Carla Piñyero Sublett on Finding Compassion in Self-Indulgence

Carla Piñyero Sublett

December 3, 2021
In Episode 35, Brett interviews Carla Piñeyro Sublett, Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President of IBM on a heart-opening experience that radically altered the dynamic of her business and personal relationships. Carla came from a mindset that doing self work was self-indulgent. Stemming from that belief, she took on the role of being a manager of herself, her emotions and others around her. Through a sequence of transformative self-discoveries, she uncovered a greater capacity for love that was immediately felt and reflected back to her by her family and colleagues. In this episode, we follow Carla on an exploration of how making space to allow her own feelings to be felt invited others to do the same, thereby shifting the dynamics of her relationships both to herself and others into profound alignment.

Episode intro:

As I was going up on stage, one of my peers grabbed me and he said hey Carla, I am going to tell you something. I said what. He said I love you. That just doesn’t happen. It is wild but since doing this work, not only have I felt differently, somehow it has given people the permission to be their authentic selves and be open with me.

Welcome to the Art of Accomplishment where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves, and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease.

Brett: All right, everybody, today I am speaking with Carla Pinyero Sublett. I am really excited about this conversation. Carla is the chief marketing officer and senior vice president at IBM. She is also a recognized leader in Building a Better Society by the Aspen Institute, serving on their board of trustees and as a member of its Henry Crown fellowship class of 2016. The following year she was named a woman to watch by Inc Magazine. Wow, that’s a lot, Carla.

Carla: Hi, Brett. It is good to see you.

Brett: Good to see you, too. Tell me a little bit about your journey, and I would really love to dive into something in particular you have learned about yourself through doing this work that has impacted your life and your business and really just changed your world.

Carla: There are so many things. I have to say this work has really changed my life both personally and professionally. I had no idea coming into it how big the impact would really be, but I am truly grateful because it has transformed every aspect of my life and really had a very positive impact on the relationships that I have.

Brett: Tell me a little bit about what Carla was like prior to countering this particular form of development, of exploration and what brought you to it, what brought you here.

Carla: I was already at an inflection point leading up to the work, but prior to that inflection point, I would say I was a super intense individual, very driven, very defined by my work and my job. In 2017, I came to the realization that I was disconnected from the people that mattered most to me and I realized I had lost meaningful connection to my husband and children. In that moment, I decided to quit my job, unenroll the kids from school and travel the world. That was leading up to this work and in search of connection to my heart.

It was about at the end of that journey when someone introduced me to Joe. I began working with Joe in earnest in the months that followed. For me, it was the culmination of that search for connection to my heart that brought Joe into my life.

Brett: What was it you learned about yourself in those first interactions that made you recognize that this was going to be a fruitful avenue of exploration.

Carla: For starters, I will say my first one on one with Joe, about five minutes in, I said holy shit, you are a therapist. I hate therapy. I hate anything of or pertaining to it or I used to. I felt like it was self-indulgent, and I was really the sort of person that gleaned value from providing for others and putting others’ needs before myself. Initially, going into the work, once I first got to know Joe, I have to tell you I was extremely resistant, Brett. I felt like I don’t have the time for this. I am a mom. I am working. I need to be spending time with my teen and my family. I don’t need to dwell on all of this stuff. I put up quite the fight going on.

It was really interesting to see how Joe responded to that, but I eventually came out the other side. I am so glad I did.

Brett: Tell me about that moment of coming out the other side. When did this really start to crack for you? The thing I am pointing to here is this resistance to self-indulgence. This is something that is very common that people have, which is I don’t need to spend the time on myself. I don’t need to spend resources or indulge in exploring and becoming more aware of who I am and aware of what my wants are because what’s more important is I am taking care of everyone else in my life. It seems like that’s a flavor of the resistance you brought into it. What started to crack that open for you?

