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On this episode of Unlocking Us

It’s the final episode of our six-part Summer Sister Series on The Gifts of Imperfection with my sisters, Ashley and Barrett, and we finish strong with the last of the Guideposts, #9 and #10 (Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To” and Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”). We talk about how doing meaningful work connects us and how being cool is honestly very lonely. And we finally reach the moment Ashley and Barrett have been waiting for all along — and possibly the only reason they agreed to do this series — they finally get to share their top five songs.

About the guests

Ashley Brown Ruiz headshot

Ashley Brown Ruiz

Ashley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker certified by the State of Texas. She received a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Fueling a passion from working over a decade in a Title 1 school in Houston ISD, Ashley pursued a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work. As part of her role as Senior Director of The Daring Way, she leads The Daring Way Internship Program with students seeking a master’s degree in Social Work. Ashley works with the interns to run therapy groups at different agencies around the Houston area. Her experience comes from working with women in residential recovery, adolescents in recovery, and middle school girls. Ashley’s ability to model and teach vulnerability and courage allows her to help clients put together all the pieces of their lives in order to help them move toward the life they hope to create. She is a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and a member of the National Association of Social Workers.

Barrett Guillen headshot

Barrett Guillen

Barrett Guillen is (OFFICIALLY) Chief of Staff for Brené Brown Education and Research Group and (UNOFFICIALLY) the boss of Brené. With her team, Barrett supports both Brené and the organization by helping to prioritize competing demands, managing relationships, and building connective tissue and strategy across all business initiatives. Barrett holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Kinesiology from the University of Houston. After more than a decade in education in the Texas Panhandle, Barrett and her family made the move back to the Houston area to join the BBEARG team in making the world a braver place.  Having the opportunity to work with her sisters everyday has been one of the great joys of her life. Outside the office, you can find Barrett spending time with her family (immediate and extended), enjoying her daughter’s games, eating her husband’s famous burgers, floating in the water (any water!), or on the pickle ball court.

Show notes

The Gifts of Imperfection 10th-anniversary edition in paperback

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

For over a decade, Brené Brown has found a special place in our hearts as a gifted mapmaker and a fellow traveler. She is both a social scientist and a kitchen-table friend whom you can always count on to tell the truth, make you laugh, and, on occasion, cry with you. And what’s now become a movement all started with The Gifts of Imperfection, which has sold more than two million copies in thirty-five different languages across the globe.

What transforms this book from words on a page to effective daily practices are the ten guideposts to wholehearted living. The guideposts not only help us understand the practices that will allow us to change our lives and families, they also walk us through the unattainable and sabotaging expectations that get in the way. 

“Lyrics are very meaningful to me, I really enjoy connection, and I have a diverse library of music loves.”

“I’m going to borrow President Barack Obama’s answer to this: “I have exquisite taste in music.””


Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us. Welcome to our Sister Strong Six-week Series, I’m doing this summer with my sisters, Ashley and Barrett, on The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s so fun to see all the different ways people are joining us. There are in-real-life book clubs, which is really neat to see, after such a long time. There are online book clubs, sisters are getting together to do it, friends are getting together to do it. I even know some couples that are going to do it together. Here’s what I would do, if you’re interested in following along, you can use the new 10th anniversary edition of The Gifts of Imperfection or you can use your original book, both of them are perfect.

BB: I would start, before you listen to the podcast, I would take The Wholehearted Assessment. You could just go to It’s in The Gifts of Imperfection hub, totally free. It’s really interesting, it gives you kind of a score on all the guideposts, where your strengths are and where your opportunities for improvement are.

BB: Okay, y’all, it’s our last episode.

Barrett Guillen: Woohoo!

Ashley Brown Ruiz: I can’t even believe it.

BB: Can you believe it?

ABR: No.

BG: It’s been such an amazing experience with you two.

ABR: Yeah, it’s been fun.

BB: It’s been fun, it’s been hard. Yeah.

ABR: Yeah. Hard too.

BB: I did not like the in-real-time unfurling of my private neuroses.


BB: Holy shit, man.

BB: So, we are tackling the last two guideposts in The Gifts of Imperfection, Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed-To” and Cultivating Meaningful Work, and Letting Go of Cool and “Always in Control,” Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance. This is going to be a good one.

