Anyone who has ever stereotyped financial professionals as straight-laced, number crunching office types has never met Julius Gloeckner. From his personal adventures to his professional drive and achievements, Julius believes that we should never stop challenging ourselves, both physically and mentally, and every day should be an experience that pushes us to our maximum potential and limits. Here are some of his valuable words of advice on professional success and individual goals:
Describe your career path for us, including your advice along the way for other CFOs interested in this progression.
I’ll start with this tip: Minimize your maximum regret! At every decision point and crossroad, choose the road less traveled – the one that makes you feel uncomfortable and, at times, scared, as these emotions indicate that you made the right choice. I’m not a Bruce Lee enthusiast, but I quote him as I say, “There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.” I believe that, with every chance that you get, it is imperative to actively seek opportunities that push you outside of your comfort zone. It is the only way to traject yourself over plateaus and evolve as a professional and as a person. It is also a way to make life fun and interesting. Getting infected by inertia, slowing down, and stagnating can happen without noticing, as it is passive and it feels good. Then, all of a sudden, time passes and you have not truly lived, learned, grown, shared, or loved. I compare going outside your comfort zone to a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets and the easier it becomes to tackle challenges. Once we stop training it, though, we turn into comfort zone couch potatoes. Then, we are at the point at which it becomes more difficult for us to get up and exercise ourselves and life is too precious and short for that.
As for my overall advice, never stop training your growth muscle and go outside your comfort zone. This statement is my mindset and it has opened many doors for me, allowing me to be where I am today.
My adult journey began at the age of 16 as I moved 10,000 miles away from my home in Germany to Australia to pursue my goal of becoming the best swimmer that I could be. This dream eventually led me to the United States to swim for Lousiana State University. Then, after graduating with six Division I NCAA All American awards four years later, I pursued my MBA full time while working part time and completing the CPA, CIA, and CFE exams.
My career began at Deloitte & Touche in New York, from where I then moved on to become the Director of Finance at Keystone Strategy, a premier technology-industry consulting firm that delivers extremely novel solutions to the most challenging strategies and economics problems. For me, this company is the perfect place to learn, grow, and push myself. Keystone’s culture reflects quite an entrepreneurial spirit, as it offers many new challenges, above the line thinking, and incredibly bright team members who bring out the best in each other. In addition to leading Keystone's finance team, I teach entrepreneurship and business in the community through volunteer organizations such as Junior Achievement, Citizen Schools, and The Possible Project. I also enjoy sharing experiences with other financial executives by serving as a co-chair for The CFO Leadership Council's Boston chapter. And, just as important, I never stop looking for opportunities to meet new people and challenge myself, as well as everyone around me.
What’s exciting for you as a CFO? What do you enjoy the most about your profession?
From a professional standpoint, there is absolutely nothing more energizing to me than being part of a team that builds a company and adds to its value. Furthermore, as a financial leader, I am positioned to have insights into all facets of my organization, allowing me the opportunity to not only see how the puzzle pieces fit together, but to also develop the tools to help navigate the company.
What’s the one thing that you could do without as a CFO?
I could certainly do without the challenge of creating a balance between those who naturally gravitate towards a J on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator scale and those off-the-chart strong Ps who drive financial reporting inputs! And, I chuckle as I say that, on the flip side, these folks are certainly the ones who make sure that we get out of our comfort zone each month.
The CFO/Board landscape changes all the time. How do you keep yourself educated on the latest developments that affect your profession?
Nobody in a finance leadership position can get away without reading and research. But, more important, meeting and talking with like minded individuals regularly is a key habit that often gets neglected. Although we can all rationalize excuses for not making the effort to network and nurture existing professional relationships, it is imperative to think beyond the confines of the office. Engaging in face to face conversations is essential, as it frequently yields the greatest learning. And, that’s where The CFO Leadership Council provides an invaluable platform. You just need to make use of it.
Describe your ‘Aha!’ moment or a crowning achievement to your career.
One of my best achievements was becoming an accidental producer of a viral video that aired on CNN, Good Morning America, and several news channels last year, eventually making its way to Europe. This video was a result of my belief to always challenge myself and, this time, it was done in a few feet of snow. Take a look and see for yourself.