Carla: For me, the significant shift happened at a weeklong course that Joe holds called Groundbreakers. He calls it a retreat, but we joke with him that there is nothing retreat about it. It is definitely an intensive. It was during that week that my heart literally broke open. I realized my full capacity for love. I know that sounds ridiculous, but up until that point, even though I was searching for connection to my heart, I was very much operating from a place of mind and gut. I think if I am being really honest, I was always holding a little piece of myself back whether it was for fear of being hurt. I don’t know that I fully appreciated and understood what my full capacity for love was, both for self and others. That shift happened during that week. The impact that followed was really profound in my life.

Brett: What does that mean for you to have been mostly operating from your mind and your gut?

Carla: It means I was totally disconnected from my body. Every move I made was cerebral, intentional and thoughtful in a way, but I wasn’t really listening to my feelings or my emotions. I had really decided to push those down. What was pointed out to me was from a very young age we are trained out of our emotions, particularly for women in the South. Don’t get angry. Don’t cry. Then growing up in corporate America, particularly in tech in the 90s, that was just exacerbated. If you are a woman and emotional, that was just the end of your career.

I had learned to operate from that place as a way of surviving or at least that’s what I told myself. So long as I could separate myself from what I actually felt, then it was possible for me to my most effective at my job. How very wrong I was. I realized that in the weeks and months that followed Groundbreakers.

Brett: Tell me a little bit more about that suppression of those emotions, a lot of it being societal, much of specific to being a woman in the South and then exacerbated by being a woman in the tech, especially in the 90. How was that impacting the way you made decisions and the way you showed up professionally? Also, how did that impact your personal life?

Carla: I made decisions based on what was going to serve my family over myself, so I put my own needs on the backburner. But then something really interesting started to happen, Brett, as I got older and more recently was, I started to realize decision making became difficult. I started into a loop and to get stuck. I learned through this work that that was a sign of emotion that needed to be moved. It was extremely clearing for me. Once I let myself have access, once I learned to have access to things like fear and grief and anger, it was immensely clarifying. It enabled me to make better decisions. It was a massive gift. With that, came along a tremendous amount of joy and love.

Brett: You mentioned at this Groundbreaker’s retreat that your heart broke open. It sounds like this was a rapid experience that happened in a moment. Suddenly you became aware of how much capacity you had to love that had already been there all the time, but you hadn’t been connected to. I am curious in that moment what was it that opened up in you. What did you see that you hadn’t seen before? How did you come to see it?

Carla: I can explain what happened to me, and then I can explain, Brett, maybe what happened after the fact. It is a little bit hard to describe. After the exercise we did, we were moving grief and anger came up for me. I should rage came up for me, which quite surprised me. It shocked me. I had a pretty significant emotion release, and at the end of that release, I was laying on a mat. I looked up to see one of my colleagues come into the room. His face looked like that of a little boy. I stretched out my arms to him, and he came down on the mat and curled up in my arms almost like a child. This is someone who is much larger than I am.

Throughout the week, he had mentioned to us he had a lot of trouble sleeping and was struggling with insomnia. As soon as I held him, his whole body collapsed, and he went boneless and started to snore. He fell completely asleep. We started to laugh about it. After the fact, when we were debriefing, I expressed the fact that I felt my heart had broken open and that I just was really feeling this overwhelming sense of love. My friend and peer in the group said I was the first recipient. I felt it wash all over me. It wasn’t just something I was feeling. The people around me were feeling it too, and the response was really beautiful.

Then coming out of that week, the very first thing, I kind of broke the rules. We were supposed to do a slow re-entry, and I went straight into hosting an off site for our CEO and my peers remotely via Zoom because it was in the middle of COVID. There I was at 6:30 in the morning from Tahoe rounding everybody up on this Zoom call and doing a check in. We get to me for the check in, and Brett, I will be damned if I didn’t burst into tears. I mean huge sobs. Prior to this, I would say I had cried maybe three times in the last 15 years. The birth of my children and the death of a friend. To have this sort of emotion on this call was pretty remarkable.

