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Brené  Brown

Brené Brown

Expert on Authenticity, Vulnerability & Courage


Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Read More >

Brené is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the College’s Outstanding Faculty Award. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, and has appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and many other national media outlets.

Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 6 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.

Brené Brown is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).

In 2007, Brené developed Connections, a psychoeducational shame resilience curriculum that is being facilitated across the nation by mental health and addiction professionals. The Connections Certification process was launched in 2012. 

Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TED: Listening to Shame

TEDx: Wired for Connection

Speech Topics

The Inspirational Leader: Why Courage, Authenticity & Calm Matter

From developing talent and connecting with consumers to building brands and fostering innovative cultures, inspiration is critical. Inspirational leadership is not about job titles and roles – it’s a style of leadership available to anyone who is willing to practice courage in the midst of fear, to choose authenticity over self-protection, and to foster calm in times of high reactivity.

The Power of Vulnerability

In our culture, vulnerability has become synonymous with weakness. We associate vulnerability with emotions like fear, shame, and scarcity; emotions that we don’t want to discuss, even when they profoundly affect the way we live, work, and even lead. To reduce our feelings of vulnerability, we wake up every morning, put on our game face, and rarely take it off – especially at the office. We use invulnerability as a shield to protect us from uncomfortable emotions and struggles with anxiety and self-doubt. But invulnerability has a price. Read More >

Vulnerability is indeed at the core of difficult emotions, but it is also the birthplace of creativity and innovation, authenticity, adaptability to change, and accountability – the key elements that every business needs to survive and thrive. Read Less ^

Great Expectations: Understanding the Loaded Dynamics of Expectations, Disappointments & Accomplishments

Setting, tracking, and celebrating goals are primary tasks in business; however, very few managers and leaders understand the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral anatomy of the goal process. Understanding the loaded dynamics of expectations, disappointments, and accomplishments gives us more tools for cultivating success with our own goals and becoming more effective mentors for our employees.

The Only Constant Is Change: Developing Courage, Compassion & Connection In Overstressed & Anxious Organizations

For organizations to successfully navigate change, it is imperative that employees at all levels bring their best selves to work. But too often leaders and managers don’t know how to navigate the emotional landscape of change – especially the human response to stress, anxiety, and fear. Unknowingly, leadership often incites the exact behaviors that sabotage the creativity, trust, and accountability that are essential to managing change.

The Hustle for Worthiness: Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging & Being Enough

A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all men, women, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick. We confuse purpose and meaning with acquisitions and accomplishments. We lose sight of what is important.

The Gifts of Imperfections: Guideposts for Letting Go of Who We Think We’re Supposed & Embracing Who We Are

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel less than. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, Read More >

  • What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air?
  • Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations?
  • What will people think if I fail or give up?

When can I stop proving myself? Read Less ^

Courage and Story: Three Guideposts for Cultivating a Resilient Spirit

This workshop will explore the concepts of self-compassion, rest and play, and belonging, and how these experiences relate to resilience and hope.

The Art of Acceptance: Why Boundaries, Accountability & Compassion Come First

We often hear how important it is to cultivate acceptance, but we don’t talk about the critical roles that boundaries, accountability, and compassion play in that process. In this workshop we will explore how boundary setting and accountability facilitate compassion and acceptance and help counter feelings of resentment and blame.

I’m Trying to Help! Cultivating Compassion & Empathy with Difficult Patients & Families

In an increasingly anxious world, nurses, physicians, social workers, and hospital administrators often find their efforts to help met with resistance and anger. Fear, anxiety, and uncertainty create hostile environments even when our goal is to help, support, and heal.

Wired for Connection: How Empathy, Shame & Vulnerability Affect Helping & Healing

There is a constant barrage of social-cultural expectations that tell us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. After spending 10 years studying authenticity, shame, and belonging, Dr. Brown believes that nothing could be further from the truth – our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we’re all deeply connected and more the same than different. Read More >

In this workshop/keynote we will explore the concepts of shame, empathy, and vulnerability, and the role these emotions play in perfectionism, addiction, and isolation. Clinicians will learn specific tools and strategies for helping clients understand shame and develop shame resilience. Experiential and didactic learning will focus on how we can use individual and group modalities to help clients find the courage to talk about their fears of being unworthy, unlovable, and "not good enough" so they can move through shame in order to live more compassionate and connected lives. Read Less ^

Shame, Addiction & Authenticity: Issues for Adolescents & Young Adults

For teens and young adults, the yearning for belonging is so strong and the sensitivity to shame is so high that “fitting in” becomes an acceptable substitute, even if it means sacrificing their sense of self and engaging in high-risk behaviors. In this presentation we’ll explore shame resilience strategies that can help teens and young adults navigate the very real need for belonging while cultivating their sense of an authentic self.

The Pedagogy of Resilience: Strategies for Cultivating Hope, Gratitude & Perseverance

In this keynote/lecture, we’ll explore: Read More >

  • How and why we are physically, emotionally, and spiritually hard-wired for connection;
  • The newest research on hope as a cognitive behavioral process;
  • The relationship between joy and gratitude;

Strategies for helping children develop a tolerance for disappointment, hopefulness, and perseverance. Read Less ^

Teachable Moments: Bringing Courage, Compassion & Connection to the Classroom

In this keynote/lecture, we’ll explore: Read More >

-How shame affects social and academic learning;

-Why boundary-setting (with students and parents) is necessary to cultivate compassionate classrooms;

-How teachers and school administrators can turn difficult situations into opportunities for connection and growth. Read Less ^

The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting

Even though we come from diverse parenting traditions and rely on a variety of parenting techniques in our own families, most of us share the same hope for our children. We want our children to be authentic and to carry a deep sense of love and belonging within them, rather than always searching for it in external places. Read More >

We also want our children to know that their imperfections are not inadequacies, and that they don’t need to fear being ashamed or feeling unlovable if they are different or when they are struggling.

To engage fully in the parenting journey means practicing what we want to teach and acknowledging that we can’t give our children what we don’t have. If we want our children to have courage, compassion and connection, we must practice these things in our daily lives. And, we must be willing to practice, teach and learn imperfectly. Read Less ^

The Wholehearted Child: Guideposts for Helping Children Cultivate a Resilient Spirit

In an increasingly anxious world, it’s important that our children feel grounded and guided by a deep sense of purpose and meaning. Based on her most recent research, Dr. Brown will explore strategies that parents and teachers can utilize to help children develop a spirit of hope, gratitude, connection, and perseverance. Read More >

The following is an additional list of recently requested topics. Again, all talks can easily be adapted to fit the needs of specific audiences. Read Less ^

  • Authenticity, Courage, and Joy: Guideposts for Wholehearted Living
  • The Spirituality of Midlife: Falling Apart, Growing Up, and Finding Joy
  • The Wholehearted Family: Guideposts for Cultivating Meaning, Purpose and Joy
  • I Thought It Was Just Me: Shining a Light on Perfectionism, Shame, and Being Enough
  • Wired for Connection: How Empathy, Shame, and Vulnerability Shape Academic and Social Learning
  • Self-compassion, Empathy and the Anxious Workplace