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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 43: Brave Business: Living Dr Brené Browns principles

Anna Ranaldo

Founder of Collective Courage

September 20, 2022
Courage is a key ingredient of a business owning woman's toolkit. It's also the key message of American thought leader Dr. Brené Brown's work that has taught us the power of articulating our fears in order to be better humans and better leaders.Anna Ranaldo understands the concept of courage, leadership and the work of Dr. Brené Brown intimately. Anna is a certified Dare to Lead coach, one of Dr. Brown's representatives here in Australia. Her work coaches aspiring business leaders, cultivating courage with brave conversations.

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Collective Courage

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Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Anna Ranaldo

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Episode 43 Transcript

00:01:15:16 - 00:02:15:20

Carrie Kwan
We acknowledge and pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of New South Wales, where we record this podcast, and all Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging. We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters of New South Wales and the continuing cultural, spiritual, customs and practices.

Courage is a key ingredient of a business owning woman's toolkit. It's also the key message of American thought leader Dr. Brené Brown's work that has taught us the power of articulating our fears in order to be better humans and better leaders. Today's guest understands the concept of courage, leadership and the work of Dr. Brené Brown intimately. Anna Ranaldois a certified Dare to Lead coach, one of Dr. Brown's representatives here in Australia.

Her work coaches aspiring business leaders, cultivating courage with brave conversations. Anna, welcome to Mumbition, we are delighted to have you here.

00:02:16:01 - 00:02:17:06

Anna Ronaldo

Great to be with you, Carrie.

00:02:18:10 - 00:02:35:12

Carrie Kwan

Anna, you believe in brave business and connection, which resonates 100% with why we think pitching with confidence is such a vital skill. We'd love to hear your story. Can you please give us your best 30 second elevator pitch?

00:02:36:06 - 00:02:55:06

Anna Ronaldo

First and foremost, I'm a mum. Mum to five and my heart work is really helping individuals and teams find their courage. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing people stretch into places that perhaps they didn't think was possible and find the joy in that work.

00:02:56:23 - 00:03:06:05

Carrie Kwan

Amazing! So I assume that the days in the house are rather full with the five?

00:03:06:05 - 00:03:16:12

Anna Ronaldo

It can be a very busy train station, but we're pretty blessed because we have lots of extended family that kind of help us make the chaos work.

00:03:16:12 - 00:04:03:00

Carrie Kwan
That's amazing, the Co. Look, we're really, really excited to be unpacking some exciting work that you're doing at the moment. I know that you're also being a keynote at Be Empowered, our upcoming conference on the 13th of October this year, 2022. So we've got lots to unpack. I think Lucy and I have been fighting over who's asking which question. So Lucy, I'd better pass the baton over to you first.

Lucy Kippist
That’s very kind, Carrie, thank you. Dr. Brené Brown's work has been so pivotal to culture discussions over the last few years. What has working with her vision brought to your own sense of ambition as a business owning woman?

00:04:03:17 - 00:05:24:14

Anna Ronaldo

That’s a great question, and the first thing that springs to mind is I can unequivocally say I wouldn't be running my own business if I hadn't had a fortuitous day when I took an 18 month old that would not sleep in a pram, into a bookstore. That pram bumped into a book stand that had Brené Brown's Daring Greatly on it.

I took that book home and I read it back to back, which in itself was some sort of miracle because I was so sleep deprived, I don't know how I managed to actually finish a book. But really, at that point in my life, I was a single parent. I was working in a pretty senior position in an organization with people I loved.

But my sense of what I really wanted to contribute and my autonomy and kind of courage to do that just wasn't there. I'd gone through a massive personal upheaval. So her work, particularly around cultivating courage, which is a skill, it’s not just something you are genetically gifted with, was just so life changing for me. It gave me the courage to step out of that very comfortable, safe place with people I loved and move into extending my concept of leadership and courage and what it meant to make a difference to teams, companies and corporates.

00:05:25:13 - 00:06:00:04

Lucy Kippist

Wow, what a phenomenal teaching you had there. Of all the books to kind of get your hands on at that point in your life and it was hers. I love what you mentioned there, and I know that's something you're going to draw out in your in your keynote with us at Be Empowered too, but I’d just love you to touch on that in terms of the idea that courage, and sorry if I'm quoting incorrectly, that courage is a learned skill, it's not something that you inherently some of us are inherently gifted with it in the literary life. I think that would bring comfort to a lot of people to know that. So would you mind expanding on that a little bit?

