Episode 35: Juliet Aurora and Steve Loates – Reflections and Plans

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Gold Nuggets

  • “As an entrepreneur, no matter what your business industry was, you had some kind of a challenge last year.”
  • “Being an entrepreneur is always a rollercoaster – these past nine months even more so.”
  • Steve has no words to describe the past year.

    “What 2020 has showed us is the resilience of the entrepreneur, the ingenuity of the entrepreneur, the tenacity of the entrepreneur…”
  • “Every entrepreneur out there should be very proud of themselves. They are the heart and soul of the economy.”
  • “Even if your business wasn’t able to survive it, for whatever reason, as an entrepreneur you still have to acknowledge that you did it, you gave it your best shot, you gave it your effort, and to not undervalue what that means. Don’t assume that you’re a bad entrepreneur because you didn’t come out on the other side of this.”
  • “A positive thing that came out of it was a lot of introspection for me and a much deeper sense of strong relationships with the people that I determined were important to me, and that the connections with those people was much stronger than they have been before.” – Juliet
  • “Personally, I was very glad we launched our podcast.” – Steve

    “The thing I have enjoyed about the podcast and the guests is the variety of guests – lots of different people, different backgrounds, different stories, and different journeys. I can honestly say I learned something from every one of them.”
  • Steve turned 65 this year (Happy Birthday!). When his birthday arrived in the fall, he wasn’t excited at all. Since then, he’s had some time to reflect on it, and he gives some advice to entrepreneurs:

    “Spend some time planning what you want to do, and spend some time planning what you want your transition to look like.”
  • Steve and Juliet are amateur photographer junkies. Every summer, a local photographer does a photography class. This year, because it was done virtually, there was a fall and a winter session, so Steve and Juliet got to spend more time doing something that they both enjoy.
  • They were planning to take their business 100% remote by June this year, but Covid-19 forced them to do it a few months sooner. It’s the first time in 10 years that they didn’t have a brick-and-mortar office to go to. Juliet is still on the fence as to whether it’s the right move for her personally.
  • Steve and Juliet are looking forward to traveling outside the 50-mile (75km) radius of their travels in the last 9 months.
  • “It’ll be interesting to see how many of the positive changes around the world stick.”

    “One of the things that has really come out of the last 9 months is how supportive everybody is of everybody else.”
  • “Entrepreneurs are generally optimistic people.” Steve is optimistic that many good things will remain.
  • Steve and Juliet thank all the listeners for hanging in for the past 40 (more or less) episodes.
  • “The first steps toward getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” – JP Morgan

Meet Us

Today, our co-hosts reflect on 2020, and look at the year ahead.

2020 has been more challenging for entrepreneurs than it ever has before, and today Steve and Juliet aim to inspire us to embrace 2021 and let go of 2020. While there is an abundance of negativity, Steve and Juliet take this time to reflect on the positives.

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Steve Loates (00:00):

Welcome everyone to today’s podcast, Smart Man, Smarter Woman, a podcast for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Thank you very much for joining us today. I am Steve Loates.

Juliet Aurora (00:15):

And I am Juliet Aurora.

Steve Loates (00:17):

We are your co-hosts. Today, we have something a little bit different for you. You’re going to be stuck with us today. We fired all the guests, decided we didn’t want a guest for today’s episode. Actually, that’s not true.

Steve Loates (00:31):

When this episode goes live, it’s going to be January 1st, 2021. It’s going to be the start of, well, hopefully-

Juliet Aurora (00:46):

An awesome, awesome …

Steve Loates (00:46):

I’m sure it will be an awesome new year for everyone out there. Juliet and I wanted to just take a few minutes just to talk about some things, a little bit maybe about 2020, touch on some of the guests we’ve had since the last time we did a show with just the two of us, and talk about 2021.

Steve Loates (01:11):

Juliet, since it’s ladies first, would you like to begin?

Juliet Aurora (01:16):

Oh, that’s so thoughtful of you. Thank you, Steve. It’s actually going to be, I think, a conversation more about putting last year in the past, and thinking forward to bigger and brighter things for 2021.

Juliet Aurora (01:34):

I think that as an entrepreneur, no matter what your business industry was, you had some kind of a challenge last year. I think that we’ve seen, just in our business alone working with so many clients, we’ve seen the full range of businesses who thrived, and businesses who pivoted, and businesses who didn’t, and businesses who struggled, and were scared. I think as entrepreneurs, especially over the last year, it’s been more challenging than it ever has before. Being an entrepreneur is always a rollercoaster, this last nine or 10 months even more so.

