Leadership / 05.16.23
Ticketing Has Given Julie Porter Cardenas More Than She Ever Dared Dream
When Julie Porter Cardenas was preparing to be interviewed for this article, one of the first things she did was go looking for photos, and each one she found brought back a sweet memory.
"I knew you were going to want some pictures," she says. "I was digging around like a raccoon at a campsite in my office closet and in the garage looking for pictures. I went on this huge memory trail and ended up texting people I met 30 years ago, saying, 'Oh, my God, you wouldn't believe this picture I just found. We were babies.'”
One of those photos took Julie all the way back to Southern California and her first job in ticketing.
"When I first started in ticketing, I was a box office seller for Catalina Cruises, and we would have to ride the boats to Avalon,” she says. “You had to learn how to throw the line to get the boat. You have not lived until you have gotten 600 drunk people on a boat at 5 p.m. on a Saturday!"
Julie throwing the line for Avalon — all ticket sellers had to learn this skill.
Julie is now Senior Product Operations Specialist for Paciolan and her job today is far more challenging than when she started in the industry.
"I love so much about it," she says. "I have been with Paciolan for 17 years. I work with some incredible people. I have been given opportunities at this company to grow … Our President and CEO, Kim Damron, has always been great, and Dave Butler before her (he is retired now), at finding a place that is a great fit. The person I work for, the people I work with, are some of the highest performing, kindest people. When I look at who my closest friends are, many of them have come from Paciolan, are still at Paciolan or are clients of Paciolan. It is more than a job for me. They have always believed in me, had faith in me and given me opportunities. I feel so incredibly lucky to work here."
Julie, second from left, and some of her Paciolan colleague friends.
As for the wider industry, Julie says all that has happened in her career makes her believe anyone can find a home in ticketing.
"I love that there is something for everyone in ticketing," she says. "There is something for every type of person. There is a place. There is a home. There is a way to belong here, no matter who you are, what you look like, what your personality is or what stage of life you are at … I love that about ticketing."
And there are many other things she loves too, including the many memorable moments throughout her career.
"I live for the moment," she says. "I love a moment. For me, I think [the most memorable is] getting to a point in your career where you are working for people and with people and you ask, 'What do you want?', and they say, "Be you, just go shine' … They cultivate excellence based on who you are, working to your strengths and providing opportunities."
With that in mind, Julie went on to thank several mentors she has had over the years.
"Here at Paciolan, we have a developer, Robin Stanley. I have worked with her for years. She is an incredible human. She is an example of being one of the best you can be in your field and being kind at the same time, being generous in spirit and so quick to help, wanting to help ... It is just an incredible joy to work with somebody like that and to have that as an example of a leader, colleague, human and friend."
Julie continues, "Maureen Andersen [has also been a wonderful mentor to me] … I have known her a long time. I met her before I started working for Paciolan, when I was a client. We were going to onboard with Paciolan, and Maureen was part of our implementation team. She came walking in the door and I said, 'I recognize you from somewhere.' It was from years of INTIX … Maureen is a great example of being true to yourself. I love that. Knowing who you are and keeping things moving. She has navigated her career in a way that I admire and respect, and she has done that while being true to herself. That means something to me."
INTIX also means a lot to Julie; she has been a member for over 20 years.
Julie, second from right, with friends and colleagues at INTIX 2004 in Philadelphia.
"It is a great organization to be a part of," she says. "I love it. I love reading the articles. I love seeing what people are doing. It makes me feel like I am part of something bigger. It is so nice when you are reading these articles or you are talking to people and these are clients that you used to have or have now, or people you know, or people you don't even know, and they are doing something awesome. I get inspiration and a feeling of community from it."
Julie, center, with friends at INTIX in Atlanta 2002.
Ticketing has brought Julie even more than an incredible sense of community, for it was through ticketing that she met her husband, Brian. She had been working for a company based in Australia and did a project in Germany before returning to Southern California. "Sometimes you hit a fork in the road … and I had this opportunity to go help with this startup company, GetTix, in Phoenix. I went down and interviewed for the job, and Brian was working there. The rest is history."
