It’s always a delight to watch Brene Brown speak. She has a magical ability to connect with her audience, using both empathy and humour, and her messages resonate strongly. Her words, spoken or written, move us, inspire us, and help us to make changes in our lives.
Brene told us in her Netflix show (The Call to Courage) that she is “super introverted”, which makes her another example (like fellow author Susan Cain) of an amazing speaker who is an introvert. She’s also highly structured, saying: “I'm more of the ‘life's messy, clean it up, organise it and put it into a bento box’ [type].” One of her superpowers is the unusual combination of her research and storytelling skills which bring her studies of human connection to life – as a researcher/storyteller, she’s a slasher. In her words: “I am a storyteller. I'm a qualitative researcher. I collect stories; that's what I do. And maybe stories are just data with a soul.”
This post explores the themes of courage, vulnerability, connection, creativity and critics, drawing on Brene’s ideas and sharing a recording of her keynote to creatives at the 99U conference. Exposing our ideas to the world takes courage, so we highlight some of her classic quotes which connect with us at Protagion, and offer reflections from one of our mentors on her book “Daring Greatly”*. Read more to be inspired by Brene’s ideas, advice and authenticity.
Susan Cain’s fame ironically stems from her introversion, which gives her first-hand appreciation of the value of quieter environments. And, her work has raised its profile, giving a voice to many introverts and validating their contribution to the world. The TED description to her famous talk “The Power of Introverts” explains this with: “In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”
As a result of that speech, her books, and the “Quiet Revolution”, Susan is possibly the world’s most famous introvert (or famous because of introversion)… This article describes her personal career transition from lawyer to writer, as well as celebrates the impact she has had, and continues to have, on the world. Read more to discover how she made her professional transition, the emotional aspects and the new skills she built during the change.
We first encountered Carla Harris and her philosophies on career success thanks to TED, and were struck by her passion and enthusiasm. In researching more about her, we learnt that she’s a Harvard alumna, has a 30+ year career on Wall Street, and is also a successful singer and author – in short, a multi-talented woman, and an inspiration to so many.
The secret to growing your power is to give it away. When you empower other people, you grow your impact and your influence exponentially.”
Carla began her investment banking career in 1987, starting in mergers and acquisitions “to learn the most in the shortest period of time”. She has been with Morgan Stanley for over 30 years, and is now Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, among other roles. She has released a number of albums, and has performed at Carnegie Hall multiple times. She is also a sought-after speaker, and has written books about career success.
Carla’s TED talk, given at TEDWomen 2018, focuses on sponsors, people “who will speak on your behalf in the top-level, closed-door meetings you’re not invited to (yet)”. It is roughly 13½ minutes long, and below the video we recap highlights, together with more of her pearls on performance, relationships, perceptions, power, risk and mistakes, among others.
In her talk, Carla references the year-end evaluation process, called moderation in some companies, where employees are allocated into categories e.g. top, middle, lower. This ranking then is “translated into a bonus range that would be assigned to each professional”. During his career, our Executive Director has experienced these types of meetings a number of times, including when selecting bursary candidates at a previous employer, and Carla’s description of the importance of someone speaking on your behalf is spot-on. And, on the topic of performance reviews: for more on preparing for your one-to-one performance discussion with your direct manager, see our post: Ace your Performance Appraisal.
One of Carla’s insights that is particularly useful for those starting out is that career success is not merely a function of how smart you are and how hard you work. “The combination of the two did not equal maximising my success, so I had to ask myself what’s missing in this success equation… You cannot have a 100% meritocratic environment when there is a human element involved in the evaluative equation, because by definition, that makes it subjective… there's not one evaluative process that I can think of, whether it's in academia, health care, financial services, not one that does not have a human element. So that means it has that measure of subjectivity. There is a measure of subjectivity in who is presenting your case. There is a measure of subjectivity in what they say and how they interpret any objective data that you might have. There is a measure of subjectivity in how they say what they're going to say to influence the outcome. So therefore, you need to make sure that that person who is speaking [on your behalf] has your best interests at heart and has the power to get it, whatever it is for you, to get it done behind closed doors.”