Juliet Aurora (02:18):

I guess what Steve and I wanted to do was provide you with some inspiration to embrace 2021, to let go of 2020, and maybe share some of the things that we’re doing to try and accomplish that, maybe it will help you. We’d love to hear your thoughts. If there are things that you’re doing, reach out to us. You can reach us through the website, and I think our contact information is probably somewhere available through LinkedIn. Reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you, hear from you as to what your successes were, if you had some challenges. Entrepreneurs don’t always have a place to talk and share with people that understand, and that’s what we’re here for. I guess, from my perspective, that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish over the next 20 minutes, half and hour or so.

Steve Loates (03:10):

Awesome, awesome. Yeah, 2020 … I think I’ve probably run out of words, and yes I know that is hard to believe. But, I’ve run out of words to describe it. It has just been such an incredible, and I mean that in the good, the bad way, every way, experience. I mean, who would have thought, one year ago today, what it was going to be like? And all of the new challenges everyone would have to deal with, both professionally and personally.

Steve Loates (03:48):

But, I also think that what 2020 showed us is the resilience of the entrepreneur, the ingenuity of the entrepreneur, the tenacity of the entrepreneur. The never-give-up, the whatever it takes. We saw it, as you said Juliet, talk with some of our clients. I mean, there was a point there back in the springtime, where there was some experienced business people who were legitimately afraid. They had no idea what was going to happen, how we were going to get through this, but we did. People pushed through that fear. You know, as you said, so many pivoted and came up with ingenious ways of doing the same business differently, or taking their existing business and making it a different business. It was really, really inspirational to see it.

Steve Loates (04:53):

I’ve always had, as you know, a soft spot for entrepreneurs. Obviously, self interest because myself. But, I really don’t have enough words to say what I saw, how proud I was to be an entrepreneur myself, how lucky we were with our own business that we didn’t need to … I mean, there was a couple of moments where we were certainly nervous about what was going on, but we certainly didn’t feel some of the pain in our business that so many others did. And for that, we have to be very grateful.

Steve Loates (05:33):

But like I say, I think the biggest thing to me with 2020 was just watching the resilience of tenacity around us. Every time we looked at a business, the things they were doing to keep going, and to not just help themselves, their business, but help their own team, and doing everything they can to make sure that their team kept their job. Again, it wasn’t perfect, not everyone made it through unscathed. But, I think the one thing I saw anyway, that was consistent, was the effort. That everybody tried to keep moving forward, and never really knowing was next week was going to bring. Not only with this virus itself, but programs from the government, and all kinds of different things. Things you had no control over, and you had to weather that storm, and they did.

Steve Loates (06:41):

Like I say, I think every entrepreneur out there should be very proud of themselves. They are the heart and soul, I believe, of this economy and they proved it, once again, that they are absolutely the heart and soul.

Juliet Aurora (07:00):

One of the things I’d like to add to that is, as well, that there are businesses who didn’t survive it. We’re talking about the resilience of entrepreneurs, and that is not just directed to the ones that made it out on the other side. Even if you didn’t and your business wasn’t able to survive it, for whatever reason, I think that, as an entrepreneur, you still have to acknowledge that you did, you gave it your best shot. You gave it your effort, and to not undervalue what that means. Don’t assume that you’re a bad entrepreneur because you didn’t come out of it on the other side of this.

Juliet Aurora (07:43):

One of the things that, if you’ve spent any time with Steve and I, you’ll know that we try as much as possible to be positive in our outlook, in how we view things. We don’t always succeed, but most of the time we make a real effort and try and do that. One of the things I thought maybe that we could talk about and share is some of the positives that came out. There’s lots of people out there talking about all the negatives, and I thought maybe we could take a couple minutes and talk about some of the positive things that have come out of the last nine or 10 months. I’m happy to start, unless you would like to go first this time?

Steve Loates (08:23):

Oh no, no no. I would never hear the end of it, Juliet, if I did that. Please, feel free.

Juliet Aurora (08:30):

Well see, the problem is that when I go first, and then when it’s Steve’s turn he’ll say, “But you took all my things that I was going to say.” So, you’re not allowed to say that.

Steve Loates (08:40):

There is a method in his madness, Juliet.

Juliet Aurora (08:44):

Okay. I guess for me, one of the biggest positives, I guess it’s a twofold, is there was a ton of personal reflection that took place for me, as to what’s important. Okay, why do I worry about that? In the grand scheme of things, think about all the other things that are important, and does this really matter? Will this matter next year? So there was a lot of reflection about the relationships that were in my life, the things that I worried about, the things that I thought were important that I realized weren’t important at all. And got a clearer understanding of what was important for me, and what I wanted my legacy to be, and where … There was a lot thought around okay, well what if this was the end for me, then? Is this what I want my life to look like? What is the legacy that I want to leave behind?

