Hey! i’m Julie.
I’m an international best selling author, investor and entrepreneur who achieved my goal to be financially independent so I could retire by my 40s.
Since effectively retiring (semi-retiring) before I turned 40, from building a portfolio of assets that generate enough income to replace my 9-to-5++ day job as a Banking & Fintech Professional with a multiple 6-figure salary… I now wear many hats and play many roles in my portfolio career. This includes many business projects, investments and personal interests that support my SMART MONEY lifestyle where I have the freedom to live life (my dream life) on my terms without having to worry about money.
But I have to tell you First that…
MY LIFE DIDN’T START OUT THIS WAY… FAR FROM IT.
I experienced poverty as a kid after my father’s business failure and bankruptcy when I was just 8. As I started to mature possibly faster than I would want for my own children, it was certainly difficult to witness first hand, how financial and mental stress hit my mother as she struggled to keep our family afloat and “make ends meet” for over a decade so she could feed and educate her kids.
The Realities of living in poverty… SET OFF MY RESOLVE TO CHANGE THE GAME.
I DID NOT WANT TO SUFFER AS MY PARENTS DID AND I WANTED TO END MY PARENTS SUFFERING.
At 19 after realizing that I needed to grow up and takeover as the responsible adult and earner in my family because my father had to stop working after developing dementia from a tumour… I MADE IT MY BUSINESS TO LEARN EVERYTHING I COULD TO TRANSFORM MY LIFE & MY FAMILY’S FORTUNES.
I wanted us to have a different and better future.
I started by getting myself a nice safe job that paid well as my mother had wanted and begged me to do. I embarked on my career climbing the corporate ladder working for banks and big technology multinationals, jet-setting around the world as an analyst and management consultant, before becoming a strategic advisor for digital transformation and an M&A negotiator.
But instead of just working hard, I started to learn everything I could about BUSINESS and MONEY… how it worked, what makes success, and especially so I could right my father’s mistakes that led to his business failure.
I have made many mistakes on my own journey thus far and in each one, I am reminded of my parents struggle, so this puts me back on track for sure.
One thing that consistently crept up was how I experienced burn out from working so hard that my own physical and mental health began to suffer. This was no way to live.
You Only Live Once (YOLO)
I experienced burn out several times over a decade and I realized my coping mechanism was to spend my precious time and money on the wrong things that only brought me short-term relief… Some habits that you learn from exposure as a child are more difficult to change that you think.
Putting your career ahead of starting a family and having children can also have serious consequences, as my lifestyle prevented me from taking care of physical and mental health. This even resulted in a very late diagnosis of my severe endometriosis which only occurred when I nearly died from bleeding out after a miscarriage and needed a transfusion.
Time is the one resource that you have which is irreplaceable.
Time is money. Time is also your lifespan to live and love.
I kept telling myself that there has to be a smarter way than just working hard, struggling and suffering from a “poor” lifestyle. How could I make a “good life” for myself and make my parents proud of my biggest achievement, the challenge to transform our lives from poverty to independence and freedom?
SO I STARTED MY JOURNEY TO WORK & LIVE SMARTER AND NOT HARDER…
TO MAKE TIME AND MONEY WORK FOR ME INSTEAD.
🚀 I embarked on a smart Money journey
My Growth Mindset shift that changed the game In my Career and More…
The following sections may contain affiliate links, meaning I make a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Disclosure here.
Since my teens, I always knew I had to unlearn much of what my parents knew and taught me by example or by experience, and instead figure out how to work with money and leverage my time and skills (or talents). Overtime and with life experience, I have also learned what truly matters to me, my values and purpose… to help me build my dream life in health, wealth, knowledge and connectivity.
FORTUNE FAVORS THE BRAVE. ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE. MANIFEST YOUR FUTURE.– Confucius
My early life experiences taught me to recognize the value and importance of having a strong financial education. So, I read many career growth, business and finance books, went on courses, and I educated myself with a Bachelor Degree in Engineering, and a Masters in International Business. My education included a life changing experience meeting Yves Pigneur, the supervisor author of Business Model Generation and PhD. mentor to Alex Osterwalder, who provided me with great advice to write my book, THE STRATEGY JOURNEY (2020).
