Bonnie Wan

Turning Attention into Action: The Power of Your Life Brief

Join Bonnie Wan on BTTM for “The Life Brief,” merging brand strategy with personal transformation. Navigate chaos, find clarity, and amplify impact.

Find this episode of Breaking Through the Mayhem on these major podcast services:

Welcome to Episode 15 of the Breaking Through the Mayhem podcast, where we explore marketing and advertising in a time of constantly shifting risk and opportunity.

Brought to you by Sightly, our goal is to share the insights of industry leaders from brands, agencies, publishers, and partners as they discuss the challenges and possibilities emerging from the ever-shifting media landscape, such as real-time marketing, brand safety and purpose, influencers, cancel culture, data privacy, technology and more.

Today's guest is Bonnie Wan.

Bonnie Wan, Partner and Head of Brand Strategy at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), is a leading figure in the advertising industry, spearheading strategies for Fortune 500 companies like Blackstone, BMW, Comcast/Xfinity, Frito-Lay, Kraft-Heinz, and PepsiCo.

In this compelling episode, Bonnie Wan invites listeners into the world of "The Life Brief," a transformative tool that distills brand strategy into a powerful guide for transforming attention into action. With a focus on the urgency of the moment fused with timeless truths, Bonnie delves into the significance of self-awareness, the power of partnership, and the impact of practicing over seeking perfection.

Learn how to navigate high-stakes disruptions, make meaning out of messiness, and align your actions with your deepest beliefs and desires. If you’re seeking a catalyst for change, a way to amplify your impact, and a method to mourn the transition while honoring what was, this conversation with Bonnie Wan is your gateway to a life of clarity and meaningful action. Prepare to challenge the myth of the individual contributor and embrace the power of pairings in your journey to clarity and purpose. Join Michele Ching and Bonnie Wan as they explore the synergy between personal and brand strategy in episode 15 of BTTM.

HostMichele Ching

GuestBonnie Wan

Goodby Silverstein & Partners

The Breaking Through the Mayhem podcast - Episode 15

Title: Turning Attention into Action: The Power of Your Life Brief

Host: Michele Ching, VP Sales at Sightly
Guest: Bonnie Wan, Partner, Head of Brand Strategy at Goodby Silverstein & Partners
Recorded on January 12th 2024



Michele Ching
Hi, everyone. Welcome to a brand new episode of the Breaking Through the Mayhem podcast. Today we've got something truly special for you. We explore how our industry of advertising and marketing can support more than just brands and businesses by starting with you. To guide us in this exploration, I'm featuring Bonnie Wan who is an author and speaker as well as partner and head of brand strategy at the world renowned advertising agency.

Good Silver Spoon and Partners. As creator of the Life Brief, Bonnie helps people live with greater clarity, creativity and courage by teaching them how to write creative briefs for their lives. The life brief has evolved from an agency talk into a workbook, workshops and speaking appearances at Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, Jane Goodall’s Activating Hope Summit, the 3% Conference. South by Southwest, Accenture, Apple, Google,, and more.

Bonnie, welcome to this show. And maybe, I mean, achieve less. I think this lineup is incredible. Congratulations on all your success.

Bonnie Wan
Thank you, Michele. It's so fun to be here. I've been really looking forward to it.

Michele Ching
Yeah, me too, me too. All right, so before we dive into the life brief and figuring out how we're utilizing your experience as an ad executive in our everyday lives, I want to just learn a little bit more about you. Tell us your personal journey as an ad executive. I want to know, where do you start? Tell some key highlights along the way and where you are today.

Bonnie Wan
Well, we'll start with childhood. I was fascinated with how people behave. I was an immigrant from Taiwan to California when I was really young, so I didn't know the language. I felt like an outsider. I lived in a really amazing, kind of old fashioned, predominantly white town. So there weren't a lot of Asians. In fact, my brother and I were the only ones, so I spent a lot of time on the periphery at the youngest ages and stages of my life, and so I really became fascinated with studying people social dynamics.

How did people on the playground organize or meet and what motivated people? I got really caught up in biographies, stories of perseverance, resilience, how people overcame the most death defying challenges. In fact, they went on head on into doing things that call to them, yet put them in the face of danger. Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr.

And I just developed this maybe fixation with what motivates and drives people. So when my parents said I couldn't go to art school because artists are poor people, they were classic Asian parents. I discovered advertising, a legitimate business function where I could be around creative misfits and get paid to study human behavior. And I've been doing that for 30 years. Yeah.

