JULIA LANDAUER: A WOMAN WITH GUMPTION ON AND OFF THE TRACK
4 MIN READ
Julia's a championship-winning NASCAR driver from New York City, she was the first woman to win a NASCAR Track Championship at Motor Mile Speedway in her division in 2015. She became the highest finishing female in the K&N series' 64-year history and was the only female member of NASCAR Next class of 2016-2017.
But her personal brand is more than speed and grit – she uses her racing platform to advocate for S.T.E.M. education and women's empowerment. She's also a motivational speaker, Forbes 30 Under 30 honouree, and role model for a lot of young women.
We spoke to Julia about leading her team, getting in the zone, and the entrepreneurial side of being an athlete.
ON PASSION VS CAREER
Given the position I'm in within the sport of racing it takes being an entrepreneur for me to be an athlete, so I see myself as both. Emotionally I identify with being a racer first, because it's what I've dedicated more time to and it's my passion for racing that drives the entrepreneurship. Regardless of passion or career, it's the hard work, perseverance, relationships you build, and luck that makes you successful.
ON LEADERSHIP I show dedication to the project, and keep optimistic and passionate about why we're doing what we're doing. Being vulnerable with my team members, especially when it comes to growth opportunities, is a must. I have the ability to adapt to individual needs, too.
I treat others the way I want to be treated. I ask questions, and I believe communities thrive when every member is an active participant, so I strive to help everyone feel like they're important and needed. The most difficult thing I've had to deal with is when no matter what you do, you still struggle to get people on your side. It's only happened once, but it's devastating.
My major [science, technology and society] allowed me to learn a little bit about a lot. The technical part of my education allows me to better understand the vehicle dynamics and therefore more clearly articulate my needs to my crew chief. I learned about media and how to relate to an audience and history and writing, all of which I apply to leading a team.
"IF I'M FEELING AT ALL WORRIED
I MENTALLY GO THROUGH
THE BIG THINGS I'VE ACHIEVED
TO GET TO THIS POINT"
ON PRESENTING AND PERFORMING
In the days leading up to a race, if I'm feeling at all worried I mentally go through the big things I've achieved to get to this point. I've proven I'm a great racer, but sometimes we all just need a little reminder and positive self-talk.
I heard somewhere that public speaking is actually just having a conversation with the audience. So, I conduct myself on stage the way I would in a one-on-one conversation. I make eye contact, speak the way I normally would, and I'm enthusiastic. I also try to have moments where I know people will laugh.
Right before a race I sprint to expel negative energy. And I take deep breaths.
I have a trainer I meet with twice a week. I do strength, endurance, agility, and reaction time training. We racers need to perform well and make quick decisions when we're really fatigued. We need to push to the very end, so there are a lot of components of this type of training that help that.
ON THE RUSH TO WIN
The adrenaline really keeps me focused during the race. My main goal is to win. All my energy goes towards getting to the front or staying at the front. Once I'm in the zone, things operate almost subconsciously – it's amazing. I'm usually quite physically and emotionally spent (and elated) afterwards.
ON STUFFING UP
If I made any mistakes I'll analyse them so I don't repeat the same mistakes again. It's been very helpful to grow up and learn that even if something doesn't work out or doesn't go my way, it doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on me – it could just be circumstance.
When things aren't working out or I'm in a lull, I make sure to continue to exercise, sleep, and take time to get outside and talk with those who are close to me.
ON BUILDING A PERSONAL BRAND
Don't try to please anyone else, be yourself and make yourself proud. Know your values and live by them, and project them to others.
In the long term I hope to compete in the NASCAR Cup series, win at every level along the way, and make meaningful contributions to society.
In the short term, I want to get a tampon [sponsor] on the side of a race car. Can you imagine? The guys chasing the tampon car!
Interviewed by Dee Behan
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