The Good Awkward: Why Embracing Awkwardness Can Be Your Secret Weapon To Personal Growth With Henna Pryor

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Awkwardness and personal growth aren’t two words that you would typically use together in sentence, unless you intend to contrast them. We’re doing the exact opposite in this virtual campfire conversation. Today’s guest, Henna Pryor, firmly believes that embracing our awkwardness and running towards discomfort is our best bet to unlocking the next chapter of success in our lives. Henna tells us how embracing this philosophy has helped her become the best version of herself and how it’s now taken her to a place where she can impact other people’s lives through her signature system. Tune in and learn what Henna’s flashpoints can teach us and how we, too, can learn to embrace our inner awkwardness and use it to achieve greater heights.


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The Good Awkward: Why Embracing Awkwardness Can Be Your Secret Weapon To Personal Growth With Henna Pryor

It is my honor to introduce you to my guest in this episode, Henna Pryor. She is a highly sought-after Workplace Performance Expert and a two-time TEDx speaker. She's also a global keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. Her clients call her their secret weapon for impossible change and honor she wears proudly.

She's known for her science-backed approach to improving the performance, habits, and actions of hungry high achievers. In her fun, no-nonsense, no-jargon way, she moves them from the first level of success to their next one. She's recognized as a Success Magazine Woman of Influence in her best-selling book Good Awkward. It was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2023. It is truly a pleasure to welcome you to the show, Henna.

Thank you for having me. I get to be the one to share that you and I got to have a quick hug at South by Southwest. It was fun to see you in person.

I'm thrilled to finally have this conversation too where we get to dig deep and uncover your journey into becoming such an amazing influence and an impact in the world. Although, you've been making an impact a long time before that. I'm looking forward to this conversation and digging into your journey to get to where you are.

Me too. It sounds good. I feel like you and I have been circling for several years. It's about overdue that we sit down and have a campfire chat.

There we go. The fire started. What we do in the show here is talk about your journey through what's called flashpoints. These are points in your journey that have ignited your gifts into the world. I want to turn over to you and have you share some of those moments that have made you who you are and have brought you to this space where you're making an impact. You can start wherever you like and we'll pause along the way and see what themes that are showing up. Please, take it away.

First of all, I have to say I love the phrase flashpoints. I tend to use the geekier, inflection points or things like that but the idea of being a flash feels extremely fitting because every one of those moments burst this light into something that maybe was in the shadows. Flashpoints feel like a very appropriate term. In my journey, I would be remiss not to start somewhere early only because I am the firstborn daughter of immigrant parents. My parents are from India and Pakistan respectively.

They had an arranged marriage. My mom was 17 and my dad was 30. They moved to the United States very quickly and had me as their firstborn child. I share that because any other children of any immigrant family know a little bit of this journey that we all go on where you arrive with your family in the land of opportunity. They want to give you all the opportunities and you always feel a bit awkward about all of it because you're the firstborn in this country.

Your clothes smell a bit different. Your hair is a bit different. The food in your lunch box is not quite the same as everyone else's. My origin story was very consistent one of feeling awkward, sticking out where all I wanted to do was fit in. Also, feeling like a perpetual beginner because my parents were like, “We're going to try soccer, jazz dance, and swim lessons for our daughter. How about painting?” There was a little bit of everything which at the time, I bemoaned. As an adult, I feel wildly grateful for it. That was the beginning.

Your parents want the best for you. All of our parents do. They’re like, “Here's the land of opportunity. Let's grab on to every opportunity.” The realization is you can't do it all, at least not all at once.

Most of us in those moments are moody teenagers like, “Why? I don't want to do this new stuff. I want to do what I know how to do. I don't want to do this thing in front of people. People are watching.” I was 100% that moody teenager but so it goes. I got good grades in high school and was a very typical high achiever to South Asian parents. The priority and where I felt I needed to focus to make my parents happy was achievements. I achieved. I got the A's, honor society, and a scholarship to college. I had a great experience in college where for the first time, fitting in didn't feel so challenging.

