My visit with Oprah, Part Two

Hello and welcome back!

Thank you for your great comments about Day One.

So, Brene.

Sweet, adorable, brilliant, funny, vulnerability researcher Dr. Brene Brown.

The woman who has coined “whole-heartedness is a revolution.”

The woman who has studied the questions:  what makes us vulnerable? How do we experience shame?

No wonder Oprah wanted her to be a guest on not one, but two, Life Classes, which will air on OWN Network September 22 and 29.  She’s a brainy academic with a sensitive school-girl’s heart.  And she’s hilarious.

Her path wasn’t straight and narrow.  She was 29 when she received her bachelor’s degree. She dropped out of college, hitchhiked through Europe and waited tables before finding a career that suited her.  And a career in vulnerability was the furthest thing from her mind.  “Our family motto is ‘lock and load.'”

Many of you are already in love with her.  You were captivated by her TEDx Talk video on vulnerability – or her second TED Talk appearance on shame.  Or, maybe it was her voice in her best-selling books The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly that spoke to you as though she were your best friend.

The wisdom in her books and videos underscore and celebrate many of our Women on Fire aspirations – such as asking for help, connecting with others in a soul-satisfying way and cultivating a “tough mind” but leading with a “tender heart.” It was wonderful to see these principles alive on stage in this magnificent woman.

What was she like in person?

My first encounter with her was when she came out on the set with Oprah and the taping began.  They had rehearsed earlier in the day.  Still, their discussions were funny, fresh and spontaneous.


Here are some of Brene’s gems:

  • When you can’t ask for help without judging yourself, then every time you offer help to someone else you are judging them.  Judgment is all about our own worthiness.
  • We judge in areas where we aren’t comfortable ourselves. Parenting (and how we parent) is a judgment minefield.
  • You can’t love with a closed heart – and you can’t be seen if you are “armored up.”
  • You can’t do anything brave if you’re wearing the strait-jacket of what will people think?
  • We never feel more alive than when we are being brave and there is nothing more brave than feeling vulnerable.

Myths of vulnerability:

  • Vulnerability is weakness
  • “I don’t do vulnerability”
  • Vulnerability is letting it all out hang out
  • We can go it alone

Some powerful thoughts from Brene for you:

  • Only share vulnerability with those who have earned the right.
  • Be aware of healthy striving vs. perfectionism. Healthy striving is an internal process. Perfectionism is driven by what will people think.
  • If perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun, and fear is the backseat driver.
  • When failure is not an option, innovation is not an option.
  • Every single one of us struggles with shame.  But shame cannot survive being spoken.
  • Know your triggers around shame. What makes you feel unworthy? Your weight? Your clothes? Your education?
  • The antidote to shame is empathy. You can help others by letting them know: you’re enough. I hear you. You go, girl. It’s OK, you can do it.

After the tapings, we all headed upstairs into Oprah’s private space at Harpo.

In Oprah’s living room, Brene, 47, who grew up the oldest of four children in San Antonio, Texas, greeted her mother and her much younger twin sisters Barrett and Ashley. And, of course, Oprah.


She then approached my row of friends in the studio audience — Jodi Salata, Amy Shanahan and Kim Zizic — and thanked us, saying she looked out at us during the tapings and could feel our support!

Then we chatted about Women on Fire and she mentioned she was delighted that Meredith Schoenberger (from Women on Fire!) had asked a video question during the show.

She could not have been sweeter or friendlier.

And, if I have to sum up the presence of Brene Brown?

Very real, very loving, and walking her walk to be vulnerable.


In the end of her life, how does she want to be remembered?

“That I contributed more than I criticized.”

Tomorrow:  My Visit To Oprah’s, Part Three – What is it like at Harpo studios? Who really runs the operation? And answers to your questions!