Michele Ching
Amazing. Awesome. Okay, so on this journey, three decades is not a short amount of time. You've obviously experienced a lot in both of your career, but also in your life, right? I mean, you started with childhood in this example. So I guess I was kind of curious, you know, for those of you who haven't picked up the book, first of all, you absolutely have to.

It's an incredible exploration of Bonnie's experience both professionally and personally. And we'll get into it. But I wanted to just first talk a little bit about what inspired you to share this incredibly vulnerable work.

Bonnie Wan
Well, it happened out of a moment of despair and crisis in my own marriage. It was a falling apart moment. And as a reflex, I just directed what I do as a strategist, as the last desperate act of saving my marriage, which is I dropped in to what really matters in this moment. What do I want? At the heart of hearts, let's cut out all the bullshit.

Let's cut out all the drama, the distractions. And I wrote it out. And that's what I do when I'm faced as a strategist for any company or problem, you know, because what we're looking at in the business world is where is that place of distinction? How do we cut through all the high stakes, disruptive things happening at speed in our category in business and what we have to do is advertising strategists have to operate in minutes and days, not months and years.

Right. We have to act fast and we have to drop in quickly. So I did that on my own problem, my own mess. So I say advertising strategists, we make meaning out of messiness. So you have to it's a it's an art of intuition, but it's the act of writing everything out. And so when that happened, and I did it for my own life, and four months later, I had transformed not just my marriage but my family, the way I worked everything.

I realize, Wait a second, there's something here. And when invited by my agency, could be Silverstein Partners to teach something personal. That became the first thing that came to mind.

Michele Ching
That's so beautiful. I think it's really interesting because for those of you who have listened to this podcast before, I wouldn't necessarily say breaking through the mayhem is a lifestyle podcast, right? We don't typically talk a lot about how the industry has so much to do with you as a person. But what I'm hearing that Goodby gave you the opportunity to do is it gave you the opportunity to take your expertise, take your professional acumen and say, hey, this doesn't just work for brands and businesses, this could work for you, too, and that you took the courage and vulnerability to use your experience of how you actually did that and then offer it to others. So I think, you know, that's like the beautiful thing about this work is that not only could it be applicable to the everyday person, but I think for those of us who have been working in advertising for a while, a lot of the things you're talking about are going to feel so familiar because you're going to be like, I do this already, just not usually for me.

So I want to get into that a little bit. I want to talk about the book. So just some background for those of you who haven't heard of the Life Brief. It's a it's a practice. It's a book. It's part of the prescriptive nonfiction genre. But the life brief is a profound practice that distills brand strategy into its simplest, clearest and most effective form to help people transform even the most troubling sense of dissatisfaction into meaningful action and sustainable change.

Modeled after the creative brief used by the world's most innovative companies, the life brief helps people get clear and live with greater intention and imagination. It's broken into three sections. The first section is called Get Messy. It's a set of quick, yet penetrating prompts that cut through false assumptions and limiting beliefs about what's possible to uncover what matters most.

Second section Get clear a clarifying series of questions that reveal what truly what you truly, deeply want. And then third section called Get Active, Brave Bold Strategies that Ignite the Momentum to Transform Your Life. I say all of that as a primer to ask my first question because here at Sightly and this podcast, it's so fascinating because as I was reading this book, I'm like, This is what we do.

This is what our technology is like, legitimately designed to help brands with. And I just could not help but see the parallels, which is why I was like, Bonnie, please do this podcast with us, because what you've designed for people to implement in their everyday lives is actually the same thing that Sightly thinks about when we talk about concepts like brand authenticity and technologies like brand mentality.

So if it's okay, I want to ask you a few questions and what I'll do is I will pair it back to what is like how Sightly this you know, this is exactly what we think about every single day. And so I'm really inspired to just see how these two things kind of play in parallel together. (It's like no surprise there are parallels.

Bonnie Wan
We're in the same business, different parts of the same business, and and what we're doing is borrowing those principles and practices and applying it to how we live.

Michele Ching
Fascinating, though, because I don't you know, it's not right now when we talk to clients, I'm not thinking, by the way, brand authenticity. How are you also applying that in your life? And now your book has made me think about that a lot.

Bonnie Wan
We do talk about in our business that brands that behave like people attract wider audiences because they don't feel corporate, formulaic, stiff, rigid. They feel human. And when brands feel and act familiar, like people we want to be with want to return to time and again, that's a successful brand. We remember that brand. So there is so much more overlap than we imagine.

