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S1E9 Using Bravery as a Tool to Empower Women and Girls with Reshma Saujani

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

TWWL provides full audio transcripts to ensure that our show is accessible to everyone. Please consider becoming a monthly Patron to help us keep this service available to everyone. Heads up: we do curse occasionally. 🤷 Some research says it means we're intelligent, but we mostly do it because we're being our full authentic selves and we don't want to filter our thoughts on these topics.

Episode Notes:

In this week's episode, Gaby and Jenelle meet their shero, Reshma Saujani who is an award-winning Founder and CEO of national nonprofit Girls Who Code and author of the book “Brave, Not Perfect,” which transformed both of their lives. 

In fact, the book was so impactful on them that they both got "Brave, Not Perfect" tattoos to remind them that failure is merely a stepping stone to success. 

If you’ve ever struggled with imposter syndrome, feared risk-taking, or felt marred with perfectionism, then this episode is for you!

Follow Reshma on Social Media:


Episode Transcript


Hey, inclusive leaders! Welcome to a really special episode of the way we lead where you'll hear from our shero Reshma Saujani. For those of you unfamiliar with her work, Reshma is an award-winning founder and CEO of the national nonprofit Girls Who Code and she's the author of the book "Brave, not Perfect". That book has transformed countless lives, including our own. In fact, her message resonated so much with us that Jenelle and I both have "Brave, not Perfect" tattoos, to remind us that failure is merely a stepping stone to success. To listen to the full backstory of how Reshma's book has impacted us, we highly recommend that you listen to her podcast by the same name as her book—Brave, not Perfect. We were featured in the last episode of the season, entitled "Just Start", where we share our bravery journey, and talk about the importance of taking chances before you feel 100% ready. We also got a chance to visit the Girls Who Code offices in New York City to interview Reshma in her full, vulnerable, powerful and brilliant glory. We hope that you find this episode as inspirational as we do. Without further ado, here is Rashmi sharing her own bravery journey, sharing a bit of her wisdom on how bravery can be a tool for resisting injustice, and how you can flex your bravery muscle to become a better ally to underrepresented folks. Check it out.

Reshma 2:18

When I wrote the book, my thing was like I wanted it to transform lives. And the thing is like about books is that like you just you know, nobody reads and they see the like see a book 100 times before you buy it. So you actually can't really gauge in the same way whether it's making a difference. So here I am, like, you know, walk into this casino, this incredible woman runs through me like throws out her hand and I see "Brave, Not Perfect" tattooed on her arm. And the first thing I thought was like, "Damn, I get a tattoo".

Gabriela Acosta 2:49

It started this whole funny chain reaction with all of our friends, reading your book, and then handing it over to Jenellle, and then handing it to my friends. And then they all bought it for each other. And then that's when our friend decided she was going to go get a tattoo. It was a good experience for us just to be like, hey, like we've known this for a while, right to be brave, but like we needed a little bit of an activator. And we finally got that through your book. It was amazing.

Reshma 3:14

It's like a Yeah. And it's it's a mantra that I say to myself to like every morning like breaking up hurt, breakdown, hurting, or when I see myself in moments where I want to say something. And there's like I'm scared, or I'm feeling scared to do something. It really helps me like get past that.

Gabriela Acosta 3:28

Yeah, I'm wondering what your bravery journey has been so far. And if it has changed or transformed at all, since you publish the book?

Reshma 3:38

Yeah, I mean, I think it's made me even more realize that like this idea of like you're born brave is just not true. Or like now that I recognize that I need to be more brave now—I'm brave now! Like it's a constant struggle, right? Because we've been socialized so deeply and so profoundly, to be perfect. The thing that's been so amazing for me, too, it's like, I've actually had the most incredible year, I was telling, I was telling my coach like I've never actually felt more alive and more open and more in tuned and more present. And I think because I'm constantly engaging, meeting amazing people like you and like hearing your story and thinking about it, like why don't we do that? And like, I've been live, I've lived so in my head and like, I feel like I have grown intellectually a million years in the past year. And I've pushed myself to really also like travel the world and talk like I was just in Rio last weekend, it was when crazy ass mayor basically banned all the LGBTQ Books that we're at the book fair.

Jenelle 4:43

At the same time?

