Diary of a Founder #1

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Hi there.

It's me Brianna. I'm the founder and CEO of Anact. Prior to Anact, I was a corporate girlie and a resident tree hugger at companies such as Under Armour, prAna, and Columbia Sportswear. 

I was born in South Bend, Indiana but moved around the country for my dad's career. I've lived in Indiana, Florida, Kentucky, and Wisconsin for the first ten years of my life. I call Jacksonville, Florida home (specifically Atlantic Beach) because it's been the most consistent place in my life to date. 

In case you were wondering if my dad was in the military, he wasn't. He was a Division 1 college basketball coach for most of my life until he became an Athletic Director at Mercy College. The reason that I was born in Indiana was because my parents met at Notre Dame (where they were married at a log chapel on campus) and had me. 

*My mom is one of seven children from a Polish family that grew up in South Bend. My dad is one of eight children from and Irish family that grew up in New York City, which is why I have my dual citizenship in Ireland and the United States. My dad was supposed to be a sanitation worker because #pension but bucked the system to work at Digger Phelp's summer camp so he could get an assistant position, which is where his career first started and what brought him to South Bend in the first place. It wasn't until a few years ago that I found out that my parents were already pregnant with me when they were getting married. As my best friend so aptly pointed out, I was present at their wedding that day too, which would explain my love for cabins...

After I graduated high school, the next ten years of my life were spent in Ireland, Washington, DC, South Africa, Uganda, Maryland, California, and Florida. I thought Florida would be the last place I lived but life has a funny way of throwing curveballs. I now live in Austin, TX typing from a cozy two bedroom bungalow with my tabby cat staring out at a leafy tree while I sip from a pink cup that my grandmother passed down to me. 

My favorite writer has always been Anne Frank. I was nine years old when I read this quote from her:

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death."

I decided to apply that perspective to my own life with the rationale that if she can say that in the midst of one of the darkest times in history then I could easily apply it to whatever happens to me in life moving forward. It's something I practice to this day. And truth be told, there is something I adore about looking the hardest moments in one's life in the eyes and smiling back. It makes me feel really happy and strong. I've always been fearless in that way. 

Speaking of hard moments, I have had my fair share. From sexual assault when I was a child (and later an adult), to being robbed, to helping my mom through cancer treatment, to surviving my own kidnapping, to never seeing healthy marriages until most recently in life, and more. I'm sharing with you not to create a trauma grab but for you to better understand me and why I live life the way that I do because at the end of the day, we are not our trauma. 

Looking back, I would say that the childhood assault and the kidnapping have sculpted me the most. I learned at an early age to never trust anybody and instilled in myself the belief that if I ever asked for help in life that it would put me at risk of being hurt again. I feared being vulnerable and did everything in my power to protect myself and not let anyone near me. I think a lot of women live life this way. We have become so used to being objectified and assaulted in the patriarchy that we become ultra masculine to survive. 

For me, I lived life with an overstimulated nervous system that was constantly in fight or flight mode for the first thirty years of my life. I can only imagine what my friends and previous boyfriends thought of me. I was constantly on the go and afraid to share what I had been through for fear of reliving that pain and not being able to come out of it. I also hated the way that people responded when I shared about the kidnapping (I still do). It makes me feel like an alien and more weighed down instead of relieved when I try to explain my past. 

I've come a long way since then.

Although, I can still be triggered and I don't know if my awareness of my surroundings at all times will ever leave me. Only when am I around all of my loved ones do I feel a sense of safety and ability to take a deep breath and relax. 

I digress. I share the above with you so that you can understand that when I had the idea for Anact and the opportunity to pursue it, I jumped. I jumped because in comparison to previous life experiences I have had, it was nowhere near as scary. I can't remember when but somewhere in my mid-20s, I made a pact that when I wanted to do something or had a realization that I had to do it. There would be no talking about it without action. I had to act.

Since I have started Anact and gone from corporate to start-up life, it's been a huge healing process for me. You start to realize that if you want to get to your vision then you have to look within at your own patterns and self limiting beliefs to transcend your circumstances and get the job done. Phew. Perhaps if I knew this going in, I wouldn't have done it. But what I thought would take me one year to create is now on year five and the woman that I have become from it is one that has alchemized her greatest fears into a brand, vision, and community around activism, sustainability, and inspiration. 

As much as I wish I could create photos and videos that articulated my experiences - I just can't. It always has been and always will be that writing is the balm for my soul. I was just too scared to write for so long because I felt like in this instant gratified world we live in that no one would have the attention span to sit and read what I had to say, which is what pushes me to do it now more than ever. We need to get lost in each other's words and experiences and know that we are not alone. 

What I have to say might not apply to you, in which case, I encourage to find someone who's words do resonate with you and give your brain a break from doom scrolling and constant dopamine kicks. Trust me, you'll thank me for it later. 

What you can expect from me moving forward is a weekly drop on Monday mornings of the diary of being the founder of Anact. I'll share with you my experiences raising capital, building teams, love and dating (currently listening to Bruno Major's "Just The Same" on repeat), my perspective on family and friends, what I'm eating, listening, reading (obsessed with "Principles" by Ray Dalio), working out, and vibing to as well as my hard earning insights on living in this new chapter of Age of the Aquarius and girl boss era 2.0.  

Let's get started. 



1 comment

Jackie Smith
Jackie Smith

“I digress” I have learned some of my best problem-solving has come in times of digression. It’s only when I take a moment to look back that I can see how all the dots are connected. And my life, like most people’s, is more like a maze than a straight shot. A 19th-century German philosopher, Shelling wrote about the music of the spheres. The universe is a melody, but because we’re in it, we can’t hear it. We’re always in a-maze-ment. But walking in the woods I almost feel I can sense the music.

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