In response to those tears, one of my colleagues on the call said hey, I would really like to hug you right now. Would it be okay if we hugged you? Everybody went up to their screens and hugged their cameras. Then we went on with our day. It was really powerful. Even my boss’ coach was on the line and texted me on the side and was like what did you just get out of. Did you have an Ayahuasca experience? You are totally transformed. He was like your energy is so different and it is beautiful.

At the end of that day, we were doing a checkout and one of my peers said I just want to say how much I admire Carla. Whenever I am stuck and trying to figure out what to do, I think about her and what she should do. Again, I started to bawl again. The closeness that that brought from that team moving forward was really, really powerful. It was also my realization that I needed to leave that job and my boss saw straight through me in that moment. That’s what the work looked like.

Brett: What was it like to have had that realization and also have your boss see straight through you? I assume what you mean by that is he saw that you saw that you needed to leave that job.

Carla: Yeah, as soon as the meeting ended, he called me, and he said what time do you land. By the time I landed, he was at my front door the next door. We went on a walk. I don’t know that I had fully come to appreciate that I needed to leave my job at that point. I will tell you on that walk I was able to state my wants and needs very clearly without any shame, which was super empowering. I will say that when the time did come for me to leave, I felt like I had spoken my piece. It was a tremendously clean and high integrity way to exit a role. I felt really good about it. I also maintain relationships with that team to this day.

Funny enough, I ran into members from that team at my first speaking engagement coming out of COVID. As I was going up on stage, one of my peers grabbed me and he said hey, Carla, I want to tell you something. I said what. He said I love you. That just doesn’t happen. It is wild, but since doing this work, not only have I felt differently, somehow it has given people the permission to be their authentic selves and be open with me.

Brett: That moment you had described at Groundbreakers. You said colleague. Was he actually a work colleague of yours or a colleague in the program?

Carla: He was part of the L12 group. I am part of Joe Hudson’s L12 group. It is me plus 11 other folks he coaches. It was one of our L12 colleagues.

Brett: It was a colleague in the program, not somebody you work with, but you had the experience of a grown man curling up in your lap and you seeing him as more than just a grown man but as a child and finding your capacity to love him in all of what he was in that moment. Clearly other people saw it and they felt it and described it. I am curious how that impacted the way you see how you saw your boss, for example, when you came back and when you went for that walk with him. How did you show up differently having had that experience?

Carla: With a tremendous amount of compassion and understanding and patience. Now when I see that people are in fear in the workplace or that they are grieving something or they are angry about something, I can see it for what it is and not be triggered by it and not take it on and show up in a way that holds it for them if they need me to but is not consumed by it. I think, Brett, one of the other big changes in me was going into the work because I saw myself as always giving to others but in reality what I was doing was managing everybody and managing everybody’s emotions and trying to keep everybody happy.

Letting go of that has been massive because what I didn’t realize is that wasn’t fun or enjoyable for people that I love. I thought I was serving them all this time, but in reality it doesn’t feel good to admit but it was a form of manipulation.  

Brett: I am curious how much dropping that projection, dropping that way of relating makes it so that others can show up and tell you I really want to tell you that I love you because they might feel that is something you might receive and not be contrary to whatever plans or management you have for them.

Carla: That’s exactly right. When you get out of the way, it is really remarkable what happens. I will give you another example. I just came back from my second long intensive with Joe, and while the movement wasn’t as significant there during the weeklong as it was for Groundbreakers, the movement after the fact was really significant for me. It was because a big part of the week was dropping roles, the roles that we play, and manager is one of them for me. Managing outcomes. During that week, it was my husband’s birthday coming up on Friday and I was going to fly back Friday and was running the risk of not making his birthday. In all the years my husband and I have been together, I have never missed his birthday. I always make a really big deal out of birthdays.