Reshma 4:44

So then I do this panel, like the next day with this amazing, amazing LGBT q activists on body positivity. And it's like the audience is full, right? Of all these brave women and men that are just ready to resist. So it's just you realize how common this experiences, but also like how fucked up the world is right now and how much we need to resist and which means like, we need to exercise our bravery muscles in ways that we just never have before.

Jenelle 5:12

So you're talking about how like your mind is open your you feel more outside of your head? Do you think a lot of that comes from just because now you are not forced, but you're putting a situation that you're constantly having to talk about bravery that by practicing talking about it every day, it just becomes second nature for you?

Reshma 5:30

Yeah, and I think I'm also thinking about why I do things or don't do things right. And so the, you know, this idea about like, I think, coming off a Rio, you know, I think so many of us as women have these really funny relationships with our body. We don't love ourselves, right? And I was thinking about how critical You know, I've been of myself, you know, I was overweight as a child, I've constantly, you know, I'm definitely in that person thinks about their weight. But, but really never I looked in the mirror and looked at myself. And like, how can you kind of, how can you really like address the world and confront the world and tell your truth? When you haven't even told your own truth? Yeah. So I think that like in my conversations with people, and they say something that's triggering for me about like something that I may do and I go deeper. Why do I do that? You know, is that about my relationship with my mother? Is that about, like, my struggle as a brown girl growing up in a white neighborhood? Is that because of like, you know, the fact that I, you know, was overweight in like, you know, all that I'm holding because of that? And so, I think you just made me go deeper, even in really confronting kind of my own insecurities and my own issues, as well as trying to make linkages between our this, we all are going through the same stuff.

Jenelle 6:49


Gabriela 6:50

we absolutely are

Jenelle 6:51

more and more, I'm realizing how how true that is, after reading your book, it inspired me so much to make sure that I'm sharing a lot of this with my team, right? I talked so much about the importance of being vulnerable, like Brene Brown is another person who's a huge inspiration for me. But also this idea that I just kept reiterating with my team that you're never going to reach perfection. That's not what it is. And so can you jump forward and just know that you need to start before you're ready. And it's been so transformational for me to just work with people every day that I care so much about and who are trying to live a brave not perfect life, but don't know how to do that. Is bravery, something that's innate? Yeah, it's something that's taught, and it's something that's learned. And you were saying that it's not something that a snake, right, there's something that we have to learn to do. And so I've been thinking a lot about how one day we want to have a kid. Yeah. And I want to help them be brave. But how do we do that? Right, like, how do we try to help the next generation or the children that we're going to have be brave? Do we push them into bravery? And do we guide them in the right direction?

Reshma 8:09

Yeah. Well see, I feel like in many ways, like we we have different braveries, that are like, we think boys are brave a certain way, and girls are brave a certain way. And I think we have to just take gender out of it. Right? And start thinking about like, like, I think my son, like my son is like, you know, a cautious little Gandhi. Like he's not jumping off any monkey bars. But everyone's always trying to man him up. Like the amount of times I hear people good. toughen up, Sean, don't crush on. Don't be scared, Sean like, and it's not just...Obviously, doesn't come for me, but like, people all around him and society. And so I think one is recognizing that there's a there's amount of work that we can do as parents, but then there's an entire culture. Right, then yeah, that's changed and disrupted. But I think part of the journey is letting your kids be themselves.

Gabriela Acosta 8:55


Reshma 8:55

And one of the things that I feel like I love about encouraging failure is that it allows you to open yourself even more to your journey. So like, we have a motto in my house, like don't ever give up. And he knows it. You know, I mean, don't give up, don't give up. Because if you give up, or you don't allow yourself to fail, then you actually never like basically like, you know, let yourself fulfill the journey. Right?

Jenelle 9:18

Yeah, you don't get to feel the whole experience.

Reshma 9:20

Correct. Exactly. And so I think that that is very, very important. Like the most important thing I think to teach your kids is that don't make them not feel like they have to limit themselves. But if they're genuinely don't want to do something, don't do it.

Jenelle 9:34

This stemmed from a part in your book. And then when you came, and I saw you talk, you were talking about Sean is your son's name, right? Yeah. So you're talking about Sean, and in your book, you talk about the experience of the nightlight.

