The Quest For True Belonging with Brené Brown
Hey everybody, how's it going? I'm Chase Jarvis. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live show here on Creative Live. You guys know this show. This is a show where I sit down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and I do everything I can to unlock their brains, unpack actionable, valuable insights with the goal of helping you with your dreams and career and hobby and in life. My guest today, she's been on the show, this is her third time. No one else has been on this many times, and you know why. She is a researcher, a storyteller, the author of so many number one New York Times bestseller books, Daring Greatly, I'm not, I'm not going to talk about the other books. I'm going to talk about, this is the book that you have to get right now, and my guest is the one and only, Brené Brown. Yay. (upbeat music) (audience applauds) They love you.
Hi, hi, hi.
I'm afraid to move or I'll knock my mic off.
I know it was very, so we're in a loft ...
apartment in Austin, Texas. I know it looks like a very polished studio, but that's a squeaky chair (laughs). We knew this was going to happen. Thank you very much for coming from Houston. I'm very happy to be with you. I missed you. It's been like, almost a year.
It's been a year, thanks for coming to Texas.
Incredible congratulations on another book.
Thanks. I can say unequivocally that your work helped me more as a creator than any other work that I've read, any modern work that's not a biography. It's not about, it's not a how-to. It's about courage, and Daring Greatly was the first thing that I really, I probably have read that five times. I use that as reference, the Gifts of Imperfection. What's another one, you have another--
Rising Strong was the last one.
This one, I'm on my second read. You sent this to me, whatever two weeks ago. Thank you very much. This is going to be another reference book, over and over and over. What made you write it? (sighs)
So I've always really been interested in belonging and the topic. I started writing about belonging in with the Gifts of Imperfection, but as the world has gotten crazier and a little crueler, I became very interested in this idea again of belonging because I think I've struggled with belonging my whole life. I still struggle with it.
You went into it in like the first 30 pages, in a way I wouldn't think was possible. It was so amazing that you opened your heart up that much in the first 10 pages.
It was really hard. I'm not good at it.
I think you actually wrote a sentence, and I just read that and that was very hard. I'm sobbing or something.
So sorry, I know (mumbles).
Yeah, it was just hard, so I just, I wanted to understand more about it. There was a quote from Maya Angelou that's really been kind of, as we say in Texas, stuck in my craw for like 20 years.
Craw, I love it.
Stuck in my craw, it really just irritated me. I love everything about Maya Angelou. She's been a hugely important person in my life, but she's got a quote that says you're only truly free until you belong everywhere, nowhere, which is everywhere. The price is high, and the reward is great. I thought what the hell does that mean? You belong everywhere and nowhere, like belonging, this is the stuff that we're wired for.
Yeah, like we-
Like here's the one thing I can tell you for sure that I know from my research. In the absence of love and belonging, there is always suffering, and I feel like I've really experienced some suffering around belonging in my life, and I thought what does that mean? You're only free until you belong nowhere and everywhere. It just sounds poetic, but it reads like bullshit to me, like it cannot be true. So I wanted to dig into it even more. And I had no intention really of writing a book set against the backdrop of the world today, and how really crappy we are to each other.
It's strange right now.
It's strange right now, but it turns out that I don't think you can write about belonging and connection, really, without being honest about what we're up against with each other. And so I just started digging into it, and I kept asking this question, like, men and woman who have this really strong sense of true belonging, what do they have in common? And is there any validity to this idea of belonging everywhere and nowhere?
Well, damn. I think, and you talk about drill team, like trying out for drill team. I think it's so, so powerful, and the human, that we're hardwired for connection is when you've experienced connection, you know it. And when after you've experienced connection, and I think we all have, when it's not there, we all suffer. The fact that it's so relevant right now, I feel more connected to some people and disconnected to others than I ever have before, and there's something when I look around and other people say that, my bullshit meter is like, meh, I don't like. But you sew us together in a way that no one else can. So A, thank you, B, what has that meant for your research? And what does it mean for us as citizens and humans? And I know there's a framework in the book here. I'm not trying to get you into the framework. What do we do?
I think for me what was really surprising was after I spent, I spent a year trying to understand where we are as a country and really globally, this is happening across the world, and what I learned was pretty shocking to me that at the very same time that we've sorted ourselves into these ideological bunkers, that we really actually demographically, we don't go to school and worship and live by people who are different than us as much as we used to. And the more sorted we become, you would think, the more connected we become, because now I'm just with people who are like me.
Your algorithms are tuned to show you people who are just like you.
That's exactly right, yeah. It's like the Amazon book, that and you know, if you like this, you like this. If you agree with Harvey, you'll really love Pete. But it turns out that behind those ideological bunkers, it's not that we're deeply connected to each other, we just hate the same people.
That's so powerful.
And hating, yeah, and hating the same people doesn't really mean jack when it becomes down to belonging, just because you hate the same people, doesn't mean that you're going to show up for me when I'm throwing up at chemo or you're going to go pick up my kids from school when I'm running late or have a flat tire. It's like, it's not real connection. It's not super meaningful, deep connection. And so we are getting more and more sorted, and this is a crazy fact. In 1976, only 20% of counties delivered landslides for the presidential nominees. Like only 20% of people lived in counties where the whole county delivered. Trump, Clinton? 80% of counties delivered landslides for one or the other. Like we are really completely sorted.
It's literally the 80-20 flip, wow.
But if you look in 1976 at the rates of loneliness, they were much lower than they are today, so we're more sorted, but we're lonely. You know, loneliness is serious stuff.
What'd you talk about? It's like isolation, like self-something, like self-identified isolation, you had a great-
Yeah, self-identified isolation, like you're on the outside looking in. And it's really interesting, John Capaccio, who is a researcher in Chicago, has got this amazing book, I mean, just his research on loneliness is incredible, but he talks about how primal loneliness is for a social species, that when we're hungry, our body says you're in danger if you don't eat. Thirst is you're in actual physical danger, if you don't hydrate. Pain says there's tissue damage somewhere, you've got to heal. And loneliness says, you need social connection, or you're in trouble. And when I first read that, I was like, okay, that was like very moving and well done.
Kudos to you.
Nice little fritah.
But really kind of hyperbole, but then when you look at the research, loneliness is a greater predictor of an early death than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or obesity.
Loneliness kills people.
It is a huge predictor of mental health, physical health, and early death problems. Yeah, I mean it's-
That is, sorry my mouth is still
Yeah, no, yeah.
So it's like, so sorted and lonely, and so the question for me was how did we get here?
I'd like to, to me the audience people who watch this show, largely identify as creative, entrepreneurial, or aspire to be. I put them in two groups. Zero to one, people who are just sort of realizing that it's okay to consider yourself creative, and that's a really important part of being human, and there are people who already identify. And for each of those communities, the concept of belonging, the concept of bravery, the concept of putting yourself out there, is all very, very, it's maybe even more near and prescient than in some other communities, because being a creator and being the man or woman in the arena is what I think a lot of people come to this show and pay attention to me about. But the thing that I used to really worry about saying is that it's more problematic now than before, because I'm kind of like, hey, look it, time is long, and there's been a lot of, like, it's the safest time ever to be alive, just the reporting on violent crime is up 10,000%, but it's actually, all other violent crime is down. But the psychology, the loneliness, all of the divisiveness, that research that you decided about, you know, about who are tribes are and how we spark. It really is a very divisive, divisive, divisive?
Either way, I think.
Yeah, I go back and forth.
It's a divisive time. I think that makes for great art, and I would never accept that culturally just to get great art, but because it does create, I think it does provide the impetus for great art. Help the people who are listening right now understand how they can use creativity or use any of the tools that are part of them or their community to transcend loneliness. You've got four things here. You've got a framework.
