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On this episode of Unlocking Us

I’m talking again with my friend Emmanuel Acho about his new book, Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits. True to form, Emmanuel shows up with pure energy and thought-provoking opinions — which may seem illogical but actually make so much sense. He also shares some real wisdom around how to handle naysayers and critics while also staying open, being receptive, and taking care of ourselves in the process.

About the guest

Emmanuel Acho

Emmanuel Acho is a #1 New York Times best-selling author and the host/producer of the groundbreaking online series Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man. Emmanuel is also a Fox Sports analyst (he co-hosts Speak for Yourself on FS1) and television personality. In 2021, Emmanuel was named the host of ABC’s The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, and he received a Sports Emmy for Best Emerging On-Air Talent. He is a former NFL linebacker and has a master’s degree in sports psychology from the University of Texas.

Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man launched in June 2020 and opened a virtual conversation with white America about race relations, racism, and educational/economic inequalities. The episodic series has been a resounding success, with over 90 million views across social media platforms, and garnered widespread media coverage. Emmanuel signed a two-book deal with MacMillan Publishers in July 2020. Both titles have garnered New York Times best-seller honors, with Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man debuting at #3 and Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Boy debuting at #1. Emmanuel won an Emmy for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series in September 2021. His new book, Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits, debuted in March 2022.

Show notes

Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits by Emmanuel Acho

Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits by Emmanuel Acho

Behind every triumph, every expression of his gifts, Emmanuel Acho has had to ignore what everyone around him called “logic”: the astronomical odds against making it, the risks of continuing to dream bigger or differently. Instead of playing it safe, at every turn Acho has thrown conventional wisdom—logic—out the window. Whether it’s creating the next groundbreaking startup, fighting for change as an activist, or committing to a personal passion, Illogical is the go-to book for all readers ready to become changemakers. With a step-by-step guide to finding our callings and shifting our mindsets, enlivened by stories from Acho’s life and other illogical pioneers, Acho asks us to replace the limits set for us, and which we set for ourselves, with a world of possibility. Our horizons, he shows us, are endless.

“I’m a very broken human being, but because of love and God’s love, I can now love other people, and I’m called to love other people.”


Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us. We have a great guest on the podcast today. I’m talking again with my friend, Emmanuel Acho, about his new book Illogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits. We had him on last year, we talked about his incredible ground-breaking book, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, and now he’s back to talk about his new book, which at first I was like, there’s some pretty controversial… Not controversial but turn-things-upside-down thinking in this book, but as we talked about it, while it seemed illogical, made complete sense in many ways, which I guess is… Props to the title of the book. We talk about his take that goals… Setting goals, dumb, goals are dumb, and we talk about his real wisdom around naysayers and critics and cheap seats, about how we can be open and receptive in the world, but at the same time, take care of ourselves and not get pummeled by advice and judgment from people whose opinions don’t really matter to us. It’s a really meaningful conversation, we have a ton of fun. I’m really glad you’re here for it.

BB: Before we jump into the conversation, let me tell you a little bit about my friend Emmanuel Acho, he is a number-one New York Times best-selling author. He is the host and producer of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. It’s a ground-breaking online series that drives meaningful conversation around racial insensitivity and ignorance. It launched in 2020 with more than 80 million views to date, and it’s so exciting. In 2021, Acho was named the host of ABC’s The Bachelor: After the Final Rose, and he received a Sports Emmy for best emerging on-air talent. He is a former NFL linebacker and has a Master’s degree in Sport Psychology from UT Austin, hook ’em horns. Let’s jump into the conversation. Okay, y’all, I am loving Illogical. Tell me, tell me.


BB: Tell me.

Emmanuel Acho: Well, first off, Brené, it’s always a pleasure. Illogical truly… It’s my favorite creation I’ve brought into this world. It’s my favorite piece of content because it is most naturally me.

BB: What do you mean by that? You are just organically illogical?

EA: Yes. Meaning, everybody knows me primarily from an Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, obviously whether you saw the series, it wins an Emmy or it winning its best-selling books, whatever the case may be. People don’t realize I started writing Illogical in April of 2020, for those that need the timeline, remember George Ford was murdered in May of 2020. I say that Uncomfortable Conversations was a detour, Illogical was my destination. So Illogical was always where I was traveling, I’ve just had to stop down for a moment because of this huge issue we have going on in society, but Illogical, I think, will speak to and can speak to everyone, because our greatest achievements in life come on the other side of our logic.

BB: Hmm. [chuckle] Hmm. Okay.

EA: We’re going to have fun. This conversation…

BB: Oh, we’re going to have so… Yeah, I’ve got a lot of questions. A lot, pages. Hard questions. Let’s start with this. Last time you were on Unlocking Us, you told us your story. This time, I want you to tell us your story of Illogical. I want to know, what’s the birth story of this book?

EA: The true birth story of Illogical comes from the crux of the book, a Chapter 11, in which I say goals are dumb. I’m sure we’re going to get to that later, I’m going to give the listeners a cliffhanger, goals are dumb. I will tell y’all the birth story. It was my third year at our beloved alma mater, the University of Texas.

BB: Hook ’em horns.

EA: I had just finished my third year, I had yet to graduate, but after three years in college, you can go to the National Football League. And so, I submitted my name to scouts to go to the National Football League. They respond in one of three ways: You will be a first-round pick, you will not be drafted in the first three rounds, or you will be drafted in rounds four through seven. Those are the three submissions. If you don’t hear back from that, you’re just not going to be drafted at all. So, you can either be drafted in the first round, you have a first-round grade, you have a top-three round grade, or you have a four through seven-round grade. For our listeners that are unfamiliar, the NFL is comprised of seven rounds in total. I got my report back, it said, “Emmanuel Acho, you will be drafted in rounds four through seven.”

EA: I said, “Excuse you. We just went to the National Championship a year before. Excuse you, I just had nearly 100 tackles.” So, I took out a yellow highlighter and I highlight “Emmanuel you will be drafted in rounds four through seven,” this is a true story, I hang it up on top of my headboard, so every morning Brené, when I woke up, I looked at it. And every night before I went to sleep, I stared intently at it, I committed that to memory, “You will not be drafted until rounds four through seven,” because my goal was to be a top-three round pick in the NFL draft. The top three round picks have more security financially and have more security based upon their roster. Think about this, for our listeners, there’s roughly a 200-to-2-million-dollar difference in being drafted in the first three rounds to rounds four through seven, so a lot was riding on that. I committed to being a top three-round pick and I committed this goal to memory. Fast-forward a month later, Brené, true story, I’m at the NFL Combine, this is the biggest job interview for the sport that owns one day of the week. I’m running the 40-yard dash, and as I’m running, I hear boom, boom, boom, boom. I think my heels are clicking. In actuality, my quad muscle was being torn off the bone.

