The Power of Connection with Stephanie Keller

A Look Inside The BRAVE Society’s CEO Debriefs

Hey, hey, bold leaders. Welcome to the Bold Leadership Revolution podcast. I’m your host, Tara Newman, and I have a passion for helping everyday humans perform in extraordinary ways. This is the place where we dish on everything from mental toughness to emotional wellbeing and what it takes to really perform at your best at a really high level. We are here to help you embrace your ambition and leave the grind behind.

By popular demand. We are taking you behind the scenes of the biweekly CEO debrief that we host in The BRAVE Society. One thing I’m a big believer in is the power of radical self-reflection. I also believe the best leadership development tool is your journal. It’s just that simple. Take for example, if you want to lose weight, you would log your food each day. If you are a pro athlete and you wanted to improve your performance, you would track your workout every day.

It’s the same thing. And that’s really what the CEO debrief is about. It’s a weekly tool for self-reflection. And why it is so important is that it has allowed me and my clients to move more quickly in our businesses, have tough conversations with greater confidence, make big and scary decisions with greater clarity and certainty, shift beliefs and mindsets that have held us back. Celebrate our wins because the more you acknowledge your wins, the more you win. And it’s provided a record of our best and most valuable lessons so we can review them over and over and over again. Now the CEO debrief is a weekly self-reflection tool and what I have found is most people need a good dose of accountability to sit down each week, sitting down for an hour to reflect on where you are and where you want to go isn’t always as easy as it sounds.


One, hold you accountable to sitting down and spending the necessary time on this.

Two, t’s an opportunity to do it with me. As people sit there and listen to my debrief, they jot their own notes.

Three, it’s like training. Sometimes we struggle to come up with the language or range of emotions or we fail to see opportunities that are right in front of our face. So when you hear somebody else’s thoughts and perspectives, it’s helpful to kind of jog your own.

And there’s a bonus reason why we do these biweekly debriefs and that is for connection and conversation. So while I’m in the Zoom debriefing, people are often chatting in the chat box. It’s a come as you are experience. It’s really laid back. Babies come, pets come, people show up in their towel from their shower. And it’s just this really amazing opportunity to build community connection and conversation. So let’s dive right in to your behind the scenes sneak peek into our biweekly CEO debrief.



You know, I want to share a little bit about why we do these debriefs because as I’m going back into exploring the work that I’m here to do in a different way by kind of straddling these professional organizations that I started becoming a part of again and reality, because one of the biggest complaints when you go to these professional organizations and you surround yourself with the academics is this is all theory, but then we have to go and apply it. And that is something that I’ve always done really well in my career, is the application of the theory. Also challenging the theory. Michelle Mazer would be so proud of me. You know, I rebel against a lot of it. There’s a lot of nonsense that happens even though it’s been proven true in research.

So really what I want to share with you about these debriefs, this is your performance evaluation each week when you do these debriefs. This is your opportunity to on a weekly, not monthly, not quarterly, not semiannually, because none of that works. We have to be doing this weekly or else we start to forget. We focus on what was most recent. We’re not in the now, we’re in the past, creating whatever kind of feelings we have about the past. So the point of these debriefs is for you to sit down and evaluate your performance on a weekly basis as a human being and a business owner.

You are the most accurate reporter of your performance despite what people want you to believe. So I’m a huge proponent of the work of Marcus Buckingham. Has anybody heard of Marcus Buckingham? Okay. He’s a the strengths guy, right? If you guys have done StrengthsFinder from the Gallup, he’s that guy and he’s about 10 years older than me. So when I was in grad school, we weren’t studying his work. His work wasn’t yet available. He was just kind of starting to seed his work because he and I, we have the same background. We’re in organizational development, which is, we’re concerned with how we work, right? You are all out there putting your heads down, doing the work, and I’m up here going, but we need to look at how the work gets done, right? Let’s pick our head’s up for a second and look at how the work is getting done.

And so as I started my career, he started taking off and I’ve been a follower of him for a long time and he just had an article out in Harvard Business Review because he has a new book coming out and the article was about the feedback fallacy, right? And how there is a lot of rater bias when you do performance appraisals. That I am not a good rater of your performance. You are the best rater of your performance. And what he talks about is that I am not a source of truth for you. That’s what he says. That I am not a source of truth for you and rater reliability and accuracy is crap. However, here’s how we all come together. We sit here and we do these CEO debriefs and we are an accurate reporter of self. Here’s where we all come into the mix for each other is that we are an accurate reporter of our reaction to each other.