Funny enough, because I was in the weeklong, I just didn’t get to planning anything. Rather than feeling shame or guilt around that, I just let it go. The wildest thing happened. As I was away, I started to get text messages from my 17-year-old son. Hey mom, could you send me dad’s friends’ contact information? Hey mom, I grabbed your credit card. It is okay if I buy dad a new golf club. Mom, I am going to order a cake for dad and some barbecue. I am going to invite his friends over on Friday. With me stepping out of that role and dropping that role, I will be damned if my 17-year-old son didn’t show up for it in a way I never would have thought to ask. He showered his dad in love and made it a really big deal. My husband in return never felt more loved because his own son planned everything. It was really special.

I’ve seen that happen in the workplace, too, but just at home, that was really wild to see and really gratifying.

Brett: I am really curious about the difference of the experience of your son from you doing all the planning and asking your son to do a certain to-do list of things and him just coming up with these ideas and taking full ownership of them.

Carla: It was better than what I would have come up with. I am sure it felt a lot better to him because he initiated it all and he did it from a place of love and what he wanted for his dad.

Brett: Now I am curious about if you find yourself no longer taking the management role or being aware of when you are that role of being the manager and the overseer, how do you relate to perhaps the fear that might have underlie that, which is if I don’t manage everyone around me, things won’t get done or everyone else will have to do everything for me and then they’ll resent me. How has that structure shifted or evolved?

Carla: I’ve hit a slightly nuanced flavor of it, Brett. My flavor of that has been I really kind of zeroed out at that retreat. I had lost all the roles. One of the things Joe said to me coming out of it is don’t build back too soon. We are almost two months out and I still haven’t built back. The fear for me has taken more of a flavor of do I not care anymore. Am I disengaged? Am I depressed? Is this okay? But then what’s really wild is I am starting to see it play out in really beautiful ways. When I get out of the way, it gets replaced by something better.

I was on a call probably a few weeks after the retreat and it was probably one of my favorite meetings to date in this new job. We had about eight people on the call, and it was people early-stage career, veterans of the industry discussing the new brand of the company we are going to roll out. I just asked questions in VIEW format, how, what questions vulnerably and impartially with empathy and wonder. Through that, something which I have recently learned to be called group intelligence took over. The group began to push each other and challenge each other and debate and push further. Title didn’t matter. Level didn’t matter. We got to the best possible outcome. All I did was just facilitate it. I asked questions.

That’s what it looks like now, versus before I would start a call with this is what we need to achieve before this call is over. This is what I think we should do, blah, blah, blah, and really start to dictate. This was very different. What came out on the other side was much better than what I could have envisioned or what I would have planned myself. It really did leverage the group, so the sum of the parts was greater.

Brett: How much have you seen that trickle down in the teams you manage and the way they show up to the teams that they manage? How has that permissioning of letting go of that role and facilitating the group intelligence percolated through the team or through the company if at all regardless of others having contact with this work directly through Joe or just being in contact with you and experiencing your change?

Carla: It is a few different ways. I had a peer tell me early on, a few months in, offered to give me some feedback. I said yeah, of course, please. He said I love your feminine vibe. You have brought this energy to our team that we really needed. We were just a ton of testosterone, and now you bring humor, and you laugh at yourself. You are vulnerable when you don’t understand something. If you don’t get something right, you saw how you are going to fix it. He said you have given us all permission to do the same. It has been super fun to have you on the team and I am grateful that you are here. That for me was just like wow. That was the ultimate compliment. That felt amazing.

The other way I’ve seen it show up is interestingly enough, I am triggered when people don’t ask questions, when people talk at each other. I’ve started to say it out loud. Now members of my team and my organization are starting to ask how, what questions even though they haven’t been through VIEW. They are starting to see me do it, and they are starting to model it. The last part I would say, Brett, I am seeing is I am starting to see more emotion, love and openness with emotion. I just pulled my team together for the first time in person, and the first thing one of the people on my team noticed is there is a lot of emotion. I said absolutely, that’s awesome. People are really expressing themselves vulnerably.