BB: Oh God, oh God.

EA: I grab my quad with my right hand and grit my teeth down in sheer agony and I fall to the turf in front of every NFL coach, every NFL General Manager, and every NFL owner. I don’t get drafted on the first three rounds, obviously, I fall in the draft to the sixth round. At that point in time my self-esteem was ruined, my self-efficacy was ruined, my self-worth was ruined. I had set a goal and I failed. I committed that day to stop setting goals, I committed that day to setting and living a life without limits. I committed that day, in that moment to being illogical, because when you set a goal, you can fail, but I don’t want to fail in life anymore, I believe in having and living a life without limits. I know you have a lot of questions, so I will stop.

BB: Wow. Just the Combine story just makes me want to cry and it makes me physically hurt. Like for people who don’t follow football, you just don’t understand what a big event Combine is.

EA: I mean, first and foremost, it’s watched by tens of millions of people annually. It’s then replayed on social media by hundreds of millions of people, and then there are billionaires in the room simply looking at you and assessing every simple mechanical movement. The only reason I know that my wingspan is 80 inches, my hands measure at 10 inches, and my arms measure at 33 inches is because of the NFL Combine. One more great story for you, it won’t be nearly as lengthy. I weighed in at the NFL Combine at 238 pounds because the bigger, the better in the NFL. You want to have a lot of mass. Two days later, knowing I was running the 40, I weighed in at 229 pounds because I was like, “Well, weight is flow.” So, I didn’t eat, nor did I really hydrate for two days…

BB: Oh, God.

EA: Hence why, I tore my quad muscle. In my book, Illogical, I titled the chapter, “Scar Tissue,” because when I pull or push down on my right quad and I’m pushing down on it now for the listener who can’t see, I can still feel the scar tissue left. And so, it serves as a reminder that on your illogical journey, you will get hurt, you will make some decisions that might leave you bruised and bumped, but it’ll still work out.

BB: Okay, so with that moment consciously or unconsciously was the birth of Illogical, the book?

EA: Unconsciously, that moment was the tipping point. That moment was the moment…

BB: Got it.

EA: Where I said, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be so devastated, so distraught… ” Brené, I committed a year, a year to this goal. And for those that don’t realize what collegian athletics, especially at a big-time program in Texas used to be the program. What people don’t realize like, I committed waking up every day at 5:45, then going to weights to 6:00 a.m., then working out from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., then going to class from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., then going to practice from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., then going to study hall from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., then going to sleep at 9:00 p.m. I committed a year of my life in full dedication to that goal. So, at the point in which I failed, I was crushed. That moment was the tipping point of Illogical.

BB: Okay, I don’t know what the temporal, the time thing is, but how soon after that moment, after Combine, after the draft… When did you start thinking about your dad’s lessons on the power of illogical? When did you marry that tipping point moment to, “Hey, wait, I have a lot of big lessons from my dad around illogical?”

EA: What’s interesting, I wouldn’t say that I ever married that lesson to lessons I learned from my father. For those listening, my father born and raised in Nigeria, left Nigeria when he was in his early 20s, moved to America to become a pastor, was working for like $3 at Taco Bell, then he gets his doctorate, then he gets his PhD. My dad lived his own illogical life, now he’s had four children that are doing great. It was innately in me that illogical calling and that illogical being, but I didn’t have the courage. I did not have the courage to be illogical, I will be frank with you. It’s easier to just be logical, it’s easier to live in the confinements that society puts for us. It’s easier to live in a box, it is easier to be afraid of other people’s fears.

EA: And that is the way I had lived until I realized… Brené, it’s so much easier to say, “Okay, at 26, I want to be married. And at 28, I want to have kids. And at 30, I want to have a house.” Here’s the problem listeners, what the heck happens when you’re 31, you’re single, and you live in a town house or a condo. Now, you’re sitting there like I was thinking you’re a failure. And so, I never married the lessons to my dad. I finally one day just woke up and said, “To hell with this box. To hell with these societal constructs. I’m done with it.”

BB: It’s so funny that it’s kind of counter-intuitive when you think about it, that logical takes less vulnerability than illogical. Illogical takes more vulnerability, more courage than I guess what I would describe as the moving escalator of expectations. By this, do this; by this, do this, and any deviation is really seen, as you say, as a failure.

EA: Yeah, yeah.

BB: And no one’s on that path anymore.

EA: No, because here’s the thing, and the most dangerous phrase you can ever utter, and we utter it so often, oh, my gosh, the most dangerous phrase, “Well, that’s the way it’s always been done.”

BB: Oh, God, I hate it.

EA: “Brené, that’s the way it’s always been done.” “Well, okay, y’all, let’s make this TV show this length.” “Well, that’s the way it’s always been done.” “Well, let’s start this business and let’s market it like this.” “Why?” “Because that’s the way it’s always been done.” “Hey, mom, why am I doing that?” “Well, son, that’s the way it’s always been done.” Like the most dangerous phrase we utter is, “That’s the way it’s always been done.” But that never changes things. That’s what I had to come to terms with, Brené. Maybe my favorite story in all of mankind as it pertains to me being an athlete, the story of Roger Bannister, are you familiar?

BB: Tell me. No. I’m excited because you look excited.

EA: For 2,000 years, nobody had run a mile in under four minutes. Hadn’t been done. Scientists said it was physically impossible to run a mile in under four minutes, but one man, Roger Bannister. He was like, “Nah, you know what, y’all are lying.” So, on May 6, 1952, on damp day, Roger Bannister runs a mile for the first time in the history of our world three minutes, 59 seconds, eight-tenths of a second. Here’s the crazy part, within two years, Brené, within two years, 10 people ran a mile in under four minutes after Roger Bannister. Why? Because one person, Roger Bannister said, “To hell with that’s the way it’s always been done.” Since Roger Bannister, the mile, the record for it has dropped by 17 seconds down to three minutes 43 seconds, and 1800 people have run a mile, including high schoolers.

EA: But it took one person being illogical. It took one person saying, “To hell with saying that’s the way it’s always been done.” And I’m just so eager now to encourage people, “Yo, change your world and ultimately change the world.” We don’t talk about the other 1800 people who’ve run the mile in under four minutes, we talk about Roger Bannister. And what I’ve realized in my own life, it is illogical. It is stupid to think you can sit in an all-white room, stare into a camera, talk for nine minutes and 17 seconds, and get 30 million views in five days, and have the likes of our friend, Matthew McConaughey, calling, the likes of our friend, Oprah Winfrey, calling, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, calling, and that that would turn into a show that would win an Emmy, and a New York Times best-selling book. That is illogical. But it happened. And so, I at this point am all in on just living this illogical life and encouraging other people, “Yo, live your best lives, please.” Not for my sake, but the world needs the best version of you.

