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PJ Brady started “Brave Smart Kind” as foundational core values and as a way to teach English to his daughters. He wanted to redefine the word, “beautiful” to mean something that described how people feel on the inside, something to help them develop confidence, something they could control.
To help people find their own courage, critical thought, and kindness so they know they are worthy of love and belonging.
I am American by birth, Belgian by marriage and Global by choice; and live just outside of Brussels with my wife and three daughters. In 2017, I established The Brave Smart Kind Company, to coach leaders, teachers, parents and organizations to work towards their goals with greater purpose. Since then, I have delivered keynotes for and coached leaders at organizations across 26 countries, including TEDx Brussels and TEDx Ghent, Ernst & Young, Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), LinkedIn and Viking
Ocean Cruise. I just published my first book, “Raising Kids to be Brave, Smart and Kind.
“I just started writing a journal for my eldest daughter, and it somehow turned into a book! I’m also not a parenting expert; I am a leadership guy who just realized that parenting is EXTREME leadership. I am a father first, and professional second.”
I moved around a lot due to the nature of my father’s work. I lived in NJ, Florida, California, back to Florida, Western NY all by the age of 10. My parents were divorced at the age of seven and that is when I first started giving thought to the father that I wanted to become. A great deal of my Brave Smart Kind framework came from trying to reconcile my own worth in the wake of my parents’ divorce and the lack of presence of my father in my own life.
I lives in Overijse, Belgium with Violaine, my wife of 16 years and my three daughters; Alexandra (12), Emmeline (10) and Josephine (6). We also have a 100 lbs. Bernese Mountain Dog, Bernadette, who is every bit a member of the family.
Living in Belgium
Working for a non-profit that supports entrepreneurs, I was the VP of Europe, Middle East, Pakistan and Africa. This organization focused on the importance of leadership skills to transform individuals who would then go on to lead their companies. Much of my work was understanding values and how they came to life in individual actions and within team dynamics.
I traveled the world working with incredible leaders who taught me about the importance of values. I made two incredibly important, and not surprising, realizations while traveling. The first is that values shape our thoughts and actions. The second is that values are shaped at a very young age and develop over time. Concurrently, I started my journey as a father when a significant thought. If we know that values shape our thoughts and actions AND they are developed at a young age; why are full-grown adults only having conversations about understanding their values in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
What if we started younger and helped children understand the importance of values, where their successes and failures come from, and what makes them unique beautiful little humans?
I do not have a degree in child development or psychology. I’m not a parenting coach. I’m a leadership coach who became a father and consistently wants to understand why I parent the way that I do, and how to improve myself. This led me to come up with the Brave Smart Kind (BSK) Framework for both leaders and parents.
What does it mean to be Brave, Smart, and Kind and raise kids with purpose?
Essentially, it is easy. We are all already brave, smart, and kind… The End. Ok, it is a little more detailed than that. All values fall into at least one of three buckets; how we overcome, how we critically think, or how we treat others and ourselves. Yes EVERY value… go ahead, test it out. At the center of our BSK Framework is the understanding that our successes and failures come from the same place, our values. If you value honesty, odds are you can also be too direct or rude when you feel stress and/or pressure. If you are determined you can be stubborn. If you are loyal you can have blinders on. ALL values when taken to an extreme become negative values.
When you begin to define exactly what you stand for, then you begin to realize how you succeed and fail. When you define exactly how you overcome (your brave), how you critically think (your smart), and how you treat others and yourself (your kind); then you can live with greater intention. You are quicker to find success and you recognize the behaviors that lead you to failure, the quicker you can make more purposeful choices. This is true for leadership positions and is even more true for parenting.
Then after you find this for yourself, you have a new lens to view your children, understanding they too have their own brave, smart, and kind values. The difference is that their values are still very malleable. They are still shaping how they overcome, think and treat people, and you have a significant role to play in both what they learn and how they develop.
As I began to work all of this out for myself, I began writing it down for my girls so they’d have something from me to read later in life. I started writing notes on Post-Its, in notebooks, in LinkedIn articles, and in composing speeches. It wasn’t until I started speaking about Brave Smart Kind and found that other parents and teachers were using the content in their own ways that I thought maybe there was a bigger message for the world here. I began organizing the stories and information in a book; Raising Kids to be Brave, Smart and Kind. This is why I call myself an “accidental author”. I never set out to write a book, I just found that I had already written one, or at least the main parts.
How does your book support parents and educators?
The book gives the background and the framework to find your own brave, smart and kind. It gives parents and teachers questions to start to work though and tips to implement the framework in their own areas. The first realization that I hope to give parents is that they aren’t alone. We are all going through very similar struggles and if yours aren’t the same as mine, then they are the same as someone else’s. For teachers it is to help reframe what they are already doing and give them new guideposts to work within to communicate in new ways with students, parents, and other educators. It provides all parents and teachers with a new language that works with kids and helps us all work together towards a common purpose.
What is your goal for BSK?
I just want to help people realize how special and unique and powerful they are. My original goal with BSK was to use it to raise confident young ladies. My new goal is to spread this message as far as it can go to parents, teachers, leaders and all of us who contribute to a braver, smarter, kinder world.
Next is relentless work in spreading the message to educators in the US. Educators have been on the receiving end of some very difficult times, and not just because of Covid. We have been able to help reenergize some through our BSK work and giving them a new angle in how to shape young lives, which is why the majority of teachers dedicated themselves to this incredible profession.
Now that the book is published, and we just recorded the Audible version; we are looking for more ways to connect and speak to educators. Conferences, events, forums, etc. We have formed both parenting and teachers groups to share experience and learn from each other.
I am continuing my work to not only teach parents and teachers how to BSK their lives, I am in frequent demand for my values-based leadership work in organization. I am also looking into creating a program where communities bring me in to coach community and business leaders and then I will stay and donate my time and content to local schools.
PJ’s Contact Infomation
Hope you enjoyed the conversation with PJ Brady who joined me on my virtual porch! Please share with your friends the podcast and this post that PJ helped me create that includes his journey, story, and loads of resources.
Make sure you check out more of the Rethinking Learning podcasts and each post that the guests created. Click the logo below or go to https://barbarabray.net/podcasts/
For more information about my book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.