00:06:00:19 - 00:08:02:16

Anna Ronaldo

Yeah, I'd love to, because I really feel like this is at the heart for many of us running a business. But any big role we play in our life, being a parent, being a good partner, there's an element of having to navigate risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure. When we talk about courage, vulnerability, our skill set of navigating risk, uncertainty and emotional exposure is one that is learned.

For most of us, or certainly I speak for myself, I didn't grow up around the table at home with mum or dad saying, “hey, this is what vulnerability means and this is how it links to courage.” But I certainly did get messages that to be brave was important, I just didn't always know how.

I think there's a bit of a myth out there and Dr. Brené Brown does a great job of pulling the empirical research around it that some people equate it with, “I'm either an extrovert or an introvert,” or you hear people throw around things like “I'm a people person,” or “I'm a numbers person,” almost like it's a factor of personality.

There are some elements of personality that are genetic. A bit of DNA from mum and dad creates blue or brown eyes and the same with personality. But courage is not one of what we call the big five factors of personality, it can be taught and usually we pull up our concept of courage in our first formative years, the period from 0 to 9.

Then we move into workplaces or into communities and we watch for how people navigate risk, how people navigate tough conversations; that's where we learn it. If we haven't been exposed to great role models, then we haven't really fully learned how to access our own courage toolkit.

00:08:02:16 - 00:08:36:20

Carrie Kwan

That really resonates. You can't actually be what you can't see. Key message is that you don’t have to be born with it, it actually is something that you can absolutely learn. Like so many of the people within our Mums & Co community, you've been building a business whilst raising a young family. What are some of the things that you have had to stop doing in order to make running your business and being a mother work for you?

00:08:36:20 - 00:10:34:06

Anna Ronaldo

Can I just say a caveat in my answer? This is definitely a work in progress. I would hate for anyone to think that I really have actually nailed this because I think my biggest challenge is twofold. One, I am ever the optimist, I always seem to have this kind of concept that I can fit more into a day than is humanly possible.

Then I get to the end of the day and go, “oh my God, why am I like a grumpy, impatient mum?” Or “why do I feel so knackered?” So kind of knowing how to pace myself is part of my own challenge. But secondly, I think the biggest thing I've had to start doing more of, which I find incredibly hard, still, is asking for help.

We actually know that one of the myths of vulnerability, which has a big load into our capacity for courage, is this idea that it's safer to trust ourselves. It's better not to bother others. I would rather work myself to the bone than to invite in other expertise or other help. So for me, I grew up in a small farming community, and the beauty of that is we're, you know, pretty stock or beast farmers, we just get on with it.

The downside is when I'm trying to scale a business, knowing when and how to employ an office manager, for example, I needed to do that two years ago, but this whole idea that “I should be able to do that,” and I might be able to save money. What I found is as soon as I started being really clear on where my core passion and skills were and where to build associate agreements or, for example, to hire people, I started to scale and leverage work and clients in a whole different way, but it was a mindset for me. It felt very vulnerable to trust other people with my passion and my ideas.

00:10:35:09 - 00:11:43:13

Lucy Kippist

Who I love that tip. I love that you said there that the impact of actually allowing yourself to do that for you, if I'm hearing it correctly, brought you more success. In getting rid of that barrier, I know it's something that a lot of the women in our community share, that challenge, let's put it that way, because I think particularly as mothers as well, we become so self-reliant that when you bring a business into the mix, it's easy not to put up your hand in case people think you can't handle it.

But it's not about that, it's actually about your own capacity. So thank you so much for sharing that. Cultivating courageous conversation is something that you talk about a lot on your website, and it's a cornerstone of the coaching work that you do. Here at Mums & Co, we love to talk about networking, it's a big part of our offering to our members and what we encourage our members to be able to learn how to do. I was wondering how you can bring that sense of courageousness in terms of conversation into a digital networking space?

00:11:43:13 - 00:11:51:21

Anna Ronaldo

So tell me a little bit more, when you use the word digital networking space, what does that mean in your concept?