So Tricia stands up and gives a speech. I know what my reaction is to her speech. I know if I think she’s boring or if I was really engaged. Another example of this is when Heidi is doing the intake reform reviews on her Instagram, I can give her my reaction to what is going on there. And my reaction is, Heidi, this is interesting and unique. it’s working. So how can we all come together and be giving each other reaction of what’s working? Is that? Rebecca’s like, no. So he says that when I give you feedback, I’m giving you my experience of you. You then get to take that and decide if that is your truth. One. And two, yeah. It’s helpful to know how people that matter to you are experiencing you. But it’s my reaction to you. It’s not, I’m not your truth. And so one of the things that I would like to see us all do is help each other better understand what’s working through our reactions to each other.

And so that’s kind of some of what I try and highlight on these CEO Debriefs in the beginning when I acknowledge, I try and acknowledge everybody for something that they’ve said. I can’t watch everybody all the time, but I am engaging with you and and in your content or online space or whatever. And I try and acknowledge what I’m experiencing from you. So yesterday I said, “Michelle,” a DM on Instagram, right? Like she’s highlighting on Wednesday, she’s highlighting people’s three word rebellions, which is so helpful to see example, to see the context and the clarity of what she’s talking about. So I had a experience with that that I was like, “Oh, that’s helpful. That’s engaging. I like when you do that.” Right? That’s helping her understand what’s working. But for me to give her feedback on how she should do something is not helpful.

And I can present, he’s got some videos on this that I will also share because that’s really what I want you to understand about the CEO debrief is this is you reporting on you, and you know you best and you are the most accurate reporter of you. I get entrepreneurs, small business owners whatever you want to call them and even C suite executives asking me all the time about how do I get feedback. I need feedback. I’m not, I need somebody to help me see these things. Because even when you rise to the ranks to like a VP or a CEO, you’ve gone from maybe having somebody giving you feedback in that system to getting to a point where now you report into the CEO or you are the CEO and the CEO does not give you feedback. That’s just not how it works in corporate. At that point they’re like, “You’re on your own, figure it out or you’re done.” So you know, they’re like, “Well how do I get this feedback?” And their feedback is irrelevant. Your feedback is what matters.

And the other thing that I want to share is about why we do these CEO Debriefs is because this is learning. Learning is when you connect with insight. Learning isn’t something that gets put in despite what we’re being told. Take the course, consume the thing. That’s how learning happens. That’s actually not how learning happens. Learning happens is when we extrapolate what’s inside of us to create an insight or connection and leaving together the things that we collect, the little breadcrumbs that we’ve collected along the way, right? So that’s another purpose for this CEO Debrief is for those pulling out those insights and those learnings about self to connect to each other. That’s learning. So I wanted to kind of give the purpose and the importance that this isn’t just a fluffy journaling exercise, right? This will actually help you move forward incrementally.


This is one of my favorite least favorite questions that I ask myself and I haven’t answered it in the last few weeks because I’ve got other things to talk about. But today I actually immediately had a gut response to this question and I’m like, okay, we’re going to share this. So what’s embarrassing or where am I feeling shame? I’m tired and this is my, this is like where I get into the shame vortex that I’m not supposed to be tired. I’m supposed to have unlimited energy. I’m supposed to be able to go, go, go. Do, do, do. And nobody should know that I’m tired. That it’s a place of weakness for a leader to be tired and to need rest. And really that none of that is true. That is what society wants us to believe.

I can go on a rant about the patriarchy right now, but I won’t because everything could be tied back to that. But anyway. That is where, it’s funny because ever since I was in college, my greatest fear …Let’s talk about like the law of attraction and how we create shit for ourselves, whether we like it or not. So ever since college, my biggest fear is being tired. I think I was probably the only college kid that would calculate like how long they could stay out based on how many hours of sleep they needed to get and then made sure they left the party in time to get home and to get into bed and to have the amount of sleep, because then they needed to wake up. And if I woke up and I was tired, that would be the worst thing that ever happened to me. I feared it full body. So it does not surprise me in the least that I burned out. I called that shit in. Right. And it doesn’t surprise me that for the last 10 years this has been my dance that I’ve been doing and cycling through burnout and things like that.

