Believe in the power of your dreams.
Julie (Freyermuth) Steines is a multiple award-winning children’s book author. She co-owns the publishing and education company, Polly Parker Press, with her mother, Dr. Virginia Freyermuth. Her beloved Norbert book series is inspired by her real-life 3 lb. registered therapy dog whose message is, “You don’t need to be big to make a BIG difference in the world.”
As a registered therapy animal team for the past six years, Julie and Norbert have spent many hours volunteering at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, fundraisers, and homeless shelters to bring comfort and smiles to people of all ages.
Julie has built a global audience with Norbert of nearly one million highly-engaged followers, known as The Norberthood. Through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, Julie consistently promotes kindness and compassion, while inspiring Norbert’s dedicated and passionate fans to spread smiles to others. Norbert has become a worldwide phenomenon and a captivating symbol of goodness and generosity of spirit.
Julie and Norbert have appeared multiple times on Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family.” Her segments have been enthusiastically received by viewers, as she shared real-life aspects about her work as an author and animal therapy team, and also as a newlywed bride with her husband, celebrity and show co-host, Mark Steines. Other television appearances include several segments on “The Doctors;” Harry Connick Jr’s show “Harry;” Fox News; and KTLA Morning News. Julie’s work with Norbert has been featured on Time, People, Wired, HLN, Huffington Post, AOL, InStyle, Oprah.com, Paper Magazine, and Brides.com, among others.
Julie and Norbert’s charity endeavors includes volunteering several times a month at Children Hospital Los Angeles, and helping make a difference with organizations such as the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, Lil BUB’s Big Fund for the ASPCA, Bootcampaign.org and the Los Angeles Mission.
In the corporate space, Julie and Norbert have worked with national brands such as Conde Nast, iTunes, The Walt Disney Company, Hilton Hotels, Pottery Barn Teen, Natural Balance, Pet Smart, and more.
Julie is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Where did the idea for Norbert/Norberthood for Good/Books come from?
I intuitively sensed that Norbert was a unique dog when I adopted him as a puppy. I then discovered, through his ability to make people of all ages smile, that he would make a wonderful a therapy dog. Norbert and I volunteer at children’s hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and schools. I had always wanted to write a children’s book to be illustrated by my mother, artist and educator Dr. Virginia Freyermuth. By imagining life from Norbert’s perspective as a tiny 3-lb. creature wondering what he could do in the world, we created our first award-winning book, Norbert: What Can Little Me Do? It promotes the idea that you don’t have to be big to make a BIG difference in the world. Through our kindhearted mother/daughter independent publishing company, Polly Parker Press, LLC, we created two more books and a life-size Norbert plush toy. Our company has donated thousands of plush toys and books to charitable causes. We call this aspect of our company “Norberthood for Good.” The Norberthood includes friends and fans of Norbert who believe it is important to promote kindness and make others smile.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is a blend of family-related and work activities. Because so much of my professional life has been an organic flow of developments, each day is different, often bringing unanticipated opportunities. I work closely with my business partner, my Mother, although we are on opposite coasts. I also work closely with my husband, Mark Steines, who is an amazing professional photographer in addition to being a television co-host. He takes most of the photographs that are used on Norbert’s social media sites.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Being open to inspiration is essential. It’s important to pay attention to ideas or they can vanish as quickly as they come. Bringing ideas into the real world takes a combination of courage, patience, persistence, and hard work.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited by the growing generosity and kindness that I have encountered through my work and social media interactions through Norbert. I like to believe that a trend toward compassionate awareness and actions has the potential to make our world a gentler place.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have respect for my intuition and have learned to trust the whisperings of my heart.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would say, “This experience of life is miraculous; live with a sense of wonder, gratitude, joy, and find ways to make a difference for others.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Believe in the power of your dreams.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We have worked hard to develop a sense of caring relationship with others—not as a strategy to grow our business—but as a rewarding aspect of our work. Hours are spent engaging with others either in person or online.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are no failures—only learning experiences.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’m always in search of comfortable, yet chic shoes. I’d love to see someone develop a brand of truly comfortable and stylish women’s shoes that can be worn to black tie and formal events.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A charitable donation to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles therapy dog program. Giving back and supporting the program is deeply important to me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
The Adobe products have been invaluable for our work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder. We should always maintain our childlike sense of wonder. Live with eyes, heart and senses open. Embrace nature.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
It was my high school yearbook quote.
- Listen to your heart. Be true to yourself.
- Know that you don’t have to be big to make a big difference in the world.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. Always be willing to learn and grow.
- Practice gratitude and kindness. The world needs more of these.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.