Brené Brown: The Quest For True Belonging

Brené now holds the record for the most cjLIVE appearances, this being her third time on the show. She is a vulnerability and empathy expert and has one of the most watched TED Talks of all time on the subject and is the author of four New York Times best selling books, one of which, Daring Greatly, is my playbook for staying creative and true to myself. Her new book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, has come out at a time where we need it most with our world being as divisive and disconnected as it is, it’s giving us the tools and ideas to use our unique skills to help connect with each other.

Like in our past episodes, we quickly go deep in this conversation. Brené drops bombs about the importance of connection and how to use your art and creativity to get there. We talk about power of paradox and you need to look no further than the paradox of her no bullshit Texan way of communicating her vulnerabilities as a paradox in itself. It was so refreshing to break down boundaries with Brené again after a year- hope you enjoy the interview as much as I do.

In today’s episode:

  • We talk about how divisive times are good breeding grounds for good art and how that art may be just what we need to form stronger connections between us. Art can save us.
  • Brené has such a unique way of talking about valuing your work. Have a strong back and a soft front. We talk about how to set boundaries around your worth and communicate that value without being a jerk.
  • Everything in this episode comes down to taking the reins on your brain. You will learn about and tactics on how to use your intellect to your advantage, especially when your lizard brains wants to take over.


Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. Because you will always find it.

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Some Questions I Ask:

  • What made you write your most recent book, Braving the Wilderness? [2:00]
  • What do we do about being so disconnected from each other? [5:18]
  • How can we use creativity and our tools to transcend loneliness? [9:51]
  • What would you prescribe for us creatives for feeling lonely? What can we do? [14:14]
  • Tell me about your own journey of feeling misunderstood and disconnected. [18:45]
  • What does it mean to be the wilderness? [20:45]
  • Tell us about the list that you keep in your wallet. [22:19]
  • How do you reconcile standing alone with choosing to listen to the people who you care about? [23:25]
  • Talk to me about how social media has positively and negatively affected our connection? [36:03]
  • Talk to me about boundaries. [39:24]
  • Talk to me about what role does having the soft front play in creating great stuff and being your best self? [46:30]
  • What role does braving the wilderness play in getting your brain to work for you? [50:45]
  • What are some of the qualities of great leaders and how is that fostered? [56:45]
  • What role does speed play in leadership? [1:00:35]
  • Are there any patterns between innovation and failure? [1:02:00]
  • What about trust and accountability? [1:04:45]
  • Take us inside your life. [1:06:58]
  • How do you reconcile your introversion with spending time being on stage? [1:08:39]
  • What was your upbringing like? [1:09:30]
  • Was your family upbringing the gateway to your interest in vulnerability? [1:09:40]
  • How can we be ok with being our wind-tunnel-like selves, if it sometimes doesn’t leave much room for the people around us? [1:15:18]
  • Talk to me about what you’ve found relating to diversity and inclusion in your research. [1:21:30]
  • What are you excited about right now? What’s bringing you joy right now? [1:25:40]
  • Do your Texans get jealous when you spend time with the Seahawks? [1:27:37]

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • How Maya Angelou and our polarized society helped Brené shape the ideas around what it means to feel connection and belonging in today’s world. [4:00]
  • The difference between being connected with each other and hating the same people and why it’s important for feeling our sense of belonging. [5:30]
  • How to answer the call of loneliness. It’s as primal as feeling hungry and may be just as dangerous. Loneliness is a greater predictor of early death than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day [7:45]
  • Why you need to watch the first time Brené and I met, you can find it here. [11:30]
  • Art can save us. [12:14]
  • As paradoxical as this sounds, Brené says the best thing you can do to feel like you belong is to learn how to confidently stand on your own. [14:45]
  • We are neurologically wired to be social with each other and art lets us communicate the artifacts of humanity. [16:30]
  • How misunderstanding and standing alone has benefited my creative endeavors. [17:00]
  • Brené says she’s never done anything of value that she wasn’t scared shitless to do. [20:00]
  • Why once you stand on your own you can’t go back to fitting in. There is beauty and strength in belonging to yourself. [21:30]
  • Choose to listen to the people around you who love you not despite your vulnerability and imperfection, but because of it. [22:35]
  • The relationship between art, belonging, the human condition and how they all live together in a paradoxical world. [24:33]
  • The power that photography and cinema has shaped our opinions of recent wars and struggle and why artists are the leaders of the belonging movement. [26:00]
  • Brené says spirituality is the belief that we are all inextricably tied together, and while that is not breakable it is forgettable. Holding hands with strangers reminds us that we are tied together. [29:10]
  • What it means to have a strong back, soft front and wild heart and why you need to stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. Because you will always find it [34:38]
  • Why social media is a great communication tool, but a sucky connection tool. Try creating before consuming. [36:30]
  • Kelly Rae Roberts taught Brené the best example about boundaries. “Let me tell you what’s ok, and what’s not ok.” [39:53]
  • If you don’t put value on your work, no one else will. [41:32]
  • How to approach difficult situations with generosity and strength. [47:30]
  • The stories we make up are of our worst fears and our brain always wants a bad guy. [49:00]
  • Bullshit is not just a flagrant denying the authority of truth. It’s not acknowledging the truth at all. [53:00]
  • How pain surfaces as hatred when you have an enemy to blame. [55:38]
  • After researching 80 leaders from top 500 companies, Brené found that great leaders recognize emotion in themselves and in others and are willing to to have tough conversations. [57:15]
  • How Costco’s company culture is one that claps for the truth. [58:00]
  • The two important qualities of leaders is a sense of urgency and straddling thoughtfulness and decisiveness. [1:01:10]
  • Why if you lead with fear and shame, you won’t breed a culture of innovation. [1:02:45]
  • How Brené uses “the story rumble” to identify and solve problems within her own company culture. [1:03:30]
  • How to communicate using the seven elements of trust; BRAVING – Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non Judgment, Generosity. [1:05:40]
  • How Brené recharges- being alone, with her family, and her data. [1:07:00]
  • How Brené’s work has been fueled by the hard stuff when growing up. [1:10:00]
  • How to get kicked out of AA… and how the sponsor she finally found taught her about boundaries, which went against her Texan roots. [1:11:50]
  • Two things Brené likes; boundaries and eggplant. [1:14:10]
  • How Brené self diagnosed herself with personality dysmorphia when someone called her a serious person. [1:18:10]
  • “We gotta be careful to not think of ourselves as the caricatures of the things we worry about.” [1:20:45]
  • On leadership and success: “If you really want to be successful, you have to build really long tables with seats for everyone.” [1:22:30]
  • Opting out of a tough conversation is what privilege is. Opt in and expect some criticism. [1:24:20]


This podcast is brought to you by CreativeLive. CreativeLive is the world’s largest hub for online creative education in photo/video, art/design, music/audio, craft/maker, money/life and the ability to make a living in any of those disciplines. They are high quality, highly curated classes taught by the world’s top experts — Pulitzer, Oscar, Grammy Award winners, New York Times best selling authors and the best entrepreneurs of our times.

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