Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, and visiting professor in management at the University of Austin McCombs School of Business (I apologize in advance to our Aggie CEO for quoting a Longhorns alum). Brene has spent the last twenty years studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy while sharing her findings through books, lectures, and podcasts. It will come as little surprise that each of us at gap intelligence are suckers for data, analytics, and findings of any source. I personally discovered Brene after her 2014 TED Talk “The power of vulnerability” went viral that year. I’ve found that the main reason I connect so deeply with Brene’s studies and research is that she perfectly marries human connection, empathy, and emotion with deep insights and analytic-based findings. In short, twenty years of research with some of the most successful corporations, most powerful CEOs, and most admirable figures indicate that vulnerability, integrity, courage, and failure are at the foundation of our greatest leaders. Brene, in many ways, gives us permission to be our often fragile, emotional, and human selves to empower those around us.

Leaders wearing capes

Brene’s most recent publication Dare to Lead is my most favorite yet. In a way, it’s an amalgamation of each of her previously published books all wrapped up into one succinct message. Brown writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable. It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart. Easy? No. Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default. Worth it? Always. We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”

Admittedly, each time I read a well-regarded and world-renowned leadership book, I can’t help but feel proud of our company and the well established values that are, in part, at the foundation of everything we do. I also love to give ourselves a pat on the back for being ahead of the curve in how we treat one another, our community, and ourselves. In the midst of uncertainty, Brene’s findings resonate more than ever and remind me why gap intelligence is not only surviving, but thriving, in the midst of the unknown. The main question that Brene poses in Dare to Lead is “What does it take to become a daring leader and build a courage of culture within an organization?” Courage, she argues, is a collection of four skill sets that can be taught, measured, and observed.

Brave Leaders

Rumbling with Vulnerability – the heart of daring leadership. Feeling and exhibiting vulnerability is the emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, failure, risk, and emotional exposure. What does this look like at gap intelligence? Our manifesto – 10 cultivation culture principles, including our belief that we celebrate our wins and learn from our failures, we each hold the shield, we give feedback with the intent to help others, and we solve problems and find solutions. In fact, Brene has put her own manifesto together, but I’m partial to ours,truly.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Living into our Values – What are our values at gap intelligence? Trust, Willingness, Ownership, Passion & Professionalism. Kara recently wrote an excellent blog diving deeper into each of these. It’s no secret that gap intelligence is a proud values-led company and Brene shares that “Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things.” We are currently in the middle of a very hard time… and you know who isn’t silent? Our CEO and leader. He shows up every day to remind us of how strong we are individually and how strong we are united, holding our shield. Brene goes on to say “A brave leader is someone who says ‘I see you. I hear you. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m going to keep listening and asking questions’.” This is the leader that I also strive to be for my team.
gap intelligence Core Values
Braving Trust – Brene believes, through her studies, that trust is built upon seven principles, broken down by an acronym:

  • Boundaries
  • Reliability
  • Accountability
  • Vault
  • Integrity
  • Non-Judgement
  • Generosity

At gap intelligence, we sum that up as ‘Communicate like hell with positive intent’.

Learning to Rise – This is perhaps the most poignant to our current climate. We are not just learning to rise, but we are rising, as a community, culture, and company–on the foundation of our values and trust. “Own the story and you get to write the ending. Deny the story and it owns you.” Undoubtedly, this time of challenge will produce a new generation of leaders and encourage each of us to lean into our values. While it doesn’t take a NYT best-selling author to develop our gap intelligence culture, it’s pretty incredible to read twenty-year’s worth of research and correlating results to find that we’re ahead of that curve.

For more than 17 years, gap intelligence has served manufacturers and sellers by providing world-class services monitoring, reporting, and analyzing the 4Ps: prices, promotions, placements, and products. Email us at or call us at 619-574-1100 to learn more.