like I expected.
There is courage in naivety and it only got me so far. I moved to a world where I was invisible. I had no certificates, no qualifications, or money. In this system, I was just a blank page.
I was the first of all my relatives to take this leap, which also meant I was all alone. I thought life was hard before, but over the next couple of years, it struck me with an earth-shattering force I thought I would never recover from.
I was spitting on, chewed up, and thrown to the streets. A hammer slammed like a judgment call, and my saving ran dry, the world slipped from under me and I fell into homelessness. During the freezing nights, I had to take life in each moment. If I could survive just one more then all would be okay.
The chattering of my teeth became a rhythm to focus on, as they clacked together more and more vigorously. The numbing of my fingertips became a silent prayer. My heart yearned for home, it called back home to my motherland, to my mother. To her warm meals and stern love.
One day I got the news that she passed away. A part of me died with her. The pain of which is still a wall my heart cannot break through. Her grave is in my home country’s soil and I cannot bring myself to see it. The cracks in my shell are still too big to face the truth of it all. Not to mention the shame and guilt of my failure.
I literally hit rock bottom. I slept on the cold concrete pavement. And, I rebuilt myself from the ashes. God willing I rose and clawed my way out of despair. I spent every ounce of my will to take another breath. I fought and I fought and I claimed my power despite the shadows working against me.
I fought and I landed on my feet. Very few people know the work it takes to rise from dirt and rags. It is easy to overlook those who struggle when you yourself are free from that fight. Everything in my life has humbled me, and when I made my first official paycheck, something inside me clicked.
I was not ready to return to my motherland, to Zimbabwe, and to my mother’s grave. But, I vowed that I would help others like me. I had done it. I managed to pull myself up from the bottom. I could say it was a miracle, but in fact, it was much more profound than that. It was human will. It was determination. It was authentic power. It was strength.
As humans, we give ourselves too little credit for the potential we are capable of. There is nothing in the world like the human heart. If anything, let my story reveal how much power we have inside all of us. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, as long as you make the conscious choice to get back up.
These are dense and hard times we are living in, and the obstacles and challenges we face are trials of spirit. Trust me when I say you have all the strength you need inside of you. This is what I found at the bottom.
I rose from the concrete to become a Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. I worked for some of the biggest law firms and eventually established my own practice. I worked for some of the biggest law firms and eventually established my own practice.
All with my home in mind, and the reminder of where I came from. I was finally able to set my feet steady on the ground. I can’t explain the relief and simultaneous disbelief I felt as I worked as a lawyer. There were days when I looked at my life and couldn’t believe it was even my own.
I had become a successful solicitor and even made some great property investments that set me up really well for the future.
How did you get started in your industry?
I started right at the bottom. As I mentioned earlier, I started off working at McDonalds while studying. The details are as featured in this newspaper article.
My law journey started off in London, Wood Green as an office junior. I did the post-run, photocopying, and made hot drinks for the partners. Quite a humbling, but interesting role. It gave me insight into law practice and the different aspects of the business.
I continued studying and developing myself while moving up the career ladder until I finally FIRED MY BOSS many years later. I did this after my entrepreneurial income was sufficient to replace my income. I built up an online business generating a six-figure income.
This gave me the freedom to Work From Anywhere (“WFA”). As we speak, I have just finished the school run. I am in my office with my gorgeous dog, Jackie, next to me. I will shortly be going for a long walk in the forest before my luxury spa treatment. I live life on my own terms.
Why did you decide to start your own company?
I felt trapped in a cycle of getting up to go to work each day and having to get permission to spend time with my family and loved ones. I missed the children’s school plays, sports days, and just being present with them. I wanted to take control of my own time and stop trading time for money.
I knew that if I wanted to get real wealth, I had to chase after my own dreams. Not my boss’. Have you ever seen an employee on the Forbes Rich List? I haven’t. So, that got me thinking. The people on that list are those who chase after their own dreams. So, I took the freedom leap.
How did you feel when you handed in your notice? That was a big step. Right?
Definitely a big step. A leap of faith. I knew I was ready, but nothing ever prepares you for the reality of a new world. It was a rollercoaster of emotions.
I remember blissfully smiling, as I was handwriting my resignation letter. I’m sure even my ears smiled. You know that kind of smile that leaves your face in pain. Yes, that one. My colleague asked why I was “smiling rather idiotically”. I smiled even more because I knew I no longer had to deal with any office politics.
