Topic: Leadership


Shrinking the Bravery Deficit With Guest Reshma Saujani

season 2, episode 10

This episode, we’ll be talking with Reshma Saujani about bravery, inclusion, and how to raise the next generation of female business leaders.

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change people’s idea of what a programmer looks like. She has been named one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders AND Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, and she’s also written three books, including Girls Who Code and Women Who Don’t Wait In Line. Her latest is Brave, Not Perfect, and if you haven’t read it yet, stop listening and start reading.

Reshma Saujani was interviewed by Katie Clifford, our intrepid field producer who daylights as a marketing manager.

Host: Andrew Scarcella
Guest: Reshma Saujani

Topics covered:

  • Living bold in the face of failure and fear
  • The bravery deficit
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Acts of everyday bravery
  • Practicing imperfection
  • Flexible workplace culture
  • Mission-driven cultures
  • Teaching women to be brave

Tangible Takeaways:

1 The first is that there’s a bravery deficit between men and women, and it starts before we even learn to walk. It’s not our fault, but it is our responsibility to fix it. Every time we tell a little girl to “be careful” or “be nice”, we’re instilling self-doubt into their little minds. And as they grow, it grows with them, until it’s not just part of them, it’s part of our entire culture. But Reshma has the cure—exercising their bravery muscle through small acts of everyday courage. Take them rock climbing. Get them a ham radio for their birthday. Teach them how to build a campfire. And if they come to you with a skinned knee, don’t say, “oh you poor thing”, say, “coooool, how’d you get that?” The more opportunities you give them to get out of their comfort zones (the same opportunities we give young boys without thinking about it) the stronger their bravery muscle will get. Soon, getting up and talking in front of the entire class or trying out for the travel soccer team isn’t daunting, it’s exciting.

2 The second is to practice imperfection. There are a lot of ways to do this, but I like Reshma’s typo challenge: this week, send an email to a friend or coworker with a typo in it. On purpose. We all know the feeling of obsessively proof-reading an email before we hit send. And the panic that sets in when we’ve already hit send and realize we misspelled “achievement”. Again. It’s “i” before “e” you blockhead! But what we don’t know, and what you’ll almost certainly feel after sending that email,  is the sweet relief of knowing you made a mistake and not really caring, because it’s not a big deal. ‘Cause it’s not.

3 The third is that at some point in their childhood, every boy AND girl should be given the book, Hatchet. And after they read it, they should be given a hatchet. No, this isn’t some attempt to combat so-called “helicopter parents”, it’s just an acknowledgement that all kids crave the feeling of independence and should be given every opportunity to prove themselves, by themselves. And if you’re already an adult and haven’t read Hatchet yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy on your way home. And after you read it, go on Amazon and order the hatchet of your dreams. You’ll flex your bravery muscle, and your inner child will thank you. And you’ll have a sweet hatchet.

That’s it for this episode of The Work Place. If you liked it, or even if you didn’t, please rate, review, and, of course, subscribe to The Work Place on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. This episode was written and produced by yours truly, with editing and original music by Daniel Foster Smith, who also composed our theme song.

If you have a burning question about workplace culture, or a story about why YOUR workplace culture is the best (or worst) send it to

The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud️ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.

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