00:11:51:21 - 00:12:25:04

Lucy Kippist
For us, digital networking really relates to the idea of having our online meetups and our online upskilling workshops. It's not that you're necessarily in a physical location with the other women in your network. In fact, most of the time we are operating remotely in that sense. So what I mean by that is how do we cultivate those really courageous conversations in the space where you're not actually in a room with someone? Where you’re actually just online.

00:12:25:07 - 00:15:48:04

Anna Ronaldo

This is a bit of a passion space for me because probably two thirds of the work I do is working with organisations and teams and of course, going through that little wild experiment called a pandemic. Organisations and individual business owners are having to figure out how to connect with clients? How to connect with my own support network in ways that feel nontraditional but actually probably are going to be the new normal.

I think it's a really fascinating topic. A couple of things spring to mind in answering that question. Firstly, I actually think whilst for some of us it might have felt a bit vulnerable and scary to go, “how do I make my technology work?” And “do I look okay? Do I sound okay?” And “am I really connected if I'm behind a screen?”

I think the vast majority of people, because we've been forced to go there, have kind of found connections in new or different ways. So I'll just take my world for example. Prior to the pandemic, I did a lot of my coaching and running Brene’s Dare to Lead programs in person.

So I'm sitting with you and I can pick up your cues. I can notice a slight change in body language, which means perhaps they want to share. So moving online, I was quite afraid that actually the ability to connect would somehow be dissipated or it wouldn't be as high quality. Interestingly, because particularly some of my Victorian clients, I'm based here in Adelaide, they were in lockdown for like a long while and so for them when I was connecting with them and we did run programs online and we still do, they were letting me into their homes so I would all of a sudden have this whole other dimension of my clients that I've never been privy to before when they came to my workplace or when we when ran a conference.

So that privilege of seeing the dog in the background or hearing the kid teeing off and that actually we go, “wow, man, I'm not the only person who struggles with that.” In some ways, I feel like the move to online connection has allowed for a bit more humanity and that veneer of “We've got to keep up appearances,” and be always on and look perfect and act perfect kind of has dropped a little bit, which I like. I like the authenticity that sometimes it allows for.

So I don't know if that answers your question, but that's what springs to mind for me. But it's also, I think about experimenting with how and who you connect with. I think it's opened up more diversity of ways to connect with people, but it's still vulnerable to say, “Hey, I'd really like to have a conversation about what's possible if we collaborated together,” and to go into that space online when you haven't met someone in person, you can have that paradigm of,
“oh, I can't have that meeting until I meet in person.” I think now it's like, put yourself out there. Everybody's fumbling around with technology still and there are more connections rather than fewer, I think because of the digital opportunities we now have.

00:15:48:04 - 00:16:22:22

Lucy Kippist

You're so right, there is that immediacy that if you're if you're really being brave, there's really no excuse not to send that person a Google Meet link and meet. Thank you for sharing that.

00:16:22:22 - 00:17:29:23

Carrie Kwan

When you were talking, it reminded me that digital networking actually really does suit working parents, business owning women, working mums and dads. We actually can see a little bit, just before we start this conversation, I commented how you've just got this beautiful bookshelf behind you and I could see a beautiful piano and there's there's elements of of this person, whole self that I may not actually get, when it's in a in it's in a work office type of environment.

I think that's actually opened up possibilities that people can actually join because they may not be able to attend a networking event after hours. They can actually have a lot more flexibility in the times and the places that we can connect.

00:17:29:23 - 00:19:12:16

Anna Ronaldo

When you were sharing about how we can visually connect sometimes when we're jumping online, we might not personally know about the pieces that encompass the whole of life for a person. I think that that's one of the key skills of any business owner, because when I've been kind of being a bit brave and as I've been scaling and building new associate arrangements with other providers and a lot of my client base has expanded because of the digital network.

I've got people that now can jump on a Dare to Lead course that can be from the US, can be from here, from New Zealand. I think what's interesting is people connect with us in partnership, whether that is just to network, share ideas or actually, “I've got a business idea and I might want to work with you on this,” or “do you want to buy my product?”

