Day in the Life of a Sustainability Consultant: Julie Urlaub

At Strategic Sustainability Consulting, we're often asked what it's like to be a sustainability consultant on a day-to-day basis. Our general reply is that every day is different -- and that's what makes our jobs so amazing, challenging, and fun.

This summer, we've invited several of our colleagues to share a "day in the life of a sustainability consultant" snapshot. While not necessarily representative of their entire jobs as sustainability consultants, it's a window into what goes on in our crazy lives.

Click in case you missed the sneak peek into Jennifer Woofter’s, John Silkey's, or Lucinda Brown’s day. Today we get a glimpse from Julie Urlaub, SSC’s Sustainability and Social Media Mastermind:

I begin my morning rather early as I do almost every morning.  As a consultant, effective time management is critical not only to my business but also my personal life as I'm an endurance mountain bike racer.  Meaning, I spend about 10 - 15 hours a week training on my bike for races lasting 6+ hours or 60 - 100+ miles.  With that being said, one of the first things I do each morning is eat a good breakfast and check the weather.  Breakfast usually consists of some fruit from the local farmer's market, coffee (organic/ fair trade), and setting a daily intention.  

My daily intention is really special to me and it sets the tone for the day.  Today, I select some essential oils (Lemon, Highest Potential, Release, and Forgiveness - all Young Living oils) to use in my diffuser.  I put an inquiry out to the Universe asking for guidance on how to best complete the many and varied activities that will simultaneously occur on this busy day, including:

  • Installing new energy efficient windows in my home;
  • Packing for a six day endurance mountain bike race in Breckenridge, Colorado known as The Breck Epic;
  • Getting a two hour ride in;
  • Writing blog posts for the next two weeks;
  • Attending three conference calls;
  • And, completing ongoing project work.

I gobble up my breakfast and spend a couple of hours catching up on email, social media, writing blog posts, and reading subscriptions in my reader.  Knowing what the weather holds allows me to manage my work schedule so I can get my ride in outside, rain and wind free!  My mind wanders as to what type of workout I'll be doing and where would be the best place to ride.  Golden, Colorado has tons of mountain bike trails and depending on the time of day and workout, it seems some trails are better than others.  

My ladybug timer goes off and now I know it is time for one of my client calls.  This one is by phone, so we chat and share content updates to post on social media sites related to CSR and sustainability.  There's also an ongoing discussion exploring different online communities that might need to be included in some of their outreach.  On a side note, I share my new enthusiasm for a Gmail app called Rapporative.  They are a corporate client with no use for this app but we enjoy discussing the integration of it and its uses for sharing content across the social web.  

Whoa! There's the bell again!  I finish up the call, complete follow-up activities associated with the call, and the doorbell rings.  The window installer has arrived and while I’m psyched to get my new windows, I'm not a fan of disruption!  After moving items around the house, I go back to my desk and spend the next couple of hours writing and posting blog posts for the next week.  I'll be racing next week for about 6 hours a day and I won't have time to blog so, while under normal circumstances I'd be focused on other work activities today, it's all about making my life easier for next week. 

Yay! Guess what time it is?  Lunch! Yum!  A good lunch is important for me - it keeps my mind focused and my body fueled.  Post lunch I have two remaining calls - one a prospect call and the other a networking call.  Sustainability and social media consulting can oftentimes have a longer sales cycle that includes educational components.  During this call, although brief, I identify areas of confusion (aka road blocks for entering a working agreement) and redirect the focus to correct information and establish a path forward.  The networking call is a tad friendlier - the goal is to identify strengths and experiences that may be useful for a pending client project.  Having the right team members is critical for success.  All goes well and then it’s all about the bike.

We have team kits and I always enjoy putting my kit on.  It helps me transition my thoughts from work to focusing on my workout.  I decide to ride the road bike today to make it a little easier on my body than riding the mountain bike on the trails.  Riding offers so many benefits: nature viewing for one, but also a release from my focused thoughts to that of fluid thoughts.  I get really creative thoughts while riding my bike so I keep my phone handy for calls, or to use Evernote to capture ideas for blog posts, feedback for clients, and for taking pictures of the trails.  A handy little cycling app is Strava and occasionally I use that to track my ride.  Today I didn't ... I just rode.  After my ride, I upload my data for my coach to review, shower, eat, pack, and hang out on social media before going to sleep.  

But, just before heading to the bedroom, I sneak a peek outside.  Usually, there is a bunny in my front yard, and sometimes I see a deer or an elk or even a fox in the backyard.  All fun little creatures to think about as I end my day.