I asked many questions of wealthy people, with both money and life experience. I sort advice from many mentors, including my professors at university and my bosses at work. I started to network with the people whom I aspired to be and who shared common goals and interests. I went to business school and I embarked on a career in banking and technology.
Of course, I was lucky enough to meet my money mentor who inspired me to set my goal to retire a millionaire by 45 and embark on this SMART MONEY JOURNEY at 19. She was like my RICH MOM, similar to the RICH DAD, POOR DAD book. In her attempt to teach her son, who was my closest friend for several years at university, how too build wealth and keep it as she had, with their beautiful million dollar house with the big swimming pool, she also taught me all about building a brain for money.
THE ONLY WAY TO WIN IS TO LEARN FASTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE.– Eric Ries (author of Lean Startup)
A close mentor, who knew how much I loved games or sports and the strategy involved to win, helped me to understand that there was something I could learn, both good and bad from anyone and everyone and that you can learn from mistakes… both big and small as long as they don’t take you out of the game. So, I became a sponge, learning from many other acquaintances, colleagues, bosses, family… both friend and foe. He made me realize that I needed a Game Plan and not a roadmap if I wanted to succeed in life, as it was more agile, and I didn’t need to copy or compare myself with anyone else.
Another mentor and author of several amazing business books on entrepreneurship such as Key Person of Influence, Daniel Priestley taught me that it takes many small wins to add up to a big win… and that these small wins create a mountain of value that lasts the test of time. This is what backs you up during your hardest times.
As my mindset and perception changed… I began to work smarter in my career, while enjoying my life and appreciating different experiences … which made my achievements so much sweeter. I started to gather all the tips, tricks and tools that enabled me to be smarter in the way I shopped, ate, travelled, worked, saved, invested and lived my life with joy, while overcoming any problems that stood in my way. My application of this growth mindset actually changed my performance at work when I was working in Investment Banking where there was a bit of cut-throat environment, by enhancing my relationships with co-workers, leading to many new opportunities that included huge pay rises and bonuses. As I started to explore a career shift into entrepreneurship, I also learned from my mentors Sam Chia and Lauren Houghten who helped me as co-creators of the leadership and psychology research referenced in my book, THE STRATEGY JOURNEY (2020). They explained to me that I was building a the Growth Mindset, which was originally coined by Carol Dweck in her book on Mindset: The Psychology of Success.
My SMART MONEY Growth Mindset has enabled me to invest better too and allowed me to build a portfolio of assets that have increased my personal wealth, which is further fuel for personal growth. I’ve been able to invest in myself to keep learning and take on the many wonderful experiences that life has to offer in Health, Wealth, Knowledge and Connectivity… after all YOU ONLY LIFE ONCE (YOLO) and I can even try and experiment with new things and new innovations for FEAR OF MISSING OUT (FOMO).
I got a dog, whom I named Kimi after the famous Formula One Driver and Ferrari World Champion of 1997, Kimi Raikkonnen, I took time to travel including a amazing road trip across a few western US states, and a cruise through the Mediterranean from Venice to Barcelona, I spent more time seeing my parents, my godmother and my brother and his children more often including several round the world trips between Australia and the UK which is a 24 hours long flight… to create special connections with the people I loved, and of course I finally decided to become a writer and author which was my childhood dream career.
Since becoming an entrepreneur and digital content creator, I’ve been able to apply my SMART MONEY growth mindset principles to how I established my small digital business, while living my life as a digital nomad. I’ve slowly built a portfolio of digital products or assets alongside a few services, including ebooks, online courses, an online membership community, as well as some in-person speaking engagements or corporate training workshops, and business advisory coaching for tech start-ups.
I WENT ON A SMART MONEY JOURNEY OF PERSONAL GROWTH AND TRANSFORMATION TO BUILD MY CAREER, KNOWLEDGE, NETWORKS, HEALTH AND WEALTH TO CHANGE MY STORY FROM POVERTY TO FREEDOM. MY SMART MONEY JOURNEY cONTINUES EVERYDAY.