I do want to share that what I’ve been talking about lately is disconnecting burnout and work. So what I really want people to understand is your work won’t burn you out. There are physical reasons why people burn out. There are energetic reasons why people burn out. But we can extrapolate that from your work because a lot of women, especially in the online world where we now have marketing messages around burnout because of how, let’s just capitalize on it all, where we’re basically connecting work and burnout. And people, women, that I speak to, “Well, if I succeed that I’m going to burn out. If I make more money than I’m going to burn out.” Now we have one more excuse why we’re not going to rise, right? And why we’re not going to step into being those economic powerhouses that we can be and that’s untrue.

I’m in burnout because I have physical reasons why I’m in burnout. I’ve active Epstein-Barr, I have some genetic stuff going on. I clearly have some food allergies that are causing my body to have a physical response that is making me very, very tired. I am not tired because of my work. And if you are tired because of your work, you’re just not doing the right work, but it’s not all work will burn you out. It’s the wrong work will burn you out. And then if you’re doing the right work and then you still start to feel like you’re burning out, it’s the energy in which you’re bringing to your work. So the fact that you’re seeding your work with I’m not good enough, it has to be hard. The energy of those things is what will burn you out. Those beliefs, not the actual work. Not success because success doesn’t come when we believe we’re not enough. Success doesn’t come when we don’t believe we’re worthy or valuable.

So we really need to, from over two decades of studying the world of work, I really need to be a stand for the fact that work does not equal burnout. So yeah, embarrassing. I’m tired. But really it makes a lot of sense.


There’s very often, we can sit here and look at data and we can make predictions. But at the end of the day, anything can happen. And this is why I really want to encourage everybody to not buy formulas or blueprints and really engage your critical thinking because we need to be able to, we all need whether you are, whether you’re someone who’s like, “Oh I’m an expert in what I do.” Like, right? Like the e-myth. I’m the expert in what I do, but I’m not good at managing or leading, that kind of stuff. We all need to have some strategic thinking and critical thinking capabilities. And this is, I was going to do a podcast episode called Online Business Killed the Entrepreneur but then realized I would be sued by entrepreneur for using entrepreneur in the title of the podcast.

Because what I’m seeing is, is that there’s this online business model, there’s this online business formula, there’s this online business blueprint, and if you follow those things, and then what I see people doing is you follow it, you have some success, then you’re like, “Oh I’m going to do this thing. So I’m going to buy this blueprint.” And you’re building your business by cobbling together blueprints. You are fucked. Because at some point you’re going to need to make a decision and it’s not going to be on the goddamn blueprint. At some point you’re going to have you having a dark night of the soul and the person who sold you the blueprint doesn’t want anything to do with you. They just want you to follow the blueprint. And it’s becoming even worse for our next generation of leaders, which is why we all need to really be modeling critical thinking and strategic thinking skills.

And it’s made worse because poor Steve Jobs, I don’t think he really thought about this when he did this, but we have one button. Who needs strategic thinking when you can access the world with one button? You type your question into Google. You get an answer. Might not be the best answer, but you get an answer and you’re like, “I’m going to follow that answer.” You don’t have to think about anything. The other day I was watching Game of Thrones and I was like, “What are the Game of Thrones nerds saying about this episode?” And I’m like, “Well, Tara, why don’t you some critical thinking and create your own perspectives and thoughts and beliefs and opinions about the Game of Thrones episode and then go look at what other people are having to say about it.” Right? Because that’s me not critical thinking that’s me going, “Oh, all the answers are right here for me.” I don’t have to really think about the significance of Daenerys being the aunt, which by the way, I thought it was the sister. I’m so confused. Anyway. So I need to do my own critical thinking.

And that was a rant. I don’t know where I’m going with that one, ladies. But I’m there. So taking risks in your business. There’s not a blueprint for risk. I could buy a course to tell me how to run a retreat, but that’s not going to help me take the leap to run the retreat and take the risk to outlay the money and to take on the responsibility of potentially … That’s where I’m saying like I’m grappling with how much risk am I going to take. I’m hosting two retreats next year. One internationally, one domestically. They might be some really expensive vacations because before you do anything in your business, you have to ask yourself the question, am I willing to do this if it results in a goose egg? What if nobody shows up? What will I do?