Julie and Brian take in a Denver Nuggets — San Antonio Spurs game.
History, indeed, as Julie and Brian have been together for 18 years and have a nine-year-old daughter, Lola. Julie says her "little family" is her greatest achievement and joy. "Being a wife and a mother, the family we have and the life we have built together; it is not something I sought out. It is not something I saw happening for me. I had wanderlust, and I was very independent. It just was not a priority for me, so the fact that this has happened for me and that it is incredibly fulfilling, nurturing and empowering … amazes me. I am incredibly proud of it."
Julie holds Lola at two weeks old.
Julie says, "Being Lola's mother is the greatest thing I could hope for, and having a partner in life who is a true partner, who roots for my happiness, and I root for his, and just this little family. It is my greatest joy, every part of it."
Julie, Lola and Brian pose with Dinger at a Colorado Rockies game.
There is another important member of her family that Julie didn't want to leave out, a nine-year-old Shar Pei named Flora. "I love to advocate for and adopt senior dogs," she says. "Before Flora, we had Remy, who we adopted at seven years old and had with us for a little over three years before he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. They are also the loves of my life."
Flora (left) and Remy (right).
It came as no surprise that Julie has a generous spirit when it comes to animals. Her voice and laugh emanate the gentle warmth of a deeply kindhearted soul. And when asked who or what she admires most, she responded, "For me, it's the helpers, whoever it is in any circumstance. I always admire people who are using their privilege to help others, bring awareness, or fight for those who need fighting for, who cannot fight for themselves. I love that quality in people."
Julie also admires kindness in people and feels it is harder to come by these days. "I think it goes so far in making people comfortable with who they are or diffusing any kind of a difference," she says. "If you lead with kindness, I feel like it makes every interaction more peaceful and joyful."
She continues, "The smallest of kindnesses, a smile, whatever it is — I feel like that can change somebody's day. I remember [a day when] we were at the Museum of Natural History here in Denver. My daughter was not even two, and she was having her one and only really epic meltdown in public. I looked at my husband and said, 'Oh my God, I am going to have to carry her out of here kicking and screaming.' As I was doing that, there was this gentleman, much older, like a grandpa, and he just looked at me and smiled so big. His eyes were dancing like he had been there. I thought, OK, this is not that bad. That little moment of kindness turned that whole situation around for me, and I just let her kick and scream and walked out of there like I owned the place. I went to the car, she calmed down, and the day went on. That little moment, those little moments of kindness, I think, make all the difference."
Brian, Julie and Lola at Volcano National Park near Hilo, Hawaii. The Kilauea volcano is steaming in the background.
Julie is also inspired by people who never give up. "I love a comeback. I find that so inspiring. That always, to me, is more meaningful than the fall. I don't care what it is. I don't care who it is. I don't care what it's about. I love a comeback, and I root especially for an underdog making a comeback. I love it."
When it comes to friends, there is a lot of love, too. Julie highly values honesty in those close relationships and respects those who are truly present in the moments they spend together. "I just think it's so important. You know when you are talking to somebody, and you can tell they are nodding their head, but they're not with you. I hate that feeling. That feeling leaves me so uneasy. I like to spend time with people who tell you exactly what is on their mind, exactly how they feel. Maureen [Andersen] is like that. She will tell you exactly how she feels. I love that. It makes me feel very safe and valued."
And what does Julie admire most in her colleagues?
"Enthusiasm for and awareness of the big picture," she says. "With ticketing, I will always think, what is the experience of that box office seller as they are cashing out for the evening? What is the experience like for the resource in the ticket office who is responsible for delivering executive-level reporting correctly [and] quickly, what does that look like? How do the decisions we make impact the crew that is scanning tickets and reading the tickets to help seat people, the ushers? I always think about all of these decisions and [how] all different areas impact so many teams within ticketing. I love working with people who care about the big picture, that are not just worried about their one deliverable, but how all of the teams need to collaborate for the experience of all the different types of resources we impact."