BG: Yeah, love it.

BB: Yeah, I’m excited about this one. Although, I have some stuff in here. Do you have stuff in here?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Do you have stuff in here?

BG: Yes.

BB: You for sure have some stuff in here, Barrett…


BB: Damn.

BG: I scored the highest here too, so I’m interested to see what you guys have to say.

BB: Oh, you know what? Guidepost nine is my highest and then guidepost 10, Being Cool and “Always in Control” versus Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance is probably closing in on three quarters.

ABR: Mine is closing in on three-quarters, both of these last two are.

BB: Where’s your Meaningful Work one, Barrett?

BG: Both of them are three-quarters.

BB: All right, stay tuned. We’re digging in. Thanks y’all for being here.


BB: All right, y’all, let’s just jump in. Let’s start with guidepost number nine, Cultivating Meaningful Work and Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed-To.” What are your thoughts here? This is all of our highest scores?

BG: Yeah.

ABR: Well, it’s my second highest. These last two tied for my second highest.

BB: Got it. Okay.

BG: Me, too. The values one at the very end is my highest, highest.

BB: Oh yeah, that’s daring values, though, it’s not one of the guideposts. Yeah.

ABR: Oh yeah, so this is my highest, Meaningful Work.

BB: Is it?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: It’s my highest too. So I’m going to do an opposite. Let’s start with “Supposed-To.” Do you think we got a lot of messages growing up about “Supposed -To”?

ABR: Oh yes, for sure.

BG: Mm-hmm

BB: Really?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Around work?

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Say more.

ABR: “You’re not supposed to email me from a business account,” just kidding. Dad’s always been so weird about emailing him from work.


BB: I know, but this is a guy who doesn’t want to talk to you on the cell. He’s like, “Can’t you call me from a landline, sis? This could be monitored.” Like, “No one’s going to steal the book ideas, Dad. Promise.”

ABR: I mean, supposed to be the best, supposed to be the top, supposed to be not using all of your vacation days, pushing through when you’re not feeling good, so I think that there is a lot of “supposed to be’s.”

BG: Yeah, I agree, especially the pushing through.

ABR: Yeah.

BG: Brené, I think you have a blessing and a curse. One of the deepest dig deep buttons there is in the world, you can dig deep and push through anything, which I think is a blessing and a curse, mostly a curse.

BB: Really?

BG: Yeah. I think you can keep going and keep going and keep going and keep going until you just drop.

BB: So I don’t have an endless dig deep button, but no, I have a pretty bad deep… I can dig deep for a long time.

BG: And I think that was how we were raised.

BB: More curse than blessing?

BG: I think it can be. I think for all of us, we have a tendency to push through, I think the older we get, the more aware we are of it, but I think we do have a tendency to push through when we should probably stop.

BB: I’m listening.

ABR: I think if I were you…

BB: Yes, Ashley.

ABR: I would really struggle with the same thing because the ‘asks’ of you are so big and a lot of times, so important, but there is still just only one of you. Do you know what I mean?

BB: You sound just like my therapist right now.

BG: Yeah.

ABR: Oh, great. Well, my hourly fee is…


BG: Yeah, and then terrible that it falls right up in your shit with your number one on the Enneagram.

BB: Oh God, it is really a lethal combination of having to change the world by myself and then actually having some opportunity to do so that, you know…

BG: Well, I think if you were like, “Guys, today’s my last day. I’m retiring”, that the gift that you’ve given the world, it’s irreplaceable.

ABR: Yeah. And it keeps on going. But the problem, it can be too, is that the ‘ask’ from you, there’s not really many people that could take some of those from you. Do you know what I mean? Like we talk about it all the time. It’s not like we’re Acme Brick, we’re Brené Brown. Our team is supporting a person, a thought leader. You know what I mean? So it all just can fall on you, so that’s a lot to hold and I imagine… I’m not as in it in y’all’s sector as y’all are, but…

BB: Yeah, I don’t know, I score off the charts on Meaningful Work. I don’t think I’d be where I am with my work today if I’d had a lot of self-doubt. I mean, I have self-doubt, but I don’t have a lot of professional self-doubt.

BG: Yeah.

