“Fear is personal,” says Crista Samaras, who founded Brave in 2016 to inspire women to find the courage to rise up the ranks.
Samaras says one out of two people are most afraid of failing—or not meeting expectations. How individuals address that common concern is what’s personal. And how a person reacts to that fear will determine his or her path forward.
“So many women are not talking about really big fears,” laments Samaras, who’s suffered from depression and anxiety for decades.
Brave aims to push worries out of the closet to build a new strength through advanced behavioral training. Samaras’ hope is to create a new generation of leaders through Brave’s workshops and her inspirational keynotes, like the one she delivered at Connect’s Women in Sports Tourism Summit in fall 2019. She will speak at Connect 2020 in New Orleans.
Just Doing It
The company hosts events on-site and digitally. The Chase, an eight-week deep-dive into meeting goals that launches in March, is the next online offering.
As CEO of a company, Samaras knows she is among a minority of women who owns her own company. “We have ground to gain here,” she says of women.
Her efforts come at a time as millennials take over the workforce. Beyond jokes and stereotypes, millennials represent a generation that confronts anxiety a different way than Generation X (of which Samaras is a member) and older workers.
One of the greatest lacrosse players ever at Princeton University, Samaras turns to sports to explain the difference. Gen X might as well have adopted Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, she says. Sure, we had fear growing up (and still do), but we were raised to get over it and perform. Meanwhile, millennials and “iGeneration”—or Generation Z—are more in tune with their feelings.
“They are offered much more room to have feelings, which I appreciate as someone who suffered from depression,” Samaras says of the younger crowd.
Managers must acknowledge these differences and work with employees, particularly women, an underrepresented group in the C-Suite. Not only is Brave’s mission to advance women in the workforce, but it is also to train mentors to properly educate and push potential future leaders.
“Women need to see themselves in power positions,” she says. “We have to work from the bottom up and top-down.”
Samaras has lofty goals for her reach and impact. She uses her benchmark as Oprah Winfrey—“I have a long way to go,” she jokes.
Setting high goals is nothing new.
After her tremendous lacrosse career, Samaras went into coaching, naturally employing many of the science-based techniques Brave now employs. As a coach, Samaras could reach hundreds of young athletes but saw a larger playing field.
“Our data is critical and our programs are transformative. I wanted to transcend the sport and athletes,” she recalls.
Bravery is foundational for much of behavioral science, she says. Without it, there would be no will to overcome obstacles—systemic or smaller scale—to reach goals. On a personal note, she needed that mindset to start Brave and dream to become a role model.
“It is hard to find any place where bravery wouldn’t be valuable to everyone,” she says.