Reshma 9:45


Jenelle 9:45

Rright? That you turn on the nightlight because he needs it, but your husband turns off the nightlight. And when I heard that part of me was like, Well, yeah, I guess turn off the nightlight because you want to push him into being brave. But at the same time, like he needs it to feel safe. So I just struggle so much with that thought process of like, what is the boundary that we create for ourselves with the younger generation. And I think that that's a really good point that the issue that we have at hand is that it is society, and we're not going to change that overnight. But just like how do we combat that? And I guess what you're saying is like there's not...kind of let them be who they are. But I guess I still struggle with some reason,

Reshma 10:31

Because I think we have this limited definition of a courage means right. And so we often see courage is have not being afraid to do something physical, right not being, you know, testing the things that you're "afraid of". And I think in many ways, I feel like courage is basically testing your own limitations that you have for yourself. And then what happens is like most kids, like if you go, it's awesome, like watching a kid go surfing, or go skateboarding. They literally feel like they have no fear. Right? Yeah. But like, I think lot of kids like they're just they're not in their heads. They're just kind of going right.

Jenelle 11:05

Yeah, they haven't been taught to fear themselves or their limits yet.

Reshma 11:10

Right and that's what I feel like we want to. And we've been so as women, I think been taught to like, strong the lines and feel our limits and like, feel like someone has to protect us. And so

Jenelle 11:24

Or give us permission?

Reshma 11:25

Or give us permission or, and I and I think that's so much of that, is that the journey of basically unteaching that.

Gabriela Acosta 11:31

So what does that look like? Because I'm teaching means a we have to be aware of it. Right. And this is something that we talk a lot about on our podcast is like the socialization that people go through that, that creates those isms, like, you know, women are taught to be in a flower and to be protected. And

Reshma 11:48


Gabriela Acosta 11:48

men are put into a box about what it means to be strong. And you have to be a certain way to be one or the other. But in fact, we should live in a spectrum, right of gender, whole spectrum is a beautiful thing, and allowing everyone to just be who they are is so important. But we can't control all of society

Reshma 12:08


Gabriela Acosta 12:09

So how do we create individually and as a community start to kind of unlearn that and inspire others to do that?

Reshma 12:17

Right. So I mean, one, it's like, being conscious of our language. So simple thing, like a friend of mine, her baby was teaching me to walk and she was walking behind her. And she was saying, "Be careful, be careful!" And then she's like, and then I heard your voice your head, and I'm like, "Go baby, go baby, go baby!" So like language, right? The language that we use on a daily basis, right, that we're using to encourage our girls to be careful. I think that that's very gendered. I think if you were to watch what you say to a boy and watch what you say, to a girl, right, we say very different things. So getting to a place where we're saying quite frankly, the same thing to both of them, I think is important and powerful. Right? So what is the language that we're using? And then secondly, I think, similarly, were the activities that were encouraging them to do. Like, I it was always with fascinate me. Even when Sean was like a year and a half, and we'd go to a Spanish class or a music class. And we'd sit there and, you know, Sean would look like a mess, like booger in his nose, he had yesterday's... I just, you know, I never.

Jenelle 13:20

Him and I dress the same [laughs].

Reshma 13:21

Right! I just, you know, I just let him be who he is. But with with, with the young girls that, you know, you see his his girlfriends are young women that were young girls that were in his life, I would watch how their parents or their caretakers would straighten their bow and like if something spilled on their dress, they'd immediately run to the diaper bag and like change them. But there was so much coddling and protecting the straightening and fixing like that, .Like, imagine if you're getting touched and fixed that way at 18 months old. What the heck is going through your head by the time you're three, four or five? When you're very conscious of this? Yeah. So to me again, I think it's what are we how are we letting our kids get dirty, get messy, get tinkered to fixing things, you know, my parents grew up, you know, very working class. And so I got I had, you know, Christmas or whatever. Our Indian fake Christmas, you know, I didn't like to toys under the tree, you know, and I'm very conscious of my son not being spoiled. And my foot my and of course, when they're around grandparents, it's like, forget about it, right? So I was just in Chicago with my parents and my dad, you know, and I'm like "Dad stop up buying him toys." And he said, "here's the thing Reshma. That's the way they learn." You know, that's the way they learn you buying a transformer that's for $1 dollar, you know, dollar at five and below, and he puts it together. And that's how he learns. And it's true, like there so much learning is happening at that age that I think that we have to be super intentional about what we're giving them to do with their hands, basically, and how we're letting them be in this physical space.