Michele Ching
Totally. And humanizing brands is sort of the anchor point of brand authenticity. Truly. Right? Exactly. Yeah. So, okay, let's just get started with the first section. I love the title from a copywriting perspective, but you know, it made me feel frustrated. The first section is called Get Messy, and I feel like I, you know, spend my whole life trying to get away from the mess.

So tell me a little bit more. What does this mean?

Bonnie Wan
Well, we teach people from a very young age, right? Color inside the lines don't get messy. Don't push or challenge the rules. We're taught from the earliest ages to be rule followers rather than rule testers or breakers. And the thing is, is when we do that, we're not in practice with asking the fundamental foundational questions that allow us to live according to our distinct and unique offering.

And it's the same with brands. Oftentimes we have clients who come to the agency who say, This is what I want. I want a campaign that does X and x and x, please do that. And those are often valid, powerful ideas. But they're tactical and they're one time. They are a moment in time and an action in time versus really peeling back.

What is that brand essence that makes you distinct, that gives you a point of view in the world and that can drive any and every ambition, right? That's the engine of your brand. The essence. And if you understand that clearly, then you can act against any circumstance or curveball that comes your way. But it requires digging deep, getting messy to understand what are all the facets, what are all the ingredients that make up your brand?

And it's the same for us as people. If we jump to action, we're going to have a lot of U-turns because not every action is going to stick. And there might be a little, I don't know, fumbles along the way. Right. But if we allow ourselves to get out of the mess and I invite writing as there's a lot of problems and practices and questions, what I call penetrating questions in the book in that first part.

And you can try one, do them all. Some might work, some might not. But the point is, is to get it all down, get it all up and out into writing, because writing rearranges the furniture of our minds. So many times people who are doing this practice with me will tell me the story in my head. Didn't match what I found on paper.

In my notebook I brain dumped, which is the act of just total permission to dump whatever is inside you out on the page. No rules. It can be small, big, absurd, ridiculous. Just get it out. Because that's the act of messiness, right? No holds barred. Let the mess out. But when people got it out, they were able to suddenly distance themselves and look at it through the lens of curiosity, which is what we do as strategists.

We look at all the data, all the stakeholder interviews, all the focus groups, and we lay it out on the table and suddenly you start to see insights and you didn't realize were there before. So I had a woman who said in my head, I was convinced I don't know what I want. I said that to everyone, anyone who asked, I don't know what I want.

I'm completely lost. I'm confused. But after I looked at a week of brain dumping, which is 5 minutes, 10 minutes a day, I realized I goddamn know what I want. It's clear it's written in ten different ways across these pages. So getting messy is allowing all the stuff to come out, creating distance between you and them. You and your figures and your writings.
And then examining them as if through a stranger's mind or a stranger's eyes, and you start to see things come out at you that you couldn't see before.

Michele Ching
I love that. And it's so interesting because I feel like when I initially read the title of the section Get Messy, I was really turned off. And then when I learned a little bit more about the practice, I was like, Well, that makes sense. And I think what's really interesting, I love how you kept paralleling it back between what we do as brand strategists and what we do, you know, as people.

And I couldn't help but notice that the get messy section of your book is alarmingly similar to what brand mentality technology calls the brand profile. I mean, we ask this brand and everything you just said happens in our calls with our clients.

Our best clients, the ones who are really clear about their brand. They get into the platform. We ask them to fill out this profile. It's got 200 plus questions. It also has open forum fields for you to put your mission statement, your values statement and something we call a mentality statement alongside with other keywords and values. And you would be shocked to to know that a lot of brand owners get in there and they're like, they try to change the guardrails.

They're like, I don't want to answer this. What does This has nothing to do with my category. And we're like, But it has to do with your identity. It has to do with who you are and how you make decisions and how you want to exist in the world. So it might be really uncomfortable, but we're asking them ultimately to get messy and give themselves suspend the idea for a second that they can only be in their category and that what if that what if they were a brand that can participate in every category?

Bonnie Wan
So two things that come up for me. Questions are the best stimulant for deeper understanding and reflection, and they can hijack our brains in a really good way. And even if we resist in the moment that we're asked, they will sink in and stir. But we resist for lots of different reasons. Companies resist for the reason is that they haven't gone that deep.

They haven't reflected. Maybe their leaders aren't aligned on the answers and they have to go in and check is are they answering on behalf of the company? For people there's a fear of what lies on the other side, what might their answers bring? But I will tell you the answers we seek lie behind the questions we avoid.

