Founder and chief executive, Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group

“Leadership starts within us and we are all capable of developing into a leader.”

Married at 19 and working in the investment program of a small bank in her hometown of Newport, Oregon, Julia Carlson went to the bank’s president when she was 23 and asked to become a financial adviser. Although she was already registered, she was told to wait until her boss retired. “It turns out, he retired 15 years later,” she recalls, recounting how she was so annoyed that she started her own independent business with the help of a local accountant. Carlson’s solo practice has grown into the Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group, which manages $315 million and employs 15.

She has digitized her business to encourage efficiency, and was an early adopter of social media, which drives client acquisition. She also authored a book, “Fit Money,” to educate women. Additionally, Carlson operates a separate business that provides marketing and strategic planning guidance to other advisers. She views leadership as being in charge, not in control, and helping others develop.

— Evan Cooper