In this episode we discuss how we’ve been inspired by the amazing Brene Brown, who speaks and writes so eloquently about vulnerability.

If you haven’t read them yet we both swear by her books – here are some of our favourites (also in audio version):

If you prefer a short taste, here are her TED Talks:

We also mention Rebecca’s recent keynote at CultureShock in Norwich, in which she talks about a tough time at Fountain and how she and her colleagues faced it head on by “naming their monkeys”:


What does it mean to own vulnerability in a business?

In the third podcast episode of this first series of Culture: Awesome, hosts, Rebecca Lewis Smith, MD of Fountain and, Emily Groves, MD of Indigo Swan, discuss what it means to lead and own vulnerability in business.

Hear how Rebecca and Emily have embraced the work of Brene Brown, as business leaders, managing shame, guilt, failure and perfectionism with empathy, non-judgement and compassion towards creating a safe environment of love, belonging, connection and collaboration.


[00:19] Emily and Rebecca introduce this episode of Culture: Awesome.

[00:38] Rebecca reveals how she became introduced to Brene Brown.

[01:10] How Brene Brown describes vulnerability.

[02:45] Emily talks about enjoying the journey.

[03:32] Rebecca talks about owning her own vulnerability as a leader.

[04:13] Researching shame.


[05:14] Embracing vulnerability and perfectionism

[06:20] Emily shares how she connected to Brene’s work, podcasts and audio books.

[07:35] Feeling a range of emotions.

[08:24] Getting things right all the time.

[09:18] Rebecca’s favourite book by Brene.

[10:33] Finding a way to lead with vulnerability.

[11:30] Mechanisms of shame. Shame vs. guilt. Accountability.

Guilt as a positive step

[13:30] Patience: fostering a positive environment over time.

[14:12] Rumbling with shame. Shame gremlins.

[15:00] Rebecca talks about ‘naming monkeys’ and a story about shaking the tree.

[18:00] Culture Shock. Feeling shame. Vulnerability hangovers.

[19:34] When Fountain went through a rapid growth phase.

[20:30] Scoring at the Vistage group check-in process.

Family comes first

[23:17] Family coming first and needing time off.

[24:35] Having compassion for yourself.

[25:25] Not always being open.

[26:52] Emily asks Rebecca how she demonstrates vulnerability to her team.

[27:31] Emily shares how she demonstrates vulnerability and expresses authenticity.

[29:10] Rebecca talks about work/life balance at Fountain in Norfolk.

Play and rest

[30:45] Self-worth and motherhood.

[32:00] What’s not sustainable: work/life choice.

[32:50] What parenthood has taught Emily and Rebecca.

[35:38] Ownership, guilt, and working with co-founders.

[36:25] Emily asks Rebecca how she finds time for herself.

[37:35] Safe environments: empathy, sympathy, listening and non-judgement.

[38:32] Emily advice for other business leaders wishing to embrace vulnerability.

Whole-hearted living

[39:30] Values and cultural building blocks <<LINK HERE TO 102>>

[41:25] Why Rebecca believes teachers should embrace Brene’s books.

[41:35] Women who feel they are not good at maths.

[42:42] Rebecca shares a moment: shame-spiralling at her Vistage group.

[43:37] The importance of feeling overwhelmed and recognising it.

[45:00] Love and belonging.

[46:00] Slick versions of business in the world and hustling.

[47:30] Instagram life of “how life and business should be.”