Walking up to the boss’ office to hand in the notice was a whirlwind of emotions. Even though I knew it was the right decision, I still questioned whether I was doing the right thing at the right time.
Talk us through the first few weeks/months of your entrepreneurial journey
Suddenly, I had become a full-time one-man band. It was a complete culture shock for me. I was coming from a corporate culture where I had someone make me coffee; I had someone do the photocopying for me; I had someone do the typing for me; I had someone manage my diary for me;
I had someone to delegate work to; I had someone to replace the toner for me; I had someone to order the stationery; I had someone to do the post to me. Whatever it is you can imagine, I had someone to do it for me. Get the picture? Cushty life, right?
I then started my entrepreneurial journey. Guess what? I had no “someone to..”. No one. Just me.
All of a sudden I became the “someone to change the toner”; “the someone to do the cleaning”; “the someone to take the calls”. The list is endless. I had become the “someone to do everything”! This seemingly never-ending treadmill of trading time for money continued.
It was far from what I had envisaged. The truth is, it cost me. It cost me my health and my relationships. The things that are most dear to me. I felt like a victim of my own success. It was almost the opposite of what I had gotten into this game for.
I soon realized that I wasn’t running a business. The business was running me. Running me down in fact.
Things had to change. I knew I needed to build a business around my life, not a life around my business. Was that even possible?
Yes. The possibility came when I learned the power of leverage. Rather than spending hours balancing the books, I could pay someone else £50 per hour to do that, while I focus on tasks that bring in £500 per hour.
Rather than spending hours typing, I could audio record and get it transcribed for less than £5. As they say, many hands make light work.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome that?
Uncertainties. We started trading just a few months before the Coronavirus pandemic. So, the world as we know it was constantly changing. Agility and adaptability become of paramount importance.
Luckily, due to the size of the business, there was the absence of bureaucracy which meant decisions were made quicker enabling us to pivot, regroup and redirect as appropriate.
As an entrepreneur, what is it that actually motivates and drives you?
The daily adrenaline rush. Every day is different. Every case is different. I love being able to provide solutions and make a difference in people’s lives. I am passionate about what I do.
Doing what I love is one of my biggest drives. I live my dream life. Being a lawyer is and has forever been my dream. I gained over 15 years of great experience in law as an employee. I had always watched the television program “Ally McBeal” through a neighbor’s window because we had no television at home.
Regardless of how poverty-stricken we were, I was firm in my resolution to become a lawyer. So, I became one. I rose to the top to become a partner in a law firm before firing my boss. I now run my own legal practice.
You are clearly passionate about what you do. Do you think passion is important in business?
I believe that passion is the oxygen of your entrepreneurial life. It is not something that can be taught. It is not something that one can fake. It is not something that you can be pretentious about. You either have it or you don’t.
Passion is a success predictor in your entrepreneurial journey. Passion is what makes your heart sing. It is that which makes you dance to music that no one else hears: the music of your heart. Doing something you are passionate about helps keep you self-motivated.
The entrepreneurial road can be lonesome. There are going to be times when you have no one to cheer you on. Your passion is what will help you pursue your purpose.
Of course, passion does not pay rent. If you are not getting an income from your passion, it is not a business.
In a nutshell, you must profit from your passion. Passion alone is no passport to success. It cannot sustain a business. It is a great starting point. We just need to ensure we package the product/service we are passionate about into something that people will be equally passionate to purchase.
What is one piece of advice you still remember that has practically changed your life?
You have what you need to get started. So, get started. You use what already is in your hand. This could be your experiences; your passion; your values and/or your skillset.
The story of David and Goliath is a great illustration of the “what’s in your hand” principle. David, a young boy with just a slingshot, managed to bring down the powerfully-armed giant Goliath. David beat Goliath because he focused only on the arsenal at his disposal.
He didn’t look to go out and get some weapons of mass destruction elsewhere. He used what he had, where he was.
He focussed within and not without. He focused on what was in his hand and used that. He focused on what he had, not what he didn’t have. Some of us are too busy trying to reach out for what we do not have and end up losing what we already have right in our hand
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
You cannot get to where you need to get to with the same vision that landed you where you are today.
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