And if we can create space and make time and I'm not saying a lot of time, it's about attention and engagement. Can you find the space to drop in tune in and be present with the question and let it sink in and stir and then that question, The answer might strike at a different moment, but the answer will be revealing and it will take you further and farther down the road to where you want to go.

And it's the same thing with brands. If you do the work to really sit with who are we really? What do we believe the world would be? A better place is? What's the outcome we want to bring? What role do we play in people's lives? What role do we want to play in people's lives? Those are the most juicy questions.

They would yield the richest answers and they can drive every action that Sightly then set you up to do in the world.

Michele Ching
Absolutely. I think and I wrote down I have to like this absolutely needs to be a quote somewhere. Bonnie, the answers, we think, lie behind the questions. We avoid. I think that's a perfect application. And zero. The parallels between all we do as a business and what we do as human beings,

Bonnie Wan
It's why the brand profile matters so much. You can skip over the profile, but then again, you're throwing spaghetti at the wall. Now the profile and the answers that come out of the profile give harness the playbook for all the rest of that.

Michele Ching
Yeah that’s right. And that's the perfect segue way into your next section, the get clear, because I think the get clear that immediately resonated with me as did your other comment about the get messy needs to come before get clear because you need to be able to reflect. But we're in a culture that's obsessed with taking action instead of spending time with the mess.

So we spend time with the mess and now we're moving in to feeling a little bit better because we're almost to the action. But first we have to get clear. So when we're exploring this, get clear section, can you tell me a little bit about, in your terminology, in the Life Brief terminology, what is it and why it matters in this context.

Bonnie Wan
Getting clear is the art of distillation, so you can have incredibly sharp and sticky focus. A creative brief aligns everyone around, a single minded idea for the brand told on a single page that singularity unites everyone who touches the brand, right? Everyone inside the company, everyone outside the company, all the partners, even your consumers or your audiences, whether they're B2B or B2C.

And it gives them one place to sing from. Yet it's also a springboard to so many different ideas and actions. It's it's hard to comprehend, but singularity of focus actually drives more expansion and explosive ness of ideas. So that's why it's kind of like this hourglass shape when we talk about the point of strategy and where it meets creativity, the more singular you are, the more everyone can build on each other's ideas or know what they need to do when they show up in the morning.

It's the same with the life brief for our own lives. When we can get to the essence of what we want and declare it in an inspiring, invigorating, what I call a fuck yes way. Then suddenly everything reframes around us how we look at our days, how we look at our time, how we look at our choices, decisions and actions.

You have now a filter for what to say yes to and what to say no to, but that comes from that clarity of focus. And getting messy is so important. You can't get to clarity if you don't get messy first and generate all the ingredients so that you can lay them out and sort what matters, what doesn't, what's meaningful, what's meaning less.

Because once you have that organized sorted bucket, now you can zoom in on what matters, what's meaningful, what's sacred, non-negotiable, and then write your brief from there. But you've already cleared away the noise, the clutter, the confusion, the drama and the distractions. And it's the same thing with strategy, right? There are there's the urgency of the moment for a business and then there's the timeless truth, and we're trying to separate one from the other so that timeless truth can serve all of your actions no matter what moment you're in.

Because the future changes very fast. You always need to know how to act and react.

Michele Ching
That is such a beautiful parallel. I can't even could not have said it better myself because I see it's interesting as I listen to you talk, I key in on how relevant and on point you are about utilizing this practice in my own personal life. And then you'll say something that's like, my gosh, tha is the business problem we're solving with brand mentality, because that's truly what we've seen with our clients. I'll say is that when they resist, they get messy section, what we call the brand profile. That's usually the first step. And then they buy into it. They're like, okay, you know what? We should have a distinct point of view. Fine, I agree with you and we should feel cohesive about it.

So let's centralize that. Then we take then to our version of get clear what we call creating anticipation boards. It's a software that allows you to do exactly what you just talked about for brands, and it gives them this single point of focus and this timeless truth in the context of any moment and also the moments that matter the most.

And then they can use technology to identify the difference between the two. And it's like, wow, this is so. But I think one thing I know and we were off camera kind of preparing for this, you gave me this language around delivering the white right point of view brand mentality delivers the right point of view and offers a short path between your brief and daily action.

And as I hear you describing this, get clear section, it's like it's hard to not keep code switching almost between the two arenas of my personal life and how I could actually apply these principles from life brief and from brand mentality. And then also how true it is for the brands and businesses we support. It's fascinating, honestly.