I almost wonder if it is not just related to me and the work but also related to this time we have just been through. It is just these two things coming together at the perfect time, which is people are also really longing for connection. I think that makes people more open to me in this state.

Brett: With the way you had seen people in that role, having that role fall away, now it sounds like you are able to see a different level of what people want and what they need rather than just seeing what they want or need from a to-do list standpoint or from getting things done. You are also seeing a deeper layer of what their emotional needs are, and the underlying social mammalian need for connection we all have. It sounds like that’s really helping you to really see more of the value and the potential in a team as well as show up in a way that brings people together to be communicating in a more effective way.

Carla: Yeah, I will even add something to it, Brett. I’ve come to learn that my wants and needs are the wants and needs of the organization. I feel that it is my responsibility to express them whereas before I pushed them down. Now when my team is expressing their wants and needs and sometimes I have to pull it out of them, I literally validate them by saying if you are feeling a certain way, it is because your team or your organization feels that way. You owe it not only to yourself but to them to say it out loud. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be messy, but let’s talk about it.

The other thing we talk a great deal about, and this was something one of the L12 colleagues have that has really stuck with me. How cool is it that your body shines a light on the very thing you need to deal with. If there is discomfort in your system, if you literally don’t feel good about something, if there is resistance or friction in you, that's something we need to go deal with. Let’s go unlock that. I’ve made an open invitation for folks to bring those things out into the open.

Brett: It sounds like that journey through the fear of self-indulgence has unlocked your ability to see others’ needs as valid, whereas when you were living in the belief system that getting your needs met, doing therapy with yourself would be self-indulgent and that you need to take care of others, there also seemed to be this way that you saw others as not being able to take care of their own needs and if they did, that might be self-indulgent perhaps. That projection started to fall away when you started to really let yourself have needs and let yourself honor your feelings as something pointing to some deeper truth for you. That is good for your entire company and for your family.

Carla: That is so profound, Brett. I had not realized that until you just said it, but it is very true. I’ve seen it in my own children. I’ve never felt more connected to my kids than I do right now, whereas before if one of my kids would throw a fit, be upset about something or cry, I would try to make them feel better. But now I sit with them in it. If they feel like crying, let’s cry. Let’s let it out. If they feel like having an anger session, let’s whale on the bed with a tennis racket. It has been transformative. I never realized it until you just said it. That is so crazy. I wasn’t meeting people’s needs at all. I wasn’t validating their needs at all. I was just trying to fix it all the time. I think that’s why the response to me has been so different. Wow, thank you.

Brett: It was just a question.

Carla: There was an insight in it.

Brett: I am curious what advice you would have for somebody who has been listening to this who feels connected to that trauma that you described of not feeling like they can indulge in their own feelings or that it is safe to or that society will allow it or that it is even good for them or for others around them. They don’t have the availability to come to a course. Maybe they could do one of the online courses, but maybe they are not going to make it to a Groundbreakers and have the experience you just described. What would you have to say to somebody who feels that way? What advice would you have for them to be able to feel through this and move through this on their own, learning from your experience?

Carla: Joe says something really beautiful that I quote all the time, which is joy is the matriarch of all the emotions. Her children are fear, grief and anger, and in order for her to live in a house, she has to be with her children. I think it starts with giving yourself permission to feel all the emotions and to access them and to reconnect to them because in that there is clarity of decision making. It can also bring tremendous clarity to wants and needs, which is the second part of my advice.Get clear on what you want and need and articulate it because that gives permission for those around you that you care about it to articulate their wants and needs.  It is one of the best ways to drive a true meaningful relationship with someone whether it is a work colleague or a friend or a family member.

I think the last thing is get curious. Ask lots of questions, in particular when in conflict. If you are in conflict with someone or something, get curious. Get into wonder. Ask a ton of how, what questions. It is unbelievable if you have an open mind about what you will learn and unlock. Sometimes the very thing that you thought was a point of contention actually ends up being a solution.