I know never to stop investing, in myself and my assets including mental, spiritual, and financial. Recently, I joined an online program called Building a Second Brain (also a best selling book) by Tiago Forte to learn how to be better at Note taking and to discover the relationship between my Second Brain and my MoneyBrain – which I have developed for myself since I was 19. I am now on a new journey to share how you can develop a MoneyBrain after sharing and helping my family and friends to build their wealth and gain financial independence as well.
My Career Journey from Corporate Escapee to Writer & Content Creator
Smart Money with Julie (juliechoo.com) is my blog where I share all of my latest and best, tried and tested… tips, tricks and tools to grow and enrich my career, money, brain and relationships… and support my dream life PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE… full of amazing life experiences and healthy treats including eating lots of cake.
I was inspired to start this blog and my weekly Treats Newsletter in 2022 by Jame Clear, author of #1 Best Seller Atomic Habits, so that I could not only share my knowledge and experiences to help others like me, but to build my own good habits of logging and mastering my own good and bad experiences and learnings through sharing and teaching.
My career journey from corporate professional to author and content creator started before this in 2017, after I finally quit my day job to start my early retirement with a 1 month US Road Trip across several Western States including some epic experiences in the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite and driving the Big Sur coastal route from San Francisco to San Diego.
It was during this trip where I was reminded by another former mentor, friend and co-founder of her own VC fund Amalfi Capital, whom I discovered was recovering from having a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage… to start fulfilling my childhood dream to become a writer and author because life was short – YOLO again.
This led me to start my first blog strategyjourney.com and to run a Kickstarter Campaign to fund a 3 year writing project for my first book, THE STRATEGY JOURNEY (published in Dec 2020). I also launch a digital course to teach my design thinking methodology in the Strategy Journey Framework, a data science based methodology for running, operating and growing a business with my co-author, friend and mentor Graham Christison.
Since achieving financial independence, retiring early from my main career, and moving to become a writer and content creator, I am now looking forward to living as a digital nomad with London UK, Lorient France and Sydney Australia as three of my bases while I explore moving to Spain, Portugal or Southern France… I am enjoying travelling again to have more memorable life experiences in warmer climates that suit my health better, and especially after the COVID-19 Pandemic. I stopped short of moving to Barcelona in March 2020 because of the first lockdown. As things are nearly normal again for now, it is time to start living our lives again for sure.
In this blog at juliechoo.com, I will be sharing all of my life experiences including tips, tricks, tools, and more… 😎 from my SMART MONEY JOURNEY!
🚀 FOLLOW MY PROGRESS HERE 👇
Talks & Workshops
Key Game Changers on My Personal Growth journey*
These are some of the key game changing moments, life experiences and true achievements that have brought me personal joy, given me purpose, enhanced my sense of self-worth… and I believe made my parents proud too. Each little win and each setback which I fought to turnaround has had a profound effect on my character and shaped who I am as a person… my values, while improving my knowledge and skills to open doors in new business and career opportunities in my life journey so far.
* The stories here are constantly updated as and when I journal and/or realize a key Game Changing Learning Experience
Publish first short story at Age 9
My first 600+ word short story about my personal experience visiting Sydney’s Royal Easter Show in 1988 when I was 9 years old was published in a book called Young Imagination by the NSW Government in Australia to celebrate children’s literacy.
Awarded Anzac Poem reading from Winning Math Competition and Founding first Pupil Newspaper
At age 11, I was asked to represent at my school on stage in an Anzac Memorial Poem Reading, as reward for my achievements that year including winning several math competitions, as well as founding and editing, the school’s first pupil newspaper, which included my own article and illustrations.
Won 1st prize for Comic Skit in high School Drama Club
At age 13 while living in Singapore, I joined my high school’s drama club and despite being the youngest writer and choreographer, my 30 minute Comic Skit won first prize for best play and was subsequently performed on stage by the school’s budding actors.