Okay, you've got to hand me your book.
Okay. You've got to hand me this book. You all will have to give me a minute to find this. I want to-
You got a quote?
No, I want to talk to you about something, about art.
Because it's so weird like when I did the morning shows and stuff, when I was doing the preinterview, they were like, "What's this deal about creativity and art in here? You seem very passionate about it." But it's something that I wanted to-
While you're looking, did you find it?
Yeah, I found it, okay.
Right before you do, I'm going to say, if you hadn't watched, we have two earlier talks. One, actually just if you Google my name and your name, and I love that it's on the header of your website.
It's one of my favorite videos ever.
You were, I mean, you're on fire right now. You were absolutely on fire then. It was the first time we'd ever met. I was so blown away, and the folks in my community really rallied around it, and I think, I try and help people unlock that part of themselves, and when I read that bit that you've got. I didn't know that you were on the morning show you talked about that, but it's powerful stuff. So walk us through it if you can.
No, I didn't talk about it, because the people on the morning shows were like, "What is your thing about creatives and art in here?" And I was like, it's so important, because here's the thing, we are lonelier. And we are more disconnected than we've ever been. And it's polarized, but art can save us. No, this is what I write. Art has the power to render sorrow, beautiful, and make loneliness a shared experience and transform despair into hope. Only art can take the holler- I tell the story about Bill Munro, a bluegrass musician, listening to the holler of that's returning from World War I and incorporating it in his high lonesome music, and I said, "Only heart can take the holler of a returning soldier and turn it into a shared expression and a deep collective experience. Music, like all art gives pain, gives pain and our most wrenching emotions, voice, language, and form, so it can be recognized and shared. The magic of all art is the ability to both capture our pain and deliver us from it at the same time." Okay, that's you all creatives. (he laughs) That's, that's, that's you people. I mean, that's like, if you think were going to get out of this shit show without art, you're mistaken.
So time is upon us. What, sorry, I'm still thinking about that quote, still getting shivers. So here we are. I'm asking people to go inside themselves. The best art comes from within here, and especially as were trying to find our way, we spend so much time looking at what other people are doing and it's great, because you can remix, but the most, the best way for one to stand out is to share your own experiences.
And it's because it's about being different, not just better, in a world of creativity. Do you have any, can you be prescriptive? We've been pretty theoretical right now, and we'll get into the wilderness and what that means. I don't want to only talk about the book, because your work is vast, but can you get tactical for second?
So why don't you be prescriptive? I come in I sit down and you're my counselor. And I say I'm kind of feeling disconnected. I'm a creator. I'm an entrepreneur, I'm trying to build things. I feel alone. I don't know what I'm doing. Help, what can you do to help me?
So probably from a caveat, I have to say that I'm not a therapist. So I would say if you're in my office looking for that word, we've got to go together somewhere else, but here's what I would say. The thing that I learned about belonging that I think is so powerful and that I cling to as a creative, is that belonging is not something we negotiate with the external world. It's something we carry in our hearts, and as it turns out that the men and woman who have the highest levels of true belonging, not only find sacred being part of something bigger, but they have the courage to stand alone. And the reason why art and creativity are going to be so important to our healing and to whatever comes next in our world, is every creative knows what it's like to stand alone. And so creatives have this incredible ability when they find the confidence, to be able to find beauty and value in being part of a creative community, but also the courage to stand alone. And so what I would say to you is understand, I wouldn't say this as a therapist, I would just say this as a fellow creative that's found my own pain and success in equal combinations.
Is be a part of a creative group and community, but don't ever believe for a second, that you are not going to have to stand on your own. You will have to be alone at some point. It is what were called to do, and to get to a place where you can find, that's what Maya Angelou meant, I think, when she said you belong everywhere, nowhere, which is everywhere, because if you carry belonging in your heart, it's not negotiated externally with other people. And I think the thing that's really powerful is, as a social species, the reason why we feel lonely is because we are neurobiologically wired to be with each other, and as a social species, we need art, and we need music, and we need photography, and we need to see the artifacts that allow us to find our humanity in each other.
And that is not, that's art. That's music. Oliver Sachs says, "Music pierces the heart directly. It needs no mediation." Like that is one of our ways out here.
I think that, so I don't often quote Jeff Bezos, but for the entrepreneurs out there, he said, "You have to be willing to be." What was it? "You have to be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time as an entrepreneur."
Oh God, you do, oh my God. I hate that quote.
It's so true. So confessionally, me and the crew had lunch across the street before you arrived, and we had your book out. We were swapping quotes and ideas, and favorite passages, and we each recounted briefly the things that were the most successful in any one of our careers, or the best films we've made or breakthroughs or companies or whatever, and 100% of them had massive misunderstanding. People didn't get the thing that you were going to do, or that you were standing for, and so letter A, I believe it's true. B, it takes me back to something you shared in a previous interview, which, if you're tuning in for the first time, it's the first time you're seeing us two together, you talked about your Ted talk. And the short back story is that Brene gave a talk about vulnerability, and you put yourself out there. And I think you were probably, I remember something you telling me about like, it's hard to get invited to parties when you talk about what do you do.
Shame and vulnerability researcher. They're like, she's fun.
Okay, great, okay, I'm gonna move on to the next person at the party.
So tell me about your own journey of being misunderstood, or maybe even feeling disconnected, and what you feel like has brought it back.
I think I'm not unlike a lot of creatives in I owe probably my career and my creativity to not belonging. And so, because I didn't belong growing up ever. You know, we moved all the time, and we moved really hard, fourth grade, sixth grade, eighth grade, always a new girl, and always different. It forced me to become a pattern finder. So I became someone who could seek and understand patterns in people's behaviors, in people's emotions, and I could predict what they were going to do better than they knew what they were going to do. And so I think, my creativity, like a lot of people's creativity was born of being on the outside. Like if you go to my house, you can see, I collect outsider art, because, and I don't, I never even thought about that until just right this minute, but I like the view from out there. And so I think for me, like with the Ted talk, I've just never done anything that's turned out to be valuable that wasn't just scared shirtless to do it. Like everything I've ever done that's ever really made a contribution, I've felt alone in doing it and afraid, but alive.
Yeah, that's a really interesting, go on, tell me more about that, alive. Alone, but alive, that's sort of like the wilderness.
It is a wilderness.
Because the metaphor for the book is, let's see if I get this right, rather than asking you, my friend.
You can check my work.
There's a poetic narrative about it being wild and risky and you have to prepare to go there, and it's also stunning. And so there's an obvious really clear connection between that and putting yourself out there. There's risks and rewards and beauty, but there's an interesting twist, if I get this right, that it's not that you are in the wilderness, it's that you are the wilderness. Explain that, if you would.
Well, I think, what I have found is that after the first time, and it only really takes one time, that after the first time that you opt to brave the wilderness, you pull away from what a group of people thinks. Maybe it's your creative community, it's your critics. The first time you pull away and find power in standing on your own, I think your heart is marked by the wild. I think you belong into the wilderness in a different way, because every time after that, when you choose fitting in over belonging to yourself, it's painful. And so to me, the whole idea is not to just navigating the wilderness, which I think every poet and theologian and writer over time has used the wilderness as this kind of alone journey thing. It's not just about navigating the wilderness. It's about becoming the wilderness. It's about becoming, I am going to be on my own a lot, and it's going to be okay, because there is beauty and strength in that, and it's not that I won't ever find great joy in being a part of something, but I will always belong to and believe in myself first.
You have, you told me, I don't know if that was a secret. I think at the time you told me, it was a secret that you hadn't shared it before. It was that you keep a list of the people that actually matter to you.
