Julie Gullickson

My day job is being the executive director at Kindness Bank.

After I retired from the world of corporate health, I knew that I wanted to create my own business, but I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do.

I’d spent years being a workaholic, working 60-70 hours a week (on call), running one of the top retail healthcare outlets in the country. It was an amazing opportunity and such an honor to be part of this company and at such a pivotal, dynamic location. I enjoyed the many roles I got to play: being in charge of the operational end, the pharmacy and the front end; serving as a liaison with the School of Business and the School of Pharmacy at UW-Madison; and working with interns.

But I got to the point where it was the right time to do something different—something more philanthropic. Mindfulness and mindset consulting both tugged at my heart, but I knew I wanted to do something on a bigger scale. I found myself asking how I could take the best of what I did in the corporate world and mirror it in some form of community outreach. I took an eight-week class at the American Family Insurance Dream Bank, “Action for Happiness,” which looked at your relationship with yourself, your family, your friends and your community. I really grew during that experience—I was not the same person when I came out of that program as I was when I went in!

At the end, I found myself wanting to bring something to the community that shared the essence of what I’d been through with others. I wanted to leverage my love for strategic partnerships and connectedness to do something at the community level.

I came up with the idea of creating Kindness Bank—an organization that invests in community health and wellness through acts of kindness. I see this as a collective hub whose currency is human potential. It’s a place where people can share and receive time, talents and resources in an effort to meet community needs. I also want to create a way to track the health and wellness outcomes that come out of these efforts: I feel there will be tangible, positive health impacts that come out of our behaviors and acts of kindness and I look forward to creating case studies to help capture and share these.  

I launched the organization with my co-founder William Gregory in February 2020, just before COVID hit. We’ve spent the time since then learning, networking and preparing and our first event will be July 22 at KIVA in Middleton. We hope people will come out and learn more about our efforts! (Hey readers: You can learn more here).

My most memorable caffeine actually happened to someone else. When you’re in healthcare retail, the hours are long and you work hard: You become very dependent on caffeine!

One day my supervisor was almost literally bouncing around me. I’m a very hyper person but he topped me! I said, “Are you ok?” and found out he’d had four energy drinks. He was positively glowing with energy.

 My current caffeine of choice is a Diet Cherry Pepsi. When I was a kid, it was a big deal to have brand name soda: I grew up on Jolly Good (anyone out there remember the jokes on the bottom of the can?). So, once I was an adult, I felt like I was in the big leagues being able to have any soda I wanted. I’ve tried them all and anyone who knows me know I have to have my diet soda. People know not to talk to me unless I have.

My favorite place for caffeine is my own kitchen table with my cat for company. I feel luxurious and rich and unstoppable.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Mother Teresa. She is the epitome of the legacy I’d like to create, a role model. Mother Teresa was selfless, compassionate and a good communicator. During her life Mother Theresa went through a lot of stress and grief to do what she believed was right. If you want to grow and develop, there’s no such thing as leading an easy life.  Her selflessness made a huge impact.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: Being able to effectively relay the impact of our Kindness Bank efforts so people will join our efforts.

I’d like to take down the social, economic, political and religious barriers that stop people from working together. To do things in a humanitarian way without any motives or influence except for just making a positive health and wellness impact. That’s what I strive for every day: To effectively share my dreams with the right people—the people who can hear and want to make a change but might need others to empower and inspire them. It doesn’t matter how great my ideas are if they’re not properly relayed and understood.