Brené Brown Visits Baton Rouge

The hall filled quickly with excited smiles and giddy voices. Friends found one another and gushed over how special the night was going to be. In mere minutes, the hero they had been waiting for walked onto the stage. Brené Brown was here. Not an audiobook, not a TED talk video, not a Facebook Live clip, but her in the flesh. Applause erupted. She graciously began speaking and silence followed. How did we, Baton Rouge, snag such a prize of speakers that gets paid by giants like Pixar, Fortune 500 companies, and the CIA? Simple. She called St. James Episcopal Church after the flood and offered her services whenever needed, on her dime.

If you don’t know who Brené Brown is, that’s okay. Just google Brené Brown and TED and watch her talk on vulnerability. That’s a good start. If it interests you, then you can start reading. Her big three books are The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. Once you finish one or all three of those, you will get why 500 men and women jumped at the chance to see her in person. Brené is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and also the Founder and CEO of The Daring Way and COURAGEworks. She focuses on wholehearted living, shame, vulnerability, courage, and empathy.

My introduction to Brené started with the TED talk, and then I read Daring Greatly. I experienced a huge shift in the way I understood people and the way I understood myself. Friends around me were also reading Brené, which helped in processing all that I was learning. I followed Daring Greatly with Rising Strong and The Gifts of Imperfection, each enlightening me more and more. Now, I am not a self-help person. In the least. And the ironic thing is, neither is Brené. She’s a pretty tough Texan who relies on academics and research, but her books and processes have been incredibly helpful for me and many others.

Back to last night, Tuesday, January 10. Brené Brown stood in front of us, totally at ease, and spoke from her heart. She shared stories from her life that “put some skin” on her methods and teachings. She made us laugh. She made us think. She made us feel understood. She shared new research about emotions and her steps to Rising Strong from her best-seller. Many of us in the hall had read her books, but her talk still felt new and original. After speaking for 75 minutes, she opened the floor for questions and just talked to the crowd. The event was such a delight. Baton Rouge was so privileged to have this world-reknown specialist speak in our city for a fundraiser after the flood. Oh, and St. James Episcopal raised $50,000 to help the “neediest of the needy” who are still reeling from the disaster. 

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11 Jan 2017

By Joy Holden

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