And it was around when you shared the famous Roosevelt quote about the man in the arena. I say man, and man or woman in the arena, and it's a list of five or something people that these are the people that you don't want to disappoint, and everyone else, you're going to-
Yeah, my little, it's a one inch by one inch square, and in there are the names of people whose opinions of me matter. Like if you're in here, your opinion of mee matters, if you're not, I just cannot waste a lot of time worrying about what you think. And so the people on that list are people who love me, not despite my vulnerability or my imperfection, but because of my vulnerability and imperfection. So those people are the people that really, I care what they think, Steve number one, you know, my Kate, and not because he's, because he'll say, "Yeah, you just screwed that up, and you're gonna have to make amends. It's going to be shady and hard, but I got your back, but yeah, that was a big mistake." Like, so I think-
How do you reconcile the list of people that you care deeply about with also standing alone? Do you feel like those people are there when you're standing alone?
Those are the people that understand, that sometimes they standalone, I support them. Sometimes I stand alone. And it's not easy, but there's this great a friend and hat maker who went through this really hard time last year. She is kind of a, she has kind of a big Christian. She's a pastor. She has a big Christian audience, and she came out really strongly pro-LGBT, and she really got just eaten alive. And so I asked her to write about her experiences in the last chapter of the book, and she just writes something so beautiful. She says, "But it's okay out here in the wilderness, because it's where all the artist and profits and creatives have always lived."
You know, I mean and I think it's-
Yeah, no, I identity there. Yeah, it's just, you know I think even if you look at, this is before we, you know, before right now, when I was thinking about being with you. I thought about the kind of four practices of true belonging, and there's a couple things that I think are really interesting from a creative perspective. The first is, the whole book is a freaking paradox, everything, like belonging, the standing alone, why? Each of the four practices are paradoxes, and one of the things I love is that no one can straddle the tension of paradox better than a creative, because that is the creative energy, right?
Yeah, you define paradox in the book. You want to take this one? You talked about-
Well, Carl Jung says it's our greatest spiritual gift. The paradox is the only thing that becomes, becomes remotely close to describing the human experience, and that's art. That's the attention of be fierce and kind, tough and tender. You know, like it's that tension, and so when I think about the practices, think about art. Think about all great art. The first practice of true belonging, people are hard to hate close-up. Move in. Who shows us a glimpse of what we think we hate and can make it beautiful better that an artist? Really.
Really, through photography,
Film, cinema, yeah.
I mean, I've been on this whole belonging tear, just looking at what filmmakers do. Like I just watched one of my favorite. It's all my favorite new rom-com, The Big Sick.
Oh yeah, incredible.
Yeah, like who takes us closer to people we believe we hate, and then shows us their humanity, in a way that's so frustrating for us, than photography or a great film or a song, like who does that? And then the second practice is speak truth to bullshit.
Be civil, though.
But be civil. But who, more than artists, call bullshit on the things in the world that are unkind and untrue? I mean, honestly. Like you want to say, "Well, I think everything's really better in Syria than we thought it was." Talk to some of the photographers who changed our whole understanding.
It can be very clearly argued that photography, in particular, changed the opinion of the Vietnam War.
There's a handful of five photographs that shifted the American psyche over to like, nope, done with this mess. And I think the same is true. I think Syria is like, maybe never before have we had that much access, like real-time live video, like so hard-core. I think that's a phenomenal point. So that's thing two of the four.
Yeah, think about what Ken Burns is doing right now with Vietnam.
I mean, everyone that I know who have seen an early production of that said, "It will fundamentally shift how you think about our country." But who can do that? Can a politician do that? Can a social scientist do that? A researcher? No, a creative, a filmmaker, because what creatives do is they bring truth to us in a way where we recognize our own humanity. I mean-
It's sort of like they wrap it in something that is digestible in the moment. _ Yeah, so it's real to us.
I never thought of that.
I mean, that's why when people are like, "Help me understand the creative part of this book and what you talk about, you like, it speaks so powerfully about art and creativity." It's that these are actually the leaders of this movement. Because if you think you're going to show the world your perspective on something, and do it surrounded with people who are, you know, like-minded and cheering you on, then you don't understand what it means to be a creative and you've been watching too many beer commercials, because that shit only happens in beer commercials. When you decide to become a creative and share your perspective of the world with us, you sign up for the wilderness.
Kind of scary.
Oh God, yes.
Oh God, yeah, I'm not thinking you should do it, because it's the hardest moments of my life, writing this book, even though I have a team and tons of the support. When it comes out, I'm taking the hits. I'm taking the criticism. I'm taking the why this? I'm taking the you cuss too much. I'm taking the you know.
What movement are you standing for?
Yeah, what do you believe in?
You stand for-
You're too conservative. You're too liberal. You know, it's like, but that's what you sign up for when you're a creative. And then the next one, the next practice is, so it's people are hard to hate close-up, move in. Speak truth to bullshit, but be civil, The third one, hold hands with strangers, and that is a chapter almost exclusively on creativity, shared creativity, and what I call collective pain or a ministry of presence, just being with people in pain. There's not a single person I helped in Houston that I could actually stop the water from coming in and taking away their homes, but I could be with them in those moments. And I think a ministry of presence is really about being with people in pain, so that a person's broken heart can know it's connected to every other heart that's been broken across time. And no one delivers on that like creatives.
It is, and that's the gift, like whether it's the media, the medium, like you just used cinema. I think of how many, like the connection of moments in your life with music. I hear.
I hear Pretty in Pink, from that movie
Oh, yeah. Or you know, just take it's on (mumbles), like it's almost Proustian, like food has the ability to do that.
So that's the third thing, and I think let's go back, just remind us. The third one is hold hands with strangers, but what's the other half of that? Hold hands with strangers.
It's just hold hands and then with strangers, which seems weird, but here's the thing. I describe like kind of the world we're in right now as a, it's a crisis, a spiritual crisis. And when I say spiritual crisis, people get really squirmy and they're like, "Oh, God, is she talking religion?" Which I'm not, because I'm not sure that didn't bring us here in some way, dogma, religion, but spirituality is really, simple definition, to me from the data. It's the belief that were inextricably tied to each other, that you and I are connected in a fundamental way that can never be disconnected. We're all connected to each other inextricably and while that is not breakable, it is forgettable. You cannot break human connection, but you can forget about it. And to share moments, to hold hands with strangers, to be at like, I just remember this moment, like four or five months ago, I'm at a U2 concert, first one I took to my kids to. Super excited. It was so great. I've seen them 15 times, hitchhiked through Europe with nothing but the War cassette tape and Walkman.
Man, I did the same thing.
Yeah, no, it's like, yeah. It's my, you know, And I remember when one of my favorite songs came on from the war album, my daughter and my son, who were standing on either sides of me grabbed my hands. And I just got goosebumps in there, and I looked down at my son and said, "They're playing your song." You know, and I just wept. You know, someone, a friend of mine sent me, our friend Eleanor sent me a picture from the U2 concert that she went to in New Orleans, I think like last week, and she put U2charist. Like it's like the Eucharist, but it's a U2charist, and it does have that meaning for us, right?
Yeah, it does.
And it's not just that, you know, it's these moments where you're standing next to a stranger, Texas football, right down the street from here, and you're hugging the person next to you because it's a pick six and you know, they're running all the way in and it's amazing. They're just moments that remind us not only what's possible between humans and even strangers, but I think more profoundly, what's true about what's between us. That's the truth of how we're built to be together.
You talk in the book about, and I think elsewhere in your research, about the moments after 9/ as a time of bonding and yet, how temporary even that was, and do you feel like this framework is a way to try and stay, cause those moments are, that's to me, when I read that part of the book, I was thinking like, just think if it was always like that.