BB: You know what I mean? And I don’t have a lot of professional “supposed-to”… Every now and then I’ll stop and be like “Shit, where’s the blueprint for what I’m supposed to do next?” And Murdoch or Steve or somebody will say, or Chaz will say, “There’s no blueprint, no one’s really kind of doing what you’re doing, no one’s… ”

BG: So I guess maybe for me then define what you mean by work “supposed-to.”

ABR: Yeah, maybe that would be helpful.

BG: Because I feel like we did get messages about how we were supposed to do things, which we maybe were thinking about it in the wrong way.

BB: Well, I think you’re supposed to care about making money, not meaning. You’re supposed to grow up and be a… I didn’t feel like there was pressure in our family, like everyone needs to be a lawyer,

BG: Oh, yeah

BB: everyone needs to be an engineer, everyone needs to be a doctor.

ABR: No, no.

BB: Or you’re supposed to really love every moment of what you do, or you’re supposed to hate your job, no one loves their job, or you’re supposed to quit your job and follow your bliss, because that’s… I don’t think we were raised with a lot of expectations around work, except for… We did get some “supposed-to” around terminal uniqueness. I think we got some, “We’re the Browns.”

BG: Yeah.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: You’re a Brown. I remember the first time I went to go apply at Cactus Records or something, I was like, “Man, Dad, there’s no girls that work there at all.” I was like 14 and a half, hardship license, pickup truck. And he’s like, “Damn it, sis, you’re a Brown, you want to work at the record store, you work at the record store.” Like one set of rules for the world and one set of rules for us.  Or if I got a bad grade that I didn’t think I deserved, he would interrogate the teacher.

BG: Oh Lord.

BB: Just some terminal uniqueness.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Did you all not experience that?

ABR: Oh no, we totally did.

BG: Mm-hmm.

BB: Yeah.

ABR: Yeah, and when you look at the questions that are on page 144 about the “supposed-to,” I don’t feel like I got any of those. I feel like I could say, “I’m going to be a teacher,” he’d be like, “I love it. You would be so great, the passion that you have. Don’t care about money, like love it.” You know what I mean? I feel like we’ve always been supported in those senses.

BG: Yeah, and I think we all love the work we do now.

ABR: Oh yeah.

BB: Yeah, but there can be too much of it at times.

BG: That’s true.

BB: Yeah. And I think what about self-doubt? I can have self-doubt at work sometimes.

ABR: Oh, for sure.

BG: Yeah, I can too.

BB: I’ll share a secret, don’t listen if you’re in the public. Sometimes if I read a really shitty comment about a book or a review or something, I’ll go and find shitty comments from books and authors that I really love, and I’ll be like, “That’s okay, this person got one too.” [laughter] You know, it’s so hard. It’s like what they say in AA, “Misery doesn’t love company, it demands it.” [laughter] I’m like, “Okay, we’re good.” But I do have self-doubt, a lot.

ABR: Yeah.

BG: Yeah.

BB: No. I don’t know, do I? [laughter] They’re laughing in there really hard because I said, “I don’t think I have self-doubt, do I?”


ABR: I think I do, for sure, because sometimes I feel like I’m on an island by myself, with the part of my job that I do, there’s not a lot of collaboration on that side, and that can feel hard, so that’s when I can get into my self doubt as opposed to having someone to bounce ideas off and stuff.

BB: And it goes back to you around connection.

ABR: I know, it’s crazy.

BB: Do you think the self-doubt for you is more about feeling disconnected and people not understanding or valuing your contribution and what you do?

ABR: Yeah, probably.

BG: And my question to you, Brené would be, do you have self-doubt or just a lot of curiosity?

BB: I don’t have a lot of self-doubt.

BG: I don’t think you do.

BB: No.

BG: I think you have a lot of questions, but I think that’s part of the process.

BB: I’m insatiably curious about things.

BG: Yeah.

BB: But I don’t think I have a lot of self-doubt around my ability to do meaningful work.

BG: I think we’ve all kind of found our right seat on the bus and I think we’re all sitting in some grounded confidence in where we are, that’s my experience of where we are right now.

