Summary: Brené Brown on Design Matters with Debbie Millman


Brené Brown wants to be vulnerable with you. She wants you to do the same thing.

She is a researcher. She is a storyteller. She is a Texan.

From her website: “The official line: I’m a research professor at the University of Houston where I hold the Huffington Endowed Chair. I’ve spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. I’m the author of four booksThe Gifts of ImperfectionDaring GreatlyRising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness.

The bottom line: I believe that vulnerability – the willingness to be “all in” even when you know it can mean failing and hurting – is brave. I do NOT believe that cussing and praying are mutually exclusive. And, I absolutely believe that the passing lane is for passing only.”

The Power of Vulnerability at TEDxHouston talk propelled Brown onto the national spotlight, giving her a much wider platform for her message.

In this summary, Brown’s conversation with Debbie Millman revealed the depths of human longing and showed what binds us together makes us stronger.


The thing we all have in common… the paradox of vulnerability… the very first thing I look for in you is vulnerability and the very last thing I want to show you is my vulnerability so I am desperately seeking yours while hiding mine. – B. Brown (30:33).

The society has portrayed vulnerability as a sign of weakness. However, this very trait is what makes us human and deepens our human connections.

We can choose to let the people we love into our shadows and in hope that they may reserve judgment and reciprocate in kind.


People are afraid to be alone because they don’t belong to themselves. – B. Brown (38:05).  

I find this quote deeply profound. It speaks to an aspect of self-awareness of contentment: accepting who you are.

I belong to me. I possess my wholeness. My being grounds me. I am not alone when I have me.

Brown shared in a Facebook Live that “when we own our stories, we get to write the ending of the story.” Be the one who write your own story including the ending.


Your level of belonging will never exceed the level of courage you have to stand alone. – B. Brown (38:44). 

Being alone gives me time to reflect, examine and test assumptions of who I am.

Brown speaks of the true test of your belonging arises when you are faced to stand outside the line and face the crowd. The courage to be counter-current adds to the essential identity of belonging.


I do find sacred of being part of something, but never at the cost of betraying myself. – B. Brown (41:05).  

Do not compromise your true self in order to fit it.

Though we hear it time and time again, the temptations to seek short-term approval is the pitfall if we do not hold our own value at the highest worth.

This brings us back to self-awareness again.


If you’re not going to get excited and put value on your work, don’t expect anyone else to get excited and put value on your work. – B. Brown (43:36).  

Brown started selling her earlier books out of the trunk of her car. She believes in the value and the message in her books.

We have to be our own advocate and cheerleader when it comes to our work: the book, the podcast, the product, the whatever-it-is because, truthfully, nobody will be see value in it if you don’t love it like your life depends on it.


What are you afraid of?… Trying and fail or regret of not trying? D. Millman  

This motto-like quote has been widely spread and accepted in today’s generation. But even just ten years ago, the pioneer, entrepreneurial spirit was almost forbidden as the market crashed, which sent most people back to the safety of a 9-to-5 job.

However, the salvation that derives from failure gives birth to resilience, grit and a sensible worth to life.

We don’t know what we are made of if you never try.


Heartbreak and criticism, small prices to pay for doing work you’re profoundly in love with. – B. Brown (46:46).  

This is about trade-off. Trading in your heartbreaks, tears, failures, years of hustle for doing what you love.

Without sacrifices, the attained success feels cheapened.


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