Juliet Aurora (09:39):

A positive thing, I think, came out of it was a lot of introspection for myself, and a much deeper sense of strong relationships with the people that I determined in this introspection were important to me, and that the connections with those people was much stronger than they ever have been before. Those, I think are two really big positives for me that came out of the last nine months.

Juliet Aurora (10:06):

How about you, Steve?

Steve Loates (10:07):


Juliet Aurora (10:08):

Did I just took yours?

Steve Loates (10:12):

No, I don’t think so. I mean, obviously being in shut in, lockdown, however we want to phrase it, did put us in situations where self reflection just became normal, it seemed, because we spent a lot of time in situations alone. Outside of our immediate family, there was very little interaction with other people. Zoom became the tool of choice. We thought that was really cool, but now we’re reaching the point where we’re almost Zoomed out. Please, put me in a room with a couple of other people where we can actually talk face-to-face.

Juliet Aurora (11:05):

That is so true, [inaudible 00:11:06].

Steve Loates (11:06):

Yet, you know me, that’s not what I normally love to do. But I do have to admit, I am very much getting there.

Steve Loates (11:15):

I guess this year, for me, personally I was very glad we launched our podcast, something I’ve been talking about and wanting to do for a long time. When we launched it back in the spring, really I think at a time when we really didn’t know what was going to be happening with this COVID and how it was going to so dramatically and drastically affect so many people. And the thing I have enjoyed about the podcast and the guests, I guess, is the variety of guests, lots of different people, different backgrounds, different stories, different journeys. But, I can honestly say, I learned something from every one of them, and that I think is what I was hoping when we were talking about starting this podcast. That, I think, was great for me. We hung in there, kept doing it. So that, I think, was a real positive for me.

Steve Loates (12:24):

I think the other big thing obviously, this year for me, and I’m not sure it’s a positive yet. I haven’t quite processed all of it. But for those of you who don’t know, I turned 65 this year.

Juliet Aurora (12:38):


Steve Loates (12:39):

Yeah, yeah. I promised myself many, many, many years ago that when I turned 65, I was not going to retire because I’m not sure I could ever completely do that, I don’t think that is in me. I’m an entrepreneur at heart. But, that I would transition to start spending more time doing what I want to do, but still of course be involved in the business side because I want to be.

Steve Loates (13:13):

When my birthday arrived in the fall, I wasn’t as excited as I thought I was going to be.

Juliet Aurora (13:23):

You weren’t excited at all.

Steve Loates (13:25):

Yeah, okay.

Juliet Aurora (13:25):

Let’s be honest here. You weren’t excited at all.

Steve Loates (13:25):


Juliet Aurora (13:26):

Part of that was because we were supposed to be in Santorini, Greece for his birthday, which obviously we couldn’t be, so that was part of it, and did allow for some of the reason. But, you were not ecstatic at all about your turning 65.

Steve Loates (13:42):

I think I’ve had a few weeks now to reflect on it. I feel better about it today than I did two months ago. I think, if I could give some advice to the other entrepreneurs out there, particularly if you’re in your 50s and 60s, but even younger, spend some time planning what you want to do. Spend some time planning what do you want your transition to look like. What do you want to spend that time doing? Because I don’t think I spent enough time beforehand, so I think when it arrived it was, “Okay, I’m here now. Now what?” What does this transition look like? What is a day going to look like?

Steve Loates (14:36):

I honestly and sincerely mean this, spend some time, map it out, write it down. I think it will help you when you reach you’re own point of transition, and perhaps won’t go through the little bump that I went through. But, we’re all good now because we’ve now spent some time planning, and deciding what I want it to look like, and what it is going to look like for me. Man, that did catch me off guard, I have to admit. That was a pretty big one for this year.

Juliet Aurora (15:10):

Exciting. I guess, the other thing I think that was a positive that came out of it for us … Again, I don’t know how much you know about Steve and I personally, but we are amateur photographer junkies, where we enjoy going out and taking pictures. We don’t do it enough, and never do it enough.

Juliet Aurora (15:28):

So, one of the things that comes up locally for us every summer is there is a local photographer who does a photography class for amateurs like us. That basically, he gives you an assignment, gives you a topic, and then everyone in the class goes out, takes the pictures around this topic. And then, we all meet back once a week, and share each other’s pictures, and constructively critique it, say what you could do to improve it. We’ve been doing it, I think the last four years, three or four years, and have always enjoyed it. It’s a six or eight week, I think it’s an eight week course, July and August. It’s always been in person.