Bonnie Wan
And you said the key phrase, it's the shortest path to the outcomes and actions that you seek because action is a byproduct of clarity. When you are clear and you feel it in your bones, then all of your decisions, choices and actions become automatic, because if they have, your clarity has been tattooed onto your mind and heart. And that becomes the new lens by which you see every opportunity, invitation, decision, etc. And so suddenly the actions fall out of you.

They're organic and automatic. Like instead of something, you have to struggle to think up or conjure up. But because you are clear about who you are and where you want to go now, it's all it's all playful ingredients for how to get there.

Michele Ching
And it reminds me of the person who used this that you were talking about earlier, who had used this framework, who said that they didn't know.

Bonnie Wan

Michele Ching
Right. And so that practice of going from I mean, you figure you think about the last few years and experiences like the great resignation. So many people had that moment of like, what am I even doing? What do I want to get clear about? And this like the framework that you offer, I'll just say, is somebody who's read the book makes that process to clarity the shortest path.
It makes it actionable.

Bonnie Wan
It is. And that woman that we were talking about, her story was, I don't know, and that's how she was showing up in all parts of her life, in all conversations saying, I don't know, but in here she knew she just hadn't connected with that truth.

Michele Ching
That makes so much sense. It makes so much sense. And also in some ways, maybe her, I don't know, was her running life brief? It just needed an update.

Bonnie Wan

Michele Ching
So let's move into the next section, because now I feel like we've gotten messy, we've gotten clarity, and the next section finally, I think the, you know, action oriented people that listen to this podcast, but also let's just be honest, that is the culture that we live in.

We just want to do something about it right? So the next section is get active. This is got to be one of my favorite sections because I think that there are a lot of prescriptive nonfiction books that ask you to design your life, that ask you to get clear, and it's important. And we’ve talked through why it's important and yours that your work does such a wonderful job.

I think of balancing storytelling so that folks and readers understand, like the why behind these actions and then connecting it into actual activities. You can go from thinking and doing an integration all at the same time, but the Get Active section I think has the magic, if you will, of how to create not just an action plan but a sustainable action plan and one that's dynamic and continues to grow and move with you.

And I want to talk about those sections that I find really distinctive within get active. But before we get into that, what is get active all about? Give us the primer.

Bonnie Wan
It starts with the natural and organic ways that we shift once we get clear. So that's the beginning of part three, because action feels hard if we think about it in just a conceptual way. And you're right, we are in such a hustle culture when a bias for action, when we have so many mantras today, you know, for how we should be living our lives, or at least professionally, but the magic of clarity and I love that you use that word is clarity automatically shifts our attention.

And our attention is what organically shifts our actions. Because where we put our attention is where our energy goes, where our ideas flow. And suddenly that focus, which is very scarce, right? It's why attention is such a huge value to companies and brands. How do we break through and get captivate an audience's attention? And that's why attention is so powerful and it is the beginning to action.

So when we are clouded with too many choices or we're paralyzed with a need to be perfect, we can step back and zoom back into what is our brief, really, what do we want? What do we declare? Use that as the starting point to just aim our attention differently and suddenly our actions will follow and that's the start of part three.

But the Part three talks about all of the speed bumps or ditches or hurdles that do get in the way once you start practicing. And one of the big invitations in part three is to not just start small, but start tiny, but make it daily. We think about change as these giant leaps to transformation. We love big stories.

Big case studies are examples of transformation or disruption, and those do happen, but they are actually the outcome of lots of tiny shifts in behavior done continuously and constantly.

Michele Ching
Thank you so much for clarifying that because of what you just said. That is so true. Just in culture, we love a big headline, but it is so profoundly true in our business and what we've created at Sightly Brand Mentality. And I hate to keep bringing it back to this, but you keep reminding me of the parallels, which is that incremental daily action with consistency.

And so for us, we translate that into like for our clients. What they really love about working with us is that we have the thing called anticipation boards. We have this feature there where you've predetermined in your life brief, but we call it your brand mentality profile, your consistent action, your target block monitor actions at the moment level because you've already determined that.

And so what's interesting is clients will get obsessed with, well, I don't know if this trend is relevant to me. And, you know, is there enough videos and keywords about that? And you're kind of like, you know, here's the thing. That's the practice. It's the daily incremental action consistent over time that really helps you harness what we brand authenticity, brand mentality, but in life, brief terms, harness clarity over and in can in relationship with action.

