Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dr. Julie Pham, CEO of CuriosityBased, located in Seattle, WA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We design learning experiences that help teams practice curiosity. We conduct original research, as well as draw from others, especially content from women and people of color. We can help teams quickly build trust through creating small group sessions that allow for open discussion and mutual accountability. We don't do large trainings or webinars. We serve our clients through virtual and in-person learning experiences, workshops, meeting design, and facilitations. If you need strategic planning or program evaluation combined with team building, we have partners who can help.

We work with clients who believe change and progress moves at the speed of trust, and they need to invest time and resources into building relationships. Our clients appreciate our high-touch approach and bring us in for multiple small-group sessions across their organizations, usually starting with their leadership team. They understand there is no single right answer, there is always more to learn, and the journey is more valuable than the destination. Our clients include companies from a wide range of industries, such as tech, real estate, nonprofits, and wineries. While we primarily work with teams and companies, we hold public sessions for individuals too.

Tell us about yourself

I started my company, CuriosityBased, in January 2021 because I wanted intellectual freedom. Also, I have been doing a lot of work on diversity in leadership. I realized that most management and leadership books are written by white men. I really appreciate white male authors. I'll use the analogy of theater. We're changing the actors, and they're still expected to read from the same leadership scripts. We have an opportunity to diversify the leadership narratives. So, I wanted to contribute and celebrate more diversity among leadership authors.

I decided to take my 15+ years of community organizing, including building a cross-sector collaboration fellowship for the tech industry, founding an ethnic media coalition, running a Vietnamese-language newspaper, and mobilizing small business owners in South Seattle, combined with my eight years of academic research, to start this consulting practice focused on fostering curiosity, collaboration, and inclusion in the workplace. My approach to team building has been informed by having lived as an expatriate in Asia and Europe and having grown up as a refugee in the US. I have deep experience in motivating people from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to connect and collaborate.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Creating a company culture where people get to truly practice curiosity. At a time when people are quiet quitting, I've built a small and scrappy team of women of color, which is rare in the organizational development space.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Self-promotion. I have to talk about myself and what we do a lot, and it can get exhausting! I'm always afraid I'm going to come off as egotistical.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Manage your energy instead of your time. As an employee, I used to prioritize managing my time efficiently, and my schedule was packed with back-to-back meetings. As a new business owner, I knew I had to do things differently. After my first year in business, I realized I started to manage my energy levels instead. I noticed who and what gave me energy and drained energy and when to strive for neutral energy. I also scheduled my activities to maximize the impact of what gives me energy and minimize the impact of what drains energy. (you can read more here:
  2. Share your journey with others. Many people want to start businesses, but they won't because of the risk. They will help you in whatever way they can if you share your ups and downs, highs and lows, with them. And you ask them for help.
  3. From the E-Myth, most small business owners spend 100% of their time working on their business, and you have to spend at least 20% working on it. Take time to work smarter, not harder.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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