Juliet Aurora (16:09):

This year, they did it virtually, they offered it virtually. I think that was good for us because we were … It got us out of the house with our cameras, on a weekly basis, which I think was good especially over July and August. But, one of the advantages to it all being virtual is they were able to run a fall session and a winter session. We did one in October, which we never do, we’re never out there taking pictures on a weekly basis in the fall because we get sidetracked. And then, he’s starting another one in January, so we actually get to do a winter one as well.

Juliet Aurora (16:46):

I think that was a positive that came out of it for us, was that we were able to actually pull out some time and spend some time doing something that we both enjoy, and that we don’t make enough time for. That’s another positive for me, for 2020.

Steve Loates (17:02):

Yeah. No, absolutely. I think business-wise, the one big positive for us that we haven’t talked about is taking our business virtual. For us, it was something we had actually been planning for probably a year or more, long before the pandemic. The plan was that in June of this year, we were going to take our business 100% remote, so we had been making some plans, and doing some testing in the fall of 2019. And then, obviously when COVID hit, we were forced to go remote a few months sooner than we had planned on. But, it really went very, very smoothly, I think because of what we had been planning. Now, I look back and is it something we should have done even sooner? I don’t know, because I think it’s been a real positive for our business, and real positive going forward. That was a big step. I mean, that is the first time in over 10 years we have not had a bricks-and-mortar office to go to. That was a big one, I think.

Juliet Aurora (18:19):

It was a big step for us, absolutely. It was a big step for our team, there was a lot of team members who were a little hesitant about it. I think that everyone was a little more relieved come March when it was forced upon us and we already had all the foundation in place. I’m still struggling with it, so I’m not going to say it’s 100% positive because there are days that I love it, and there are days that I absolutely hate it and go stir-crazy. No, I need to be going out of my house to go somewhere to work. So, I’m still on the fence as to whether it’s the right move for me personally, but part of that is only because I currently struggle with being able to separate work from home.

Juliet Aurora (19:03):

So for me, when my office is in the house, and that’s part of the reason that we moved out of house in the first place, was that I’m always thinking about work. I’m thinking, “Well, my office is just there, my computer’s already set up. I’ll just go in.” Even if I don’t physically go into the space, I’m still thinking about the space.

Juliet Aurora (19:23):

The verdict isn’t in yet for me, as to whether it’s a positive, but it was easier over the summer when I had my pool, less so now that it’s winter. But, the verdict’s still out for me, we’ll see what 2021 looks like.

Steve Loates (19:37):

Yeah. I would agree with that. I think, if I rephrased it slightly, I think it is absolutely the right thing for our business, and I think it will be the right thing for everyone including yourself, when we start getting back to some sort of normalcy in our personal lives as well, where you can go out, go where you want when you want. Then, I think you can make steps to move your office somewhere where it’s not in the house, and then I think that will make a big difference. No, I understand your hesitation about giving it a big thumbs up at this point, because personally you’re not happy with it.

Juliet Aurora (20:27):

All the time, I’m not happy with it all the time.

Steve Loates (20:29):


Juliet Aurora (20:29):

There are times that I love it and I think it’s great. But, I think even having the ability to pick up my laptop and go sit in a Starbucks and work for a couple hours would be enough to break it up for me, and I can’t do that.

Steve Loates (20:45):


Juliet Aurora (20:45):

I feel you’re probably right, that once things … whatever normal’s going to look like. Once I have a little bit of flexibility and freedom of being able to work somewhere else if I wanted to that I could, it’ll probably change it for me. But right now, it has been a struggle.

Steve Loates (21:03):

Yeah, agreed.

Juliet Aurora (21:05):

Let’s jump into looking forward now. We’ve looked at some of the things going backwards for the last year. What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Steve Loates (21:16):

I guess what I’m looking forward to is, hopefully at some point in the year, being able to travel somewhere outside of the 50 mile radius, or 75 kilometer radius, that I have traveled in the last nine months. I’m really optimistic, I think it’ll probably be towards the later part of the year, but that we will actually be able to go somewhere. Because I love traveling, I love new places, new experiences, and I never realized how much being locked down would affect me but it has. That, I’m really looking forward to.

Juliet Aurora (22:05):

Absolutely. I actually think … I was thinking about this the other day. In 2019, when January rolled around of 2019, our motto for that year was to live a life of experiences. I don’t know if you remember that.

Steve Loates (22:20):


Juliet Aurora (22:23):

So in 2019, that’s what we did. We did things we’d never done before, we’d traveled to places we’d never traveled before. I was thinking to myself, “I’m so glad that wasn’t the motto for 2020, because we didn’t do any of it.” Yes, 2021 definitely travel.