BB: Okay, we’re going to sort of skip to Chapter 11, because you gave us a cliffhanger. Goals are dumb…

EA: Dumb.

BB: Tell me more.


EA: Oh man.

BB: You’re killing me, you’re killing me.

EA: Goals are dumb. We’ve been indoctrinated with this belief, we’ve been indoctrinated with it, that you have to set a goal to accomplish anything in life. I get it, y’all. When I was a kid, my parents, “Write down your three goals, look at ’em every day before you go to school, look at ’em at night.” I get it y’all. But… A goal by definition is an end towards which energy is directed. Why, in the heck, would I start something with the end in mind? If you set a goal and you achieve it, congratulations, you achieved it. But what if you could have done better? But, if you don’t set a goal, now all of a sudden there are an infinite number of possibilities. So, what do I say do instead of setting goals? Have an objective with no limitations. Okay, Acho, what the heck is an objective? An objective by definition: Energy directed at something or something towards which energy is directed. Alright, a goal: An end towards which energy is directed; an objective: Something towards which energy is directed. Small difference, huge implications. Because now Brené, I just shift and move my energy towards a direction, my objective is subjective. A friend of mine, Lil Wayne, I’m sure you’ve talked to him or listened to his music over the course of life.

BB: Yeah.

EA: Lil Wayne, he says this in a rap song, Lil Wayne calls himself Weezy Baby at times, Weezy Baby. Lil Wayne says this in a rap song, “And when you mention Pac, Biggie, and Jay-Z, please remember Weezy Baby.” What he is saying is, “When you mention Tupac, Biggie or Jay-Z, some of the greatest rappers of all time, just mention me as well. That’s how I view my objectives, they are subjective to people’s opinion. So, I no longer have some sort of finite goal, because if you have a finite goal, you might just hit it. Let me give it to you in this sort of analogy form. An archer, if you will, has the goal of hitting this small location, that is the archer’s goal. But I want to make as big an impact as possible. So, I don’t set goals, because if I set goals, I can fail. And I no longer believe in failing, I no longer believe in limits, I no longer believe in starting with an end in mind, I just believe in pursuing a direction recklessly. If Amazon’s goal would have just been to sell books, Amazon would not be one of the largest trading commodities in the history of our world. So, I just submit like, stop setting goals. Consider stop setting goals.

BB: Okay, I’ve got questions. I’m excited because I totally get how goals can be very limiting. Let me ask you this. One reason that people set goals is to stay tethered to a direction, to not be distracted, to not lose focus. Sometimes when that small thing that the archer is aiming at becomes really big, it’s easy to start wandering, it’s easy to lose direction. How can you be illogical and focused?

EA: I love that. Back in the day, the mindset of society of humanity was there’s one dot at the wall, and I’m just on a wall, and I’m just going to fixate intently at that dot. Well, we live in a society now as you know, even with social media, the market is saturated. Now, there are several dots on the wall, how can I focus on the dot that is most important? See, the reason we set goals… And I got my master’s degree at Texas in Sport Psychology while in the NFL. So, I committed my final paper, my thesis paper, if you will, to this topic. The reason we set goals, Brené, is because we want to achieve flow. And what flow is, is when you’re playing a game of pickleball and you don’t even realize you’ve been playing for two hours, you’re just mindly invested. You’re trying to learn a new TikTok dance, and you haven’t realized it, it’s been 45 minutes already. Or you’re painting your house and you lose yourself in the moment. Because we desperately crave immediate feedback. We desperately crave it, that’s why social media is so rampant. Did this picture get more likes than the last? Did the next picture get more likes than my previous post? We desperately crave that.

EA: But what I suggest is, rather than being so fixated on that one dot, understand that there are a plethora of dots, and prioritize the most important. See, goals serve a purpose, communally goals desperately serve a purpose. I say in a relay race on track, Brené, yes, the goal is to win, but you can’t win unless you get the baton around. So, the real goal… And as you’re talking about this, y’all better get this freaking baton around. Because in track and a relay, if you drop the baton, you are disqualified. So, when you are a part of a greater community, if you are at work and you have to turn in your part of the project at X date, of course there’s a need for goals. And in Illogical I expound on this so much more, but when you are talking about your own life, when you’re talking about your own life, I think goals do much more harm than they do good.

BB: Okay. I love this. I love anything that removes limits, so you know I like this. Tell me about your sports analytics class and what you learned about beating the odds.


EA: Oh.

BB: From that and from poker.

EA: Okay…

BB: Come on.

EA: In Philly…

BB: Make us all rich.

EA: In Philly, I way was a backup linebacker. I played for the Eagles, but I wasn’t a starter, and so… What people don’t realize about the NFL, if you’re not a starter, you ain’t got as much pressure. Your number might be called, it might not. There was a casino called the Sugar House in Philly, and I used to go to the Sugar House. I was a backup linebacker, so I had backup money. The starters had starting money. I vividly recall… And I’m going to start with this story and then I’ll get to the point. I vividly recall going to this casino with a teammate we called The Kid. I’ve got to tell this story because this is my favorite. I was playing…

BB: So good.

EA: I was playing with The Kid, and The Kid had $40,000 worth of chips in his hand. The Kid was playing table max. Table max was $6,000. He’s playing one hand at $6,000 and he’s playing another hand at $6,000. He’s playing two hands. In the game of Blackjack, you can do what is called doubling down. Doubling down simply says, “I’m going to match my money, and I’m going to request one more card.” The Kid doubles down. He now has $12,000 on one hand and $6,000 on another, a total of $18,000 on one hand, if you will, one round of Blackjack. I’m playing after The Kid. I’m playing table minimum. I’m playing $25, Brené Brown, because your boy don’t got it to lose.


EA: I’m playing $25, and The Kid looks at me and I’ve calculated the odds because of my sports analytics class. Cliffhanger, I’ll get to it in a second. I’ve calculated the odds. The Kid’s odds are not high of winning. He looks at me. I’m like, “Hey man, what do you want me to do? I’m playing after you. What decision do you want me to make?” He looks at me and he just shrugs. He says, “The cards are the cards.” I was like, “What the hell do you mean the cards are the cards. You got $18,000 in hand.” And The Kid just was purely like, “You know what, Acho, you do you. The cards are the cards.” He ended up winning. He cashed out with $80,000. That’s a story for another time.