I've always been friendly. It's not that I didn't have friends. It's just I'm Henna and I was born in the early ‘80s. I wanted to be Jennifer, Samantha, Jessica, or pick your ‘80s name du jour. That's what I wanted and not the one that I had. I got to college and found a little bit more of the people that did it their way. What I noticed was when I got into the professional world, interestingly, these flashpoints were very difficult for me. I think of them more as the points of my professional life that felt most like they turned the wheel or turned me in a different direction.

I did not walk into them with open arms. These transition points felt very awkward and uncomfortable because every time I transitioned from the first job to the next job, I made several career pivots, which I'm happy to talk about, this flash that we're talking about felt like people at the end of the night at the bar, the lights got turned on and all of a sudden, who you thought you were looking at looked very different in the bright lights.

Every time I try to make a transition in my career, it feels like, “The lights are flashing brightly on my face.” They're going to see that I don't know what I'm talking about or that I don't have all the accolades. I no longer have straight A's. I'm trying something else. Those inflection points or flashpoints, which there were many and I'm happy to unpack any of them, work very tough for me. It's not something I ran into with open arms.

Discomfort And Awkwardness

It's funny you mentioned this because this was something on my mind earlier. We often talk about getting out of our comfort zones and leaning into growth. The reality is it's uncomfortable out there. We sometimes talk about that but we don't necessarily commit to doing those things. That moment you're talking about, those moments of having the lights come on and then realizing, “They're going to figure me out,” is a sense of being uncomfortable, feeling often, and realizing that you're on to the next point of your uncomfortableness that will lean you towards maybe roaming to the next place.

Not to skip ahead too much but some of it is the impetus for my book, which is about awkwardness, called Good Awkward. If I think about my journey, discomfort and awkwardness differ. I came from this achievement orientation. I was not just uncomfortable being uncomfortable, which is pretty human for all of us but for me, it became like I'm uncomfortable in front of people.

The Virtual Campfire | Henna Pryor | Personal Growth

Awkwardness in particular is unique because it is a social emotion of discomfort. It means that we don't tend to feel that particular form of discomfort as acutely when it's just us at home by ourselves. We tend to feel most awkward when it feels like other people are looking. My first career out of college was with the Big Four public accounting firm. I worked for Ernst & Young as an auditor. A few years in, I made some wonderful friends but realized my soul was slowly exiting my body every day that I went to work.

I decided to make pivot number one, which was to executive search and staffing. I went to a search firm and did finance and accounting direct hire primarily for fourteen years. For fourteen years, that was a wonderful dream job but exiting made me question everything I knew. My immigrant parents worked so hard to come to this country to get their daughter a college education. Here I was at a Big Four well-known global firm and I was about to tell them that I needed to go leave it to do a job that was 100% commissions.

Awkwardness is a social emotion of discomfort. We tend to feel most awkward when it feels like other people are looking.

My parents were like, “Are you sure about this?” I am grateful to give them credit where it's due. They were not as comfortable with the idea of it but they trusted me and the decisions I had made enough that they said, “We know that you wouldn't jump into this unless you thought it through.” They knew I had a backup plan if it didn't work out for me but it did, which led to pivot number one. Instead of being a finance and accounting professional and accountant, I became a finance and accounting direct hire recruiter, which expanded outside of the industry as well.

It was fourteen wonderful years there. Frankly, leaving the first job, the accounting job to go to the second, which is staffing, was not hard. I didn't love accounting. Leaving my fourteen-year executive search and staffing career to start my company and become an executive coach was the hardest thing I ever did. I was terrified.

 It is a discomforting sleep when you leave something that is tried and true to go to something that is for a lot of people, “Who am I to do this?” Even in executive search, there are already a lot of people who are doing it, that’s been established, and there's a path to follow. With executive coaching and a lot of the advisory type of work, there are a lot of people out there doing it but there are not a lot of like true paths that you can follow. It feels very emotionally tied to who you are. It feels very foreign in general.

Interestingly, that last bit you said feels the most resonant for me. I don't tend to fear trying stuff because of my childhood conditioning. I was always trying stuff. It never was like, “Who am I to do this?” I'll tell you what it was for me. It was when I was leaving my fourteen-year career, which humbly, I was very successful and was number one in my office for a long time. For me, the big fear was, who am I if I'm not the number one in the company? Who am I if I'm starting again from scratch?