If we could all, because what you're doing when you're saying like I see you, I see you for who you are, you see me, we're all in this together, like those are very simple, I think, basic human connections, but you give that or you receive that gift automatically in those moments, as opposed to having to manufacture it or work for it or sort of, like, keep it in your minds, so that when someone cuts you off in traffic, you can still wave like your dad.
Yeah, not the other way.
Yeah, not the other way, not the one-finger wave.
Yeah, not the one-finger wave. That's so true.
Do you feel like, what I was grokking by the end of the book is that it's really the four, what you call these four things?
Just kind of four practices, because you have to put them in practice.
Daily, daily practice. That I saw a very clear path to be able to experience that on a daily basis, which brings me to the fourth one, which to me might be my favorite,.
It reminds me of Kate, your wife.
I'll let you share it.
Strong back, soft, wild heart. That we need a strong back, we need to be courageous, soft heart, we need to be vulnerable and open, and we need to have that wild heart. And I think the big practice from that is, and I think, this is such a great, important message for all of us, and especially for your audience of creatives. Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don't belong, because you will always find it. Stop walking through the world looking for evidence that you're not enough, because you will always find it. Your self-worth and youre belonging is not something that we negotiate externally, it's something we carry in our wild hearts. And if we spend our lives looking, everywhere we go, for evidence that, I don't really belong in this meeting. I'm not really an artist. I just do this on our side, and this is my side hustle ,but it's not really my job. Or we keep comparing ourselves, you will find exactly what you're looking for.
Yeah, what's the psychological phenomena when you buy a new car and then you start seeing it everywhere because you're looking for it.
Yeah, it's confirmation bias.
Yeah, you can say, okay how many people see the color red? And you look around and start saying, "Well, that maroon thing is kind of red." And like, you're looking for red, you's see things are shades of red, and you actually see more of it. I guess that all fall under confirmation bias.
Whether you think you can or can't, you're right. I don't remember who said that, but. The worth and belonging, like, talk to me about how the social world that we live in has maybe, give me both sides of the coin, both positively and negatively. I don't know if you have a positive spin on it. I think I'm only familiar with your criticisms of it.
I actually do, you mean social media?
Yeah I think because compare shlogger to-
I mean, I think social media is a great communication tool. I think it's a sucky connection tool. So for using it to-
Tell me more.
Yeah, so if we're using it to communicate with each other, if we're using it to talk to each other, then I think it's helpful and it can be great. If we're using it only, as our only form of connection to each other, it falls really short. So for example, I tell a story in the book where I lost track of my first true love, which is my first best friend, growing up in New Orleans. We found each other on Facebook. She's, my relationship with her, her name's Eleanor, is one of the most important relationships in my life right now and will, I think will be forever until I die, but it's not because we just started talking on Facebook. It's because we drove, and we hang out together, and we see each other, and so, I just don't think it's a substitute for real connection, but I think we can communicate, but I will say this, if you are disembodied from your identity on any social media, that's bullshit.
If you're pretending to be somebody else or you just-
Yeah, or you just have no name,
some anonymous name,
no real picture, I won't even communicate with you. And if you send something to me positive or negative, I'm deleting you. I'm banning you from my site, because to disembody yourself from your identity, you're participating and contributing to nothing at all, because you're saying things to other human beings that you would probably never say.
And you're certainly not close to them, like get close, right, yeah.
It's the opposite of that.
It's the opposite. And so I think for communicating our art, for talking about things that are just communicative, but not connective, I think it's helpful, but it's not helpful if you're disembodied from your identity. It's not a helpful place to work through your pain.
And sadly, that's when you're isolated and alone, you go into your phone and you look for the thing that's not there. Not only is it not there, but you're comparing, you know that you're late on your cell phone bill and that you just got a bad grade on the test and you crashed your car and you can't afford to pay for it, and you're looking at someone else's highlight reel.
I mean the ESPN highlight play of the day. That's all you get is the play of the day.
Yep, on everybody's everything and invariably we have a mutual friend Murray Julio compare shlogger, she talks about why don't you try and create before you consume that, because it's the creative part that will empower you and make you, connect you with your feelings and your emotions.
And maybe could deliver that for someone else before you consume, I think that's a powerful. So strong back, soft front, wild heart.
Vulnerable, courageous, a strong back is really about boundaries.
Yeah, talk to me about boundaries, that's like, I know, I guess I don't, I think about them a lot, some of the most important moments of my life were breaking through boundaries, some were set artificially by me, some were set by others and I went there or a banged up against them and that created a conflict. Talk to me about that, about boundaries.
Well, I'm going to tell you the story of how I get to the best definition of boundaries from a creative. Kelly Ray Roberts, artist, Portland. She's an artist who self-trained, she was an oncological social worker, like being a social worker in oncology, hard work. She taught herself to paint. Now she has a thriving, huge business, and she was teaching art classes and people were copying her art and selling it, and selling it on Etsy and selling it different places. And one day, she wrote a blog post, and it was about boundaries and she said, "Let me tell you what's okay and what's not okay." And she made a list of everything that was okay. It's okay if you copy my art and hang it in your house. It's okay if you download one of my paintings and use it as a little sticker on your website, as long as it's attributed. It's okay if you do this. It's okay if in good spirit you do this and this. It is not okay if you do the following five things.
I love it.
And it was the most, the clearest example, and I called her, I'm like, "You just pulled some social work magic bullshit on here." And she was yes, it would be so helpful if creatives are all social workers because we're trained on here's what's okay and what's not okay. You can come to my party, love to have you. You can't get shit-faced. You know, and that's a hard conversation. So I think one of the reasons why, or for creatives, the biggest thing I've run into, and I work with creatives all the time, and I interviewed them just almost exclusively for Rising Strong, is people are afraid to put value on their work.
People are afraid to charge for it. People are afraid to, hey, look, I know you're really good photographer. Can you come and shoot this wedding?
Yeah, for nothing.
For zero dollars.
Yeah, for just like for a free quiche, and you know, whatever you're serving. No, because do you know how stressful it is when you, do you know what happens when you get to a wedding and things don't go well?
I've never shot a wedding in my life because the concept of the mother of the bride is way more frightening to me than Google like, head of advertising, it's like, for the people who do that, that's stressful line of work.
Right, and so the answer is I'd love to shoot the wedding. This is my fee for doing that. Oh, man, come on. I mean I'd really love to, but you know, because if you don't put value on your work, no one else will. I mean, I can tell you this, and I'd be curious if this is your experience. Pro bono work, when I do it, happens to be the hardest. They ask the most, they push, they break the most boundaries, and I get into, can get into resentment very quickly. And so for me, it's just like, here's what's okay and here's what's not okay.
Give you my version is work for free because you love it or full price and nothing in between.
To me it's the in between, like if you work for a low price,
That's where the resentment just goes to 1000 over ninety or in a minute, because I'm like sorry, you know, it's supposed to be 50 grand, and I'm here for 500 because I wanted to help, so that's why I, like, if you are literally getting paid nothing, you can go like, bye, at any time (claps). And I don't hold that over anyone for whom I would work for free, whether it's a nonprofit or what for.
It's exactly right.
You're not signing yourself up for a shit sandwich.
And that really low wage, and to me, I see this happening, This is, I think, at catastrophic levels when people are just starting to figure it out, that this low-wage idea is very tough, because you want to make some money. You feel a tremendous amount of pressure to validate to your husband, your spouse, your peers, your parents that you can get paid, and when you do, and that's when you get bulldozed, you got bullied.