EA: Anyway, sports analytics. My teacher went to Temple. Temple was in Philadelphia. She was an undergrad at Temple. When I was in Texas working on my Master’s, our final project for sports analytics, it had to be on something that pertained to sports and the analysis of sports. I asked her, “Hey, I play for the Eagles. Blackjack is technically considered a sport. Can I do my final project on Blackjack?” She said, “Yes.” Brené, I probably spent 50 hours calculating all the permutations of different hands and different results. I know the chances that the firsthand wins. I know the chances that you will win if the dealer has an ace showing and then flips an ace. I know the hands and the odds of everything. I committed to counting cards. I committed to learning all of the numbers, all the stats, all the facts. When I go to the casino, and if you and I ever take a trip to Vegas, I always say, “I don’t gamble, I do math.” And that was from my sports analytics time.


BB: What’s the lesson for us there? Are the cards the cards?

EA: There are a couple of them. I think the…

BB: Was The Kid right?

EA: The Kid was right. I think the biggest lesson there is go with your gut, number one. And I think the second biggest lesson is… This is a good lesson. The second biggest life lesson is, so often we try to play the hand we wish we had instead of the hand we’re dealt. That’s a life lesson. It’s a life lesson.

BB: Say that again, say that again.

EA: So often, we try to play the hand we wish we had instead of the hand we are dealt. And I’ve had to wrestle and reckon with that both as a Black man in society. I’ve had to wrestle… And I’m sure people who have had to wrestle and reckon with that as a woman in society. You might have to wrestle and reckon with that as a person who comes from a lower socio-economic status. You might have to wrestle and reckon with that as a person that comes from privilege. We have to realize in life, you’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt. You can’t play the hand you wish you had. And some of our biggest shortcomings are from playing the hand we wish we had instead of playing the hand we’re dealt, or worse, trying to play the hand somebody else has.

BB: Oh yeah.

EA: You know what I’m saying? That’s honestly what we do.

BB: I do. I do.

EA: Go ahead, Brené.

BB: Yeah, I can do that sometimes. I do really be thoughtful. Alright, I got another story request. [chuckle] Laura, who produces this for us on our side, was like, “When I read this story, I felt fear. I felt physical fear. I couldn’t breathe.” Tell us the trampoline story.

EA: Oh, gosh. Oh, gosh. I have so many…

BB: And tell us how that relates to Illogical.

EA: Okay, again, all these are true stories. In Austin, there is a trampoline park, and I went to this trampoline park, and I’m 6′ 2″, 240 pounds back in my football days I had 6% body fat. Now, I’m probably closer to 11%, don’t tell anybody. But, okay, I’m 6′ 2″, 240, and I’m at a trampoline park with these little kids. I walk in there and I see these little kids doing backflips, doing front flips, doing somersaults. It’s great. They look at me and they’re like, “Hey, you want to come join us?” I’m sure, I get off 6′ 2″, 240, former NFL linebacker. I can do that with ease. I get over there to do these backflips, and they’re like, oh, now there’s a group of 8 to 10, 12 kids, and they’re all like, “Alright, on three you’ll flip.” They start counting me down. One, I jump, I spring higher. Two, I jump, I spring higher. Three, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh-huh.”


EA: “Y’all is counting too fast. Y’all is counting too fast.” One, they count again. Two, they count again. Before three I just like, “Stop… ” I’m just… Like a friend walks in or something. I find another excuse. This little girl looks at me and she’s like, “Hey, man, like look, I’ll do it.” And she just gets up there and springs and does a quick flip. I get back and finally, finally, finally, without them counting, I muster up the courage to do a backflip. What I realized, and really the lesson I learned at that moment was a couple of them, was I had the physical ability to do a flip. I had everything it took physically, but in my mind I was afraid. See, when you’re a child or six, seven, eight years old, like those kids surrounding me, you’re just not afraid of failure, and that’s why… I think it’s Chapter Two, Brené, I call it childlike faith, because when you’re a kid, man, you haven’t been scarred by society. You haven’t been scarred by seeing other people fail. You haven’t been scarred by what you can’t do. All you know when you’re a kid is what you can do.

EA: One of my favorite stories throughout all of history, Ruby Bridges. Ruby Bridges, Brené, okay. Ruby Bridges, for our listeners. Ruby Bridges was a six-year-old Black girl that integrated public schools in the South. In Louisiana, segregation was still a thing, but finally in 1960, segregation had become outlawed, and so Black children were now allowed to test into white schools. Six Black children passed the test. The test was obviously, as y’all can imagine in the 1960s, outrageously difficult. But six Black children passed. Three of the children chose to go to one school. Another two of the children chose to stay at their all-Black school, and one courageous young Black girl, Ruby Bridges, she chose to attend an all-white school.

EA: I talk about this more at length, but for the listeners let me share this story. Ruby Bridges had to attend school every day by herself just with her own teacher because nobody else would go to class with her. She spent the entire first day in the principal’s office. Her father didn’t want her to go to this all-white school because of the trepidation and the fear. Ruby said the one time she was afraid was when she was walking into school, and she saw a Black Barbie doll in a coffin. Ruby Bridges, and that illogical and courageous decision, if you will, of a six-year-old integrated public schools in that area. Later on, Ruby Bridges’ four nieces would go on to graduate from that school.

EA: There are several parallels between Ruby Bridges’ story, between Roger Bannister’s story and between the story of those listening if they act on being illogical, if they act on that courage. Ruby Bridges broke a dam open for those to follow her. The dam that Ruby Bridges opened obviously had more impact on our society as it was an integration dam. The dam that Roger Bannister broke open had an impact on our society as it pertained to the running world. The dam that Steve Jobs broke open had an impact on our society as it pertained to communication, that a phone could act as a GPS system and a camera. The dam that Wilbur and Orville Wright, the Wright brothers, broke open had to do with aviation. The dam that Brené Brown is breaking open has to do with communication. So, it’s all a matter of different geniuses in society breaking open a dam, and what I believe is everybody has that genius in them. It’s just a matter of tapping into your own and being courageous. What I learned at that trampoline park was very simple. Tap back into that childlike faith, man. You have to tap back into it.

BB: God. To me that childlike faith, when I was reading about it, what’s absent there is shame.

EA: That’s good. That’s good.

BB: You know what I mean? What seems absent… And it’s so funny because when I first saw your book, I was like, “What does this mean, Illogical?” It’s such a compelling, provocative like… And I think of you as what I mistakenly thought of as the opposite of illogical. I think of you as a very disciplined person, but actually, being illogical requires discipline.

EA: That part. That freaking part. That part.

BB: Yeah.

EA: Yes.

BB: It does.

EA: Yes, yes, yes.