Gabriela Acosta 14:52

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It's interesting, especially with toys because they're incredibly gendered, right? Like they're they label boy's versus girl's toys. And the things that often are in the boys section are so sciencey and like building and so tactile and strategic. And then the girls are like pretty and like something that you want to just hold

Jenelle 15:50

Or caretaking.

Gabriela Acosta 15:51

Yeah, it's like a little test kitchen and things like that. So already, we're socializing, gender norms for what it's like when they grow up, like what kinds of jobs are they going to want to take? And I'm wondering, because Girls Who Code what I love about it, and giving girls a chance to screw up through coding. That was my favorite part of the book is when you were talking about the first time that you saw girls coding and immediately erasing it without really seeing where it went, without seeing how to progress further from there. And I'm wondering, at what point did you start seeing, this is a pattern? It's not just one girl, it's multiple girls. And then what did you do in that moment? How did you shift the conversation so that they could be brave around coding?

Reshma 16:47

I think it was, when I heard that story. A teacher told it to me, then another teacher told me and another one and another one, I was like, wow, like this is a common experience that girls are erasing their code, and not wanting to show the mistakes that they made, because they're worried about the what the teacher is actually thinking about them. And I told that story at my TED Talk. And it just resonated. And that's what inspired me to write the book like, wow, is there is there something deeper about do we are we socialized to be perfect? Because what happened is that in many ways, coding became a metaphor for perfectionism, which became a metaphor for right, for bravery. And that in so many aspects of our life, we basically don't show our code. We don't ask for feedback we rather give up before we even try. And that idea of like, why bother if I'm if it's not going to work out? Was is like such, again, this common experience that we had, and I wanted to understand why I wrote the book is when did we learn that? How did that happen? Who taught us that? And that's what this book really made me realize, wow, we're taught that at a very young age. But here's the thing, we can unlearn that. And that's I saw Girls Who Code when girls came, and they thought they couldn't code and they learned how to code and they built something that was a metaphor for bravery, then suddenly, when they realize that, "wow, I can do that with all the other things I've told myself that I can't do? Maybe I can come out to my parents, right? Maybe I can actually build that tool that I've said, maybe I can speak up to that bully at school, right?" Maybe I can, again, like I mean, so many, so many transformations. That's why if you go to a Girl's classroom, it's powerful. There's so many, literally transformations that are happening with these girls, because they have learned imperfection, and that has opened up their lives to so many different things.

Gabriela Acosta 18:46

So how do you get the girls who participate in Girls Who Code to take that step to make that transformation from fear of making mistakes, to this is part of the process of living even?

Reshma 19:00

Practice, right? Like, again, coding becomes part of their building their bravery, muscle practice. And then other things become, quote, part of their practice, right. So I often found with this book that like this book, drives someone to do something. So let's say you read this book, and you've always don't like your job, or you've had a dream to building a podcast, you take that one step, and that then starts building your bravery muscle. So for a lot of girls, their first step was learning how to code because they had told themselves they couldn't do it. And they did it and they're like, Okay. And then it's something else, and then something else. But it becomes a daily practice. And I think that's the thing to recognize about building bravery. And so you're not one and done. You know, it's a set of things of putting yourself in situations, putting yourself in experiences that challenge your own notion about yourself. So I always say, Ashley, my, my podcast director, made me push myself this summer in putting myself into physically physical challenges are things that made me feel uncomfortable. I went through eight years of of countless miscarriages and fertility challenges. And so out of that eight years, I realized that I had been reinforcing narrative about my body, that I had been told myself that my body couldn't conceive a child or carry a baby to term, all of a sudden, I thought that I was weak, and I wasn't strong. And so learning how to surf, and I mean, going to trapeze school, right? doing all these things, to help me change my narrative, about my body and about myself that had it basically, it happened to me over this almost decade long journey. And so that's why I think these practices are so important.