And I know there is some positive psychology mindset gurus out there going, “No, no, you can’t think like that. It’s all positive.” But you really do have to explore the negative in order to get yourself to the positive. So you know what happens if I don’t fill it? What happens if I am at break even? What do I do then? How does this look? Because where we all sit in our businesses, which is under the $1 million mark, not a lot of room for error, people. Even if you were in $1 million, you still wouldn’t have a lot of room for error. That $1 million to $3 million range in business is a cluster fuck. You probably have more room for error between 500 and a million than you do at a million.

So that’s what’s been difficult. That’s what I’m sitting with. That’s what I’m feeling into, which is really uncomfortable to sit there and feel. So I said, “All right, well let’s ask a better question. Where do I need to give myself permission to be imperfect?” Where do I need to give myself permission? I get that there are people out there talking about being imperfect, but I need to give myself permission to be imperfect and so I’m going to give myself permission to be imperfect in how I build out these retreats, how I build out the Brave retreat experience, which is coming probably in May of 2020. It’s looking like the time frame, which as soon as we get some more details, we will announce.

But I’m really focused on that right now and giving myself the permission to be imperfect. Giving myself permission to not know at all. Giving myself permission to ask some questions. And, no ,I don’t need to go take a course on how to build a retreat. I know how to do this. I build experiences all the time. I’m pretty confident that it’s going to be epic. And it’s still scary.

And that kind of led me to another question that I had for myself, which was, all right, so I’m taking on this thing that’s really big and scary. I want to make sure that there’s time and their space and there’s room for this because I think the first thing we do is we go into hyperactive growth mode and we started to go back, we default to a place of doing all the things. So my next set of questions for me that I don’t necessarily have the answer to is where are we over complicating our systems and our processes? Where do we have too many steps? And where can we be simplifying in the business that allows me to step with greater ease into the risk of hosting these retreats?

Because this is a sign for me of where I’m trying to control, micromanage, grip too tightly, too many systems, too many steps, too many processes. What do I need to be letting go of here so that I can step forward and receive the impact that I want to make with this retreat?


I found a statistic to prove the efficacy, hear me going back to my research days? To prove the efficacy of the CEO debriefs, and I wanted to share it. It was a study done and this woman who did this study, I believe it was a woman, her last name is Matthews. And it says that she found that more than 70% of the participants who send weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement, completely accomplish their goal. Or were more than halfway there compared to 35% of those who kept their goals to themselves without writing them down.

Sharing your weekly debrief, so if you do your weekly debrief, and then you take it a step further and you share it, the chances of you achieving your goals and your vision and what you’re creating for yourself increases dramatically. And I think that’s a pretty cool statistic because we know that writing things down significantly increases your chance of achieving them and then having somebody to share them with even more so. So that’s giving me for thought for the future of The Brave Society by the way. And she specifically said weekly updates, so I like that too, because I’m a big believer in the weekly update, even though it doesn’t always feel as convenient.


Now if this conversation was interesting to you and felt unique and a little different, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to take me up on my invitation to join The BRAVE Society. So if you’re a female small business owner, this is likely your community. If you’re resonating with this podcast and the things we’re talking about over here because they are very much the essence of how we talk about things in The BRAVE Society.

The BRAVE Society was founded on three basic principles.

One, community. How can we come together and become a marketplace of business owners where we can do business together, where we can open doors for each other, where we can collaborate with like minded, credible business owners?

Two, nobody should ever shortchange their leadership development. I see too many times women spread thin, making investments in their businesses as they grow and shortchanging their leadership development. And I’m here to solve that problem. You can make the investments that you need to make in say your marketing or your branding or your website and develop yourself as a leader.

And the third thing that we come together for is to really stand at the pinnacle of our leadership, which John Maxwell talks a lot about in his work and he says that we’re the pinnacle of our leadership when we are a leader who develops leaders who develops leaders. And what I asked the women of The Brave Society to do is to take what they learn in The BRAVE Society and bring it into the world, into their communities, into their families, to their clients, and their customers, and to really continue to develop more leaders on this planet.

If this sounds interesting to you, I want you to go over to the show notes and click on the link or you can come find me on Instagram @TheTaraNewman and ask me any questions you need to about joining The BRAVE Society.

Important links to share:

Listen in on CEO Debriefs and Get 10 BOLD Questions for your own debrief.

The B.R.A.V.E Society

Follow Tara over on Instagram

Help more Bold Leaders find this podcast by leaving a review on iTunes

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