Teamwork is essential in ticketing, adds Julie; success comes with working together toward mutual goals.
"I always want to be sure that I make the point that it takes a village. I don't feel like you are a standalone success in general, not just in ticketing. It is important for me to acknowledge the village of people that helps you along, that gives you opportunities, that supports you — ones you know about and ones you don't, that are fighting for you, even when you don't know. It’s so important to say that it takes a village to get there for everybody who has had longevity in a particular discipline of any kind. And I always want to make sure I acknowledge that village."
Having acknowledged her friends and colleagues, Julie takes a moment to ponder what advice she would give herself if she could go back in time.
"You are not made for everyone and everyone is not made for you, and that is OK," she says. "You can wish people well, move on, and not worry about what they think of you. That would be number one. I have probably wasted too much time worrying about what other people think. I would probably tell myself not to take myself so seriously. Life is far easier when I am not taking myself too seriously. I also think I would tell myself not to over-pluck my eyebrows. I regret that wholeheartedly. I should have listened to my mom in the ‘90s."
Julie's mom passed away 18 years ago, and when asked to tell us about her most treasured possession, she said, "My mom's wedding dress. Just this spring, I found [it] tucked away in a closet from when she married my stepdad, who was basically my dad. I remember that day. I remember her going for the fittings for that wedding dress. We got to go along on … a school night for her to go to the seamstress for the fittings. I feel so incredibly happy to have that."
Julie's mom and dad pose with Julie (right) and her brother (left).
The wedding dress Julie treasures to this day.
Julie continues, "[Another thing I treasure] is my dad's 1966 Dodge Dart wagon. It needs a lot of love, but those two things I appreciate and treasure the most, just simply because neither [my mom or dad] are here anymore, and these [items] were both so incredibly important to them and [served as] anchors for really big moments for us as a family."
Julie’s dad had been rebuilding and restoring his Dodge Dart. He found almost all the parts and prepped the bodywork. It is now off to have the mechanical rebuilt and the bodywork completed and painted.
We mentioned Julie's wanderlust earlier. She is fortunate to have travelled extensively for her long career in ticketing and for pleasure in North America and as far away as Malaysia. And while home and her heart are in Denver, where she lives today, she loves to travel in any capacity. "I don't even care if it is just taking the light rail to Golden [Colorado] and treating it like a trip out of town," she says.
Julie says, "I have lived in Germany, and I have visited some places. It might be nice to live overseas somewhere when the time is right, maybe in Spain or somewhere near a beach with a slower pace of life. But for right now, I'm right where I want to be. This is our second time here. I loved it the first time I came here for INTIX many years ago. I always loved it. Then in 2013, my husband got a job here, so we moved here from Austin. Then in 2019, we decided to go back to Austin thinking it would be nice to be around the larger family and whatnot, and instantly we missed Colorado, so we are right back where we want to be."
Julie and her family on a road trip.
One thing Julie surely misses, however, is watching her favorite football team in San Francisco.
"I am a San Francisco 49ers fan hands down. We were a big NFL family growing up. I had always wanted to live in San Francisco. I have no idea why. I started getting 49ers gear in high school. I would request gifts from my parents [and] I have always loved them, always been a fan, love to see them succeed. I love that they are a part of the city. As soon as I had enough money and a couch to crash on, I moved up to San Francisco. I started working for the ticket distribution telesales part of the Blue and Gold Fleet who used to have the National Park Service contract for Alcatraz, and the rest is history on that. I love football. I love the Niners."
Julie and Brian at a Denver Broncos game repping their teams.
While Julie is able to say without hesitation who her favorite sports team is, she finds it more difficult to choose a favorite musician. Her tastes range from jazz to ‘90s R&B,
and she has had the opportunity to see some great concerts over the years.