Henna the high achiever is gone for now, hopefully with a plan to rebuild her but I didn't know for sure what this next journey was going to look like so I was leaving all of that status and recognition. It sounds horrible out loud but I wish I could tell you I didn't care about this status or recognition. Much of my identity became tied to, “Henna is the golden child of our office. Henna is the awards trip winner every year. Henna is the working mom who seems to be present with her kids and Bill's top 10% every year.” That was who I was to the world for a decade and a half. Leaving to follow my heart meant leaving that version of me behind. That made me sick to my stomach. Making that leap was very challenging.

Unlocking The Next Chapter

You see that and I know that there a millions of people out there who hold themselves back from that next chapter of what is on their heart because of the fact that they've had success in something else or there have been phrases for doing certain things that have gotten them where they are. Where we lose the most powerful impact in the world is by people saying, “If I leave here, then I have to start from ground zero or the bottom up. That means that I don't have all the accolades that have accumulated. Who am I to be that person?”

Maybe that's to highlight very acutely the biggest lie we all tell ourselves. We're going to wipe away all of our previous success. That is such a strong story that I was telling myself about. I'm going to get rid of her and start from the bottom. The truth in daylight that we all come to learn later is you are not starting from the bottom. You're starting from a much higher rung but we tell ourselves the story about that version gone, door closed, and a new chapter. A new chapter doesn't start at the beginning of the book again. I don't know why we tell ourselves that story. A new chapter follows the previous chapter but we tend to get tied up in this story about closing the book means starting at page one. No. You can put a bookmark in the thing and start where you left off.

The Virtual Campfire | Henna Pryor | Personal Growth

This is why I brought this show into being and talked about this idea of transcending and including, which comes from Ken Wilber. We include our past and bring it with us but we have to understand that we can't live in the past. You don't want to run away from it either. You want to truly have an appreciation like, “What are the things that I'm taking with me that will become the fuel for my next chapter?” There are a lot of things that you've taken with you as you've gotten onto this next part of your journey, which is powerful.

In that vein, it's helpful sometimes for others to hear. I had a lot of trusted clients in my staffing career. The rosy-eyed version of me thought, “Maybe some of these people would trust me as their executive coach.” Let me tell you, that did not happen. It's not that they didn't trust me. It's that they didn't see me that way.

I was their staffing partner. I was not their executive coach or keynote speaker. They perhaps rightfully did not see me starting at this wrong and then stepping into the next wrong. They saw, “She's making a career change.” Sometimes people assume that whatever early success they saw was, “Her clients must have followed her.” Absolutely not. Years later, some of my previous clients came back to me asking about coaching and speaking.

It took them a while to look at me differently than what they knew. With that said, what did come with me were all of the hard and soft skills that I learned and ways to learn how to be agile. I was in staffing and it was commissions. I was in sales. Entrepreneurship is sales. A ton of valuable skills came with me but it's helpful to calibrate on what's realistic as you leave. It's good that that calibration happened quickly.

You see it and I'm not sure if you probably 100% appreciated it when you walked out of the door. Oftentimes, the external view people have of us is, “They’re knocking out of the park. They're so amazing. They're doing all these great things,” but they don't see the inner journey that it takes to build something new, go into a new field, or pivot, and how much of an emotional roller coaster it can be. We don't just start to go on our own and then we're making millions of dollars right out of the gate. People always have a glamorous image of what it looks like to be an entrepreneur.

Placing Bets

This is for anybody who's got a platform of any sort. This is such an opportunity. I planned to share this more publicly but I'll share it for the first time here. I ran my very first small group mastermind for women in 2023. I limited it to ten spots. It sold out super quickly. Home run. I loved it. I had a great experience. My cohort was awesome. I was like, “Yes, this is awesome. This is the greatest thing,” with little to no effort. I marketed a little bit on LinkedIn and people came humming.

