"I love the fact that you're quoting Brené Brown..."
Fans of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan may have heard the Duke of Sussex say these words during a call with youth leaders on behalf of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust last week.
Harry was responding to Hunter Johnson, the co-founder of Australia's Man Cave charity, which helps men with their mental health. Hunter had just referenced one of Brené's best-known quotes. "Vulnerability brings connection and connection is why we are here," he said.
Harry went on to say he and Meghan are huge fans of Brené. So, who is she?
What she does and how she got her start
Brené grew up in San Antonio and New Orleans and first studied social work at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a PhD in social work from the University of Houston. She mostly spent her career as a professor at the latter school, and began writing about her research and published a series of now-bestselling books.
This began in 2007 with I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy and Power. She followed that up with The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are three years later and Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead in 2012. She's since published three other books.
Brené attracted international attention in 2010 when she gave two TED Talks at TEDx. She followed that up with another in 2012. You may have seen her Netflix special Brené Brown: The Call to Courage, which began streaming on the platform last year.
She has high-profile celebrity friends and connections
Around the time her TED Talks started attracting attention, Brené was invited on Oprah Winfrey's Super Soul Sunday series to talk about Daring Greatly.
She's maintained her friendship with Oprah, and now also counts Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington in the group of celebs she knows. She recently appeared in a Zoom event with the Little Fires Everywhere stars.
Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have also praised Brené's work.
Brené's core message
Brené has spent her career researching and writing about empathy and connection between people. She believes that feelings are not facts, and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves are sometimes not accurate and can do us disservices in some ways – because we are telling ourselves the wrong things.
She once famously wrote, "You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness."
Her primary message is that unless people are willing to be vulnerable with each other, it is impossible to have any change, gentleness, kindness and connection. She believes vulnerability is a superpower, not a weakness, and that all societal progress stems from it.
Since many people are inspired by Brené's message, we thought we'd leave a few of her quotes below so you can get a better idea of who she is:
"Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we're all in this together."
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness."
"Talk about your failures without apologizing."
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are."
"Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It's simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting and communicating that incredibly healing message of 'You're not alone.'"