What You'll Learn:
- Brig’s top success secrets for living your dream life
- What ‘owning it’ really means when it comes to your career
- What thought work is (and why you need to be doing it everyday)
- What the approval treadmill is and how it’s impacting your career
- Why women and minorities are conditioned to prove their worth (and how to fix it)
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Stacy Mayer: Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. And I am super excited to be bringing to you today's episode with my friend and colleague Brig Johnson.
Brig Johnson is a force to be reckoned with. She is amazing. If you are not already following her on social media, that's the first thing I want to say: 'You have to follow her.' If you follow her, you are going to see the definition of being yourself. And by being yourself, it is a powerful, strong, incredible black woman.
Brig Johnson was referred to by my coach as the next Beyonce of life coaching. And I remember when she said that, Brig's laughing right now, when she said that the entire room went: 'Yes.' It was like all of our eyes saw it, we knew it. And that's how we see her. She is amazing.
Now, I know I'm setting her up to be really big. You haven't even met her yet. But the reason why I'm doing that is because I know that each and every one of you have that power inside of you and it's just a matter of unleashing it. And I actually got to see it unfold a little bit. I got to see Brig, I didn't know her a long time before she became the Beyonce way of life coaching, but I could see her come out right. You got to see her be able to start to show parts of herself, and it was just really inspiring and incredible. So I just had to have her on the podcast so that she could share some of this wisdom with each and every one of you.
Let me give a more formal introduction to Brig. She is a life and mindset coach for high achieving black women. She helps them uncover their shyt, spelt with a Y, so they manage their shyt and produce epic shyt.
One of her taglines is that she makes people be un-f*ckwithable. So as you can tell, this podcast episode, I probably should have warned you, is going to have a little bit of cursing in it, but that's because we're all fired up here today.
And thank you, Brig. Thank you so much for being here with me.
Brig Johnson: Oh, my thank you.
I absolutely fidn't even remember the Beyonce way of life coaching. Not at all.
Stacy Mayer: You know what's so great about that? Is that I do. And so when Stacy said that, you take it, you hear it, you process it, you do whatever you want with it. But what that said to me was: 'Oh, this is what I'm not doing. Like me, Stacy.' So when she said that, I thought: Oh yeah. Brig is bringing it, whatever that is.' And so we're going to talk a little bit more about what 'bringing it means', but I just... thank you.
So what have been some of your secrets to success?
Brig Johnson: I think I think one of the biggest secret that I had as far as success was just literally owning all of me. Like when I took the the time to learn to love my good, my bad and my ugly, that's when I just became un-nonstopwithable.
Stacy Mayer: So by owning it, does that always express itself outwardly or is that also internal as well?
Brig Johnson: It's so internal.
Stacy Mayer: Tell us what that is. Because I think when people think of authenticity, especially in the corporate world, it brings up all this fear. It says: well, I'm happy to own it, but these people don't want to see all that. And they don't, right. So what is owning it mean for real?
Brig Johnson: Owning it means not caring if people want to see it or not. Literally. It's just being you. And I'm literally just going to give you me and let them decide how they want to respond to it. I'm not responsible for your liking me, for your responding favorably, unfavorably. I'm just responsible for me and how I show up. And when I stay in my lane, I'm so much better. Everyone around me benefits from it. The company benefits from it, the community benefits from it, and the world benefits from me operating as me. Mm.
Stacy Mayer: Now that makes sense because Iwhen I asked that question I realized that I said: 'and they don't.' And so it's because we think: 'well they don't,' because we have somebody, we have a boss, that doesn't really seem to care about us. They already don't seem to be giving us the recognition that we deserve or any sorts of extra pats on the back. And so why should we be more authentic around them? And what you're saying, it's more about your own personal drive. It's just what motivates you. It's staying in your own lane. It's not even worrying about what that other person thinks.