BB: I don’t think this is a lucky thing that it’s our highest score. I think that I want to back into… For people who will struggle with this one that might have higher ones, where we have low ones and are struggling with this one, I think there’s a lot of skills building that we’ve put into, even with our kids. It’s not the ‘follow your bliss’ thing, that, I’m not critical of that, but it just doesn’t resonate for me probably, but there is a lot of, if you’re doing what you love, you will make a huge contribution no matter what that is, but I think we’ve done a lot of skills building around getting us into the right jobs, doing the right things.

BB: There was a time where I had a lot of self-doubt in my job since I’ve been a writer and a research professor, I think you all both had a lot of self-doubt in your jobs, but I think we work very hard to understand, what is the value we bring, what is the best position to leverage that value and to contribute, what are the skills we don’t have, how do we skill up around those things? And so, I want for people that are like, “Oh my God, my whole life is riddled with ‘supposed to’ and self-doubt career-wise, and I don’t have meaningful work.” I don’t want you to think that we score high on this one because it’s easy for us.  I actually think we work on this probably hours and hours and hours a week.

BG: I agree.

ABR: I agree too.

BB: I think this is the function of the three of us working together, in a company where just, it looks at this every…I mean

ABR: I mean, it’s part of our goals meetings.

BB: It’s part of our meetings, it’s part of a, “How do we balance this? What is their values? What are your personal values? What’s the alignment?” so…

ABR: Where do you want to be in five years?

BB: Yeah, yeah, so I think if we took any of the ones that we struggle with on the guideposts, like anxiety and calm and stillness or rest and play, and put as much time into those as we put into trying to figure out work, we’d be in better shape. [laughter]

BG: Yeah.

ABR: And I think it’s really cool the work we do, because you can actually see a difference.  Some people work, work, work and work, and don’t really ever see what their work leads to, but for me, when I’m implementing The Daring Way, I can see the change it’s making in people.

BB: Yeah. We have a lot of evidence and a lot of validation. I think one thing that I will say about Meaningful Work and Self-Doubt is as I ventured in… I mean, I do a lot of work around race and I do a lot of work around oppression and…

ABR: Oh yeah.

BB: I do a lot of social justice work, that work can fill me up with self-doubt, and I think one of the things that has really allowed me to walk into those issues and try to be a good co-conspirator and a great ally, and sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not, but I think what helps me around the self-doubt is this insatiable learning thing is, “I’m just here to get it right, I’m not here to be right. I don’t value being right as much as I value learning and trying to get things right.” So I think that’s a big part of Meaningful Work is a mastery over success. Always learning, always getting better. And I’ll tell you the other thing that helps me around self-doubt and work is, I don’t know, do you think a day goes by Barrett where I don’t get some kind of hard feedback about something?

BG: I don’t think so.

BB: Yeah. I get a lot of corrective and hard feedback every day, publicly, behind the scenes, and so I become very good at listening, taking what I need to learn from, and fairly good about letting go of the rest, sometimes it takes a toll on me, but most of the time. So I think… I guess what I’m saying is, just like everything else in this book, this is a practice, this is a real practice. And do you hear us putting this practice through this whole podcast series? I think Barrett has said a couple of things that were very Jim Collins, she said that we’re on the right seats, on the right bus. That’s a Jim Collins. We’ve talked about our priorities at work, that’s Jim Collins. We’ve talked about Simon’s work, we just read a lot and do a lot of that work. All right, last one, Being Cool and “Always in Control,” Letting Go of that and Cultivating more Laughter, Song and Dance.

ABR: I was going to go, “caw-caw”!


BB: So I will tell you this, that letting go of being cool is hard because cool was a very high value in our family, higher than self-worth, higher than safety, physical safety, higher than doing things legally.  I mean, like, it didn’t matter what you put at risk, who you put at risk, including yourself, as long as you had a really funny cool story at the end of it.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I’m pretty through that. But are y’all pretty through that?

ABR: I think one of the things that’s gotten me through this is all of the many Daring Way trainings that we’ve done where you have people face each other and laugh and dance and stuff, and just the common humanity, in this one in particular has really helped me through that one.

BB: Yeah, I mean we do a lot of exercises around this because there’s a lot of vulnerability around laughter and singing and dancing in that order.

BG: Yeah.

BB: I remember growing up and hearing people, especially women, laugh loudly and kind of guffaw and knee-slap and Dad being like, “Hey now, pull yourself together.”

BG: Yeah.

BB: Like that’s losing a little bit of cool, right?

