by Jenna Kutcher
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Oh how I have waited with anticipation for the moment you’d get to meet and experience this woman in full force. Brooklyn Wagner is high at the top of my list of both funniest and wisest people I know, not to mention she has a massive gift of copywriting that makes emails feel like a warm hug from a BFF.
I met Brooklyn when she applied for the podcast manager position for Goal Digger, and I remember telling my husband Drew that I had to pick between the two final candidates, Brooklyn being one of them. I needed her spirit and voice on my team… But where? So I hired both of those candidates, and Brooklyn has been a staple member of Team JK, in the exact role she was meant to be, ever since.
I’ll say it again, she is among the funniest people I’ve ever met, and through that humor she also brings this wise and comforting spirit that’s hard to explain. I’ve seen such a transformation in her since she started two years ago, and I think hers is a story you’ll hear yourself in, in one way or another. So I cannot wait any longer, here she is, my girl, B-Dubs, Brooklyn Wagner.
Who is Brooklyn Wagner?
Brooklyn describes herself as a small-town girl, in the way that she “didn’t know about Target for a very long time.” She was raised very wisely and whimsically, as she put it, by her grandparents, and she spent a lot of time living in her imagination. “It’s very well furnished,” Brooklyn joked. “I still go there. It’s a great time. I hang out there most of the time.”
Brooklyn’s career has ranged from running a program at a summer camp, Sears Optical, running a frozen yogurt shop, a psychiatrist’s assistant… And so many other things.
“Life seasoned me like it does,” she began to explain. “And through that I learned my true gifts, not just those fake-it-til-you-make-it ones.”
“Thanks to all those leaps of faith, I eventually learned how to fly, so to speak. I kept leaping until I learned how to be in a career that I love, which I’m in now!” As I mentioned before, Brooklyn is one of my copywriters, and she said, “It’s very much my happy place. I’m still learning, and I still feel like I’m a student of life.”
The Funny Girl
I debated telling our editor to mute my entire track of this interview because I just laughed the whole time. I asked Brooklyn if she’d always been the funny girl… Because she truly is hilarious.
“I did not let the world into my imagination — my mind palace, if you will — until like highschool,” Brooklyn explained, “But I wasn’t necessarily shy. I think we were all just quiet then.”
“I didn’t think I had anything to say that anyone would want to listen to. I didn’t think I had something to offer. I watched everyone else shining and thought they should get the light, and I should be a shadow person.” As she reflected, Brooklyn remembered that joining the drama club opened up her brain and showed her the voice she had.
That experience gave her the spotlight, and taught her that she was good at claiming it. Brooklyn found her humor was appreciated by more people than just her grandparents.
“I feel the most me, and the most alive, when I’m entertaining people,” but Brooklyn paused before saying, “But here’s the thing, entertainment just feels so cheap, I have to stay that. Like those magazines you see when you’re checking out, I don’t want to be those people.”
Her caveat concluded with this: “If you see yourself as funny or humorous or snarky and sarcastic, I think comedy is this really sneaky, fun way to be in my sweet spot and still lead. Because laughter is a release. So many of us are holding so much of the bad stuff in, how is there room for any good? Laughter lets it out. Comedy is a soul detox, and I am simply a practitioner.”
She summed it up beautifully, “Someone asked me to describe myself, and I said Funny Girl, but they told me to try again, as if I was selling myself short. Like it was some sort of low blow to myself… I still sit here today believing that is fully my superpower. That is my Harry Potter gift. That is my place in this world.”
I mentioned that I’ve seen an enormous transformation in Brooklyn since I carved out a spot for her on my team, a spot that could be filled by no one but her. I asked her to tell me about the Brooklyn who applied for the job opening on Team Jenna Kutcher (not the one she was ultimately hired for).
“I was in survival mode… Like many of us, I have simply not had an easy life. There are so many times for all of us where we’ve had to enter into that mode of choosing to survive or not,” she shared. Brooklyn was taking on tons of jobs, and felt like she wasn’t doing a great job at any of them. She was doing too much and didn’t feel even half in on any of them.
“I was overwhelmed beyond belief and then I finally had my ‘run Forest, run’ moment,” Brooklyn explained. In that moment she decided to pack away all of her gifts, all of the things she had started to lean into, and instead pivoted into a new job as a barista.
In her off hours one day, scrolling Instagram, she saw the job posting for the Goal Digger Podcast manager role. Brooklyn was already a dedicated listener and she heard a voice in her head saying ‘yes, you can do this’.
“I felt ready to unpack my skills and lay them out, but it was uncomfortable, like when you take a few months off from the gym and try to lift a can of beans!”
Keys to Transforming
Brooklyn’s transformation didn’t just happen. She put in the work, and our whole team has seen it. So I wanted to ask her what that work has looked like. What steps has she taken to fuel that transformation?
She told me that it came down to a few simple things… Simple to explain, but not necessarily simple in practice. For starters, Brooklyn simplified her relationships. As an Enneagram 3, she’s a performer. “I’ve spent a lot of years making sure everybody is happy,” Brooklyn explained. Many of the friendships and relationships she’d formed all took on different formats, all of them getting a different version of herself.
Brooklyn began realizing through conversations that she couldn’t show up for some people in the same ways she always had because at the core of it all, she wasn’t really being herself.
“What it’s come to in the last year and a half is a really narrowed down, beautiful list of people, a lot shorter of a list therefore I can love them even more. And I’m so much more known by each of them individually.”
Brooklyn also spends time unpacking the things she needs to unpack about herself, while also naming the things that she’s not ready to look back on. This work has been among the most challenging. It’s required hard conversations and staring things in the face, even when it doesn’t feel good. Brooklyn values therapy for helping her face the things she calls trains.
“I could hear the train coming and I needed to step out of the way because I wasn’t ready to be hit by that thought. And finally I faced it, and I realized it was a toy train… That experience in my life can’t hurt me. It can’t actually run me over, but I still have to do something about it.”
“These are things I have to care for and the more I tend to my own personal garden, the more that really juicy, delicious things grow out of it.”
The Meaning of Done
You’ve heard me say it one-thousand times (or more): Done is better than perfect. I didn’t author the phrase, but I use it frequently in my teaching and just as a core tenant of my business. I didn’t become the Implementation Queen by getting stuck on perfection to the point of never finishing a project or idea.
Brooklyn interprets the phrase in her own beautiful way, and she says it’s been key for growing in her role as a copywriter on my team.
She told me that as a copywriter with an endless stream of words ready to flow out onto the pages of a Google Doc, it’s hard to ever feel truly done with something. “I want that Shia LeBouf clapping GIF in everyone’s hearts when I finish something,” she laughed.
But she’s embraced getting her work to feel done, handing it off for review and welcoming the next step in the process — refinement. How many times have you started and stopped your projects, waiting for the magical moment when it feels done and perfect at the same time? Try to embrace the done phase.
“Done also means walk away, you’re done. In some ways, there are so many things that I’ve given myself permission to be done with,” she explained. “Done is better than perfect, that phrase, has transferred into me giving myself permission to no longer fiddle with things that I know I shouldn’t be doing, period.
More from this Episode
My goodness, I could’ve quoted every single line from this conversation, because Brooklyn is both wise and funny, light and serious, honest and kind. I hope you’ll press play to hear what a pep talk with herself sounds like (so you can steal her techniques for yourself), what she learned from doing a big, scary thing, and can she actually change a tire in a snowstorm? Tune in and fall in love with Brooklyn from Team JK.