BB: And then I thought about an interview that I did some time during COVID, it’s all a blur. But the interviewer actually said to me, “You’re an academic from Texas who studies shame. It just makes no sense that this worked out.” And it brought me back to, I’m in a 12 x 12 podcast studio right now, I could wallpaper every one of these walls and the ceilings with rejection letters.


BB: I couldn’t even get an agent to get a book. They’re just like, “This makes no sense. You can’t talk about that.” Someone even used the word illogical. “It makes no sense for you. No one wants to talk about this.” I’m like, “Well, I know, but everybody’s got it, and the less you talk about it, the more you got it, so the gig’s up here. Let’s just do something.” But I do think it takes a lot of courage when you start naming those names. People listen to this story about Ruby Bridges that you just told, and they think distant history. Ruby Bridges is younger than my mom.

EA: Yeah. Brené, Ruby Bridges came to talk to me when I was in sixth grade at St. Marks School of Texas in Dallas.

BB: Yeah, she’s young.

EA: Ruby Bridges, I believe she just turned sixty-seven, something like that.

BB: Yeah, yeah, she’s younger than my mom. Yeah, this is recent history, man.

EA: Correct.

BB: Yeah, but these were people that were… Illogical doesn’t mean scattered, right?

EA: No, illogical means… Illogical simply means believing it is so, even when it’s not so, so that it can be so. That’s all-illogical means.

BB: Oh God, say that again. Say that again. That’s so good.

EA: Believing it is so, even when it’s not so, so that it can be so. That is what being illogical means. Ruby Bridges believed she could integrate schools in the South even when they weren’t, so it could be done. Roger Bannister believed a mile could be run under four minutes even when it wasn’t, so it was done. The Wright brothers believed that planes could fly even when they didn’t, so that could happen. I believe that you could sit down and have conversations about racial reconciliation and my white brothers and sisters would listen even when historically they have not been, so it’s continued to occur. And all illogical is, is believing something is, even when it’s not, so that it can be. And these stories are continuing to happen.

BB: God dang, that’s so good.

EA: They’re continuing to happen, but I think, Brené, the biggest misconception… I think people doubt that they can be one of the people we’re talking about. But I fervently believe everyone can because everybody’s talented. Brené, it was maybe June of 2020, Oprah called me after we did this conversation for Apple TV, and she said this… This conversation literally changed my life. She said, “You have the thing, my friend, you have the thing. And coming from someone who had the thing and has the thing, you my friend, you have the thing.” I was like, “Yo, what the hell is a thing”?


BB: I know what the thing is.

EA: And she was like, “You have an ability to communicate difficult truth with people, and they still want to listen.” And it was at that moment that I realized “Oh, this is my gift.” Everybody has a gift. The difference is our world esteems gifts differently. We esteem the gift of the athlete at a higher degree than we esteem the gift of the empath, we esteem the gift of the vocal person more than we esteem the gift of the listener. But the second you realize you have a gift, now you just have to sharpen your gift and use your gift. And honestly maybe, the most meaningful chapter in Illogical is at the very end, when I say, “If you believe that you can do anything, you have read too much.” Because it is not that you can do anything, it’s that you can utilize whatever you’re uniquely gifted to do, to do anything.

BB: That’s a big, that is big…

EA: That’s such a huge difference.

BB: Difference, that’s a big nuance.

EA: Your boy, Emmanuel Acho, cannot run a mile in under four minutes. If I trained for the rest of my life, I am genetically…

BB: Same.

EA: Predisposed to not being able to do that. But you, Brené, and myself, we are genetically disposed and predisposed to being able to do certain things. So, I think that is just what breaks my heart is when people do not realize like, “Yo, you’ve got the thing. You’ve got it.”

BB: Let me tell you something that breaks the thing. I hadn’t thought about it until this conversation right now, but perfectionism breaks the thing, because perfectionism demands the logical. Perfectionism says, “I want to know the rules, so I can be better than them. Not so that I can break them.” There is something very, very sinister, about perfectionism… Well, first of all, perfectionism is a function of shame. And perfectionism is not striving for excellence, perfectionism is this belief, if I do perfect and look perfect, and you know, then I can reduce judgment and blame and criticism. If you live illogically, you could have excellence, but you really can’t spend a lot of time with perfectionism or trying to manage other people’s perceptions of you.

EA: Talk about it. Man, you know, Brené, a quote… And I’m sure you do this too, I love… You just inspire me, obviously, you know that I go back, and I look at your content, and I am like, “Oh, I love how she said this, I love how she did that.” Even your TikTok content, who would have thought a day that we’d be looking at each other’s TikToks.

BB: Jesus.

EA: But one of the quotes that slapped me in the face, “Stop letting such insignificant people have significance over your lives.” It was this summer, Brené, I was in Paris.

BB: Ooh, that’s hard.

EA: I was in Paris, Brené, I went to the Louvre Museum for the first time. And for those listening that have been to the Louvre, it’s acres of art, art on the floors, art on the ceiling, art to your left, art to your right. Ain’t nothing but art. So, as I’m walking through and I see a line to look at a piece of art, I’m baffled, “Who in the hell is disregarding all the other art to wait in a line to look at a piece of art when we’re among acres of art?” I turn the corner. They’re all staring at the Mona Lisa; they’re all staring at the Mona Lisa. It dawned on me later that night as I finished writing a chapter, y’all realize the Mona Lisa might sell for $20 at a garage sell if it was painted now? And not because it’s not an incredible painting, but because the significance of it is different. In the 1400s, during that Renaissance era, if I am not mistaken, beauty was defined by thin lips, pale skin, a large forehead, and a wide shape. Beauty in 2022 is defined as sun-kissed skin and unnaturally small waist, etcetera. But I said, wait a second, we are on this hamster wheel trying to chase this definition of beauty that is ever evasive, and the second we get close, it changes based upon somebody else’s definition. We let insignificant people have so much significance over our lives. And literally while staring at the Mona Lisa was when I realized the most recognized painting in the history of our world…

BB: For sure.

EA: If is painted today would literally not get a second look. And I said, “That is what we do with ourselves. We base our own worth on somebody else’s metric system. We base our own value on somebody else’s metric system.” And it was at that point too, I said, “One, that’s going in the book, that’s starting the book. And two, that’s a baffling concept, that I would let somebody else who I have never met dictate my value.”

BB: Okay, so I have a lot of really hard serious questions about this. For me, you are Acho, that’s what I call you. Like you’re Acho… Like that’s, I do not know why, you’re just Acho, like that’s…

EA: Which is my favorite nickname, by the way. People are like, “Do you want me to call you Emmanuel or Acho?” I always say Acho, it was on the back of the jersey playing sports. They put your last name…

BB: Yeah. That’s probably what it is.

EA: So I just… I love it.