Jenelle 20:47

I have a great mentor at work. Her name's Maggie. And one of the things that I've always appreciated about her was just this sort of gentle push to kind of try things on, but when I got to know her personally, and we would sit down, and I'd see her in a workplace, and she would be guiding me and giving me advice on what to do. And then we would sort of step out of that. And suddenly her vulnerability would come out and be like, I'm nervous about this, or like, Did I mess up that meeting? And suddenly, I was like, holy shit, we all feel this way. And it's so encouraging, I guess, is the word. The very honest answer is, we've been fucking terrified to come here. And it's very easy to be here. So you're great. But like the idea that we've been so I guess scared is the word to come here and talk to you. Because in all honesty, like your book has meant a lot to me. And I can't thank you enough for the vulnerability that you gave in writing your book and everything that you're doing since. But it's just a wonderful sort of reminder to be able to look at people that you look up to, and know that they, now and have also felt the way that you feel right. So hearing your story of how what you have struggled with and the experiences that you've had to go to, to build that bravery muscle and knowing that you still seemingly even to this day, like have to remind yourself to do it. When I'm looking at somebody who I look up to, it's good for me to turn back to myself and say, "well if they have to do it every day. Like why can't I?"

Gabriela Acosta 22:15


Reshma 22:16

Thank you for saying that.

Jenelle 22:19

but I just appreciate so much. I live my life as much as I can try to be honest. Yeah, well, because I think it's it's a huge piece for people to learn. And I think that that is part of bravery in a lot of ways are present that if you if you're not willing to be vulnerable, then you're going to make challenging yourself even harder.

Reshma 22:40

I think it's so powerful, because I think so much of our lives on an inability to show vulnerability is because we were raised to be perfect. Like, you know what, sometimes like, I'm sure when you just said that, or when I just told you about like my decade, you know, my struggle with infertility, the first thing was in the back of my head was like, "Oh, shit, what are they thinking about me?" Right? Yeah. Are you thinking less than me, because I just told you that I'm experiencing or feeling something that is not like, perfect. And I think that that's often what happens, we get ashamed. Right, when we share something about ourselves, or reveal something about ourselves. But and I think that that, again, is been how we've been raised.

Gabriela Acosta 23:20


Reshma 23:22

And it's effective. It's, it's, it's prevented us from being our true selves, and like, establishing real connections with people and sharing. You know, I've always shared about my, my miscarriages and my fertility issues. And I probably get one to two text messages a day from women being like, I'm experiencing this, I'm feeling this. And I love it, like I am so happy that like my pain can ease somebody else's pain. Yeah. But if I kept that, and I didn't share it, that wouldn't be able to give that back to somebody. And that's why I think vulnerability, right is so important.

Jenelle 23:56

Yeah, I and the similar relation to me. So I'm bipolar, I go to say, I'm on meds and stuff. And when I first started working, I was really afraid to talk about that, because there's a huge stigma behind what bipolar is and what being on medication is. And so I didn't want to put any negative thoughts into anybody's mind. But the moment I started talking about that with my team, and just being honest and saying, I go to therapy, every Tuesday, I take two hours off, and I leave and I come back, you guys can do the same thing. Suddenly, I had a team that everybody had mental health issues.

Gabriela Acosta 24:30

But most of us do.

Jenelle 24:32

Yeah, exactly. But people who like they were willing to share, the whole team was willing to share with one another about what was going on. Everybody was willing to share even if it wasn't mental health things they were willing to share about personal experiences that they were dealing with. Everybody started leaning into help each other more and just feeling happier and healthier on the team. And the moment that we sort of started to talk about the fact that, "hey, I feel this way. So you probably feel this way too." It broke down this huge wall that was preventing people from living their true selves at work. Yeah. And so it was a really great experience. And I think that all of that sort of ties together that being vulnerable, takes bravery. Yeah. Because just like you said, it's like, "what were they thinking when I had this thing?" We all have that tiny, my therapist calls it a little hamster. I have a little hamster in my head. That's telling me all these negative thoughts.