I did it again in 2024 and it didn't work out. I'll be honest, I was expecting lightning to strike twice. They said, “Go throw up a few LinkedIn posts and people will roll.” It didn't work out that way. I did have a couple of folks interested but I didn't put the elbow grease behind it. I was much too distracted with other projects with South by Southwest and the book launch. At the time that I did it the first time, I was also putting more heart into it. I was more responsive. I was more distracted this time. I pulled it.

For a couple of interested people, I offered one-on-one coaching to them as an alternative but by some objective measure, it was a failure. My mastermind did not win in round two. I need people to know that not everything that Henna touches in 2023 and 2024 turns to glitter dust. There are a lot of things that were failures but those failures I don't call them that. I call them trials and experiments. That spirit of experimentation has fed a lot of whatever material success has emerged from the last few years. I don't mind placing bets and experimenting. That's helped a lot.

You said it right there. Your ability to keep on trying and putting experiments out in the world is what keeps you going and in a place where you're still able to create more. You're not giving up the first time you face a failure. You're seeing a failure as an opportunity to begin again, as you say the beginners' mindset. That's exactly what it requires. “I learned something. I'm moving forward.” I'm so grateful that you shared what you shared, not because it didn't work out but because there's a feeling that we need to be able to be okay with that.

The humble thing to do is, “What did I learn from that?” What I learned is it does require a bit more elbow grease and attention to fill a mastermind and I gave it that attention the first time. I did not give it the second time. Maybe one day, that'll be different. Maybe one day, I'm Oprah and people will be clamoring. Until then, I can have the humility to own and understand that there's a different level of attention required, or if that is not the case, maybe this was a sign from the universe that it would have been too much for me given some other competing projects.

I'm choosing to take the lessons and extract what I can from them, and choosing to believe that it happened this way for a reason. Honestly, I'll try again. I'm not deterred from thinking it might be a good idea to do it again. It was clear to me that the timing for this one was not meant to be but holding goals lightly is a help.

Before we go too far, are there any of the flashpoints that you want to uncover that you haven't talked of?

Honestly, the rest of them feel a bit cliché. I'm very much a believer that if there are things you want, speak them into the room. Put yourself in the room with the people who would have done those things. Ask for their advice. Feed them value and then maybe in return, they'll give you some mentorship and value. A bunch of them are the TEDxs. I got the first one through an organic application. I got the second invitation through a referral but I did 2 within 90 days, which was pretty bananas.

If there are things you want, speak them into the room. Put yourself in the room with the people who would have done those things. Ask for their advice.

The second one I said no to because he said, “Can you do it in a month?” I had one month's notice. He said, “I have a spot. Do you want it?” I said, “A month? No.” It’s because I had prepared for the previous one for 4 or 5 months. I said, “A month. Are you crazy?” In the same conversation, I stopped myself and said, “As a professional speaker who says no to calling themselves a two-time TEDx speaker, forget what I said.” I walked back to my previous no and said, “Make it a yes. I'll figure it out.”

I hustled like hell. I wrote, edited, refined, and rehearsed. My poor family was so tired of hearing it but I do think after that experience and how well it landed, TED promoted it on their website. On the first day that it was posted, they were so happy with it. Things unlocked at two times. The speed at which they both came out and how well they were received was a flashpoint for me.

Everything since then, the book was well received. I won a couple of awards and that's been a flashpoint. I hope this isn't too self-aggrandizing but I do believe if you watch my second TEDx, we should brag on ourselves. I hope every week is a flashpoint. I'm less interested in playing back the previous ones and more interested in looking at what's the next one I can create. That's what gets me excited every single day.

 It's so great. One of the things that you lean into is that the things that have unlocked the next level for you have you leaning into the next level but not in a way that's like, “I have to do that,” but it's more about you're excited about it. You're driven. You are almost propelled towards it because you can see that you're capable of these things. That's what's cool. You talk about the book and we'll talk more about that in a moment. In the second TED Talk, was that the one that you talked about on the topic of awkwardness?

That was the first one. The first one was the awkward talk. The second was about bragging about ourselves and how we need it at work. Before we go to the book stuff, I will say that the chase for the next level is important to call out because there are a lot of entrepreneurs in your community. It’s an absolute bright side and shadow side. There's part of me that to great gratitude to my parents. I get excited about the next flashpoint because I feel energized by being the beginner in the room.