Bonnie Wan
Exactly the practice word is so key right. (totally) Even if we get really messy, we can't capture every single thing because we can anticipate this world. The world we live in. Culture moves fast, it’s adapting and changing and evolving at breakneck speeds. But when you are clear about who you are, why you exist, what you believe now you can test.

As new, surprising circumstances emerge. Well, what is my take on it? And the beauty about having a clear point of view for brands is it gets you out of the box of limited thinking category, thinking, messaging or story doing just within your competitive set. When you have a clear point of view about why you exist, you can now aim that at bigger conversations, more expansive cultural conversations, you can participate and lead culture, not just your category.

And when you do it as a person and you're clear, then any curveballs that come your way, something new that's never been experienced before, you have a starting place from which to test. Yeah. How does this one fit with who I am and what I want? So that point of clarity becomes not only a North Star, but it's a filter and ongoing stimulus for practicing with new situations and circumstances.

Michele Ching
I love that and I really want to keep in on the importance of considering it a practice and honoring it as a practice over perfection.

Bonnie Wan
Absolutely. Practice over perfection that needs to be on a T-shirt.

Michele Ching
Okay. So one of the things I started with in this section is part of you know, what I really liked about the get active chapter are the whole get get active section in your book is that you didn't just look at action, you actually broke it into these really unique practices that I don't see show up in a lot of these kinds of books.

So I want to talk about the two sections that really stood out for me. The first one was invite others to play, and the second one is called More in the Transition. I want to start with the Invite others to play section. I actually like pulled a quote, so just give me a second to read it to our listeners because I think if you do another design your life thinking type of protocol or if you do another practice from a different author, it will be valuable.

But I notice that it's this type of thinking that actually makes the difference between, okay, I did the thing and I got clear and then I made my brief and then I'm able to implement it sustainably over time. That's the hardest thing. I mean, think about every weight loss strategy. You can do it for the first X amount of hours, or maybe you could work out a few times a week.

Maybe you can even sustain it for five or six months, but you fall off because I think, as I've understood it in my lifetime, you're missing these pieces, these two sections. So I'll just read this part. In the last chapter, we identified our peak conditions. What did that exploration tell you about who you need to be as partners and allies?

Do you need someone to hold you accountable? Oof, Do I, you know, or do you need one of your fans, someone loving and supportive who's there to say you've got this? I've seen you do it. Remember this time and that you got it. Do you need sharpshooters who remind you to ignore the drainers and naysayers? You need people around you who bring out your playfulness, people who spark wild ideas to break you out of your safety zones.

And you call this your dream team. The action is cast your dream team, and you give the reader prompts to think through what does inspire them to action? Do they need an anchor, a believer, a visionary, a fire starter, fuel vault, and a truth teller like you really give us the ability to cast this dream team and what made me really inspired to think about that is because the truth is, as human beings, we are communal.

We are meant to be in community. You are not meant to execute your life brief as a party of one. And so I thought, how brilliant is this section to really like activate that part of that community experience or that community capability we have as humans to thrive in community. And so I just really wanted you to talk a little bit about why did you include this part in your book and what made it critical to make it in the book?

Bonnie Wan
Well, we see this in business again. It's a principle and a parallel level right from the business world. One as business owners, leaders, employees, even. We can get really myopic on all the details in being in the trenches of our businesses. And when we hire partners like Sightly or could be sourcing partners, the first thing those partners bring is perspective, because they're looking at a much wider field of study of how your brand or company operates and moves through the world.

You are in the either deep in product development or sales or, you know, fire fighting, whatever is coming up or the finances and the business model. So it's human as a business to lose sight of how people will experience you, where you match up to other new players or existing players. And so having partners provide perspective is invaluable to a business.

It's the same with a person. You can get so myopic in your fears, your anxiety, your confusion and just things you're simply not great at because none of us are great at everything. And this is a practice of self-awareness, understanding where your superpowers are and your strengths and where they're not. And when we can bring in people and actively invite them to surround us and compliment our superpowers and strengths, then we get to lean in and do the things that we love, knowing that there are other people catching us when we fall or complimenting us.

And I don't mean giving us praise. I mean complementing our strengths, but with their superpowers. And that makes us stronger in the world. The second parallel is brand partnerships. Businesses partner with each other to really expand and grow their glow and their halo in the world. It's the same thing as people. We get to amplify our actions when we actively enlist other people in our lives who cheer us on, who believe in us, especially when we don't believe in ourselves.