Brett: How do you experience the difference between asking an open ended how, what question from curiosity, a curiosity that’s deeply felt in your body with true openness, to what you get might back versus asking a how, what question formulaically as a defense or from an unknown trigger? How is that something that has shifted for you? What are some breadcrumbs you could offer for others who might be walking that path?

Carla: I think in the early days when I was learning the VIEW format, trying to ask how, what questions vulnerably, impartially with empathy and wonder, I was missing the impartial part because I was trying to drive to an outcome with my questions. I was trying to get people to see a certain point or to change their mind. That’s not the process. The process is to literally get curious and to remove your impartiality from it. For me, the difference is asking questions from a place of huh, I wonder what this person was really feeling. What about this particular issue is creating fear in them? That makes all the difference. If you are not trying to lead the witness, drive to an outcome or to prove a point or change somebody’s mind, what you can learn is really profound.

Brett: That impartiality is often the trickiest part. You pointed to it there when you were talking about being curious about what they might be afraid of. I find I am unable to be curious of someone else’s fear unless I am aware of my own. Part of coming to that impartiality is finding out what makes me want to drive a conversation towards a particular outcome and then what’s the helplessness I need to feel to let go of that particular level of attachment to outcome so that I can be curious. If I am allowing myself to feel my fear, then I can allow myself to feel and be with their fear.

Carla: That’s interesting because that is the other side of the coin, right? If you are triggered in a conversation, and you take a moment to check in with yourself and try to understand what it is that I am feeling, is it that there is something here I need to deal with that’s unrelated or correlated? Do I have a boundary that’s being crossed? What’s happening in my system right now? Doing that check in before you start to try to impact the other person is so valuable. That’s another skill that I’ve learned that’s been tremendously powerful. As a Latina, I am pretty trigger happy.

Brett: This circles back to something you said earlier about the way you showed up in your team where you found that you became triggered when others weren’t showing up curiously or when they were just talking at or past each other. You said now having gone through this work, this process, you have been owning that trigger. Not being triggered, you have been calling it out, which is different than not being aware of your trigger and then trying to change the world around you. But just saying hey, wow, I am triggered right, how do you do that when that comes up? When you are in a meeting and you feel that trigger and you are wanting more curiosity in the room, what does that exactly look like internally and then externally?

Carla: There are a few phrases I am starting to employ pretty consistently to bring my attention to them. One is: Wow, I need to call out that I am triggered right now. Here is what’s happening in my system. Help me understand x and x. I am just really open about it. The second is I’ve started to say: I need to be vulnerable right now. Here is what I am feeling. Using that language, interestingly enough, I am starting to see people within my organization use that language. Even people outside of our organization, even partners and vendors have started to use that language with me, which is super interesting. It softens the ground for the conversation because you are like this person is afraid to say what they are going to say right now, or they are unsure how it is going to hit me. I am going to treat them with some compassion. It has been super fascinating to see it employed.

Brett: That’s fascinating. There are a couple of things going on there that I see. One is that by naming the vulnerability that it is for you to own your trigger, and bring it consciously into the space, first of all, people are either going to notice you are triggered anyway and that might trigger them, or they are not going to notice you are trigger and also not noticed they are triggered, and then you will both be in a dynamic. Speaking to the vulnerability that it is for you to shine light on the trigger that is already in the room, already impacting people, then that permissions them to do the same for themselves.

Carla: It does. It is wild to even see the body language when you say those phrases. You can see people go from tensed to relaxed. You can see shoulders drop. You would think it would be the other way around, but people soften to the conversation when you are that open. It creates an environment of trust.

Brett: Something about the way you describe this language and the way you bring the trigger up is that I don’t feel any implication that somebody needs to change it for you. There is an owning of the trigger, and it is your trigger. There is something going in my system right now, and it is telling me something. I want to know more about what it is that you are saying to me. I want to know what’s underneath that. There’s a way that you are curious about it because you are not avoiding feeling that feeling and demanding the curiosity or whatever it is that is bringing that trigger up in you.