Gabriela Acosta 25:26

Yeah, it's like the spinning wheel of inner doubt. Right? Like the constant voice in your head. But more likely than not when you're sharing that vulnerability, like when you said that just a moment ago, like, what are they thinking? It's so interesting, because I find that most of the time when I find out from someone, I was actually really scared to do that. But it seems so brave in the moment. It's usually a moment that led to so much more connection, and so much more meaning in a space, that supported community. And if people aren't willing to share that vulnerability with each other, we're actually keeping each other at arm's length

Reshma 26:02

A hundred percent. And I think the problem is, is now we live in a world where nobody wants to hear that I'm like social media, there's true negativity shaming, right? Yeah, very much. I can't tell you the amount of people who I know are going through divorces, or their husbands are cheating on them, or their partners are cheating on them. And then you look at their Facebook page or their Instagram page. And like, you would know!

Jenelle 26:20

happy family!

Reshma 26:21

Happy family! Two thumbs up, everything's great. And it's not. And and so and, and so it's worse because, and now and people are interacting and engaging as as, as, as friends or as less. So there's no space for these kinds of kinds of like, reveals about one another. And these kinds of opportunities to feel each other's human.

Jenelle 26:43

Yeah, everybody's got to save face or keep up with the Joneses.

Gabriela Acosta 26:47

I can personally say it has made my life better. practicing my bravery muscle. Yeah, we're saying every single step I've taken to practice bravery, even if it meant failure has led me to more and more personal sense of satisfaction. It's led me to more professional success in the way that I actually wanted. And to live the life that I really drempt of that I didn't think I could before, just because I was scared. And I think part of what we talk about all the time, especially in our podcast is as a social justice framework we're trying to break down some of those barriers for people. But one of the biggest fears that we get from folks is that they're afraid to step up as an ally or an advocate because they're afraid that they're going to screw it all up. And they're going to do it wrong. And so I'm wondering, from a advocacy standpoint, what can we do to help shift that narrative for people who really do want to be good allies to one another, but they're not ready yet? They're feeling scared. They have a fear related to stepping up?

Reshma 27:52

Yeah, for me, when I first You know, when I first had to learn how to use you know, gender pronouns, like, I was like, Oh, my God, I'm gonna mess it up. And you're going to think I'm totally an assholw and ignorant. And I think part of it was just having the honesty of like, okay, for 30-41 years of my life, this is the way right that... it so this is new for me, and I'm not going to get it right. And I think that the my team members were very forgiving. So I think it's about acknowledging that you're not going to be perfect about it. And then the other person also engaging in some amount of forgiveness, forgiveness when you screw up. But we don't have those honest conversations with one another anymore, we rather just rather not deal.

Jenelle 28:32

Well. I think that that's been the great thing about the podcast, because because what we do, the goal of it is we bring on leaders in diversity and inclusion in and talk about their experience, the research that they've done, their personal stories. And to that point, I think, of the people, and especially the people of color that we've spoken to, the normal answer that we get back is "We know you're going to fuck up. Right, right. Like that's gonna happen sometimes. And sometimes, you might fuck up so bad that like you do I have to step outside for a little bit because we need to get over it." But the usual answer is, "we get it. Yeah, that's okay. As long as you're trying, and you're willing to be honest about it." And it's creating this space, where, because we're so afraid to be honest, and be vulnerable with each other, that people are afraid to be allies because they're afraid of what the other person is going to think. But our platform allows the people who we want to get to be allies, listening to the other side of the story sort of saying like, "No, it's okay. Like, we just want you to try. Right, try and this is a process and you're going to mess up and it's going to be okay, you need to know that it's okay, not to be perfect." But you also in some way, and I think a lot of people need this, they need the permission, yes. To know that. It's okay not to be perfect.

Reshma 29:48

Totally that they give permission to myself that it's okay. And listen, I think as a as a woman of color, like it's, it's, it's frustrating to constantly have to teach. Absolutely. But I also feel like if the world is ever going to change, I'm going to have to constantly have to teach. And so it's okay, I can step in and step out in those moments where I don't want to, right. But I think it's just I think we're just in this really powerful time right now where I'm trying to operate from a place of love every day in a place of forgiveness every day and a place that people are coming from a good space. Yeah. Because it's just I don't know, for I don't know, if you feel this way, but the past couple years just been so toxic, that it's been like soul crushing. That like I was reading this article about how like, it's, it's good to start the fall with like your New Year's resolution in many ways. And one of the ways that I said that I'm going to operate differently starting now is to again, operate from a place of love, forgiveness, compassion, and read the paper less.