Our shared colleague, Rich Litvin, often uses the expression, “If you're the smartest person in the room, then you're in the wrong room.” I do get energized by playing one notch up with people who scare me a little. I like that and a lot of that is conditioned by my parents. I was always a beginner so that's how it always felt. Everyone was always better than me.

The shadow side of that, which is important to call out, is my growth edge remains relishing and cherishing what is happening for me. I still struggle a little bit with present-moment appreciation, slowing down and savoring what is right at this moment and not getting too caught up in the where's the next flashpoint. Every day, I'm doing that balance.

That lands very squarely on something I can relate to oftentimes, even when writing a book. I've written a few books. Every time I've done it, I felt like, “That's done. What’s next?” It's almost like you have a hangover after writing a book. People will either like it or not. It's done. You're not sure what to feel exactly after being done with the book and then you start moving on to like, “I guess I got to do something next. What's next?”

With the next book or talk, you start moving in that direction. Maybe it's okay to sit and enjoy and celebrate that moment. That's hard for people who are high achievers. It happens back to my old life. I often say, “I'm addicted to doing and I'm not good at being.” That is a practice that sounds like it resonates with you.

For sure. In 2023, I experienced some hard stuff that I had never experienced before. One of my commitments to myself with the help of my wonderful therapist was I am sometimes obnoxiously cerebral. I'm playful. I'm not somebody who comes across and takes herself too seriously. When I say cerebral, what I mean is I will intellectualize any problem that I'm having rather than allow myself to truly drop in and feel it. It's an escape. I would much rather escape the hard feeling by, “It'll be fine. I can solve for it. I know what to do.” I intellectualize everything.

Part of my growth edge relates to dropping in. I’m allowing myself to feel the feelings, not just the hard ones but the celebratory ones like, “Look around. You did this.” I remember we were on a boat in the British Virgin Islands with our family. It’s beautiful turquoise water on every side of the boat. I was booking another vacation to the Cayman Islands with friends on my phone.

My husband was like, “You are in the British Virgin Islands booking our next vacation. How about put the phone down and look out the window?” I was like, “I'm going to.” He's like, “This is a lot here.” These are my growth edges. There's always going to be a dance of remaining ambitious. I don't want to engineer the ambition out of me. I like being someone who's got goals and I'm always chasing but also balancing that by not missing what's here now.

Life moves fast, for sure. You might miss some things that you want to celebrate. It's gone before you know it.

I'll add to that. It's something I'm working on but it's a little difficult with my wiring to naturally do that. I have stopped trying to play my hero here and I have enlisted friends to make me do it. I've got a few people in my corner that'll say, “Henna, you're speeding past this moment that you should be thinking into. Slow down.” If it resonates for any of you reading and you find it hard to do for yourself, you don't have to do it for yourself. Find some people that you can brag to and who will slow you down and make you celebrate. I try to be that person for other people too.

The Virtual Campfire | Henna Pryor | Personal Growth

We need people around us because they see things we don't. That's when we're trying to be a little bit too much, too ambitious or driven. I don't know if you want to call it that but it’s great to have people around you who you can trust like, ”Look, slow down. You're running yourself too ragged or doing too much. Savor it.” Let's get awkward. I love to have you talk a bit about the book and share some of the key ideas without giving away the whole story. What is it about the book that you think people will want to know?

I'm proud of the book. I gave myself this mental homework assignment. I've always wanted to write a book since the fifth grade. I always enjoyed writing but I did not want to write a book unless I felt like I was adding something fresh to the conversation. I didn't want to write a book that I felt had already been written in my voice. I wanted it to feel something fresh. Until I had that, I did not want to do it.

A few years ago, it came to me what the angle was going to be. I shared early that I've felt awkward my whole life. When I say awkward, it wasn't necessarily like introversion or feeling socially incapable but more of the way I felt on the inside. It was an emotion that I experienced heavily, even if on the outside, it wasn't obvious to others.

