Develop a strong sense of what you think and want from life, and learn how to qualify criticism based on how accurate or useful is. Ignore the rest.

 

For over a decade, Julia has been the architect mastermind behind hundreds of teams responsible for developing sophisticated software projects. Armed with years of experience working at big corporations such as IBM, Verizon, and Hewlett Packard, she has risen to become a leader in the international IT community.

In late 2016, Julia approached longtime friend Nicolas Valenti to create a company that would redefine the development model of the IT industry. South Geeks was established with the vision to conduct business consciously – offering high-quality resources with competitive rates for software development projects at cost-effective prices.

Now as the CEO of South Geeks, Julia is widely known for forging long-standing relationships with clients and team members alike, attributed to her tireless pursuit of excellence and sharp ability to build and manage cross-cultural, international teams.

While her projects have enabled her to travel and explore the world, Julia is proud to call Buenos Aires home.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

It was a scratching-my-own-itch kind of situation. As a software professional working from Argentina for US companies, I felt there was a need for a company that would act as a bridge between clients in North America and highly talented tech people from Latin America but with a twist.

This is why we built South Geeks with a business model centered upon rewarding our Software Engineers accordingly and 360° transparency to ensure the highest quality work and commitment. That’s why both clients and developers love working with us.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wish I could be an early riser and be done my morning routine by 7 AM. Instead, I usually wake up at 8 AM, have breakfast, practice yoga and go for a quick run. I’m on the road A LOT and I try to maintain my daily routine while staying at a hotel too. The consistency helps me stay focused.
Then I accommodate my day to fit meetings and tasks as I go. I try to prioritize the important activities for the next day every night. I’m also a sucker for to-do lists.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As a former project manager, my approach traditionally has been to need to break down a big idea or project into manageable pieces of activities. Each deliverable can then be plotted out in an action plan that identifies the resources needed to execute them within a set timeline.
As CEO of South Geeks, I’ve really taken to the role of always looking for the next opportunity or stretch goal that will help the company grow, so in essence, I now look for those big ideas that we need to bring to life. It’s through close collaboration with one of my partners, who is very practical and down to earth, that we make things happen within budget and real-life parameters. The combination of the two of us keeps the ball rolling.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Despite everyone being so much busier these days, there’s a growing trend to better balance work and life by allowing people to work for anyone from anywhere at any time. Work is blending into people’s lifestyles so that it’s not just a block of activities you do from 8 to 5 for a paycheck. I believe this will lead to a more fulfilled society.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I try to check emails twice a day: first thing in the morning and one hour before wrapping up. In between, I follow my schedule and focus on the important things I want to accomplish for the day.
Additionally, I try to walk for an hour every day while on the phone. It’s that hour I use for those not-so-formal calls everyone needs to do (networking, checking on a team member, touching base with a colleague, birthday salutations, etc.).

What advice would you give your younger self?

Develop a strong sense of what you think and want from life, and learn how to qualify criticism based on how accurate or useful is. Ignore the rest.
It took me a while to figure out that not all opinions were equally relevant or worth lingering on. Having known how to give my own voice some priority in the past would have saved me tons of time and helped me focus better.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I see a future where tech devices and AI play a bigger role in processing the daily lives of human beings. AI would learn from the collective wisdom to make some of the smaller decisions for society, and people will be able to vote for everything on their devices so that judges, presidents and senators would be essentially replaced by an app.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Talk to your clients and prospects as much as possible. Understand their needs and where their shoe pinches. It’s key for validating ideas and making sure you’re giving priority to the correct aspects of the business. Plus, it’s a fantastic thermometer to gauge how you’re doing as a company.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Never compromise customer service. This doesn’t mean that we will always agree with what our client requests, but that we will always seek the best solution for their goals. This requires attention to detail, ongoing dialogue and accountability for the job to be done. Beyond that, we pursue excellence in everything we do and always look to push ourselves toward bigger and bolder projects that we can be proud of.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In the beginning, we thought we needed to do everything ourselves in order to be in control and save some dollars. We learned pretty soon that for some areas hiring the pros and trusting them is a huge part of having a successful company.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’d love to see an app that allows you to judge what you read and hear in the news more integrally by enabling you to follow the variables that caused a certain world event and provide detailed insight into how each variable impacted that outcome specifically.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I got tickets to The Nutcracker for the Christmas season! I love going to the ballet and this year my niece is old enough to bring her along too. I can’t wait.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We rely on several apps for conducting our business. My favorite is Hubspot. It helps to keep track of our leads, resurrecting old contacts, assigning tasks for the future and taking notes while on the road.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I love reading fictional and non-fictional books, and I have some books on my nightstand that I read over and over. I recently read for the sixth time “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. But lately, I’ve been immersed in “The Four” by Scott Galloway, which made me reflect a lot on strategy and the business ecosystem. It’s given me a lot of great tricks for our company, so I’ve enjoyed every word of it.

What is your favorite quote?

Some years ago a friend introduced me to Helen Keller’s story and since then I’ve been a huge admirer of her and her ideas. One of my favorite quotes is “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision”.
South Geeks was born from looking at what the tech industry was lacking and imagining how we could address that need. Our vision is to conduct our business consciously while offering high-quality resources for software development projects at cost-effective prices. This approach has allowed us to grow into the successful company we are today, so we constantly work on staying true to the original vision. For every decision we make we ask ourselves… is this bringing us closer to our vision?

Key Learnings:

  • Get to know your clients and listen to them.
  • Wear multiple hats but know when to call the pros.
  • Learn how to qualify criticism to know what to listen and what to ignore.
  • Never compromise customer service.
  • Make work part of your lifestyle for deeper fulfillment.

Connect:

http://southgeeks.com/
https://www.linkedin.com/in/julia-duran-b937445