When self-doubt or darkness creeps in, you know, people who are really great executed when we are really good ideas. So those pairings amplify and create bigger ripples than you can create on your own. But we are such an individual society and I think we've inflated the myth of the individual contributor. And women are just particularly shy or, I don't know, inhibited by asking for help.

We need to break that cultural narrative. Right now. We are better in community. We know it. We know it energetically, we know it spiritually. We know it instantly. Right? When we connect and feel part of a group. And you and I are both part of amazing professional groups that support and amplify each other. So why aren't we doing it more in our lives?

Michele Ching
Absolutely. And you know, just on that point, if you think about what you just said of how we even connected, I want to take a moment to give a special shout out to Susie Bower at Quigley Simpson. Right. And so that's a friend of yours. She's a friend of mine. Quigley Simpson is a partner of Sightly's, like we have.

I think that think about how beautiful that is. It's like we do business together, which sometimes can feel rote and mundane, although like we're all grateful for it, but now we're in conversation about how to apply some of the things that we've done in work that that we know that we're experts at into life application. And I have to say like this is sort of a real time example of the brand partnership model in action.

Bonnie Wan
It is. And thank you, Susie. I want to shout out and Susie Ballard is one of the best connectors I've ever met. It is one of her superpowers, said she plays it all the time and it's organic and natural to her. And when we come together, when we have come together and I know this is going to be the only time it just grows those ripples who you touch, who Sightly touches, who I touch, could be silverstein and these worlds collide.

And there's surprise and serendipity that unfolds as a result of it.

Michele Ching
Yes, Yes. Okay. So the second section within Get Active, that was one of my favorites. And one of the things again that I make that make your framework so unique is this chapter called Mourn the Transition. I think as a culture and definitely as a business, we almost exclusively celebrate the wins. So that transition needs to always be amazing and positive, and that's the only thing that we ever focus on.

But your section called Mourn the transition around honoring what was I feel like is definitely something I wanted to explore and talk about. I also wanted to read a quote from that section. You said, Each time we open a new chapter, we must close the previous one. Yet sometimes we are running so fast into what's next that we overlook the magnitude of honoring what was.

We underestimate the potency of saying thank you or the power of ritualized closure. Bonnie I loved this. I myself in my personal life and I can't you know, maybe I don't know. I'm not sure I can parallel this to like the work that I do. But this idea of saying thank you and power virtualizing closure, I think is a big piece missing from some of the work that we do to invest as in our own growth as people.

So I love that you included it. Why did you include it and tell us about it?

Bonnie Wan
I think I included it because I, I have a terrible habit of the Irish exit in my own life. And I know so many people who do. I just prefer to quietly exit stage left and not say goodbye or say thank you or and it's not because I lack gratitude. I am actually effusive about gratitude, but I don't want to meet the pain maybe of moving on or disrupting something.

But I found that it will find you later on in an unexpected way. And there's so much beauty in closure. There's so much beauty in unlocking those parts of ourselves. And yes, there's a maybe mixture of grief in there because there is a little bit of a part of you that is dying. It doesn't mean that's the end of relationships, because I think we transition and we just reshape and restructure.

But there is a little bit of sadness. There's an edge of sadness, but when we ritualized it, we actually transform that sadness into honor.

Michele Ching

Bonnie Wan
And that's beautiful. Even though it's not as high or energized as a win, there is something deeply fulfilling about having met that together and gone eye to eye with whoever is involved.

Michele Ching
That's right. That's right. And I found like for myself that I, I think it's because of something we practice a lot in, in our business of, you know, moving into the next thing, always wanting to optimize, always committed to growth over everything else that I think we do it instinctively or maybe not instinctively, but we do it like on an automatic basis.

It becomes just sort of like our M.O. and we have continued to do that in that way. But this idea of mourning the transition our lives to honor what was I think is an incredibly, like you said, it's an incredibly potent practice. And I think it makes a really big difference as we navigate transition. And so as you're navigating your life breathe and you're updating your life briefing, you're realizing there are certain things that no longer serve you, honoring what was becomes an important but potent component of that journey.

So thank you for including it. I just wanted to say.

Bonnie Wan
Thank you for highlighting it. It's not it's it I find of all the people who read have read the book so far, you know, it's not the thing they highlight, but eventually they will reveal that a moment or a memory or something that they're dealing with right now really called for that. And they're they're sitting in that space.

Michele Ching
And you said it earlier, but it is what I think creates that experience of fulfillment.

Bonnie Wan
You’ll never regret it. You won’t.