BB: Yeah. Acho. Yeah. But do the comments and the hatefulness, do they ever hurt your feelings?

EA: All the time. Now, by the grace of God, I am significantly better at dealing with it. People do not…

BB: Than what? You are better at dealing with it than what, than before?

EA: Than before, man, even I hate, and the comments, and the negativity, it used to send me spiraling into just self-doubt, questioning my own worth. Truly, in December of 2020, six months after starting Uncomfortable Conversations, I was so dejected, I had to seek help from different people, friends, therapists, pastors, teachers, etcetera, because I heard nothing but, “Emmanuel, you are a race-baiter,” I heard that from my white brothers and sisters, and from Black people I’d hear, Emmanuel, stop placating the white people. Stop being so nice to white people.” Brené I can’t put out content now without nothing but loads and loads of negativity. But I just realized that to the person who loves darkness, they’ll even hate the Sun. [chuckle] You know what I’m saying?

EA: To the person who loves misery, they’re going to hate joy. And so just understand that, “Yo, not… ” And this also slapped me in the face, “You don’t like everybody, so how can you expect everybody to like you?” And when I finally recognized that, I was like, “Oh, okay, I can live a lot better now.” Like, “You don’t like everybody, and you’re not for everybody,” and I had to come to terms with both my mindset, my lifestyle, and my approach aren’t for everybody. But yes, the comments definitely used to affect me until I realized, “Yo, stop letting insignificant people have significance over your life.”

BB: Yeah, because I’m in that place that you’re in right now, I’m really thinking like, “I just need to disappear,” like, “I can’t take it.” And I go in and out of it. And I wonder do you ever feel desperate around… Or did you before you came to this place, where you’r just like, “You’ve got this all wrong about me,” like, “Why are you saying that? This is not true.”

EA: Let me say something because what you just said really…

BB: Do you know what I mean?

EA: Of course, but what you just said spoke to my heart, because I’ve also felt like I need to disappear, but then I realized they win. And who is they? Evil, negativity, cowards. Who were they? Haters. Because I’ve genuinely felt like, “You know what, Acho? Maybe you should just be quiet, just go away for a while, and maybe social media would be better off without your voice.” But then they win, and I refuse to let them win. Brené, I think that so many people have so much wrong about me, but I’ve just had to come to terms with I long to be respected by those I respect. That’s it for me.

BB: Okay, so I think that’s so beautiful and true. I’m really asking from a deep personal place, do you have to practice that, is that a discipline? Was that a one-time decision and then it all went away, and angels came down from on high, and you were like, “Ha ha ha!” you’re cured of caring what they say, or do you come in out of it, are there seasons?

EA: I practice it.

BB: Oh! Practice.

EA: So I used to… Because in the NFL, you would always search your name on social media, see what the world’s saying, try to get ahead of it. I no longer search my name on social media, I haven’t done that in maybe a year-and-a-half. I use the block button like it ain’t nobody. I just block. There’s something… I see something not even negative; I see something harmful, I’ll block on social media, I’ll mute on social media, it’s a practice. I’ve learned the art of saying no. It’s a practice. I’ve learned the art of not pouring out into people that aren’t pouring in, it is a practice…

BB: Ooooooh.

EA: It is. It… [chuckle] You feel me on that one?


BB: Wait. Yeah. So, it’s so helpful to know that it’s a practice, and it’s helpful to know that there’s seasons of it. Yeah, there’s something in the book. I wrote down this quote I really want to talk to you about, because something’s really changed for me, and probably it’s maybe the size of my platform. But even we have to take people off looking at comments that work for our team, especially if I go up about race, a lot of white women coming for me hard. But you said the more… The better you get at your work and the more in your power you are, the worse the comments get.

EA: Yeah! Well, honestly, it sucks. I don’t like going to this place, because it’s a very vulnerable place, and it’s a very…

BB: Let’s do it.

EA: It’s a very, very vulnerable place of you just question your value.

BB: I know.

EA: Imagine picking up your phone, and unsolicited, you have the opinions of hundreds. Unsolicited, you have the opinions of like, “You’re a clown, you’re an idiot,” or people Tweeting it, your friends like, “Oh, you follow Emmanuel Acho? Ugh, you’re worthless!” What it will do to your mind, to your heart, to your spirit, to your soul. Just breaks you. I don’t even remember…

BB: It breaks you.

EA: It does. I genuinely don’t even remember your question anymore because I went to that place. It will break you. But what was your question? Because I genuinely… I’ve just been visualizing.

BB: I’m so glad you said that because I gave up Twitter for Lent.

EA: Happy for you.

BB: Yeah, I know, it’s been great. It’s going to be the best 40 days and 40 nights in a long time [chuckle] so it’s great. But I think one of the things that I want to ask you about, because what’s interesting to me, and there’s a parallel between us in this way, is I have a lot of little receptors open to the world. Because I’m in conversation with the world, that’s the only way I can do my work. You’re in conversation, literally Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. And so, I sometimes feel like I don’t have the luxury to not read, because I care what 90% of the people are saying, because I want to be in community with them, I don’t want to be separated from this community. But then I can’t put the stuff that breaks on the line every day.

EA: Yeah. Man, you…

BB: Do you know what I mean?

EA: Of course, you hit the nail on the head. It’s Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. You are a conversationalist, so you have to know what the people are saying, because you’re talk… You and I both have built platforms for other people. [chuckle] Like, what you talk about, whether it be shame, whether it be becoming more free, whatever the case may be, it’s for the betterment of those around you. It’s like you, Brené Brown, have already done so much and are continuing to do so much, now you’re trying to inspire others to do. So, you quite literally have to know where others are. But then I realized… I think it was a study, like 90% of Yelp reviews are left by people who had negative experiences. [chuckle] So I was like, “Oh, wait a second, the loudest ones are the angry ones.” Right?

BB: That’s true.

EA: We rarely hear from the positive ones, Brené, truly, truly, truly. And 19 months now since my rise, if you will, nobody has had anything negative to say about me in person. I have not met one person who had anything negative to say. But on social media, everybody, and they mama, hates Emmanuel Acho, on Twitter at least. And so, yo, I think what it is is.


BB: I’m not laughing at you. I’m laugh-crying with you.

EA: Because you get it. Yo, truth be told. Whenever it was, a month ago right before I called you, off this conversation…

BB: Yeah.

EA: I had searched your name and I was like, “Yo, she is in the heat right now.” That’s why I called you. I think at first it was like, “Yo, how are you doing?”

BB: Yeah. “You okay?” Yeah.