And then there's this other backside of, the other side of the same coin rather, is that they usually do that on a promise of more work at a higher rate later, and the reality is, let's say your rate is $5000 to shoot this wedding, and they offer you $500 on the promise of like, my sister's getting married and you know, I'm sure we can get her to hire you, and there's more work, that if they do ever have $5000, will they ever call you?
And the answer is absolutely not,
because you're the $500 person, and when they have $5000, are they going to try and sell it for the $500? Never, zero times out of 100 will they call.
You can quote me on this anytime you want.
Oh my God, why is it true?
I don't know, but it's like epidemic level, especially when you're starting out, or even maybe worse, because starting out, you want, you're still figuring out your own thing, but it's like when your back's up against the wall, that's when it's really hard to make good choices with respect to your career, because you want to put food on the table, you want to pay your cable bill or whatever.
No, it's true, because I do do stuff I love for free and never have any resentment, but it's the-
You get sucked in.
So that's a strong back. And the soft front is you don't have to be a jerk when you say no. You can just say, "Really appreciate you asking.
I can't do that."
Thank you so much.
At first, you find tools and coping mechanisms, like, oh my God, I'm booked solid, thank you so much. I don't expect people to walk right out and be able to own that stuff because that's a muscle. You have to train in how to talk about it. You have to have language around it, but just not being a jerk, and because if you are principled, and you say, "Oh gosh, I understand that you only have $500. I can recommend a couple people who are in that price range, but you know, this is my rate." What happens is if you sort of politely say no, that when they do find $5000, you're still the $5000 person, and so you'll end up getting a lot of the folks because you become, I don't know, this is psychologically good or bad, but you just stick to your values and when they actually find five grand, they'll call you because you are their $5000 person.
God, it's true, but I think that is a strong back example of, it's so easy to crater under that pressure and then be resentful and then not be able to climb back out of that.
So I think the soft front, can we talk about that for second? One thing I've learned, well, I've learned so many things from my wife, especially in the last year, she's been teaching me a lot, is that soft front. She's like always, she's just always coming from a place of love. And talk to me about how important, I know you've done research for 20 years. What role does soft front play in connection, in empathy, and you know, creating great stuff and being your authentic self? Just talk to me a little bit about what role a soft front plays in that.
I think the soft front to me is about vulnerability, authenticity, and generosity. I think it's about being vulnerable, which is kind of letting yourself be seen, and it's about being generous. It's about when, if things, if you and I get sideways really quick around something, which is a very Texas saying, like if we get frustrated, pissed off at each other,
In the craw, in the craw?
Yeah, stuck in the craw. If we get frustrated each other, to approach you with generosity of spirit. I used to have a mentor that would say the hypothesis of generosity, what can I assume, is do I think Chase is really just trying to piss me off and upset me and be unfair to me or how can I approached you generously? Like, that conversation we had, I can't, it hurt my feelings, I think, help me understand where you're coming from. A soft front to me is not it goes with, I mean, just a soft front without a strong back is not good, and just a strong back without a soft front is bullish. And so I think the soft front is generosity, curiosity, love, vulnerability, assuming the best of people.
Can I use a thing that I learned from you on you right now?
It's, I'm telling myself a story. That is an insanely effective technique. Elaborate on that for the folks who don't know.
Yeah, no, it's changed my life, my marriage, the way I parent, everything, and it's just the sentence that when we're in struggle and when we feel like emotionally our back is up against the wall, our brains are hardwired for narrative and story, which is why creatives are so successful, because they're storytellers. Whether it's whether a single photograph or painting or book, right? And so our brain wants a story, and our brain likes a story that pitches bad guys, good guys, safe and dangerous, and so the stories we make up normally, are our worst fears and turn the people that are in our stories into enemies. And so if I can say to Steve, so this is a great conversation that happened not too long ago where I said, "Hey, I think my mom's coming over for dinner." And he said, "God, does she have to come tonight?" And I was like, yeah. And so, right. And so what I wanted to say, well, I won't say what I wanted to say, but what I said was "The story I'm making up is you don't want to see my mom." He goes, "No, it's just that I've got to go drop off at field hockey tonight. I won't be back here till 8 o'clock, so I won't get to see her, but if she comes tomorrow, I'll be able to have dinner with you and Dave, you know, your mom and your stepdad." But could you imagine because what I was going to say is when he said, "Does she have to come tonight?" I was going to say, "Yeah, she does, but you know what? You don't need to." Or, "Wait a minute, you don't want to have dinner with my mom, yet I have dinner with your mom?" And then now we're in that territory, as opposed to ouch, the story I'm making up is you don't want to see my mom. "No, I just can't see her if she comes tonight. Can she come tomorrow night?"
How simple is that?
Simple, but marriage saving.
Yeah, and I use those words in, like you just used, and it's just a very simple phrase, like I'm telling myself the story that, and then I would say nine out of 10 times, the person responds with something that was not at all the worst-case scenario that you made up. I'm going to reference Tony Robbins who talks about our brain being the brain, rather than our brain, and it's millions of years old organ that's developed over time, and its goal is not to make us happy. Its goal is keep us alive.
And when I think of everything that I've learned from your work, and your research, and your writing and your storytelling, that it is a way to, this thing you work for me. I don't work for you. You work for me. So of the work that you've done, what role does, you know, what role do you think braving the wilderness, in particular, plays to getting your brain to work for you? Like what part of the narrative, what part of braving the wilderness, you know, what's the construction that you, what's the fortitude, what's the thing that you brought to-
The paradox that we have to, it's not as black and white as we've made it. It's not as, people are complicated. We have really complex beliefs. We don't understand everything or each other, and that we have got to, It's the paradox. It's the power of real, you know, if you dig into, if you're a social scientist, and you dig into intellectual, kind of, how we measure intellect, we measure intellect by a person's ability to hold competing of ideas at one time, and not choose one over the other. So I can have a political belief that I believe in, and I can love you and care about you, even though you do not share that belief. I can support African-American activists and support the welfare of police officers. I can support, I can say to you, when I hear something that's bullshit like, hey, you either evacuated Houston or you got what you deserved. That's bullshit, which is different than lying, and I talk about a lot in the book, because, as it turns out, there's scientists who study bullshit.
What is it, on bullshit, there's like papers,
is it a book?
It's a book.
And there's not just one. There's like a lot of people who study it. Bullshit is not just a flagrant, denying the authority of the truth. Bullshitters don't acknowledge the truth at all, and so when someone says, you either got what you deserved, you either evacuated Houston or you got what you deserved, how do I speak truth to that but be civil? Can I be speak truth? Yes, I can say, "Tell me more." "Well, you knew Harvey was coming, so if you lost your house and you were in danger, and it was scary, it's your fault. You could've left." So let me tell you what it's like for me. There are 6 million people in Houston. And when we evacuated before people died trying to evacuate, we didn't evacuate because we were told to shelter in place, because that's what you have to do when there are two highways out of Houston and 6 million people. And so, when you say that, I don't feel like you hear or see the pain that were in.
I read that on your Facebook post. That a woman who said, and I think you addressed it in a video or live post or something. You were like, "Hey, if you're wondering why we're here, it's because we were literally told to by the government. They said you're going to be XYZ, stay there." And I believe that you called that out, and then a woman said yesterday on your Facebook page, "I called you out, and I'm here to say that I effed up, and I want to own it." And I thought that was badass.
Oh, it was baddass. I have the most bad ass community on Facebook because she said, "Not only was I one of the people, you know, saying, you should have just evacuated, which is not empathy, it's judgment." And it's a way we protect ourselves, like, This wouldn't be happening to me. I would have done something different. I owned it and I apologize, and then 2000 people in this community liked what I did, and I got hundreds of comments supporting me for being brave. She's like, "Where does that happen?" And I said, "It happens here," because I think the contribution of this book is the power and beauty of the paradox, of we can hold competing ideas, and just because it creates anxiety and vulnerability in us doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do.