Juliet Aurora (22:41):

Just small things. Usually in the fall, in November, it’s conference season, and its back-to-back conferences for us in the industry. Usually, by the time Christmas rolls around, I am so conferenced out and I’m just exhausted. Before conference season started this year I was actually thinking, “Well, it might be kind of nice not to be jumping from conference to conference,” and I so miss it. Part of it was because we would always attend a conference, and then in between some of them we’d always go and spend a week on a beach. It didn’t seem like it was such a big thing, but not going to a beach this year, it’s been horrible, it really has.

Juliet Aurora (23:27):

Yes, travel definitely for me as well, looking forward to it. It’ll be interesting to see what that first trip is that we decide to take, because we have so many that we want to do, and so many that we had planned out that this was 2020 travel, this was 2021 travel. It’ll be interesting to see what the first one is that we decide to take. But, definitely travel.

Juliet Aurora (23:50):

I guess, the other thing that I’m looking forward to in 2021 is I want to see, and it’ll be interesting to see, how many of the positive changes around the world stick. One of the things that has really come out of the last nine or 10 months is how supportive everybody is of everybody else. Checking in on people to make sure that they’re okay mentally, physically, financially, being a better neighbor, a better daughter, a better wife, a better mother. I think a lot of that … Appreciating teachers, which teachers had no appreciation for years, but there’s now appreciation for them. Appreciation for all the frontline workers, they never had that kind of recognition of what they add to society before. I’m looking forward to seeing, as well, how much of that good stuff sticks when we do get back to normal. Honestly, I really hope it does, that we’ve had an awakening and to not forget all of that and go back to the traffic jams, and the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life, and forget about all the other stuff as well.

Steve Loates (25:08):

Yeah. I would agree. By our very nature, I think entrepreneurs are generally optimistic people. I think we have to be, in many ways. I’m optimistic. I’m optimistic that a lot of good things will remain. We’ll continue to change and evolve. No, I’m optimistic that, going forward, we will live and work in a better place.

Steve Loates (25:43):

The truth is, it is up to us. We are going to get what we make it.

Juliet Aurora (25:50):


Steve Loates (25:52):

It is up to us, but I think that we may have gotten a little bit of a wake up call this past year, as to just how fleeting life can be, and what is important and what isn’t important, as you talked about earlier. So no, I’m very optimistic going forward that we will have learned some important lessons that will stick.

Juliet Aurora (26:19):

I definitely hope that you’re right.

Steve Loates (26:22):

Yeah. I think that probably brings us close to the end of the show. We didn’t want to take up too much time for everyone.

Steve Loates (26:32):

Before I start to close out, do have any final words you would like to say to our entrepreneurs, looking forward?

Juliet Aurora (26:41):

Absolutely. I guess, the first thing I’d like to do is thank all of you for hanging in with us over the last, I don’t even know what episode number we’re on. 40? Something like that. I’m not even sure, I’m not even sure what episode we’re on, there you go. But, thank you to all of you for hanging in and listening to us, and joining us every week. And that if there are topics that you want us to cover, please reach out to us and let us know. As Steve said, the whole purpose and the premise behind starting the podcast was to help entrepreneurs, so if there are topics that you want help with let us know. I think early on in 2021, in January, we’ve got some plans to have a podcast around some planning, and planning so that you can have the best year in 2021, so I think that’ll be a great episode as well.

Juliet Aurora (27:34):

And, hope that everyone had a fabulous holiday season, and best wishes to you for 2021.

Steve Loates (27:41):

Thank you. I mean, the same for me. I think before I do my final closing remarks, this wouldn’t be a Smart Man, Smarter Woman Podcast without our quote as we’re winding down.

Steve Loates (27:56):

The one I had selected for this episode is from J.P. Morgan. It is, “The first steps towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.”

Juliet Aurora (28:13):

Perfect. Great outlook for 2021.

Steve Loates (28:17):

Absolutely. As Juliet said, I hope you all had a happy and safe holiday, wish you nothing but the best for 2021 and beyond. I hope it is your best ever year, whatever you want that to look like personally and professionally. You deserve it, believe it, keep working at it, maintain that stubbornness of an entrepreneur, it’s very important. Keep going.

Steve Loates (28:50):

Thank you for, once again, tuning in and giving us a listen. We would love it if you do subscribe, sorry I have to get that in there because we do want you to subscribe. And, you can do that on the website, smartmansmarterwoman.com. Thank you to all of you, sincerely. Until next time, take good care of yourself and those that you love. Bye, for now.

Song by Adam Vitovsky / CC BY 3.0

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Episode 35