EA: I think that was my first question to you was like, “Hey, are you okay?” Because I was like, “Everybody loves Brené.” I got friends, my Nigerian homeboy, he’s a social worker, he was like, “Yo, I listen to her podcast all the time. She’s great.” I’m like, “Everybody loves Brené.” Man, I searched your name on Twitter, I was like “Yo, everybody does not love Brené Brown.”


EA: I stand corrected. [laughter]

BB: No. The people with the eagle avatars are not fans. [laughter]

EA: Yo, they don’t like you, man.


EA: And that is okay.

BB: Oh my God, I’m laughing so hard. I’m laugh-crying.


BB: Okay, last question, before we get to the rapid fire. [laughter] You’re so… You’re so great when you’re on fire. What’s the most important leadership lesson that you’ve learned from being illogical?

EA: Oh, I love this. I would say the most important leadership lesson… Do not force others to live under your constraints.

BB: Wait a second, say that again.

EA: Do not force others to live under your constraints. One of the quotes I live by now, one of the quotes I live by right at this present moment, “You and now are a unique combination of which has never occurred before, by which you are the best measure of success.” You, Brené Brown, and now are a combination that’s never occurred before, by which you’re the best measure of success. You, listener, and right now, have never occurred before, by which you’re the best measure of success. Emmanuel Acho’s not the best measure of success for the listener, you are. Because you and now have never occurred. So, when somebody offers you their advice, leaders, if you offer your advice, you’re offering your advice based on your experience, you’re offering your advice based on your limited knowledge, you’re offering your advice based on your failures and your accomplishments, but you and now have never occurred before. I think leaders have to understand, don’t put your box of limited constraints onto those that you’re leading, because just because you couldn’t do it doesn’t mean they can’t. And just because you could do it doesn’t mean they will. Someone’s advice is just that, it’s theirs, and that is my biggest advice to leaders.

BB: You ready for rapid fire?

EA: Let’s do it.

BB: Fill in the blank for me. Vulnerability is…

EA: Hard.

BB: I’m going to ad-lib one, is it worth it?

EA: Ah. Abso-freaking-lutely.


BB: Okay, what’s one piece of leadership advice that you’ve been given that’s so remarkable you need to share it with us, or so shitty, you need to warn us?

EA: This is a good freaking question. Okay. The first one is just… Oh man, that’s a good question. Can I come back? Is this like Family Feud? Can I revisit?

BB: Yes, yes.

EA: Okay. Come back to that at the end, please. Circle back.

BB: Okay. Oh, I can’t wait to ask you this question. Oh, I can’t wait. Okay, Acho, are you ready?

EA: Let’s do it.

BB: What’s the hard lesson that the universe keeps putting in front of you because you have to keep learning it over and over and re-learning it?

EA: Criticism is the cost of praise. That’s the one. Criticism is the cost of praise.

BB: Okay, what do you think your best leadership quality is?

EA: Oh, you know what? Oh, I’m glad you asked. I would say unorthodox belief. I wish we could expand on these answers, but I would say…

BB: Tell me, I want to know more.

EA: I would say unorthodox belief. I lived in Austin two years ago, in March of 2020, I lived in Austin. I was supposed to take a job in New York. I have a piano, my first love, it’s been my first hobby, it’s playing the piano. I was supposed to take a job in New York. I had signed a contract to go work in New York, my friends were helping me move, they were like, “Hey, are you going to move your piano?” I was like, “Nah, I’ll just move my piano to LA whenever I move to LA.” Keep in mind, I had no plans of being in LA, but in my mind, I always wanted to be in LA. This is March of 2020. By June of 2020, after Uncomfortable Conversations, I end up being relocated from Austin to LA, though I had signed a contract to be in New York. My friend reminded me when I moved to LA, she was like, “You remember what you said right?” I was like, “No, what did I say?” She said, you weren’t moving your piano until you moved to LA. Brené, I had a housewarming last week and I moved my piano to LA.

BB: Kick ass. That’s great.

EA: I just… I have an unorthodox, unconventional belief, and I just believe the same for others.

BB: Geez, I have that too, but I didn’t know it had a name.


BB: Yeah, I have a deep, unorthodox belief.

EA: That’s it. That’s it.

BB: Yeah, that’s it. Okay, we’re going back, a piece of leadership advice that’s either so good you want to share it, or so shitty you want to warn us off.

EA: Let me go with the latter, let me freaking warn people off. I’ve been given so much bad freaking advice. You know what?

BB: Me too.

EA: I don’t even know if it’s like a leadership advice, it’s not advice Brené, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a mindset of not being afraid of other people’s fears, that’s it. Because Brené, I truly was told that I shouldn’t go to the University of Texas because I couldn’t play football there. I was told I should go to a smaller school. I was told I shouldn’t write Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man because the market was too saturated. I was told that I wouldn’t make it to, and in the National Football League. Brené, you’ll love this one, I was told that television was a hobby, not a career. I was told all of these things. So, it’s not even advice to warn people of, it’s really just silence the critics. Because I can’t warn people from one piece of advice, it’s more so just block out the noise of the naysayers, because you’re going to get a lot of bad freaking advice. And honestly, it’s all the same. It’s all doubt. That’s truly like… That’s it.

BB: Yeah. It’s all doubt and fear.

EA: It’s all doubt. And what I say now is, doubt your doubts. Right, you feel me? Like have doubt about your doubts, that would be my strongest one.

BB: And keep your fear off me.

EA: Man, if you don’t preach real quick… Brené, you about to make me catch the Holy Ghost, Brené Brown. You about to make me catch…


EA: Truly. Truly. I’m going to tell this story. I’m going to tell this story, and I know you’ll just use it somewhere in the episode, I don’t know if we’re wrapping or not, but you’re going to have to find a way.

BB: No, it’s great. Go. I love it.

EA: Mortuusequusphobia. Mortuusequusphobia. Brené Brown, do you know what that is? There’s no way you have any idea what that is.

BB: No. Did you make that shit up?


EA: No. Mortuusequusphobia, it is the fear of ketchup. The fear of ketchup. True story, in sixth grade I was at my friend’s house in University Park outside of Highland Park in Dallas, and I’m eating a burger, we’re in sixth grade. His brother walks in, the older brother, and he hurled something at the table. My friend goes and hides behind a couch and is screaming in like a super high-pitched tone. I’m like, “Yo, what the heck is going on?” I look at what his older brother threw at the table, it was a ketchup packet, Brené, a ketchup packet. It was that day, I learned, one, that more mortuusequusphobia was a thing, and two, you know how ridiculous it is to be afraid of other people’s fears, yet we so often are. See…

BB: Yeah, we scream behind the couch.