BG: Yeah.

BB: So I think when you see people, when you ask people to laugh and sing and dance, and you see the people in these trainings that we do fold their arms over their chests and turn purple, and literally it’s like, this is going to kill me. I cannot physically allow myself this physical vulnerability. You do see the shared humanity in it.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: What about you, Barrett?

BG: This has been a hard one for me, I think I was always… Tried to be in the cool arena, but damn, I just don’t want it for Gabby, so I just make myself do it. And the older I get, the less I give a shit about being cool anymore. Now I just want to have fun and make memories and be silly and that whole cool straitjacket. What is it for? It’s part of the armor that I’m getting rid of in mid-life.

BB: Where do you think you got that? Because I always thought of you as probably the coolest or at least…

BG: Pretended to be?

BB: Yeah.

BG: I don’t know. I think it was perfectionism. I think it was a way for me to be in control. I think it probably being an athlete my whole life…

BB: Yeah.

BG: I just always felt like I could never let anything get to me, and so on the outside, I don’t think I could ever show that something bothered me. Or I think it’s a weak thing, honestly, you can’t be weak.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Yeah. Don’t be weak. What about you? I don’t think of you as super cool.


BG: That’s Ashley, by the way.

BB: That’s Ashley that I’m talking to. No, I think of you as… I do think of you coming down the stairs like Barrett kind of coming down with some swagger and her basketball under her arm and her socks the first day.

ABR: Like don’t mess with me.

BB: Mess with me at your own peril, and then you coming down like, singing the theme song of Gigi with a..

ABR: [singing] “Thank heaven for little girls”

BB: I see you coming down with that, really with a parasol for your first day at kindergarten. Mom didn’t let you take it.

ABR: She’s such an asshole. [laughter] Just kidding. I definitely think that there is time in my life where I wouldn’t get up and dance and I wouldn’t be in the laughter and stuff, but I think it was more my own shame than it was fear, so I think it was the worthy and the enough stuff that stopped me from doing that. Like, “If I walked away from this party in sixth grade, would my friends come look for me?” crazy stuff like that. But I feel like the older I get, the more I’m like… I think for one, music means so much to me that it’s really hard to separate the song and dance.

BB: Yeah

ABR: And I also think the personality that our family has, it’s hard to get away from the laughter, because we’re pretty much smart-asses, and that starts with Dad, Mom, all of us. So… What about you, Brené?

BB: I think cool has been a hard thing. Yeah, I think cool has been a hard thing. I just don’t think I was very cool.

ABR: This is one of those times that it’s really hard because I look at you and I think some of your stories are so cool, but they also must have been really scary. Like after high school on your journey …..

BB: Hmm.

ABR: across Europe…Yeah, I think, “Oh my God, she’s so cool”.

BB: Yeah, no. Like, “Oh my God. Thank God she’s alive.”

ABR: Yeah.

BG: Yeah.

BB: Yeah. And the only reason I got to go is because they were in the middle of this divorce.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Dad was like, “Yes, you can go to Europe” and Mom was like, “She’s 17.” So it was like a proving thing that I got to go, but I had no business there, and barely survive. Probably.

ABR: Just that you even wanted to go though, I thought was cool. I always feel like you’ve been…. you had a bright yellow room with a parrot.

BG: You were like a trendsetter, like you were always ahead of the curve.

ABR: Yeah. I always thought you were really cool.

BG: You dress cool…

ABR: You drove a Volvo before Volvos were cool. I mean like…

BB: I drove a Volvo in the ’90s, it was from 1969, so I don’t think I was…

ABR: Even cooler.


BB: I don’t think I was early on the Volvo thing. And it was so rusted out on the floor board, you could see the street.


ABR: There’s nothing wrong with a little Flintstones…


BB: I was a little Fred Flintstone… No, I think I always thought of y’all as cool, because I was more like kind of pot smoking, French Club. I wanted to “Get the hell out of Dodge,” because I was reading books about Studio 54 and Paris in high school. What’s the fast train out of Spring, Texas? How far could I get from Spring? And back then, I thought the furthest point in the whole world would be Europe. Y’all were popular in school. I was not popular in school.

BG: But Ashley was popular in school.

ABR: I did.. I had a lot of friends, but I feel like I was starting to replace what I wasn’t getting at home with my friends.