Gabriela Acosta 30:44

We meed that sometimes. Being informed is important. But sometimes we need to do a little selfcare, you know? I want to make sure that we acknowledge the fact that you just spent a whole summer doing a lot of brave thing. And one of the last things that you recently admitted is that you might want to run again for some kind of political run, and we want to know how we can be allies to you in that process.

Reshma 31:09

Join my campaign [laughs] You know, it's so crazy. Every decision that I feel like I make I make from a place of like, how can I do the best amount of good or the most amount of good? And the thing about pilot political junkie, like I'm obsessed, I've worked on campaigns my whole life, like you will find me in like January in like Iowa, New Hampshire, right. And so I love it, right? I love I love politics, but at the same time, I look at the institution, I say, damn, I just don't feel like you can make a lot of good. Like a lot of change happen. It's feels like it's important, this place where there's like, so much baggage, like I am. As a daughter of refugees, I spent a lot of time just frickin screaming at the TV. You know, we're not letting in immigrants, we're not letting him refugees, we're putting babies syndications. They're still in cages!

Gabriela Acosta 32:01


Reshma 32:01

They're still in cages! And I don't feel like we're making any progress. And so, you know, two months ago, I just took my team and we went to the border of Syria and Jordan, and we met with refugee girls to say, we're what we're gonna teach them, we're not gonna let them come to this country, we're going to teach them. And I get to do that, right, as someone who's outside of the system, I don't ask permision. And so I think right now, in this space, this is the way that I can make the most amount of difference. But I gotta check myself, because I have to ask myself, "do you just say that to yourself, because you're afraid to run and lose again. And that's the narrative that you're telling yourself because you're scared?" Yeah. And I have to continue to have those conversations with myself, with my partner, with my friends. And to constantly visit it.

Gabriela Acosta 32:53

Yeah, that's powerful.

Reshma 32:54

Because that's always been my dream. Like, you know, since the time I was little, like, I didn't want to be a fire woman or, you know what, I wanted to be a public servant.

Gabriela Acosta 33:02

Yeah. And it's, it's so important, especially now, when women are finally starting to step up in leadership roles, especially in the in the public sector. And I think it's really important that folks know that they can, if they want to.

Reshma 33:19


Gabriela Acosta 33:19

And you, I think, have shown that it's okay to try and fail. And not only to fail, but have the battle scars from it, and be empowered to do something meaningful no matter what you do.

Reshma 33:31

Yeah. I don't always feel this way. But I think sometimes I'm always in such a rush. And we forget, knock on wood, that life is long, right? And that there will you will have many iterations of your career, your journey your life, and instead of trying to get to where you want to get to now, it's like being in the present and saying, "What am I supposed to be doing at this moment, right now?" You know, and really being in-tune with that. I also feel like in my life, right now I'm in flow. Like I'm literally in flow. And I feel like I'm doing exactly what I'm meant to be doing. I this book was one of the best things that ever happened to me

Gabriela 34:13

Same [all laugh].

Reshma 34:14

and I just can't tell you how like, how deeply I'm in this movement, how strongly I feel about like, there's nothing more I should be doing in my life right now than teaching women to be brave, not perfect.

Gabriela Acosta 34:28

Jenelle and I felt like this episode really spoke for itself. I hope that you are as inspired as we are, by the "Brave, Not Perfect" message to be an empowered woman go after your dreams fall down, fail, get back up and keep going. If you need a little extra motivation, check out her book, "Brave, Not Perfect" and her podcast by the same name. Please make sure to subscribe rate and review us on Apple podcast. We work hard to bring you quality episodes with fully accessible transcriptions on important diversity and inclusion topics. Please consider showing us some love by becoming a monthly patron by clicking the become a patron button on the top right corner of our website at

We want to send a huge shout out to our current patrons and seed fund sponsors. To celebrate you here's Jenelle singing us out with this week's list of sponsors.

Jenelle 35:32

*singing* Meg Thurgood, Mitchell Amoros and Felipe Estefan, Molly Forman, Niki Sinopoli Fein, Payam Azadi, Rachael Lewis-Krisky.

[Mellie Barks] every time.


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