Brig Johnson: It's: I show up like this because this is just who the fuck I am. That's it. I show up as a strong employer or employee or boss or entrepreneur or mother, not because I want accolades from anybody else. It's because that's who I am. It feels so much better for me to do it because that's who I am. Not out of obligation, not out of pressure, not out of trying to manipulate how you think about me, but out of: this is just who I am. It's sufficiency, right?
Stacy Mayer: Sufficiency, yes. I have been reading about scarcity so much and it's like it's just hitting me on the head a lot lately. But this idea when we're sufficient. When we're enough.
Brig Johnson: Yes, totally. When you're enough, that is your strength. When you come to the meeting, to the day, being responsible for how you feel about you, being responsible for building your own confidence, being responsible for all the things that you think about you, knowing that whatever they think is on them and it's just extra. It's just icing on the cake.
Stacy Mayer: So you work with high achieving black women. Why do you personally feel motivated to be a leader and an advocate for black women?
Brig Johnson: First of all, what we didn't say is that my other job is a nurse anesthesia. And I've worked all of anesthesia and kind of landed in labor and delivery. And I absolutely love working with women. I am a champion for women. I just am. Just by nature. And if I look back on my history, I have always been the one that's like: let's gather the women together, a sense of community, a sense of container for growth. I've over the years have created different containers just naturally.
And so as a black woman, seeing what I thought work and what managing my mind and me owning all of my shit and what was in the way, that's when I was like: 'Oh, there's a part that hasn't been discovered or that's not talked about on the thought work path of how it applies to me as a black woman specifically.
Stacy Mayer: So real quick before we go into that. So in terms of thought work, can you give us just a high level overview? I mean, what it sounds a little bit like to me is somewhat managing your emotions, being able to stay out of your own way. But just give us a quick high level overview and then I'd love to hear how it specifically applies to black women.
Brig Johnson: I think it specifically applies to everybody.
Stacy Mayer: Of course.
I just use the language culturally for and talk it in a way that is specific to, not all black women, but the black women who..and I have white clients, too, but to the women who are attracted to the way I produce it and the way I say it. You say it in all kinds of ways. And I just get the ones that are attracted to the ones who like a little couple of f-bombs and slang.
But thought work, literally, like you said, it's the managing of our mind. It's learning to use our mind as our greatest asset, because it is. It's taking us from the doers to the being and I love being and owning the being as opposed to the doing, which is how I think is more important than what I do. And then managing what I think on purpose, as opposed to just accepting all of the stereotypes, all of the faults, all of the limiting beliefs, and not challenging them. So thought work is literally challenging every thought and asking yourself: 'Is that really true?'
Stacy Mayer: And so for high achieving women, it seems like that would be particularly challenging, because if you're moving from the doing to the thinking, she's nodding your head. So how so how do we help people through that transition?
Brig Johnson: Right. I think for high achieving women, most of my clients, they are big doers. Like you said. Like PhDs, dentists, MDs, all of the corporate VPs going into the c- office, all of that. It's the doing. It's like: in order for me to feel good, they get there feeling good by achievement. And what we don't understand about how our brain works, is that when we do things and we achieve, it only lasts for a little while.
It's kind of like getting a new car. You get the new car and you're like totally excited about the new car. And then about six months later or three months later, you stop washing it. It's not that big of a deal anymore. Because the dopamine that was produced in our body stops being produced. And so knowing what I know from a medical point of view, knowing what I know is from a thought work point of view, and as being a black woman, I kind of put all of that together.
But the doing is learning to where the dopamine is coming from and then learning to create that dopamine ourselves, because all we end up doing is exhausting ourselves. Like it's like I call it the approval treadmill, like we're on the treadmill for approval all the time.
Like: 'See, I did this. OK, I need this. OK, I'll get this, I'll get this position. I'll do this.'
And it's like every time we get a little dopamine and we get to feel good about ourselves. But what we don't understand is that we can feel good about ourselves without doing the thing, because the thing that makes us feel good is the thought that produces that feeling and really understanding that is key.