BB: Got it.

ABR: Yeah. I always looked up to you and thought you were really cool. I thought Barrett was always really cool too, because she played sports and she was so good, I was one of your biggest cheerleaders at all your games, even to the point where I got in trouble because I was so loud.  But, I don’t know, I just… I always thought of it, both of you all as cool. I mean, even to this day, I look at y’all and I think… There’s always pieces from y’all that I want to bring into my own life.

BG: Oh me too.

BB: Yeah, me too. Yeah, I don’t worry about being cool very much anymore.

ABR: No.

BG: No, I’m totally over that. It’s so exhausting. Why?

BB: It’s so exhausting. And man, I can tell you for the parents out there listening, if you put a lot of value on cool with your kids, you can just really expect high-risk behaviors.

ABR: Oh yeah, that was me, at school.

BB: Yeah, that was me too.

BG: Me too.

BB: Yeah, and self-destructive, high-risk behaviors.

ABR: Mm-hmm.

BG: Mm-hmm.

BB:  So I think… I don’t know, for me, I think that’s sometimes hard about having teenagers, it’s because you see them paralyzed by some of the cool stuff.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: They can get right in your stuff really fast, you’re like, I’m pretty sure that my kids… Well, Ellen thinks I’m awkward and weird, and that’s good. But Charlie, I think he’s like, “Oh, you’re so uncool.” But sometimes on purpose, I’ll use whatever the newest word is in the wrong way, and he’ll be like, “Don’t use it like that.” You know, but yeah, I think it is… Cool is lonely.

ABR: Cool is lonely.

BG: Yeah, it is.

BB: And it’s a straitjacket. Yeah, and it’s easy to pass down to your kids.

ABR: So what does Laughter, Song and Dance bring y’all?

BB: We’re a very music family.

ABR: We are.

BG: Mm-hmm.

BB: Yeah.

ABR: Which I love.

BB: It’s weird because Mom and Dad are not music people.

ABR: Really?

BB: No.

ABR: Because even this weekend, Dad was like, “Will you please put on some Roy Orbison?” Okay.


BG: I remember going to the river or something, and we would all be in that damn Suburban and he’d put on this tape and he would be like, [singing] “Chantilly lace and a pretty face. And a ponytail… ”

ABR: And he was always like… What’s the song he always sings?

BB: “Poison Ivy.”

BG: “Poison Ivy.”

BB: Yeah, he did like “Chantilly Lace” and “Poison Ivy.”

ABR: Well and I remember too, on Sundays waking up from my room listening to the Houston Oilers song.

BB: That’s because football was on. That’s different.


BB: [singing] “Houston Oilers.”

BB, BG, ABR:[singing] “Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers number one.”

BB: Yeah, that one.

ABR: There was a small album too, what was that, 35…

BB: What was it? 45?

ABR: 45.

BG: Yeah.

ABR: Whatever it takes.


BB: Yeah, I think we’re a good amount of goofy with our kids as a…

BG: I do too. And grateful for how, when we don’t have the right amount of goofy, the other ones do.

BB: Yeah.

ABR: Yeah, for sure.

BB: Ashley’s always got us covered.


ABR: I’ll take it, I love it.

BB: No, it’s good. And then really, if there’s short supply, there’s always Steve, my husband, who has zero of this.

BG: Yeah.

BB: He really has zero of this.

BG: Yeah.

BB: He is really centered on just Steve. What’s good… Laughing, Song and Dance for Steve.


BB: All right, rapid fire questions.

ABR: I don’t know these. I mean, I know them but I don’t know them.

BB: Okay, we’ll start with you then Ashley.

ABR: Great, cool.

BB: Fill in the blank. Vulnerability is?

ABR: Vulnerability is the pathway to happiness.

BB: Barrett?

BG: Hard as shit.

BB: Okay, Barrett, you’re called to be very brave, but your fear is real and you can feel it right in your throat. What’s the very first thing you do?

BG: Just keep moving.

BB: Ashley? Fear is real. You can feel it right there in your throat.

ABR: I’m probably really mean.

BB: Do what?

ABR: I’m probably really mean…


BB: So you work it out on somebody else?

ABR: Yeah. Offload.


BB: Offload.  What about in your ideal self?

