Coco Brown - Ambitious and Playful

Coco Brown.jpg

What are your “and” words and why? Ambitious and Playful. Ambitious - I don't sit still. I quickly see how the data points fit together into opportunity and I'm impatient to see solutions realized. I want to contribute, and I believe I can. I want to lead, and I believe I can. I believe I can accomplish a lot, and I'm compelled to do so. My ambition stems from being compelled not just to succeed, but to help others. Playful - I belong at the kid's table. I don't like rules that are designed for the outliers who need them. I like rules that make sense for smart people with strong, good hearts and the common sense, values and ethics to do the right thing. I relate really well to kids and really enjoy being around them. I don't conform and I don't appreciate social norms that create hierarchies in any way - age, socio economic, employee/employer....

What you are known for saying / a quote from you. What does this quote mean to you, (or if it’s from someone else, why does it inspire you)? "It will become obvious." My uncle who I admired tremendously passed away at a young age of a cancerous brain tumor. He would say this to me periodically when I struggled with a why, what or how question. It's generally true and when I pace myself and leave space for things to become obvious, I generally get a better answer.

Which other Ladybadasses inspire you and why? Yvonne Wassenaar and Megan Carpenter. Yvonne - she’s epitomized the successful execution of my desired ambition. And, she's an all around awesome person. Megan - I love the mother she is (she's my sister in law). She and I are very, very different people and we parent very differently, but we are super similar at the core. I really respect how she approaches boundaries and structure. As much as I don't like them, she makes them work really well.

When did you first realize that you had some Ladybadassery in you? Probably about 8th grade when Caroline Heaton encouraged the whole grade to oust me from the crowd. It stung, but it also made me realize how fickle and fragile people can be, how petty, and I decided that would not be me. It was devastating, but also in some ways the most empowering experience to be so universally rejected. I think in an extreme experience you are forced to either give in and decide not to like yourself either, or to go in and decide to like yourself more. The rules of childhood that were applied to my situation were so shallowly determined. The outcome was cruel, but I knew the kids weren't cruel. They turned off their empathy in a way that has always struck me. Perhaps if you read The Science of Evil it will help. It's a great book for explaining what people do that can be so mean, and yet coming from such genuinely nice people. I want people to work harder for each other, and yet they just don't. I think about that a lot.

How this shaped my life is illustrated, I think, in every thing I get to focus on today with Athena, with my kids and their community, and with my husband. I work every day to understand the other, to lean in hard to what they need, to understand that just because I don't understand does not mean I am right or that what is there is not understandable. Putting myself in the shoes of the other person, while holding onto myself is something I work on every day.

What keeps you motivated on days when you aren't quite feeling like a Ladybadass? My kids!

What is your advice to other women who are trying to tap into their Ladybadassery? Don't let anyone define you. Look to the guys from Queer Eye. They are such inspiration in absolutely every way. Watch every show over and over.

Coco is the founder and CEO of Athena Alliance, a COO, a Board Director and Advisor, and a dynamic leader helping people and companies thrive.