"One of them was seeing Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard at the original Backyard in Austin before the Backyard moved. It was just a very old-school Austin vibe. It was the most beautiful venue on a summer central Texas night with the quintessential central Texas artists … I was [also] at the Last Play at Shea Stadium. Paciolan ticketed that and there were all these incredible artists, [Billy Joel], Paul McCartney and [others]. I was leaning up against the dugout with one of the Mets staff who was just one of the coolest guys. He said, 'Look up. The stadium is moving with the people.' And to watch everybody bounce with that stadium is one of the coolest things I have ever seen."
Billy Joel performs in 2008 during The Last Play at Shea.
Julie continues, "I think another one too, which is really unexpected for me, is the first non-work trip my husband and I took away from our daughter this past summer. We went to the Blue Note Jazz Festival in Napa. We did the third-day add-on and saw Snoop Dogg with Robert Glasper's Dinner Party out at this winery. It was not super packed. They sold a really good number of tickets for the venue size so that everybody was comfortable. The temperature was right, the breeze was right, the crowd was right, the show was unbelievable, and it was just a moment I'll never forget. I loved it."
Brian and Julie at the Blue Note Jazz Festival.
Music clearly has an impact on Julie and her family. She loves artists who take a stand and share their opinions through music.
"I love Nina Simone. I love artists with something to say who are also insanely talented, that make you dance and think and want to do good in this world. Right now, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit and Amanda Shires; I'm loving them. It is more Americana and not necessarily my style, but I love what they have to say … There is always music on in our house. We are always going to concerts. We are taking Lola to shows. We are taking her to see Michael Franti at Red Rocks on her last day of school. My husband is our DJ for life. He loves all types of music. We listen to something different all the time. I love it all (laughs)."
Julie and Brian at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
And yet, when it comes to venues, Julie says nothing comes close to the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. "Early on in my career, when I was working for Softix, an Australian company and subsidiary of Ticketek, they were a client, and I spent a ton of time there. The minute I walked into that venue, it felt so good. I love seeing shows there. The staff for the Fox Theatre and MetroTix (the official, authorized ticket seller to the Fabulous Fox in St. Louis, among others) have been constants in my career. They are some of the greatest people you will ever meet. Nothing else has won out over that … I have sort of grown up going there. I think the first time I went there, gosh, it was probably in the late ‘90s. I have been back several times. Then just being in contact with the folks there, every time I talk to them, I can just see the venue and I love it. I am going in June. I am so excited."
Julie, second from left, with her Softix colleagues at INTIX 2002 in Atlanta.
All this talk about music brings to mind a talent that Julie herself would like to have. "I think it might be fun to pick a banjo," she says. "I love the banjo. I don't know why. I have no reason why. I think it sounds good, especially in a bluegrass kind of way. I think that's fun."
Another thing that brings fun to Julie's life is a surprise pleasure, which she enjoys in her spare time. "Right now, I am in this phase where I am into any small-town murder mystery, mystery or romance novel, you know, those paperbacks that have the recipes in the back. I love them. All of them. Every one of them. They bring me so much joy. There is no heavy thinking. They always feel good. [They are] quick reads, very simple pleasures."
And with that serving as a lead-in, here is another unexpected talent Julie wishes she had:
"I think I would like to be a trial lawyer. Like a trial lawyer for a criminal defense," she says. "I think that would be a great skill set or talent to have, like really making a difference, preparing to really help somebody who needs it and using your words, your time, and your energy to fight for what's right. I would love that talent. I might still do that one day. I don't know. I've got to get my daughter grown up first."
Julie, Brian and Lola on a family adventure in Winter Park.
The time spent raising her daughter also came up when we asked Julie for her three most heartfelt wishes.
"I would definitely wish for good health, longevity and happiness for my family. I think I would wish for easy teenage years for my daughter and me," she says, then laughs. "I was hell on wheels, so I have some payback coming. I would use a wish for her to take it easy on me … [And] I wish that humans were kinder to one another, did not try to impose their beliefs on others, appreciated people for their differences, and wished people well rather than trying to make them see things their way. I wish for more kindness and understanding."
Thankfully, with Julie in our ticketing community, the world is a kinder place already.
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Tags: Leadership , GTKY