People connect with us through humanity at an unconscious level first. The kind of basic human need of all of us is to feel seen, respected and known, and through the digital world of seeing a bit more, we’re able to connect with people at a humanity level, which I think is a beautiful segway into, “would we be a good fit for a business” level.

I don't think that has been as readily accessible when you're meeting someone face to face in my world, in a corporate environment. So I have some gratitude whilst there was pain and learning how to run everything online and look like I had it together, there was a bit of pain and a learning curve. I have a huge amount of gratitude for the digital platforms we now have.

00:19:13:22 - 00:19:31:11

Carrie Kwan

Absolutely. Being brave in business implies that there is some level of risk involved. Keen to hear what? What does risk mitigation look like in your business and what are some of the processes perhaps that you've put in place to support that?

00:19:33:09 - 00:23:04:12

Anna Ronaldo

There's a risk at a few levels for me and we touched on it earlier when you asked that great, slightly challenging question of, what do I need to do or had to stop doing? I think part of what I've had to learn, I'm pretty much getting there, is I am my business; the buck stops with me. The biggest risk really is my energy to really be able to bring a quality experience when clients interact with me.

If I'm not scoping work, taking on too much, I'm not setting boundaries around that and my work life balance, not eating well, not exercising well. It all sounds like 101, but when I actually stepped full on into my own world of collective courage rather than working for someone else, that really upped the ante on my need for self-care because there is no back up other team. It is me in terms of my brand.

That’s the first bit, but I think the other bit which has really come mainly in the last couple of years, I've been in business now for going on six, but some of the work that I'm not doing has scaled up and has kind of moved into different clientele.

So yes, I work with a lot of corporates, but I also have, for example, just started working with schools and adolescents and how to engage and develop leadership programs far earlier for youth. So we brought Brene Brown’s Bold Program, for example, and we're working with 140 year 11 and 12 students in Perth. What's come with that is managing the risk of not just teaching the content, but how do we create a space, particularly when we're talking about courage and vulnerability and concepts of shame, that allows students to step into that space in a safe way. There's so much pressure, I think, on our use at the moment that knowing how and when to talk about shame and what other professionals, psychologists and wellbeing experts to partner with becomes really important. So practically for me, that means when I'm working with that particular client group, I have wellbeing agreements that I'm really clear around my role, the school's responsibilities and when we might need to ensure, clinical psychologists are involved, for example.

I've had to change my contracts. When I started out, I had some pretty standard contracts, but as we've grown and this the scale of work's changed as well as the type of work, getting really clear on the boundaries and the responsibilities of the individuals that train with me versus our care responsibilities, how social media plays into all of that.

I've had to get experts involved that know a heck of a lot more than me, but that's partly about mitigating risk to the experience of my clients, but also managing my brand and how it's perceived. So those are a couple of spaces, the personal self-care, but also the, the wellbeing of my clients and then there's  the less and fun stuff, but the legal side, how I set up contracts.

00:23:05:18 - 00:24:06:08

Lucy Kippist

I like that you’ve woven that into the rest mitigation strategy and it's not something we’ve heard a lot of in answer to that question over the episodes. It's essential, as you say, because if you're not okay, there is no business. Obviously you're also extending that sense of concern to your clients as well as you just mentioned there with the school children.

I actually wanted to extend that wellbeing theme a little bit because it's a core value for us here at Mums & Co, in acknowledgment of basically what you've just articulated there about how essential that is while being a business owning woman. What's something that you do regularly for yourself? I know you mentioned exercise and eating really well there as part of things that really support you, but is there something that you do daily that might really help to keep you grounded and keep you serving your clients and yourself in the best way?

00:24:06:08 - 00:26:55:07

Anna Ronaldo

More recently, I have started, and I’m going to say more recently because I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm a guru at this. It's so much easier to espouse this stuff and do it sometimes. But more recently, I've really been making time to get on the mat. So for me, yoga really does kind of ground me and set my energy and intention for the day.

I travel a lot, so I kind of got out of the habit I had acquired, doing my wellbeing piece around yoga meant going to a yoga class, but when you're traveling, that's just not practical. So I've had to reorient my thinking, which is, even if I don't have a yoga mat, I have a towel, I have space and I have my iPad. So getting 20 minutes on the mat to start my day is really, really important.

