brene brown
brene brown

About a year ago, I discovered the amazing author and researcher Brené Brown, and when I heard she was going to be the keynote at SXSW, I was so excited. Brown has a way of keeping you in check, despite the chaos that could be happening around you. In fact, Brown is so good at getting to the heart of why we feel the way that we do, that when her keynote hit its capacity, hundreds of people filed into a nearby room just to watch the simulcast. Brown’s books and TED talks focus on shame, vulnerability and the courage to follow your passion. During the keynote, Brown gave one of her signature speeches, which are of course, full of humour and incredibly deep insight.

Brown always has a way with words, and her keynote was no different. But what we really left with was some advice on vulnerability, bravery and being able to find your own path.

Handling Hate

Brown’s advice on how to handle hate was very eye opening. She suggests that you can’t hate someone when you really start to see that other person. Which is why she encouraged the crowd to “move in closer” and then watch when those differences disappear.

Speak Diplomatically

Brown indicates that you can “speak truth to bullshit”, but she suggests that you need to do that in a way that is also kind. As human beings, we waste a lot of energy on negative emotions. She says, “I choose to be civil, not for you, but for me. You don’t get my hate, you don’t get my health.” To me, this says that we don’t have to let others drag us down. If your boss is having a bad day, and they take it out on you, you, in turn, don’t have to respond the same way that they are. Essentially, Brown is saying take the high road. Because what you end up doing is wasting your energy on negative emotions, and who wants to give in to those kinds of situations, anyway?


Brown says that we are all wired to connect at the most basic level. She urged the audience to recognize the moments of collective joys – whatever that looks like to you. To me that means, whatever is going on in my life, to have people around me to connect with it on. It doesn’t have to be a grand event, but just something that you can connect with someone on. I’ve been connecting with a friend recently, who had gone through an eerily similar relationship and subsequent breakup to me. Neither one of us realized that the other one was going through it when it happened, but after the relationships ended, we went for lunch and realized there were many parallels to our stories. Having someone to connect with in that way, has made it easier for me to work through the challenges that come with ending a difficult relationship.

If you missed Brown at this year’s SXSW, don’t you worry because I have included a video from her 2017 talk, which is just as good. I would greatly encourage you to watch her TED Talks and to read any of her books. You will not be disappointed. And if nothing else, she will get you to be able to open up to someone else – I promise you that. Enjoy!

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