Change Interview - Brandi Waits

Today's Change Interview is with the amazing Brandi Waits.  Hear her #Storyofchange as we feature her as today's #Humansofchange.

Brandi provides marketing, strategy and business development in the start up realm. Brandi's professional background includes multiple positions in technology start up firms where she was involved in operations management, project management and a major player in business development and sales. Brandi is an energetic and forward-thinking professional with demonstrated ability to turn ideas into actions and deliver results. She introduces and successfully influences process changes and continuous improvements throughout organizations both for profit and nonprofit. Brandi consistently builds strong relationships that enhance abilities to collaborate, resolve issues, and achieve objectives. 

Brandi has and continue to be a change agent in her own life by continually following her dreams. 

1. What major change has happened in your life?

2007: I literally walked out of the very life that I had created. I was living what I had been told was the American Dream. I was married, owned a home, had a few dogs, and a corporate career.  On the outside, it looked as though we had and were continuing to live the dream. Alas, on the inside, I felt as though we had lost everything. We were buried in debt and were incredibly unhappy. We had no way to get out of this cycle we found ourselves in.  I started practicing yoga and meditation at a local gym (of all places!). And, whilst, I knew I was not happy — I was super busy and that allowed me very little time to focus on matters of LIFE. I started attending the yoga and meditation classes weekly. My mind started to slow down and I realized that I had to make a change in my life. 

As Steve Jobs so kindly states – you can never connect the dots looking forward.

In the realm of what I thought I knew, I blamed a great deal of my misery of my current husband. In truth, we both had our own paradigms and issues to work through. So, I opt’d out to find my own way.  I blew up my entire life and walked out on a Sunday morning with no idea where I was going or where life would take me. I was riddled with the fear of how my life would work out. I spent the next 2.5 years living on yoga mats in studios and trying to find my own inner peace. In parallel, I worked on getting myself debt free because I knew that that very FACTOR was one of the ROOTS to our issue of being stuck in our current lives.  Upon completion of paying off all my debt – I found that sinking feeling again in the pit of my stomach.  I wasn’t happy with my job. I loved my colleagues. We had done some good work. Alas, when I entered the parking garage each day – my soul would die for 8 to 10 hours until I could get out of the office. 

So, in 2010, I approached my team and informed them that I would be going back to school full time to obtain a degree in Psychology.  I jumped out and started the journey through academics. Again, I was faced with tremendous fears. I had lived with a steady income, health insurance and the other comforts that come with a corporate job. The what if questions haunted me as they had once haunted me when I left my former life.  But, I knew that things would work out if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I finished a four year degree in 2.5 years – faced my fear of academics and the painful process of being an adult student in a system that caters to multiple choice (my professors always thought that I thought too much). 

Following graduation from university, I sold everything I owned and bought a plane ticket to Bali, Indonesia. I knew no one and nothing about traveling out of my own country alone.  Again, I was faced with massive fears and the what if questions.  But, once again, and being a good student of life – I knew in my heart that things would in fact work out! My mantra for Bali – right people, right things and right places to show up when I needed them. I traveled alone for 2.5 months and met some of the finest people in the world. We shared meals and conversations about our lives in our present countries. We shared conversations about our religious beliefs. It was one of the most defining moments of MY LIFE. 

2. What happened during this period of change?

I learned to trust life and to trust the process of life. I learned that I am not alone and the right resources will show up. I learned to stop blaming everyone else (society, my parents, my spouse) for my lack of happiness – because the unhappiness that occurred when I was blaming each of them was still present when I stepped out on my own. I realized that everyone’s path is different and that finding my own way was not going to be an easy way, but it was the necessary way for me. I am also keenly aware (more so than ever) of the role that fear plays when one is contemplating a change in life. 

3. How did you navigate yourself out of this change period? (Any tools, resources and advice that you may have used or read)

It was paramount in my process to find people who had done what I wanted to do! I would engage with them to learn from what worked and what did not work. Funny, the right people ALWAYS show up at JUST the RIGHT time! This has been a common theme in my life – a new business venture – an introduction to a person who has done what I want to do. I read any book I could find on the topic – be it: surviving divorce, traveling to another country alone, leaving your corporate job etc. The list goes on and on. I made sure to surround myself with people who supported the direction I was moving in and stayed clear of those that were too afraid to even consider what I was doing! It is funny – when you are dealing with your own internal fears – you have a tendency to INHALE others fear! Being able to recognize fear for what it is and using it as gasoline to keep fueling you versus allowing it to paralyze you is the key to any change in life. 

4. Has the change impacted the way you approached life and work today? 

Having gone through all of the above changes has 100% changed the way I approach life. I am not paralyzed by fear any longer. I allow myself to dream of new possibilities, new relationships, new destinations that I want to see in my life time. I realize that I can start over at any point in life (selling everything you own and getting down to nothing teaches you about how little you truly need to be happy). 

5. What one thing do you wish you had during this time - or what one thing was missing during this time that could have helped you?

Looking back, I realize I had everything I needed to get through the periods of change.  I have gained self confidence and the ability to continue to dream and live a full life! I am a different woman today than I will ever be for having faced and gone through the challenges I have faced! I think most people wait until they are forced to make a change (they get fired, the spouse walks out on them). I have somehow managed to launch the process internally and seek the changes that I wanted in my life! It has worked out! I wouldn’t change any of it – again, looking back, the people whom I met, the roads which I have explored (some good, some hard) have continually inspired me to keep going. 

6. What are your 3 main take aways from this change period?

  • You only get ONE shot at life – face your fears and DO IT ANYWAY!
  • DO follow your own heart and intuition – even it if it outside of societal norms

7. What one piece of advice would you give to someone going through a similar point in their lives?

One day, after you have gone through said event/time – you will look back on this period of change and realize it was in fact one of the best times of your life! It forced you to get out of everything that is comfortable and magic happens in those times! 

8. If your change could be represented by a colour, what would it be?
(We're using the idea that colour represents the different changes that an individual would go through - you can choose one or two depending on the change that you feel was strongest).  Some individuals go through change in a slower process than others and deeper, for others change happens faster and brighter.  We hope that through using colour to represent change we can see the different ways change occurs within individuals. 

I would say I experienced the ENTIRE rainbow during every single change I went through! At times, it felt black and heavy and other times felt orange/blue and FREE!