The other thing that I've stolen from Brené Brown is I write myself permission slips. So a classic example was the first time I had to run a two day online training program and I was terrified of the four screens in front of me and people were going to be bored and would it all work, the inner critic got carried away a little bit and I had to go back and remind myself of why I was there, but importantly that I was going to be perfectly imperfect. The first first pass at this new forum of online was not going to be the Rolls Royce vision.

You can't see me, but I literally wrote this big permission slip and I stuck it on the top of my laptop so I could literally see it and it said “permission to be imperfect today.” That didn't mean I wanted to lower my standards, but it meant that I was acknowledging and giving myself permission that it wasn't going to feel comfortable and maybe I wouldn't go perfect the first time round, but that was okay. That was part of getting in the arena, putting myself out there and being brave, and everybody feels like this the first time you try something new, right? So why would I think that I'm above that?

So I do write permission slips any time I'm a bit scared, a bit fearful, or think that I might play small. They're stuffed in my wallet, they are on my laptop, sometimes when I've had to speak at really big gigs and I’m away from family, away from my support network, I will literally pull out my permission slip and I will read it out loud to myself just before I metaphorically step out into that arena of where I want to be brave. So I find it helps. It's silly and kind of a bit goofy, but it works for me.

00:26:55:20 - 00:27:11:07

Lucy Kippist

I don't think it's silly at all, I think it's fantastic. I'm going to start thinking about 500 of those. I probably need permission to write a permission slip.

Carrie Kwan

I'm thinking about a template!

00:27:11:07 - 00:27:12:13

Anna Ronaldo

You're going next level!

00:27:13:00 - 00:28:36:19

Carrie Kwan

Yeah, I want a template and just give it to everybody so you've given us permission to give permission slips! I love it!. That is sometimes all we need I just do. I can really apply it recently to the permission to pause because we are always running at 110% pace and when someone gives you permission to pause, that is a huge gift and one that one of my colleagues, Sarah, has also given to me in the recent past and I cannot thank her enough for it. So permission slips it is!

Lastly, we talk about harmony as a triangle of ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. We also talk about it as a bit of a symphony because when there's a symphony, they know how to be loud enough at the right time so that they actually sound harmonious.

At one point, ambition might take over from livelihood, and another point well being might take over from ambition, but they all are important and they all have a role to play. Would love to hear how you might describe the shape of a good life for you?

00:28:36:19 - 00:30:29:07

Anna Ronaldo

That concept of harmony that just makes me think of the concept of being in flow. I know when I'm in flow when I'm aligned with my values, and one of those values is creativity and the other one is learning. That kind of triangle you describe, for me, it's working well when I'm kind of sparkly and creative and there's juices and new ideas flowing, I know that Triad is working.

Also, I have a bit more sense of calm. When I'm kind of hustling and pushing and maybe the ambition has kind of got a bit more of my energy than it should, maybe that's not quite balanced. I tend to hustle, I talk faster, I walk faster, and I tend to be pushing versus engaging or slowing down long enough to wait for the space to emerge.

I don't know if that makes sense. I'm trying to think of an example. So like for me, hustling is trying to hotwire the opportunity and sometimes that means it might come across a little bit too forceful or too direct, whereas when I'm in harmony, the flow for me is, I'm a little bit more patient. I'll be more likely to ask more questions and really understand what the other person needs from one of my services or if we're in partnership, so the flow is less forced and it allows for more connection, but it also allows for more deviation off the path. So often the most interesting collabs or ideas or work has come when I'm not trying to hustle and I'm creating a little bit of whitespace to see what might come.

00:30:31:03 - 00:31:14:09

Lucy Kippist

Thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition the podcast today. If you'd like to hear more from Anna, you can not only find her on LinkedIn, but why not purchase a ticket and come along to our Be Empowered 22 conference, happening on Thursday 13th of October where Anna will be a keynote speaker. If you haven't already, please come and join our community of thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au

What does being brave in business mean to you?

00:31:14:09 - 00:31:42:12

Anna Ronaldo

So being brave in business for me is about allowing myself to be me and not hustling for what I think other people think I should be, should say, or should do, and at times allowing myself to be vulnerable, to be a little bit awkward and to put myself out there, knowing that's in service to my values and to something bigger than me. That's bravery for me.