Leadership Lessons With Author and Two-Time Founder, Darrah Brustein
I would bring more awareness to the #GiveItForward movement to empower more people to give. It’s powerful what happens when you place your attention, even just for a couple minutes a day, to being of service to someone else. The ripple effect is profound!
I had the pleasure of interviewing author and two-time founder Darrah Brustein. She founded a payment processing company spanning 38 states and a networking events company which serves 30,000+ people, as well as contributes to Forbes and Thrive Global on networking and creating a life of your own design, and has been featured in over 300 press outlets including Time, CNN, Inc, Huffington Post, Fox, and Mashable. She’s on a mission to help others who are disenchanted with “sleep when you’re dead” culture and chasing others people’s definitions of success to build a life of their own design.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve spent the last decade building companies and writing, and there were many moments during that time where I burned out and was delaying my happiness until I hit another milestone. So, I committed to crafting and integrating my life and work intentionally, not choosing one over the other. As a result, I’ve come to learn that my hypothesis was true: you can create a life and a career you love…at the same time…without losing yourself in the process, or succumbing to the fable that you must burn out and sleep when you’re dead. Now I’m on a mission to help other people do it for themselves.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
One that comes to mind is the most recent endeavor: to create a virtual conference for 10,000 or more people, which is entirely free, headlined by some of the world’s most renowned thought-leaders. However, I’d never attended, let alone produced something like that, so had no clue how to make it a reality. That was 8 months ago. Fast-forward to now, and I’m sharing this labor of love with the world with some of the biggest names in this space like Deepak Chopra and Adam Grant!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
With my current focus on the “Life By Design, Not By Default” virtual summit, I’d say the biggest factors which make it stand out are: 1. It’s primarily free, 2. It’s entirely online so accessible to just about anyone, and 3. It’s coming from a place of service, but is still a for-profit entity. It’s primary intention is to help people live fuller, more intentionally designed lives, craft careers or businesses to fund their dreams, and networks to support it. It’s the blueprint I wish I’d had 10 or more years ago.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, the “Life By Design, Not By Default” virtual summit! It’s a free, 3-day online event, created with the purpose of helping people live fuller lives on their terms, fund them through their career or business, and support it through their network. With celebrated speakers like Deepak Chopra, Adam Grant, Kat Cole, Ronny Turiaf, Jen Sincero, and 40 others, it offers so much value at no cost! You can get free tickets and learn more at www.LifeByDesignSummit.com.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
First, make sure you’re thriving. When I come from a place of depletion and try to support my team, the results are weaker. Second, carve out time to connect and really engage with your team in small groups or indiviually if you’re able. This feels really releveant as I just spent a couple hours on a Sunday with a woman on my team who has been exceptional. I’ve seen these investments of time and energy pay huge dividends in committment, engagement, loyalty, and for me- learning!
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
I keep my team relatively small by choice. About 10–15 at any given time. This all comes back to my intention around creating my businesses in ways that support (not impede or hamper) the life I want to live. For me, a big team comes with stresses I’d prefer not to take on.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are thousands. Whether it’s someone who makes an introduction and that opens a door to an opportunity, someone who gave me a chance, or someone who invested in mentoring me, I could thank just about everyone I know for their help in ways big and small. As it pertains to this project, I’d have to thank Adam Grant as he was the first ‘big name’ to sign on and because of that, others felt comfortable to do so, too. Sometimes, you just need one person to say yes so the other dominoes can fall.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I sure hope so! Whether it’s this summit or the #GiveItForward movement I started to empower 1,000,000 people to give in some way, every day, for 30 days, I deeply believe in giving of our resources, time and knowledge to support others!
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why.
- I can’t lead if I’m not listening. I recently had an experience where one team member came to me to share about an unpleasant experience she had with another member of my team. It was tempting for me to just believe it and take action accordingly. Instead, I decided to speak with the person at question and get her side. Theirs stories didn’t add up, but I listened and made decisions about how to proceed only after I fully heard them both out.
- If I’m depleted, I’m doing a disservice to my team. Often, getting the fewest hours of sleep and working the most hours is celebrated. But I came to find that when I showed after buying into these mindsets, that I was in no headspace to lead. So, I decided to start sleeping more and prioritizing my wellness by inviting in a daily meditation practice and other self-care rituals like time with friends and doing things alone that give me energy and a fresh perspective.
- I am not always the best equipped to lead. There have been multiple occasions in the course of my entrepreneurial journey where I was managing members of my team, and I came to realize I was bottlenecking them because I didn’t have capacity, and in some cases, the interest, in doing so. It’s in the moments when I came to realize that I needed to train someone else to take on that role and better empower those teammates.
- If I have no clue how their job should be done, I’m also not a great leader. So, while I don’t try every job or learn the depths of all of them, I prefer to get a working knowledge of each role so that I can both understand and respect their work better.
- Not everyone needs to the same style of leadership. This can be a tough one as it’s easy to defer to your default style of leadership. However, some folks need autonomy, whereas others need hand-holding. Some need consistent accolades, whereas others want to put their head down and produce under-the-radar. I’ve come to learn that I need to be upfront of new members of my team about my leadership style, as well as learn what their needs are and adapt as much as I can to support them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Yes, I would bring more awareness to the #GiveItForward movement to empower more people to give. It’s powerful what happens when you place your attention, even just for a couple minutes a day, to being of service to someone else. The ripple effect is profound!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Success is just one step after failure, however, most people stop at failure.” This has continued to empower me to keep going and re-frame failure. I used to let the fear of failure stop me from taking action in the first place. Now I realize that failure isn’t really any issue if you keep going.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Without hesitation, Oprah! Hey Oprah :)