Unlocking Us, One Podcast at a Time

When Dr. Brené Brown launched her first podcast in March 2020 BC (Before COVID-19) little did she know that these weekly 40-minute sessions would be the saving grace for the year ahead and beyond for thousands of listeners. 

Photo: Maile Wilson

As the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness and Dare to Lead, Brown has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy as a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation–Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. Dr. Brown is also a visiting professor in management at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. Her TED talk — “The Power of Vulnerability” — is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture, “The Call to Courage”, on Netflix. If that weren’t enough, her Unlocking Us podcast already has a global following. She unpacks and explores the ideas, stories, experiences, books, films and music that reflect the universal experiences of being human, from the bravest moments to the most brokenhearted. And as the pandemic was taking hold of the word, the brave and brokenhearted moments she discussed were the fuel allowing listeners to hope that this too would pass.  

Speaking from personal experience, being able to laugh, cry, learn, scream, love, grieve and even hope with Dr. Brown and her guests (Elizabeth Lesser, Bishop Michael Curry, Glennon Doyle, Jud Apatow, Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dolly Parton, to name a few) each week has been one of the essential “tools for survival” during the coronavirus pandemic. Not being able to connect with friends and family while feeling like I’m teetering on the edge has been dramatically life altering. Yet, knowing I’m not alone has made a world of difference. These 40 minutes where I plug in my ear buds and feel connected, like … I’m catching up with old friends. Can you even imagine?

Brown’s ability to engage in conversations that “unlock the deeply human part of who we are, so we can live, love, parent and lead with more courage and heart” with her trademark mix of research, storytelling and no-BS style have made her a cultural phenomenon. “I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore  . . .  embrace the suck,” says Dr. Brown. How utterly refreshing. 

Dr. Brené Brown