And owning, what did you call it, did you call it owning your story?
So that you can write the end?
Yeah, I mean, I think that's part of, that was part of the Rising Strong piece is that, if I could grab the whole world right now and replace the world hate with pain, I think we'd have a much clearer understanding of what's happening.
People are in pain, and pain will not be denied, and so the way that pain is surfacing right now is hatred of other people, and I think that especially happens when you have leadership that sees people in pain, sees people in uncertainty, and hands them an enemy. And it's a very quick way to build a kingdom at a very high price to the people in that kingdom. So I think if we look for our humanity in each other and if we own our own pain instead of inflicting it on others, because it's easier to cause pain, than to feel pain. I'm better at it. We're all better at it. I think we can change. I think we can find a way back to each other in a really important way. I mean, I'm sure of it. Let's go to the concept of leadership. In trying times, whether it's inside a company of five people or 5000 people or 50,000 people, I think the leadership is more important than rapport. You talked about it, and there's bad ways to do it, and so having been inside of so many companies and having done so much research, what are some of the qualities of great leaders and how is that fostered?
I would say the top three things I've learned from the most transformational leaders, what they have in common, they recognize and understand emotion in themselves, they recognize and can read emotion and others, and they're willing to have really tough conversations.
Wow, okay. It's that simple?
It is, yeah, and I can break it down. I spent the last year and a half interviewing 80 leaders inside of big Fortune 500 companies about transformational leadership, what works and what doesn't. And it's a lot of the work we do right now and I would say what we're looking for above everything else is we're looking for courage in leaders. We're looking for people who can show up. I had a great conversation, Seattle-based company, Costco.
Oh yeah. I know the Bratmanns, yeah.
I know the Bratmanns.
Yeah, so I was on before their CEO, the CEO was going on, then I was going on, speaking to a group of kind of their top leadership a couple years ago, Craig Jelinek. So yeah, so he comes on, and I think his team really wanted to do a scripted Q&A, but he was like no just open up. They can ask me anything. So people started asking him questions. And they were asking him hard loaded questions, questions I have seen CEOs in board meetings dance around like you would not believe, and they were just shooting these questions at him. He was answering them like this honestly. Hard answers, not the kind of answers, most CEOs would say-
No, not made for TV, not what the people in the audience wanted to hear, and so every time he would just say, "Thank you for the question, we're not going to be actually doing that moving forward. I understand, this is why were not doing it. Next question." Where most CEOs would be like, "Hey, that's a great question. Chase, get that down so we can circle back. What's your name? Ann, so we can circle back with Ann next week." You know, like he was answering, and I was thinking oh my God, oh my God, what is going on in this audience? And I have to go on right after him. And so when he's done, everyone jumps to their feet and starts hooting and hollering and clapping over their heads for him. And I turned to the person sitting next to me and I'm like, "What is going on?" And they said, I'll never forget she looked at me and said, "At Costco, we clap for the truth."
But there is a leader delivering the truth, not what people want to hear. Also saying I don't know a couple times.
Yeah, was that, did you feel like that was part of the culture they had sewn in, that we clap for the truth or was that the woman in the moment saying-
No, that's a culture. We clap for the truth. So with leaders, you can have hard, real conversations in respectful productive ways. Can I tell you what, that is, that is vulnerable. That's courageous, leaders who can foster coulters of accountability, not blame and back channeling. Leaders who can inspire people to take smart risks. Innovate, fail, learn from it, clean it up, move forward.
What role does speed play in leadership? I think sort of underpinned in there is that he was just answering this questions, and is that like, is speed both conversationally and like what an organization does? Does that, is that like relative to a bullshit meter? They don't have any bullshit, so they can just go right at it.
Sometimes yes, but sometimes, I guess there's when I think about speed and leadership and culture, I think about two different things. One is a sense of urgency, and most transformative cultures have a sense of urgency. That is hell on wheels to try to train to people who don't have it. Like if you start hiring people who do not have a sense of urgency, that is hard to teach people or to instill in people who don't come with that. It is just tough.
I'm thinking right now.
I can see it registering on your face. Speed, it's not about speed, it's about the sweet spot between thoughtful and decisive. And so I think what people are looking for are people who are both thoughtful and decisive. So they can make good decisions that are mindful of time, but they also are thoughtful about dependencies, critical paths, and consequences around the company. And so I think what you're looking for are two different qualities, a sense of urgency, and straddling thoughtfulness and decisiveness.
What role, I'm going to keep going on that, because I think roughly when I think about the kind of split between people who work full-time and employed somewhere else and people who are independent and I love looking at where those things overlap, and so whether you're leading, what I'm trying to find truth in whether you're leading or five, there's so, I think there's so much commonality.
I do too.
The concept of innovation and failing and you've probably also seen some patterns in there. Anything that you care to talk about there?
Yeah, I mean there's no innovation without failure, and so if you breed perfectionism and fear or lead with shame as a management tool, you're going to have a really hard time innovating, or innovation is going to rest in the hands of a few that have a high tolerance for that kind of fear-based, scare-based culture, which is not innovation at all if it's in the hands of a few. And so the people who do it best are people who have systemically built in failure and learning from failure, real systems, that we know this is coming. Like so far in our offices, we have a pretty high tolerance for failure. We have a low tolerance for failure on the same things more than once, but we have a pretty high tolerance for risk and failure. When there's failure, and there is, inevitably, we go into a very specific process called the story rumble, where every stakeholder's at the table. We spend a lot of time with problem identification because that's, you know Einstein, if I had 24 hours to solve a problem, I'd spend what, 23 of them, I guess. No, if I had an hour to solve the problem, I'd spend 55 minutes to defining the problem and five minutes solving it. So we go into problem identification first, and then we go into what stories everyone at the table is making up. They write it, and we post it. So it's not told, so there's no kind of halo effect of what story is Brené, because it's my company.
Who goes first, right.
And it's the halo effect all the way around. So we all write it down and we post it up. We dig into what stories are true, what stories are not true. Is there stuff underpinning the stories that are not true, that are getting in the way of success, and then we really dig in, until sometimes we've been in those rooms for four or five hours until we emerge with key learnings that we can embed in the culture so we don't repeat the mistake. What have we learned, what can we do different? But it's programmatic.
It's a system.
It's a system.
So you're taught that system during your onboarding with us, so there's an expectation that you're going to fail, because you're taught how to get through it when it happens.
Wow, so what about trust and accountability?
So trust is really interesting. Trust is a big part of the braving book. It's part of raising strong as well. Trust was a real issue for me when I was talking to leaders about trust. And so I would say, "How do you talk to people about trust?" And they're like, "Well, it's really hard, because as soon as you don't trust somebody, they can't hear you." So I thought, we need a better way to deal with trust. I went into all the data. We just passed are 200,000 mark with data, so lots of data. So we went into the data to try and figure out if Chase is talking to me about trust, if he pulls me in and says, "Listen, I know you're not upset about not getting the promotion. There are some trust issues we need to work on before that can happen." First of all, I go completely limbic. I can't hear anything you're saying after my trustworthiness is challenged. So what's a better way to do that? I think a better way to do that is the seven elements of trust, which are measurable, observable behaviors. So instead of calling me in and saying, "I don't trust you" or "There's a trust issue," you dig into we call it braving. It's an acronym, boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault or confidentiality, integrity, nonjudgment or generosity. So instead of calling me in and saying I don't trust, you call me in and say we have to shore up our reliability issues before we can move you into a position like that. You have a tendency to overcommit and not deliver because you're overcommitted, so you're not reliable. And now I can hear you. There's something very specific we can work on. We can observe it. We can measure it. We can change it.