I remember at every flashpoint and inflection point this emotion came up again. The way I define awkwardness in the book is awkwardness is the emotion that we feel when the person we believe ourselves to be, our true self, is momentarily facing a gap with the person that other people see on display. In other words, our internal identity momentarily doesn't match this external reality. In that in-between space between these two walls, we experience the emotion of awkwardness.

The thesis of the book is the emotion of awkwardness is not a weakness to fix or a deficiency to eliminate. Embracing it, seeing it as a good thing, and running towards it are our greatest catalysts for personal and professional growth. A lot of the research that came with the book surprised me. It felt like things that hadn't been dug into before. Specifically, I would think that the reason that the book came to pass was beyond my origin story, our queen, Brené Brown.

Awkwardness is not a weakness to fix. It's not a deficiency to eliminate. Embracing it, seeing it as a good thing, and running towards is our greatest catalysts for personal and professional growth.

I remember in her podcast years ago, she would start using this expression. You probably remember it. She would say, “Stay awkward, brave, and kind.” My immediate reaction every time I heard her say that was to stay brave. Yes, my parents taught me about courage. Stay kind. Yes, I was always taught to stay kind to others, but stay awkward? No. We've been trying to get rid of this one for a long time. I said, “Who in the business context has done a deep dive on this particular emotion?” I realized no one had. I got curious about it.

The Good Awkward

I love that you did because it's a great word. I love the way you captured it because this is something that a lot of us have been in that experience where it's like your identity is shifted and you feel somewhere lost in between. You're having to come to grips with that but it's an emotional signal. It's a signal telling you something's going on. You got to lean into that signal and say, “What am I going to do with this? What is it telling me?” At least, that's how my interpretation of what you share.

I appreciate you calling it a signal because, to me, this is one of the very first steps we can take to reframe our relationship with it. Awkwardness is an emotion and a lot of people will use it one of two ways. They'll either describe it as an emotional state, which for all neurotypical humans, can be a state of emotion like, “I feel awkward.” There's another camp of people who will use the word to describe themselves as a trait. “I am awkward. I am socially awkward.”

Fun fact, there is no such thing as a factually awkward person. It is subjective. It is up to us to deem someone else awkward or deem ourselves so. Some people can call themselves awkward and they own it. They're like, “I'm so awkward,” but they still take that risk and raise their hand. They do it anyway. I'm not here to worry about those people. Those people are owning it. They're embracing their good awkwardness.

It's not good awkward when we lean into bad awkward. Bad awkward is the type of awkwardness that paralyzes us and when we use that term as a limiting belief as a box. “I'm so awkward. I can't give that presentation. I can't speak up in that meeting.” When we use it as a term that's such an identifier and identity marker, it limits us from taking the necessary risks we want to take to grow. That's where awkwardness, all of a sudden, takes on a different life of its own and we need to examine our relationship with it.

We've covered so much ground. There's still so much I could ask you. I do have one question to ask you about. Your journey to getting here, what have you learned about yourself that you haven't already shared that you'd like to share? Maybe it’s a lesson or a thing that you want to pull out of this journey that you want to share.

I'll give you one that feels poignant for me. Every time you have a big flashpoint, let's go back to that term, it is very easy for all of the mental, professional, and personal growth work you've done to temporarily go out the window and then you'll have to recalibrate. It doesn't matter how much work I've done on achievement orientation. I'm trying to shake that off. It doesn't matter how much work I've done on not caring about people's approval or how much work I've done about not working too much, focusing on controlling my hours. The minute I step into a bigger room, I have to hit the reset button on all of that again because those tendencies come rushing back.

There was a while when I was beating myself up. When I left my previous career in staffing and executive search, I worked some pretty intense hours. They were flexible hours thankfully with my family but they were still pretty intense. I was on the call a lot. I made myself this promise that if I went into entrepreneurship, I get to choose my hours. Surprise to no one at all, those same behaviors as things started to pick up steam came back again. My husband's like, “Wasn't the whole idea of this that you were going to be able to control your hours? You're doing this for yourself and you're as busy as you've ever been.”