EA: Bingo. We scream behind the couch with our friend, I’m like, “Yo, ketchup? Yo, that’s a fire condiment for these fries.” And just in response to that is, yo, if I could just even leave a parting message, we’ve got to stop being afraid of other people’s fears. Just because our parents haven’t left that small town doesn’t mean you can’t. Just because our friends are afraid of getting out of that toxic relationship doesn’t mean you should be. Just because your brother and sister, or your friends are committed to working a nine to five doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go start that entrepreneurial business. We’ve got to stop being afraid of other people’s fears, y’all.

BB: Yeah. Woo. Preach. Yes. I’m taking that one, I’m going to get that tattooed.

EA: Mortuusequusphobia? You should. Get it tattooed along the spine of you back, Brené.

BB: Yeah, no.

EA: Mortuusequusphobia. It’ll look great in a gown.

BB: I’m 50% sure you made that shit up but…


BB: There’s no so way it can rhyme like that. Is it real?

EA: But it is. It’s true, I put a little swag on it. But it actually is Mortuusequusphobia. I just…

BB: Is that two words? Mortuuse and quus?

EA: No I’ve just enunciated to make it like… It’s Mortuusequus, yeah.

BB: And does that mean ketchup in Latin or something?

EA: I don’t freaking know, Brené, Latin’s an extinct language. I didn’t realize Latin was an extinct language until I was in college. Because they taught Latin at my high school, and then I found out like, “Wait a second. So, people have spent eight years studying a language that is extinct? That does not make sense.”

BB: But they can kick some ass at Trivial Pursuit.

EA: You’re freaking right they can.

BB: They got all those origin words. Okay, five songs that you can’t live without. Here’s what you gave us. “Days of Elijah” …

EA: Yep. Wait, wait, wait. Stop. Can I say them and see if they’re still right?

BB: Yes, go.

EA: Okay. You already told me “Days of Elijah,” I would think “All of Me,” by John Legend might be on there. I might have said, “Imagine Me,” by Kirk Franklin.

BB: Yes.

EA: For those listening, I haven’t done this with Brené in maybe freaking 16 months so…

BB: Two years?

EA: Yeah, yeah, two years. “All of Me,” “Imagine Me,” Kirk Franklin, “Days of Elijah,” what the heck else could I not live without?

BB: John Legend appears again; I’ll give you a hint.

EA: I’m going to say, “This Time.”

BB: Yes, you’re four for five.

EA: And who’s the other artist? Just give me the other artist.

BB: No.

EA: Okay. Fine, fine, fine. Can you give me a genre?

BB: No, but I can tell you that the artist initials are TG.


BB: He’s doing a shoulder shake…


BB: Like a shimmy.

EA: I’m blank, I don’t freaking know what else…

BB: Okay… You want to play a game?

EA: Yes.

BB: Okay. In Austin, sometimes you can go on a barge in Lake…

EA: Travis… Oh, Travis Greene, of course. “You Made a Way.”

BB: That’s it.

EA: Of course. That song will bring me to tears every time.

BB: I remember listening to it when you first gave us this list and it is emotional.

EA: Yeah, yeah. “You Made a Way.” I cried to that song on my 30th birthday. It was like, I was crying and laughing down the street of Beverly Hills looking like a crazy person, because Uncomfortable Conversations had just come out, and I was like, “I don’t know how, but you did it.” Those are the lyrics to the song. And I had been told Uncomfortable Conversations isn’t a good book, it won’t make it, and it had made the bestsellers list, and I’m crying, laughing, hysterically, jogging down Beverly Hills outside of my town house at the time, listening to that song.

BB: That’s a beautiful moment.

EA: Yeah, man.

BB: You have to tell us, “Days of Elijah,” “Imagine Me,” “This Time,” “All of Me,” and “You Made a Way,” in one sentence, what does this say about Acho?

EA: I think this says that I acknowledge that my life is broken, but by the grace of God and His love, I can love other people. I acknowledge… Because “Imagine Me” is acknowledging life is broken, “All of Me” is about love, “You Made a Way” is the grace of God, “Days of Elijah” is the story of God. And so, I think the through line there is like, I’m a very broken human being, but because of love and God’s love, I can now love other people and I’m called to love other people.

BB: We’ll end with an amen, how about that?

EA: That’s why I like you, Brené.

BB: Thank you so much for doing this and congratulations on Illogical. It’s so good.

EA: Thank you.

BB: It’s just… It actually makes no sense that a book called Illogical makes so much sense.


BB: It’s like the book itself captures the spirit of what’s inside the book, it’s so perfect.

EA: That is a phenomenal quote, I’m going to make a quote card. “It makes no sense that a book about illogical can make so much sense”, hyphen Brené Brown.


BB: Do it, sanctioned.


EA: Thank you, darling.

BB: Thank you.


BB: Okay, Barrett, is it always fun to have him on or what?

Barrett Guillen: Always.

BB: Yeah, he’s just… God dang, he’s energetic.

BG: Yes.

BB: Isn’t he?

BG: Yeah.

BB: I love his little idea of, “Keep your fear off me.”

BG: Totally.

BB: Yeah, I’m like, keep your fear off me, but spread some of that energy around friend. You may have noticed that we asked him some rapid-fire questions from Dare to Lead because he did our Unlocking Us rapid fire when he was on last year, so I had to mix it up, throw him off his game, so to speak. Again, his new book is Illogical, you can get it anywhere where you find your books. I love the subtitle, Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits. You can find out more about Acho at All the episodes of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, you can find at And again, always come to our episode page on where you can find links to everything we talk about, all the social media links for our guests and downloads. One thing to note in the church bulletin for this week, the HBO Max series, Atlas of the Heart came out last week…

BG: Whoop whoop!

BB: That’s Barret wooting at us. Oi, it was scary.

BG: So good.

BB: So scary.

BG: So good.

BB: Stop.

BG: So good.

BB: Shut… Oh my God. If you want to know what she was like when she was five… This was it.


BB: “So good Sissy, so good, so good.” Thank y’all for being here today. Thanks for all the support, for the Atlas of the Heart book and for the HBO series. It means more to me than I can ever express in words. It’s really scary to put work out into the world, especially today, where I just want to take cover. I want to take cover and stay under the covers, both, but I know while there’s some shitty stuff that goes on, it also lands in the hands of all of y’all in this community, and we just keep walking together. Alright, stay awkward, brave, and kind. I’ll see you next time.


BB: Unlocking Us is a Spotify original from Parcast, it’s hosted by me, Brené Brown. It’s produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo, Carleigh Madden, and Tristan McNeil, and by Weird Lucy Productions. Sound design by Tristan McNeil, and music is by the amazing Carrie Rodriguez and the amazing Gina Chavez.


© 2022 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2022, April 6). Brené with Emmanuel Acho on Being Illogical. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Parcast Network.

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