You have that bravery thing there, that acronym, there's so many good systems in the book. I'm going to pause on the research stuff for a second, and what I always, especially with you, you're such an amazing person to like be able to touch and be like around. You just put out such a good vibe, I'm like trying I don't know the right way. I don't know where I'm going with this, but I want to try to sew some of that into, like, if you're listening or watching right now, let's talk about you, as comfortable, as much as you want to talk about you personally.
What's like, just a couple things, what are some foods you like? What do you like to do on a Saturday and Sunday? Like take me inside your life just for second. This is something I'm trying, because it's a different, you know there are people out there and cameras. It's like you know, they've got faces and whatnot.
I'm super, what people don't know about me.
What people don't know.
I'm super private.
Yes, that's kind of what I'm asking.
Yeah, I'm a super private person.
And if this likes off-limits we'll just-
Oh no, I'll let you know for sure when we get there.
Boundaries, you're a professional boundary setter.
One time I do some work with OWN.
OWN is the Oprah Winfrey network.
Yes, and someone said, "Yeah, your nickname is BB." And I said, "Oh yeah, people called me BB growing up." And they were like, "No, it stands for boundaries Brown." I was like oh, take it, sold. No, I'm really private. I'm very introverted. So I can do like big talks in front of thousands of people because it's my work, but I wouldn't want to be at a party with over 10 people or something like that. But I'm very introverted and very private.
And by introverted, that's where you get your energy?
I get my energy like alone with my family or with my data. Yeah, in that order, like alone, family, data.
And is data like work, like career?
Yeah, working, looking at data, reading interviews, analyzing stuff, yeah, thinking.
And how about when you do have to, your home is with Oprah. You do a lot of television. You're-
Really hard stuff for me.
Words are really important to me, so I like to be thoughtful about what I say, and so, writing is good and speaking is good. I really have fun speaking, because it's the work, so it's not like a social setting. I get homesick really easy, so I try not to be on the road for more than three or four days at a time. My happy place is like laying on the couch or like, in bed, with Steve and the kids, so I can smell of their hair.
Oh, I love that. That's amazing.
Yeah so I just, Yeah, I just, like, oh yeah, I guess.
Oldest of four, very Texas tough, zero vulnerability.
Was that your vehicle into it? Was that you realized you were, yeah?
Yeah, it was just such a cluster, because the mandate was to be brave, and the other mandate was to never be vulnerable, and that shit doesn't work, because you can't be courageous without being vulnerable. And so, I think that all the hard stuff growing up really fueled my work. And I think I'm like the luckiest girl in the world because my parents and everyone just learned. They read the books with us. We talk about it. We talk about hard things, and my parents will say we didn't know. They're just like these amazing grandparents to my kids, and we just grew up kind of together, and learned together. I can be a good leader, and I can, but I have some real pain points in leadership, some real blind spots. I'm a real passionate person and sometimes people who work for me say it's like being across from like being in a wind tunnel.
I have no idea what you're talking about.
Okay, got it, okay, good.
I am the worst that.
We share that.
Yeah, no. It's my passion, but it's a dark side of my passion, like I can get really worked up about something. I'm not good in scarcity and fear. I make bad decisions when I'm afraid. What else?
I love this. This is gold, I don't know. Thank you so much for sharing this.
I'm trying to think what else is interesting.
And this is the way you get when you're just like hanging out with Brene, and I hope to deliver that.
We talk very like-
We haven't seen each other for a year, and we were like super deep in like five seconds.
Five seconds, yeah. I do have really good boundaries around those things. I told you earlier like I got sober the day after I finished graduate school, I quit smoking and drinking.
Can I share in the book that you talk about trying to find a group? You want to AA and they said, "No, you're not welcome here," because-
They were like you don't drink enough, Go to a CODA, and I go to CODA, and they're like I think you should be in AA.
You got kicked out of there.
And then I was like I go to AA, no, we don't think you're here, I was like, what kind of shit is it when you don't belong in AA? When you're kicked out of AA for not belonging.
This is just like even sharing that is so incredible.
Yeah, I was like what the hell? And then I finally found a sponsor. You get a sponsor right away, and we went to go eat dinner and she was listening and she's like, I can't, I don't have a home. You've got the pooh-pooh platter of addiction. You just need to stop drinking, eating, smoking, and getting in your family's business. I was like, son of a sea cook. What am I going to do with my time? You know, and so, I tried them all, so I think part of my big sobriety was I had this other sponsor who, we would go out to lunch or dinner and I would say, "Oh, I'll get, you can get it next time." And she was like, "No, I'll get mine this time and you get yours this time." And I was like, oh my God, that's not like that big Texan, don't worry about it. I got it, that's on me. You know, and then piss and moan the whole way home because you had to buy it and they drunk five bottles of wine like that's the Texan way. And I was like okay. And I got to this point where I was like very much, very good at boundaries, and very good at saying, telling people what's okay and what's not okay. And first I was like a boundary bully, like I swung too far. And so people would say, "Hey, Ellen's going to spend the night tonight and we're going to watch this movie," and I was like "Oh, well, I can understand you let your kids watch that movie. That's inappropriate because there's like a lot of bad gender role models." And so, you know, I became a boundary bully, and then I kind of swang back, and I was like, "That sounds good, probably not something Ellen can see. Would you mind watching something else?" As opposed to like taking people to task about choices. So I like boundaries. I like eggplant. (he laughs)
That's amazing. I love that you like eggplant.
I do like eggplant, Do you like eggplant?
I do. I once made, I have a little bit of a fear of eggplant because I once tried to make eggplant lasagna, and it was like the worst. I just put them in there with the sauce, and they didn't I was like the sauce gets hot in like 20 minutes but apparently it takes a very long time in order to cook those kind of first. I missed that bit.
You just ate around them,
We were one minute in and she's trying to just like crave it, and I was like this is literally, the worst thing you've ever had. We cried laughing. It was so good, so I have a little bit of a, it's stumped me. One of my worst cooking moments was eggplant lasagna, but I do love eggplant.
I like eggplant. You like olive oil?
I'm going to shift gears for a second. I'm just going to try and keep it moving. So we talked a lot about creativity. We talked a little bit about innovation. You went to, you yourself showed some vulnerability, sharing your strengths and weaknesses, what like strength and authenticity and power, I think what, there's a cultural sensitivity around, just something came up in my life recently where, and Kate and I managed this personally and professionally, she's basically was so critical in the business that we built as a photographer business, which ultimately transitioned into Creative Live. She was so instrumental in that and I'm a big personality. I'm not going to lie. Yet Kate and I had to work on if I'm big, did it mean she was small by default? Because I walk in the room all excited, so bold. And I'm trying to find a way to not have, to not be, because if I'm not that, I'm not me.
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
And so, this, I'm asking for a friend. (they laugh)
Help for those folks who do have that wind tunnel or that way that you described it, tell us how we can be okay with that and what we should do to manage it? I know you're not a therapist, but what would you, given the framework of all your research.
There's clearly some authenticity thing in there, I just can't.
No, I think it's-
I think I'm trying to build a case for being me.
Is it a nonissue and I'm just?
Yeah, I don't, I think. I don't think bigness and kind of excitement and passion and enthusiasm is something that I'm willing to apologize for, because I don't think being mindful and thoughtful and loving and generous to other people, and being myself are mutually exclusive. And I think the caricature of myself the caricature of you, may be mutually exclusive of who we want to be, but I think who we are is not. And so I think, I think it goes back to the paradox thing that you are kind of a big, I wouldn't, I don't know that I guess I'm struggling with that term. I think you have a lot of passion, and you have a lot of focus, and I think there's an intensity.