ABR: In my integrated self, I would thank you kindly for the invitation and keep doing it.


BB: Okay. Barrett, what’s something that people often get wrong about you?

BG: That I’m silly.


BB: That you’re silly?

BG: That I can be silly.

BB: You can’t?

BG: No, I think people get that wrong. They think that I’m in control and cool, and I can be silly.

BB: Oh, got it. Okay, yeah, because I was like, you can be silly.

BG: Yeah.

ABR: I was thinking the same thing.

BB: What’s something people often get wrong about you, Ashley?

ABR: That I’m really, really nice all the time.


BB: Fair enough. [laughter] Okay, Ashley, the last TV show that you binged and loved.

ABR: Oh, I just re-watched Sex in the City.

BB: That was good.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: Barrett?

BG: Okay, I’ve got two shows that we’ve been watching and we love them so much. They’re more like family type shows, but they’re so good. And the first one is Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, it’s on DisneyPlus, and it’s kind of an extension of the original Mighty Ducks. Oh my God, it’s so good. And then the second one is also on DisneyPlus, and it’s called Big Shots, and it’s John Stamos, and he’s a basketball coach, and it’s really good, but during the pandemic, we as a family have been binging these shows and we really, really loved them.

BB: Barrett, favorite movie or one of your favorite movies?

BG: Love & Basketball.

BB: Hmm.

ABR: Oh man. I was asked this the other day, and I think I said Sound of Music. [laughter]

BB: That’s perfect. Barrett, a concert that you’ll never forget?

BG: Oh, Garth Brooks with the three of us in San Antonio.

BB: Oh God, so fun.

ABR: Yeah, that was fun.

BB, BG, ABR:  [singing] “Operator won’t you put me on through. I gotta send my love down to Baton Rouge. Hurry up gotta put her on the line.”

ABR: [singing]“Gotta get to my girl just one more time… I gotta got to her…”

BB: Concert you’ll never forget.

ABR: Concert I’ll never forget. I’ll go with Garth.

BB: Garth?

BG: Garth in San Antonio with all of us. Yeah, it was really fun.

BB: So fun. Okay.

BG: Not the Garth where you caught your nail on fire with your lighter.


ABR: My fake nail that was… Yeah.

BB: Okay, listen, if you haven’t caught a long fake nail on fire with your lighter at a concert…

BG: Are you really living? [laughter]

BB: Are you really alive? Come on.

BG: Wait, can we just, can we just take a second here, and talk about our very first concert, Ashley and I? Brené took us to see AC/DC, but we really just wanted to see White Lion, because they were opening for AC/DC. And then they were passing a joint down our aisle, and Brené was like, “Just look forward and do not accept anything!” [laughter] We were like in sixth grade or something. [laughter]

BB: Oh my God. I think I was a big pot smoker then, too. I don’t know… [laughter]

ABR: It’s probably why she didn’t want us to look…


BB: Oh man. I was like… Y’all are like, “Oh my God, White Lion!” and I was like, “Who is this? [laughter] Like, who is this?”

BG, ABR: [singing] “Wait, wait. I never had a chance to love you.”


BB: Oh my God. Y’all see, this is… Yeah. Okay, okay, y’all threw me off with the White Lion. Okay, wait, is this when they were still at the Summit?

ABR: Yes.

BB: And we had Dad drop us off and he was pissed off because there was traffic, so he dropped us on the wrong side of the freeway and made us run across the highway, both ways.

BG: Yeah. Like on 59, yeah.

BB: I remember that. I was like, “Serpentine! Zig zag.” Yeah, like Frogger. Okay. Okay, favorite meal, Barrett?

BG: Frankie’s grilled cheeseburgers.

ABR: Mexican food, anything.

BB: Okay. Specifically?

ABR: Queso and fajitas.

BB: Okay. Barrett, what’s on your nightstand?

BG: Advil PM, Xyzal, three water bottles and a lamp. [laughter]

ABR: I got a lamp. I got that, like if you’re feeling a little older and don’t remember if you’ve taken your medicine box… [laughter]

BB: The Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. [laughter]

ABR: Yeah. I got that. And then I have some books.


BG: It’s funny.

BB: She’s laughing at your medicine box.

ABR: You’ll be there soon.