I've come to realize that professional development sounds obvious but not linear. Your personal growth is not linear. Anytime you find yourself feeling self-doubt, awkward, and unsure, expect the diffs, backslides in whatever area you thought you'd grown in, and the need to recalibrate again. I've had to do that more often than I was mentally prepared for. Now that I've recognized it, I'm embracing it as part of how it goes. As long as I do recalibrate, then no guilt is required.

I love how you put that because there's a sense of having compassion for yourself around this path that we're in. You leave one jailer and then you put yourself into a new jail that is of your own making. I'd say this because I can relate to that experience. It’s natural because you also feel this sense of freedom to do what you want to do. You have that freedom so you don't have any boundaries. You tend to move and try to do more and then you realize, “Wait a minute. I've done too much. I have to pull it back and figure out how to get back in control of the situation.”

I know a lot of your friends and colleagues who are in these similar spaces, like speakers and authors. It's another layer of challenge when you are the face of your ideas and product. Talk about awkwardness. Everyone is watching. It can feel as though everyone is watching. You not only succeed but also stumble, mess up, and fall.

I'm hell on this idea that you don't get to eliminate awkwardness. Miss America doesn't get to eliminate awkwardness. George Clooney doesn't get to eliminate awkwardness. Their comeback rate is fast. We're all going to step into it, stumble, and put our foot in our mouths. It's just what you do with it. Eliminating it is not going to happen. Getting good at it is an opportunity for all of us.

The Virtual Campfire | Henna Pryor | Personal Growth

I have one last question for you. What are 1 or 2 books that have an impact on you and why?

I love to read so it's hard. It's like choosing my babies. Here's one maybe less obvious and then one more obvious. I’ll start with the more obvious. Even though I haven't read it for years, Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection had a profound impact on me. I read it when it came out and I refused to read it again before I wrote mine. She's such a gift that I was like, “If I read this now, I'm going to get in my head. I'm going to say some things that have already been said and I knew it was a different book,” but it had an impact on me all those years ago. It shaped my outlook.

My less obvious choice is a book called Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which is a fiction book. It's about a girl who is originally from Lagos, Nigeria and she moves to the United States. What I love about fiction books that are set in other countries is I truly believe that a well-written fiction book can be as magical, if not more, for our professional and personal development than a nonfiction development book. Sometimes I feel like I learn more about my misconceptions about Nigeria and the education of those big cities.

I learned more about the way my perspectives were off and that my biases were on by reading that book of fiction. No knock on any of the brilliant DI authors in the nonfiction space but I learned more from that book than I would have from any nonfiction book. I was immersed in the reality of what it looks like. If I can encourage anyone interested in reading, it is to enjoy your development books. I've written one. This is not an attack on nonfiction development books. Good fiction can have the same impact if you know where to look.

I love that you share that because there's something about how we are drawn and wired for stories. The richer the story, the more opportunity for us to get drawn in and connect with the visual and sensorial elements of the story. That is part of what fiction can do, especially when the fiction has an element of connection to historical elements and real-life situations that can bring us into, “That's what happened. This is what is going on in the world through a fictional lens.” That is amazing when you can see a story like that.

It's helpful to those who consider themselves non-readers. Sometimes for folks who struggle to read, development books by their nature are research-based. There are all these things. It can be sometimes more challenging. If you're trying to get back into reading for your development, try realistic fiction. Maybe sci-fi won't have the same development lessons. Americanah was one example. I read Lessons in Chemistry. What an amazing fictional tome on feminism. There are so many different places you can learn. It doesn't have to be all the same stuff.

I'm so blown away. This has been such a great conversation as always. Thank you so much for coming on the show and shooting all your stories and brilliant insights.

Thank you for having me.

Before I let you go, I want to make sure that people who are reading know where to find out more about you. What's the best place?

Thank you. I'm Henna Pryor in all the places like LinkedIn and Instagram. Feel free to link up. I won't find it awkward at all. I love to make friends.

Thank you again. Thanks, readers, for coming on the journey. I know you're leaving fully inspired and connected to want to go out and reach out. Buy Good Awkward and talk to Henna. You won't be let down. Thank you again.

Thank you.

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