Awarded Coop scholarship To Study Engineering
I applied, interviewed and gain 3 scholarships to study engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, including a Co-op Scholarship which was a sandwich program to study and work over 5 years (2020 award value – AUD $19,600 per year or $98,000 tax free), Women in Engineer Scholarship valued at (2022 award value – AUD $10,000) and a financial needs bursary of AUD $3000 (value in 1996-97).
Managed Household income Sources after my father’s Brain Tumour was diagnosed
After several epilepsy fits, my father’s brain tumour was diagnosed, so he needed to stop working and we lost his income. Seventy Percent of my scholarship income was used for our household income, while I helped my mother navigate the paperwork to claim disability and carer benefits so we had enough money to pay our home loan, bills and food expenses. I created a new budget and took over the management of our family affairs financially, legally and medically too, as I was responsible for organizing, and managing my father’s several hospital visits and stays for his operation and remission.
Created First Digital Training Course for a Telco App
Jan – Dec 2000
Started Business School Electives
My exposure to the sales and marketing function from colleagues and business directors at the companies I worked for during my scholarship’s industrial work placements, led me to take extra business school electives while I was working full-time. I wanted to learn how businesses really worked, about operations, international expansion and how ecommerce businesses in their infancy at the time would grow through technology solutions. At the time there was a loophole where I could enroll in postgraduate classes at undergraduate prices and also for free as part of another scholarship I gained, so I took advantage to complete numerous electives with distinction and that interested me, and where I wanted to learn a specific skill for my career in business. These electives would eventually count as credit and waivers in my Masters Degree which I enrolled in several years later. Incidentally, my Masters Degree provided automatic qualification for my Highly Skilled Migrant Visa to immigrate to the UK.
Jan – Dec 2001
Negotiated $$$ Sponsorship for VoIP Thesis Project
When selecting my 1 year thesis project for my Honors in Engineering, I realized that my time was best spent on a real work project with a tangible innovation or discovery including real user data as this was real ROI… and of course this was also going to score better too for my degree. So I proposed to a senior managing director at Alcatel whom I had met a few years ago that I would complete a real project or piece of work for the company as part of my thesis. My thesis was valued at over $100K in value when completed, with me receiving a $6K cash bonus, plus access to company resources, from server access, to use of a $1million CISCO router, several high-end laptops worth over $10K, all related hardware and software resources, access to addition architecture and development support, and including the printing costs for my final writeup. Naturally, on graduation, I already had 1 year of full work experience leading my own engineering project to highlight in my CV and discuss during interviews… making me extremely employable.
Jan – Jun 2002
Graduate with 2 degrees… Honors and Masters
I had 2 graduation ceremonies for completing and achieving:
– Bachelors in Engineering (Honors)
specializing in Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications
– Masters of Commerce (Distinction)
specializing in Marketing Quant & International Business
This was a special moment to share this with my father especially as he was starting to get really sick at this point from his tumour. I want to cry every time I see this photo of how proud my father was at this moment in both our lives together.
I was also rewarded with 3 job offers from the Big 4 Management Consultancies.
Jan – Jun 2002
Made redundant in my first job at 23 & Won my own Freelance Work as a Consultant
I came home to Sydney Australia after a month long backpacking trip across Europe, to find that my first proper job as a Management Consultant for one of the Big 4 was put at risk and I was made redundant before I could even start my career. This was just after the DOT COM bubble and there was a recession so many jobs were loss. I was desperate for money, after spending all my savings with just $300 left in my bank account on my big holiday so I marched directly the office of the Dean of Engineering and asked for his help, to give me work. He gave me 3 jobs, as a tutor and part-time substitute lecturer for the Electronics and Project Management for Engineers subjects, and also gave me my own software design and development project to create the department’s own billing and resource management platform for all staff. My solution app replaced an excel spreadsheet that was managing a book of work totally 6million in revenue. I earn $30,000 for this 4 month project as a freelancer and a further $20,000 from my 6 months as a tutor and lecturer. This income earned over a 6 month period was more than the annual salary I eventually earned when I started my first proper job as a business analyst for a bank after over 100 job applications.