Stacy Mayer: Oh my gosh. There's there's a couple of different things here. So my clients, I coach them to get promoted into senior level leadership roles. What I find is that when a lot of my clients start to get to that point where they're forty years old, forty five years old, they are actually not looking for necessarily the dopamine hit of the promotion. Because they're like: 'Oh, what comes with a promotion? More work. More responsibility. And so then therefore I am not going to go for it. Because I feel like I don't want that extra work and life is more important. My family is more important. My health is more important.' So they see all of these things that are more important. But the piece that they're missing is that they can find that within themselves, that dopamine hit, that resourcefulness, and still go for the role. But the thing is, is that they can't just go for the role. And they're right. These are very smart people. They're right. If I just go for the role without checking in with myself and figuring out my motivation and why I want it and what it is that, my own personal value, that I'm going to be left empty once I get it. So therefore, I'm not going to go for it.
Brig Johnson: The thing about it is like when you get to like 40 or 50, you've done it enough. We're creatures of habit. So how we do one thing is how we do everything. So it's like, you kind of start looking back and going: 'OK, last time I did that, that didn't work.' Like a woman who gets married is thinking life was going to be happily ever after.
Stacy Mayer: It was easy to do when you were 22. But now it's like: 'Ok, I'm a little bit smarter now. I get it right. I know it's not going to be.'
So how do we find that motivation then? Because the thing is, is that we're not looking for the outside validation. We know that. We can feel that. But yet as a high achieving woman, there is something inside us that says that we should be doing more. That there is something in us. And I should take the word should out. But it's that we're worth more. So how do we actually get over that hurdle then to still go for something? To still actually go for greatness.
Brig Johnson: Right. I think it's goes to the feeling. It always goes back to the feeling. And high achievers don't feel. We're not taught to feel we're taught to do, we're not taught to feel. And so the reason why a lot of them in that situation aren't, like you said, aren't wanting to go for it because they feel pressured to and they understand it's it's only going to be temporary. But if you're doing it from a feeling of authenticity or 'this is just who I am', that feeling or creation or inspired or compelled, those feelings are the ones that allow you to do it and not do it in scarcity, or not do it in a sense where you end up exhausted. Because you actually enjoy the process. Because it's just who you are. You're doing it because I want to see how much is inside of me, what I am.
But I don't think every person has that desire. Some people are totally fine where they are.
Stacy Mayer: Of course.
Brig Johnson: But like you said, when it's: 'I should.' It doesn't mean you shouldn't, but it could be that instead of saying 'I should', it's like: 'But I'm choosing to. Because there's a difference energy in 'I should do this' and 'I'm choosing to do this.' You're choosing to do something, then you have total ownership of all of the process. It's like I'm working nights. Yeah. I chose this. There's so much more agency in the journey. And you can enjoy it along the way because: 'Oh, I'm choosing this. I'm creating this.' You're the author of it, as opposed to 'I should,' it's like I'm being pressured to, I'm made to. Then it feels more kind of victimy. Like I like I don't really want to but I should because this is what I'm supposed to do now. It doesn't feel good when you take it with that energy.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah. And you're walking the talk. You have two jobs. And I have never once heard you say that this was a burden. You're choosing both of those careers that you have. I see it in you as not to careers. I see it as one. It's all part of the same.
Brig Johnson: Yeah, it's all me. But yeah. I do both, and my thought is: 'I'm living my dream life, like I'm living a dream.' I wanted to create this. This is what I want it. So it takes me totally out of 'oh my God I've got to do this.' No. I chose this.
Stacy Mayer: So another thing that comes to mind is what about that conditioning? So we are high-achieving women and we want to strive for more. But then there's also the conditioning of 'the should' our entire life, about this certain idea of success. So how do we sort of reconcile that when we've gone down a certain path and we do enjoy it. But yet it was sort of set up for us, that we needed to work really hard and prove our worth or whatever that is. Can you describe that a little bit more? What might be coming up for some of your clients or anything that you've seen?
