For Life on Purpose Episode #09, we go back into my archives and pull out one of my favorite conversations from the old show Radio Enso. In August 2012, I was honored to have a chat with author, research professor, and speaker Brene’ Brown, one of world’s top experts on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame after studying those topics for more than a decade. She’s since been on Oprah, had a New York Times #1 bestselling book, and become known around the world.

About Brené Brown, Ph.D.:

About: Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on, with over 15 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.

Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).

Brené is also the founder and CEO of The Daring Way – a teaching and certification program for helping professionals who want to facilitate her work on vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children.

Learn more about Brené at:

Episode Summary:

In JUST the first 10 minutes of our inspirational conversation, we talked about:

  • Her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead– which has been called “a compelling call-to-action to transform ourselves for a greater life.”
  • Twelve years of studying vulnerability. “When I started, I really was interested in just studying connection… I was clear through my training and my education that connection is why we’re here, it gives purpose and meaning to our lives, we’re hardwired for it. I wanted to understand the components.”
  • “I think if someone had told me a decade ago, ‘Hey, you’re going to study vulnerability and you’re going to try to become a vulnerable person and you’re going to get your ass kicked in the process, but it’s going to be okay,’  I think I would have run for the hills.”
  • The definition of research is to control and predict and yet her very own research, after years of study, was telling her that the way to be happy is to STOP controlling and predicting.
  • “I think from the time I was small, courage was always a value that has meant a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to be a courageous person. I admire courage in other people. And so it’s funny for me to look back now at my data. I don’t think I can find a single instance of moral courage, leadership courage, personal courage that’s not really all about vulnerability.”
  • Her definition of vulnerability: “I think really simply I define it as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. When we asked people what is vulnerability, give us some examples, we heard things like ‘vulnerability is starting my own business, vulnerability is waiting for my mammogram results, vulnerability is asking for help, talking to my wife about plans for our kids because she has breast cancer, it’s being in a relationship and saying I love you first.'”
  • “For me personally, it’s the moment when you realize that you can be afraid and brave in the very same minute.”
  • “You asked me before the show, ‘How are you doing?” I’m both excited and terrified and it just seems like I’m hovering around that intersection a lot lately. And I think that’s what vulnerability is. It’s weird to straddle that tension at the same time, but I’m convinced that’s also when we feel the most alive.”
  • The societal myth that vulnerability is a weakness, especially with men, and how she concluded it was the opposite.
  • “When people talked about their stories of vulnerability, I couldn’t find a single example of how that could be weakness. Putting themselves on the line, showing up, trying something new, being afraid but doing something anyway.”
  • “To me, it’s gutsy, it’s being all in. It’s you starting a radio show, it’s me saying at World Domination Summit this year, I wonder what it would be like to have have a sing-along?”
  • The backstory behind her leading the 1,000 people through a sing-along of the GLEE version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing at WDS 2012.
  • I have a lot of CAD, conference anxiety disorder. When I get to these conferences, especially something like WDS, where’s there’s a lot of cool people. It’s kind of the hipster crowd and creatives… I get really nervous and I start thinking a lot about who I’m supposed to be and what am I supposed to wear and how do I seem cool and somewhat engaged but not too engaged and then I realize that Daring Greatly and being vulnerable is about being UN-cool.”
  • The Lester Bangs quote from the movie Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”
  • “We live in a culture, and I write about this a lot in Daring Greatly, where it’s almost uncool to be engaged and enthusiastic and excited. Because people don’t want to risk disappointment. And so I thought ‘What would be MORE uncool than Chris [Guillebeau] and I starting the GLEE version of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ duet-style and asking everyone to sing along?’ I have to tell you I was SO afraid that it would just be me and Chris. And during rehearsals, he said ,’I don’t know if we should do this.’ And I thought, ‘Alright, that’s my out. You’re right.’ But then he said, “But you ARE writing a book called Daring Greatly, so what choice do you have?’ And I said, ‘Oh, crap!'”