Actually someone told me, a therapist told me that I seem to crave intensity.
Yeah, I mean, I think and I'm a very intense person. I mean, I think, I don't know if it's this book or the other book, I write about having total personality just morph, someone told me I was a very serious person. And I was so offended by that, because I think of myself as Meg Ryan in French Kiss, that kind of goofy and silly and things like that, and I was like, Steve, do think I'm a serious person? And he was like, "You're a super serious person." You think I'm funny? And he's like "No, you're funny, but you're serious funny." Do you think I'm whimsical? And he's like, "No, not whimsical." Somebody in French said you're (speaks in French), which is like very serious, and so I think intense or serious?
That French word has a little bit of gravity to it, serious is also your presence or I guess-
Does it mean darkness?
Like I don't know. I don't want to pretend to over index on my French skills, but I always, when I would use serious. Serious is like you have some gravity about you.
Like the Grim Reaper? (laughing) I don't know what that means. No, I don't know. I just don't think, I don't think.
I'm trying to not make this about me because we talk a lot about vulnerability and how you do it.
I think it's a super important. I think that because everyone watching is either maybe shares things in common with us or shares things in common with maybe Kate or even Steve who is a quieter person, a partner. I don't think your intensity or focus necessarily, I know very quiet people who can be very self-centered and not thoughtful about people. I know really intense focused people who can be. I don't think that speaks to our thoughtfulness about other people because when I came in here, you asked me how am I doing with Harvey? What's going on? What's it been like to go on the book tour? You were so curious about me and my life in a real genuine way, but in a real focused and intense way, too.
Yeah, let's get into it. I haven't seen you a year.
But I thought it was beautiful and warm. And so I think we got to be careful to not think of ourselves as the caricatures of the things we worry about. Like I don't apologize anymore for being a serious person. It's not that I'm not funny or I don't like to have fun. I just may not think you're funny or want to have fun specifically with you. (they laugh) That's maybe what it is. That's laughter by the way, the best laugh.
Oh no, it's terrible sometimes. There's another person at my office that laughs kind of like me and they're like, his parents are meeting in the other room. (they laugh) Yeah I think I don't know.
I feel like you went there.
I don't know I think it's a big.
I think the caricature is interesting, like I'm telling myself the story that my caricature like often gets mistaken for, but I'm really the way Kate and I have come to work on is like, I'm like a candy bar, a little bit crunchy on the outside, but super gooey on the inside and anyone I get to know a little bit, like you're okay with that crunchy outside and she's like okay it's kind of. It can be something. Diversity inclusion. I think everything that I have built that had any strength or transcendence or beauty behind it took in a lot of different, there was a lot of different inputs, and I think about that from like building Creative Live, and there's all kinds of I think culturally right now, we're more aware of the opportunity that we've missed over a long period of time to include different ideas and different cultures. Can you just talk to me a little bit at that? It's present in your research. You mentioned it earlier a couple times.
Yeah, I think that God, I don't even know where to start with that. It's so big. No, no, it's you know, I can talk about a very personally with us. If you really want to be successful, and you really want that transformative success, that success that really where you really make a contribution and you disrupt something, even if it's your own work. You disrupt your own work. You have to have, you have to build really long tables with seats for everyone, more tables, fewer walls. And you have to have different voices and you have to have leadership that has the courage to say, "I think we've got a race issue going in here. "I think we've got a gender issue going on here." You have to have the courage to, look, you cannot stop people from making up stories. You can create a culture where people have permission to check them out. And that requires some really strong leadership around inclusivity around diversity, and we need to look like the people we serve.
And you see it reflect in your work.
And you see it reflect in the work. And look, white supremacy, that's a real thing. And I think the things that we've seen in Charlottesville, around the country, have kind of mortified a lot of moderate white folks, and I think people of color have woke up every day of their lives and that's what they're up against. They've seen it, we haven't. And now we've seen it, and now's time to do something about it, because it's not the job of the people who are the victims of those violences to build the tables and invite people to sit down and figure it out. It's our job to do that. I mean, it's our job to do that. And so we all can do something, and here's the hard part. And sometimes I get really weary, but if you're going to opt into that conversation, you're going to find yourself on the shit end of some criticism, because you're not going to be able to do it perfectly, but opting out of the conversation, because you could get criticized, is the definition of privilege. To say I don't want to take this on because this can get messy and hard and I can say the wrong thing and someone might think I'm racist or sexist or homophobic, to opt out of the conversation because it's uncomfortable is what privilege is. So I think we opt in, we screw it up, we listen, we learn, and we do better.
Thank you for that. I think I'm so culturally sensitive because the times and you've referenced it so many times in our conversation today the day that we're living, sort of a microscope on this stuff, I think the fact that information moves so quickly. You get to see the pervasiveness in it, not just culturally how far we have to go inside the organization and inside the single heart. There's 1000 miles to cover.
There's 1000 miles to cover. We have to pick each other up and carry each other some of the way.
Okay, steeled for it.
It's a pretty small question. What are you most excited about right now in your life that we could know about? It doesn't have to be, obviously don't want you to say you're good at boundaries, don't have to qualify it. Maybe not the most, I always hate the most question.
Most questions are really hard.
What are you excited about right now? I think we can maybe you can just wander a little bit in the wilderness with professionally, personally, like I'm excited about now that the book is out. I'm excited that the book tour's almost over. I'm excited about. I always like to end on some joy, like what's bringing you joy right now? You talked a lot about being in bed and smelling hair.
Yeah, I think what brings me real joy right now is having witnessed what I believe is true and real about people during Hurricane Harvey in Houston. I think that has been, you know, it was a hard way to get it and if I could undo it I would, because so many people have lost so much, but I feel like I needed a little bolus of hope about what humanity is really about, and I've seen that, and I know it's true, and I know it's real. And I know what's possible, and I think we're going to find the way back to each other and so I think in the big world, I'm most excited about that. I think in the smaller world, I'm going to Seattle.
Yes. We have to find a way, I know your schedule's packed, but I got to sneak Kate in the back door because I'm sitting here with you and she is not, and I'm getting texts right now.
Yeah Kate can come in the backdoor any time. And so I'm excited to spend some time with the Seahawks.
That's so cool, love the hawks.
Yeah I think that's really exciting.
Do Texans get jealous when you spend time with the Seahawks?
I don't think so. I haven't checked in with them on that.
Sorry, I'm sorry, I just messed that up for you.
I'm so excited about the book tour. I'm excited about seeing everybody.
Is that the next stop on the tour?
Austin tomorrow night, Portland, then Seattle, yeah. And then you know what else I'm excited about? I'm going to do the sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington DC. And so.
So that's a really big deal.
Yeah, so I'm excited about that.
You've gotta know somebody, probably for that. How did you figure that one out?
I don't know, I just got an invitation and at first, I had to Google, am I allowed to do that? Do I have the proper credentials to do that? And so I'm excited about that. I feel really grateful for the opportunity to talk about work with a really engaged, meaningful community, and so I'm excited about dinner.
Will you hand me that book so my chair doesn't squeak? (laughing)
You do have an interesting chair.
She's had Brené Brown pretty much everywhere. That's the book that you want to get your hands on right there. Your work is totally transformational. You're an icon, and you're so like freaking cool about it. I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show.
It's so cool. I'm just going to tell you right now. We're going to go out to dinner so the conversation's just now starting right now. I'm sorry we have to cut the cameras off. I love you guys. Thank you so much for paying attention, I hope you all have a wonderful day, I'll probably see you in my inbox hopefully tonight. I will make a video and leave it in your inbox tomorrow, community, I love you guys, love you Brene Brown. (digital music)