Brig Johnson: I think that idea of, as women, we are conditioned, for sure, and as minorities were conditioned, for sure, to prove our worth. Our actions create thoughts in someone else. They will think this way of me because I'm acting this way. And that actually is not true.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, wait, wait. OK, I'm sorry. Prigg often blows my mind. So what you're saying is that we put on a persona because we want other people to see us a certain way. Now I'm seeing this right, which is like this idea of being inauthentic in a corporate environment, because we think that this will show them that we are capable of these leadership roles. Oh, my goodness. So good.
Brig Johnson: Right. And actually, our action doesn't produce a thought or feeling in someone else. And so why even try burning ourselves out using that formula? What we do is if we don't get the result we want, if we want the promotion or we want them to think a certain way, we want them to think that we're capable and we're doing all the A's, when we don't get the result, instead of going up to creating out of our sufficiency, we just keep working more action, and that's just burnt out. OK, I'm a stay later. OK, I'm going to get this degree. You still don't see it. I'm going to do this.
Stacy Mayer: So we'll get temporary fixes, because right now I'm trying to piece it together because we they do respond...it feels like our actions create how other people treat us. It feels that way.
Brig Johnson: It feels that way, but it's not. And then we get frustrated when we when they don't give us the action that we think we deserve. Because, I've been doing this.
Stacy Mayer: I've been doing this. These were the rules. I was supposed to stay up late. I was supposed to work 60 hours a week and it didn't result in this.
Brig Johnson: Right. And so when we understand that our actions don't create anything in someone else, then we totally get to show up the way we want to show up. And it sounds counterintuitive. Because we're taught: show them you're good and then you get the result. And the thing is, they will only see what they want to see. So how about I show up the way I want to show up because you're going to have your thoughts anyway. You're literally going to have your thoughts no matter what. So I get to show up in an authentic way, how I want to.
And again, it's going back to me, agency. Like, no, I'm showing up like this because this is just who I am. And sometimes that means I am staying late because I care about this product.
Stacy Mayer: Exactly.
Brig Johnson: But it's not: you deserve something from them because I stayed late.
Stacy Mayer: Yes.
Brig Johnson: That ends up being resentful. That ends up being burned out. But it's like: 'No, this is who I am. And if they see it, fine, if they don't, fine. I'm creating value and I'm going to take my value wherever I want to and it will benefit me.'
Stacy Mayer: So this reminds me of, OK, you want to become an agent of change. So in corporate world, we see a lot of things that are going wrong. And we're trying to bring more diversity into leadership. And I could imagine as a minority leader that you even more get inspired by it. It is authentic to you. You want to speak up, you want to make a change. It drives you crazy. Because it is so true to you and it hurts every time it goes counter to that. How do you actually institute change at an organization?
Brig Johnson: I think instituting change at an organization is just instituting change with you. It always starts with us inside. And just learning to have your own back. I like to teach my clients how to build the net, their own net, as opposed to looking for other people to support them.
Stacy Mayer: Yes.
Brig Johnson: To give them their attaboys or whatever, like creating that intentionally in you. I call it building a net. Each part of the net, each wrong in the net stake, you created it as opposed to someone else create it. You create that internally and I show them how to do that. But when the net is there. You can get on a tightrope and do anything you want, perform all the circus tricks you want, flips and whatever, because you're not looking down, going you got me? Did you do that stake? Because you created that stake. You did it. So when you create your own net, you know its secure. You can walk the tightrope and if you fall, you may not want to fall, and it may not feel good to fall, but you know you have your own net.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah, I see this in minority leaders right now and the people who are outspoken and the people who are just doing their thing, you can almost see it in their eyes. They're not looking for approval. They're not looking around: 'Did you see it? Did you make a change? Is corporate leadership changing? Is there more diversity? How many numbers do we have?' You know what? They are the number. And I see it all the time. They're like: 'I am going to get into that position of leadership so that I can create change. I'm not looking for you to do it right. I'll do it, fine. I will hold that right.'