Michele Ching
Yeah, that's right. All right. So I'm going to bring us into a close. But before I do, I was curious, you know, I after doing all of this work, after making this available for folks, what would your recommendation be or what is your hope, I guess, is maybe the way I want to ask that? Like, what can we do from here as people either who work in this business or who don't?

Looking at the tools that you've shared, what intention are you calling in or putting out into the universe from this body of work?

Bonnie Wan
The great question At the end of the day, this book is about personal agency and opening yourself up to understanding that you always have more choice and possibility than the world would have you think you have. We've been conditioned to think we only ever have two choices Yes or no. This or that. Stay or go. A lot of people I meet just operate in that zone of binary thinking, but having grown up in the creative world, I see I've been surrounded and steeped in unexpected, surprising, original solutions to the most either mundane or the hairiest problems.

And so I know as a fact there is more possibility than any of us are ever realizing there's more potential. And so this is a practice of diving into your agency and your creativity because clarity unlocks more possibilities. And I want everyone to take accountability for that agency to lean into it and practice playing with betting on themselves and experimenting with all of the different alternatives that are that are actually available to them.

Michele Ching
And what's interesting about what you just said of finding agency and people feeling into that, that it's such a great place to move into our closing section, because that's that intention is actually the analogy, that brand mentality and what the work Sightly's done in the technology said that intention is actually what it's always been about. It's always been about wanting brands and agencies on behalf of brands to finally feel like they can take agency over the crazy hectic world that we're operating in as a business and we've tried to create a mechanism for that.

You've created a mechanism for that with the Life Breathe framework. So thank you for sharing in this intention with all of us. at Sightly and then also me personally, I love the idea of inviting agency into our lives and evolving from binary thinking like what you're talking about.

Bonnie Wan
Thank you for stirring up the conversation. It's so fun because this you really brought the two worlds explicitly together how brand strategy and life strategy are actually so overlapped. I think this conversation really puts a pin on that.

Michele Ching
Thank you. And and just to say right like that's what you've done in like exactly you have done exactly that. I'm so I just keep feeling like we're meant to be having this conversation. So to wrap us up, I have a couple just two lightning round questions to kind of anchor all of the episodes together and a thoughtful stream of consciousness.

So the first question is name your favorite mission driven business and why?

Bonnie Wan
my gosh, this one's hard.

Michele Ching
It's hard.

Bonnie Wan
You know, when people ask, you name your top five songs, and I'm.

Michele Ching
Like, What? No, it's like the favorite food question. I'm like, That's no, not possible.

Bonnie Wan
Okay, maybe this is top of mind because I just spoke there, but I've always been a fan. I'm a customer. I'm a fan. I don't know where they're going, but I love their creativity and their mission and their stated mission. But and this isn't one I think that's top of mind for everybody but Airbnb. When I'm addicted to great strategies, when they talk about belonging as the way that they have changed hospitality and travel, I really buy into that hook, line and sinker because not just as a strategist but as a host.

Bonnie Wan
So we Airbnb all the time, not just as a host, as a guest. I prefer to stay at every Airbnb. It's been hotels now just because it allows me to enter a doorway into a world as a local, as someone who is yeah, who belongs. So yeah.

Michele Ching
I love that. Okay. And second and final question, what would you leverage your courage for.

Bonnie Wan
Charting a new path and changing the game, changing the game in business towards equity a coming up in the business world? I still see what a long way we have to go in terms of creating meaningful and lasting change where we can stretch ourselves and expand beyond the limited playbook of a very long time, long held ways of operating and running businesses.

I think there is so much richness, so many new voices expanded and unexpected ideas brimming. If we could just open ourselves up and our companies up to allowing those voices and ideas to bubble up and to, yeah, just create brave spaces for discussion, debate, dissonance held with respect and compassion and the receptivity that I think we can create as businesses.

I'm excited for the future of business.

Michele Ching
I love that. All right. Bonnie, well thank you so much for your time. And before we sign off, can you tell people where you'd like them to find you, where they can get the book, where they can hear your next talk or anything like that? Where can people find you?

Bonnie Wan
The life brief dot com you can find all the things could be Silverstein and partners dot com for all things business and the book anywhere and everywhere books are sold the life Brief A Playbook for No Regrets living.

Michele Ching
Congratulations on the incredible launch and thank you again for spending time on the Breaking Through the Mayhem podcast. We'll see you next time.

Bonnie Wan
Thanks for having me, Michelle.

Scroll to Top