BB: Y’all are exactly nine minutes apart. You’ll be there in nine minutes.


BB: Okay, a snapshot, Ashley, of an ordinary moment in your life that gives you joy.

ABR: Oh, hanging out with Amaya.

BB: Mm-hmm, Barrett?

BG: Playing volleyball in the pool with the family.

BB: Okay, tell me one thing, Ashley, that you’re grateful for right now.

ABR: You two.

BB: Aw, I’m grateful for you, too.

ABR: Thank you.

BG: Ditto, you two.

BB: Grateful for you, too. Okay, we’ll skip the music stuff.

ABR: No. I’ve been working on this list for five months.


BB: Okay, mini-mix tape. Ashley, five songs you can’t live without.

ABR: “The Story,” Brandi Carlile, “Dreams,” Van Halen, “Fast Car,” Tracy Chapman, “Heavenly Day,” Patty Griffin, Blue October, “Fear,” Garth Brooks “You Move Me” and “The Gambler,” Kenny Rogers. [laughter]

BB: I told you, you could only have five.

ABR: I couldn’t do it!

BB: Okay, “Heavenly Day” and then slow down and go ahead and cheat. [laughter]

ABR: Where did I stop?

BB: “Heavenly Day.”

ABR: “Heavenly Day.” Did you get Blue October, “Fear”?

BB: No.

ABR: Garth Brooks, “You Move Me”, “The Gambler”, Kenny Rogers.

BB: Okay, in one sentence. Cheater, cheater.

ABR, BB: Pumpkin eater.

BB: In one sentence, what does that say about you, that playlist, your mini-mix tape?

ABR: My mini-mix tape says about me that lyrics are very meaningful to me, comma, I really enjoy connection, comma and I have a diverse library of music loves. Period.

BB: That was so… [laughter] You look like Dad, when you were doing it, “comma, therefore and to for out.” [laughter] Okay, Barrett, five songs.

BG: Okay, I’m going to start with number one, “Rise Up” Andra Day, number two: “For Her” The Chicks. Number three: “Amarillo By Morning”, George Strait.

ABR: I can get on board.

BB: Okay, me too.

BG: Number four: Maxwell, “This Woman’s Work”

BB: Hmm.

ABR: That’s a great song.

BB: That’s a great song.

ABR: It’s from your movie, too.

BG: Uh-huh, Love & Basketball.

BB: Yeah. I love that song.

BG: And number five: “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks.

BB: Good. Thank you all. We did it.

BG: Wait, wait, so I’d like to tell you what this mini-mix tape…

BB: Oh sorry…

BG: I’m going to borrow President Barack Obama’s answer to this, “I have exquisite taste in music.”


ABR: Can you please tell us your five?

BB: No.

ABR: Okay.

BB: For another podcast, maybe.

ABR: That’s fair.

BB: We can sing them out because they’ve gone through so much with us. Should we sing our nice Unlocking Us crew out?

ABR: Oh yeah.

BG: Oh sure, let’s do it.

BB: Ready? One, two, three.

0:32:51 BB, BG, ABR: [singing] “Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on? Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?”

BB: Okay, we’ll stop there.

BG, ABR: Bye, bye. [laughter]

BB: Bye, y’all.


BB: Thank you for joining us for this series. [laughter] You’re like… “Well, I just don’t trust her anymore.” [laughter] All right, this is the end of the Summer Series on The Gifts of Imperfection, and we value imperfection, including your music list.


BB: No, it was a good music list.

ABR: That wasn’t funny.


BG: Okay, I thought it was good.

BB: Don’t forget that we’re taking a short break, we’ve got great line-ups for guests this fall, both podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead. We’re exclusively here on Spotify and just grateful for y’all. How cool are the people that listen and share their thoughts and ideas on social… It’s just…

BG: So fun.

BB: Yeah.

ABR: I’m so excited to see how everybody went through this and what they learned with each other too.

BB: Yeah, I love it.

ABR: Yeah.

BB: All right, y’all take good care. Stay awkward, brave and kind.


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 Andy Waits, and music is by the amazing Carrie Rodriguez and the amazing Gina Chavez.


© 2021 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2021, July 28). Part 6 of 6: Brené with Ashley and Barrett for the Summer Sister Series on The Gifts of Imperfection. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Parcast Network.

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