That seems like a really powerful thing because if you bring a trigger into the workspace, but it is unowned, then that can create a lot of unsafety. If you bring it in the way you described, then it is just a permissioning for people to be humans and have their feelings be present in the room. Then you get that higher bandwidth communication with people that happens when feelings are welcome.

Carla: Exactly. I want people to realize there are going to be things that trigger you every day, all day. This is a safe place. You can tell me if I have triggered you, if someone else has triggered you. It is information. It has been really fun to watch people open up in that way. I think the other thing I’ve done, Brett, is I used to, pre this work, say there is an action here. I want to give an action. Here's the action, and here’s who has to do it. Now I just say I want and need x.

Brett: How does that land in people differently from the first way?

Carla: The first few times, it was interesting. No one picked it up because they were so used to my saying there is an action here. But now it is really happening, which is super cool. Instead of me giving an action to somebody that’s aligned to their job function, now folks who actually want to take on the challenge regardless of their function will jump in and be like that’s what you want and need. I think I can help. I got you. Even better, sometimes I will have multiple people say Carla we are going to go work on that together. We will come back to you. That has been super cool to see, too.

Brett: Let go of some of the requirements for you to coordinate the room and allow more of that group intelligence to come up. Where there is an impulse in somebody, they can just jump in.

Carla: Exactly.

Brett: That’s fascinating. To close this up, I would love for you to tell me a story of how you showed up in your family in this new way that you bring your triggers into the space either your own trigger or maybe somebody who in your family is modeling this or who picked this up or was permissioned by the way you showed up to really own a trigger in a way that was super healthy for the relationship.

Carla: I will tell a funny story and then I will tell a real story. When I first started to do the work, my daughter would get upset at things. If I would start to manage her, she would stop and say you told me to express my emotions. I am trying to express my emotions. It was really sweet because she would call me out on it if I would ever revert back. I think the biggest response is what I said earlier, Brett, was the dropping of roles has created space for my husband, daughter and son to step into different roles. The family dynamic is different, and there is a lower level of anxiety in the family dynamic. I feel extremely connected to my children. I even find that my children are more affectionate with me than ever before. We have always been an affectionate family, but it is a big deal when your 17-year-old and 14-year-old are still affectionate with you. There is a real deep connection there.

I think the last piece, and this is probably one of the ones that is the most special to me is my kids are really honest with me. They talk to me about stuff that most teenagers don’t talk to their parents about. There is this mutual respect and openness there that I always dreamed of having with my kids, but now it is actually playing out. We talk about all of the things you are not supposed to talk about with teenagers and really openly. It is really beautiful.

Brett: That’s amazing. I am curious how rapidly that shift occurred in your relationship with your kids.

Carla: Coming out of the first Groundbreakers, it was immediate. Much like my friend and colleague described my love washing all over him, I could say that happening with my family. I could see their response to me.

Brett: You showed up and without having created any new history of experience with them, they just felt you in a different way. That permissioned them to open up.

Carla: It was energetic. Coming out of the second one, I would say the shifts have been even greater. It has just accelerated. It has been a really huge gift for me personally and professionally because we are one person. That’s the other gift of all of this. There is no work persona and home persona. It is all one person. We take all this stuff from work into the home into the workplace and vice versa.

Brett: If we don’t own that we bring our personal life into the workplace and we pretend they are separate, we show up with a bunch of unspoken subtext that gets in the way.

Carla: That’s great, and undermines ourselves and our teams.

Brett: Thank you so much, Carla. I really, really loved this conversation. I am so glad you joined us.

Carla: Thank you. This has been such a gift, Brett. I really appreciate it.

Brett: Thanks for listening to the Art of Accomplishment. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please subscribe and rate us on your podcast app. We would love your feedback, so feel free to send us questions or comments. You can reach out to us, join our newsletter or check out our courses at


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