Julia Izmalkowa is the founder of Izmalkowa, which specializes in the Psychology of Lies. Izmalkowa uses the same knowledge and techniques that the FBI, Pentagon, and many other military organizations use to spot the lies. She spots the lies of consumers to make sure that business decisions are based on truths rather than declarations.
Her company is based on the belief that we are not here to change humans. We’re here to understand how they are wired—so we can use technics to get to their essence and learn their behaviors, so we can predict their reactions in the future.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Ambition to live my own truth and to follow my own rules.
As a strategist I was extremely unhappy about research. It delivered nothing that could help me make a great strategy. You cannot change the world or even change perception if you only have cliché information about people, such as “people like to be part of a group” or “people hate advertising.”
I decided that I should concentrate more on psychology and less on marketing. Because when you understand people you are talking with them, not at them, and that is what good marketing is all about—connection and conversation.
Tell us about your business.
I run the first research company that specializes in the Psychology of Lies.
We’re more in the psychology business rather than in marketing business. Advertising is easier when you know and understand people and what they want. And that is what we do—our research is a bridge between people (consumers) and business. We provide companies with a map of human emotions, thoughts, and behaviors so they can make better products and services.
We deliver strategic insights so businesses can create strong and long-lasting strategies with a lot of human insights, and thus create epic work.
We know that everybody lies, and we do not treat this as something bad. Or good. It’s simply a fact about humans.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
The most valuable thing we can give away is our knowledge. We share as much as we can on our facebook page or on my blog, where I talk about the practical use of psychology.
After only one year in business, we were on marketing lists as the most creative company in marketing.
I was nominated three times as business woman of the year by two different organizations.
I am the only polish person to have talked at all of the world’s biggest creative festivals in the same year: Cannes Lions, Spikes Asia, and Eurobest. In all my talks, I connect deep psychology knowledge with scientific findings and examples from our research. This is why Izmałkowa speeches are so interesting: we have a unique perspective that nobody else has—thousands of deep interviews and observations that can confirm or deny some of the big scientific findings.
Where is your business based?
Anywhere where companies want to know the real intention and mindset of their customers. Our main office is in Warsaw, but for at least 6 months a year I travel around the world, doing ethnographic and insight training, speeches, and small research projects.
I believe that understanding psychology is the most important quality in running business, which is why my goal is to inspire more people to understand others, not only as a customers or employees but as a humans.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I quit Havas, the international research agency.
Success goes where energy flows. I wanted to channel my energy only on things that I believe matter—things that make sense and bring me into the future. I didn’t have a plan B. My plan B was make my plan A work, so all my energy went into creating the best know-how for my company and my clients.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Customers who are satisfied and astounded with our work have always been the best in raising awareness of who we are. And it worked. Because we always over-deliver (120% is my standard), people talk about and recommend us.
Our research is extremely riveting, because the data we have is amazingly interesting and hugely practical. And I believe that is enough. Our clients do not have to love research or psychology as much as I do, but when they see amazing business results, they like it. So they keep doing what brings money to their businesses; that’s why we have 94% return rate for our customers.
If you want to continue growing, just being good is not enough. We live in a world where we need a trampoline to get our message across. This is PR.
So, my second-best way is get a good PR agent.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Doing global research.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have always believed that nothing matters more than quality. And I never wanted to do something outside of Poland if I couldn’t fully control it.
But when opportunity came, my team decided to put our fears aside and work it out step-by-step.
To our surprise it worked out better that we even could have imagined. We were so cautious that it would be difficult, so we put 200% of our energy, time, and attention into it.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I tell myself, if I can’t make something work I will have to go back to a corporation. That’s all the motivation I need.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We specialize in one thing only—the psychology of lies. We do only ethnographic research and nothing else, because we believe that’s the best way to get to know people better.
So, the difference between us and the ordinary research companies out there is like the difference between a cardiovascular surgeon and a general doctor. Which one would you rather have operating on your heart?
I love my work, and I know my sh*t! I define myself as being in service of people and companies—that’s what makes our research so unique. I always make sure that companies understand what is good for people, and at the same time I make sure that companies get the best recommendations on how to earn money.
I am not motivated by money, but I’m a CEO, so I still understand that a company is not Santa Claus—it has to earn money. I want to earn money for my work, and I need to make sure that my clients earn more money because of my work. It is not the main reason, but you need money to create, to innovate, and to grow, so there is no point in being shy about it.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Don’t run after someone who does not follow your values.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Find your truth, and no matter what temptations and opportunity you have, make following your truth the biggest goal in your life.
It will save you when the sh*t hits the fan.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Conversations with my husband: he is a creative director with very strategic mind, so he understands what I do and brings new perspectives. We are the personification of what psychologists call the power of duets!
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I read at least one book a week—that has been my personal routine for the last 8 years. On my Instagram you’ll find many books that I recommend, but lately my favorite book is Winners by Alastair Campbell.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
My company is very grounded and going in a good direction.
Now my goal is to develop more as an international speaker so I can promote practical knowledge about psychology.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I am currently writing a book about how to love Mondays. It highlights the importance of not being stuck in a job where you long for Friday’s and holidays; instead, you go to bed excited on a Sunday night, knowing that you get to wake up on Monday morning and feel privileged to go and do what you are so crazy about—how to find your way to live the way you want without feeling that work is in your way.
I don’t believe that you can be happy at home but unhappy at work and vice versa. We humans are wholistic, so we are either happy or unhappy. That is why I believe in creating such unity. My book features my stories and those of people I admire—stories with tips that can help anyone overcome obstacles at work and activate their goals in a more happy manner.
I just keep writing every day, page by page. Hopefully, I will soon have finished the first draft for Love Mondays: Mantras of Traveling CEO.
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