Entrepreneur Series: Interview with Dan Doucette & Jillian Reilly of BraveShift

Through workshops, coaching, and retreats, BraveShift aims to assist companies in reshaping their culture and developing leaders that strive to bring human connection back into the workplace by leveraging differences, engaging employees, and ultimately aiding productivity and success.

Their work and message has inspired my own thinking in terms of leadership, company culture, and the importance of human connection in the workplace. I have had the honour of working with Dan and Jillian for quite a few months now, and am thrilled to share their business and ideas with you.

Klara Loots: How would you best describe what BraveShift offers to other businesses? Dan Doucette: The simplest way I can put it is that we get people talking again. I mean, really having quality conversations and investing in relationships at work. I know that sounds so simple, but the truth is that over and over we find this isn’t happening. Jillian Reilly: The chance to reconnect with your teammates, to see each other afresh and explore what you have to offer as unique individuals and collectively. The opportunity to build really rich relationships that can help each person really bring the best version of themselves to work every day and together achieve more than you imagined you could.

DD: And it isn’t just about doing something that feels good. It absolutely is about competitiveness and performance.

KL: What inspires you? In terms of running your own business and getting yourself out there? JR: The possibility that I might craft experiences that will have real, lasting impact on client’s lives. Give them the opportunity to fulfill their own sense of purpose and ambition.

DD: I have to feel like I’m being challenged to learn about myself to feel alive. And for me there’s nothing like envisioning and developing your own business as a way to keep learning. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I go through every day feeling inspired at all. A lot of the time I’m thinking, “Why the hell am I putting myself through this?” What usually brings me back is a moment with a client when I see some small change happen. THAT is inspiring.

JR:Trying to succeed in creating some lasting tools, approaches or experiences inspires me.

KL: Which like-minded businesses inspire you and why? DD: I get inspired by anyone bringing out a truly unique offering that meets a business need. In the space that BraveShift works—which to me is organizational transformation—there’re a lot of interesting efforts. If I had to point to an example that seems to have resonated and started to scale, I’d say The Energy Project. I can nod “yes” to pretty much all of their key ideas. I think where BraveShift is different is we challenge people to really go deep, to the point where they thrive as a team because of, not in spite of, their differences. I don’t see anyone else doing that.

KL: How did BraveShift begin? What was the inspiration behind the change you wanted to see and create in the world of leadership and business management? DD: Oh gosh, how much time do we have? Well, BraveShift is an extension of my own life story as well as a merging with my partner Jillian’s life story. It’s really very personal. JR: Very personal. Wanting to shift organizational change and growth from fixing problems to unleashing potential.

DD: For me BraveShift is in part about healing—helping people in the work setting move past their greatest challenges holding them back. It’s also about learning—creating work environments that nurture the growth of the individual every day. I think too many people read many inspirational stories about workplaces like that without believing or expecting they can experience the same thing. And I think that’s bullshit, and I intend to change it.

KL: In your opinion, what are the top 5 characteristics of an inspiring and effective leader? JR: Creativity, moral courage, conversationalist (is that a characteristic?) empathy, humility,

DD: Hurray, I love this question! Our work around leadership is the area where I’ve personally spent the most time developing a methodology. We see leadership as a universal role—one everyone can take on in the workplace in different ways depending on their context. The five traits we focus on are ones that everyone possesses to varying degrees: trust, generosity, humility, empathy and resilience.

KL: Any advice for other business owners who are trying to get their businesses out there?

"Know yourself well. Have a driving sense of purpose. Believe in what you have to offer. Listen to feedback." - Jillian

DD:Look, I’m still working my tail off to figure this out. I can tell you a couple things. First, there’s no quick way to do it. It takes time and perseverance. Second, especially for a small business you won’t have means to get much feedback about how all your efforts are landing, but I’ve learned through anecdotal feedback that consistency pays off—people do start to recognize you as a resource in your space. So keep at it. And third, don’t over-think your messaging. I mean, yes, you need to have a clear message and all, but early on one mistake I made was to keep changing the message because I was expecting a moment when I’d suddenly see business burst, telling me I got the messaging right. That doesn’t happen.

"So much boils down to relationships...As you go about your networking, be genuinely good to people." - Dan

You can follow BraveShift on Twitter here, and visit their website here for more information on shifting your leadership practices and company culture.

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