Brig Johnson: I'm so glad you said it that way. And to do that not begrudgingly. Everything goes back to the feeling. So why are you doing that? Because I'm choosing to. I'm compelled to. As opposed to resentful. That burns you out and churns you because you're still looking for them to prove that like: 'Do you see it? Do you see it? Do you see it.' No, I'm doing this because I'm compelled to. And when you do that you don't do at a lack over, you do out of sufficiency.
Stacy Mayer: Yeah. So have any of your clients surprised you along the way? Do you have any stories that you could share with us?
Brig Johnson: My clients are doing so amazingly awesome things. I looked on Good Morning America and one of my clients was on there. I'm like: 'Wait. Ok!'
My clients are getting just amazing results in their businesses and where they're going. But you know what the main thing my clients are making improvements in? Is in their relationships with themselves and in their relationships with their family and those around them. It's like they're living in more peace and producing more. But their spouses are saying: 'I'm so glad that you hired her.' Because when we're centered at home and when we're not worried about everything else, that's when we start creating epic shit. It's not we create epic shit and then come home. It starts inside us and then it just expands out.
So I know in two or three years from now, it's just going to be amazing it what they're doing. But yeah, when the spouses start saying: 'You're just a different person. You're not using energy on fighting and fussing about this coworker or I didn't get it. They just leave it as opposed to staying up all night and 'I'm going to do this plan of action' and all of that. They're more centered and grounded. When you have that, you have more energy to focus in the direction that you want to do. So I think that's a surprise.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, I love it. So good. So where do you see yourself going next on your epic journey?
Brig Johnson: You know, I see myself just continuing on, serving and coming up with ways to explain the concepts and how to make it more accessible to others and just continuing to support women on their journeys. My biggest goal is to see one of my clients on a stage rocking it, like just rocking it, auditorium full. And I'm at the back with tears, just clapping. Like back up against the wall, just going: 'Yeah. Yeah. Own it.'
Stacy Mayer: Because you saw it, you saw it all along. And I think that that's the power of coaching. Is that we can see what they can't see. We talked about that at the beginning of this podcast. Right. Full circle. When Stacy, our coach Stacy, said that about you. It's like the whole room could see it, right? We all saw it. We knew it. We knew exactly what she meant. And that's what you see in your clients. Is that you see this ability to be up on that stage, to be creating change. And you are going to be right there with them applauding and tears in your eyes and just their biggest cheerleader.
Brig Johnson: Right. And I know, they say coaches, we're not supposed to be cheerleaders, but I am. I'm a cheerleader too.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, girl. I know you challenge them, too. I have seen you. Oh, yes. You're going to call them on all their s h y t. I love it.
Brig Johnson: Yes, I do. Because there's just some things that are that just get in our way. It's just us and our thinking.
Stacy Mayer: Oh so good. So how can listeners connect with you. How can we find you if people want to follow you like I've suggested or do some work with you, what should they do?
Brig Johnson: BrigJohnson.com is my website and I offer masterclasses there sometimes. So check and see. And then Johnson Brig on Instagram.
Stacy Mayer: Oh, perfect. Do you have any final words of advice for that corporate leader that's trying to get ahead? They're trying to figure it out. Anything else that you want to say before we go to kind of wrap this up?
Brig Johnson: I think the biggest thing is like it is inside out and find the peace within and learn to operate in full agency and sufficiency and who you are right now, what you're doing right now, is totally enough. Where you are is enough. And whether or not somebody else sees it or not, that has no validity on your value. Don't allow other people to tell you your value. You establish that. And when you know that, you just create even more value. But waiting around for other people to tell you? No.
Stacy Mayer: No thank you.
Brig Johnson: No, you're on a hamster wheel.
Stacy Mayer: Thank you so much for being here with us. Brig, I have a feeling I'm going to have you back. This conversation has only just begun. Thank you.
Brig Johnson: I'd love to.
Stacy Mayer: Really appreciate it.
Stacy Mayer: All right. Bye.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.