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Late Starters Club Podcast

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Ep107 Transcript: Interview with Tina Brandau

June 5, 2023

Andrea Vahl: Today’s guest is nothing short of amazing. Tina Brandau had to relearn how to walk and talk in her forties after being hit by a tree while on a run. She has gone on to write a bestselling book called Standing Strong. She speaks all over the world and has founded a business called Success Coaching Solutions.

Listen in to today’s episode and get inspired.

Hello Dreamers. Welcome to the Late Starters Club, giving you the inspiration mindset and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond. Remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Hello, late starters. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl, and I am here with the fantastic Tina Brandau.

She is a success coach who empowers others to reach their goals. She’s also a bestselling author, speaker, founder of Success Coaching Solutions, former C-Suite executive and successful serial entrepreneur. Welcome, Tina.

Tina Brandau: I am so excited to be here. I just love hanging out with you.

Andrea Vahl: It’s very cool. And we met in Jeff Walker’s Launch Club.

And when I heard your story about what you’ve had to do as a late starter, which is learning to walk again and do everything again, that is just an amazing and inspirational story as well as what you’ve done since then. Yeah let’s dive into all of this. So tell us a little bit about what you know, you, we were talking beforehand about Tina 2.0 and 3.0.

So tell us how that all evolved and what happened to you for this major health change that you had to endure.

Tina Brandau: Absolutely. So I do. I would refer to myself as Tina 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Tina 1.0 is what I was supposed to do all along. Go to school, get your degrees, go into your field, become successful, then climb the ladder, climb the ladder.

And I did that until I was 40 years old and I was doing a really good job at it until I had an accident, and that’s when Tina 2.0 came into play. I’m just going to spoil it for everybody if that’s okay. I was hit in the head by a tree. It’s not something that you normally hear about, and if you do hear about it, they’re not able to talk with you about it.

I am amazed that I’m alive to be here, and more importantly, that I can actually even communicate. So that really created, I didn’t choose my 2.0. My two 2.0 chose me. And you’re right I had to learn to think again, to walk again, to talk again. I had to learn how to learn for a second time in my life.

So Tina 2.0 came not because I wanted it, but because it was frankly knocking me upside the head.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, so you were out hiking, you were just out on a hike? Is that right?

Tina Brandau: I went for a run. I was training for a marathon and I was running through the woods and a tree just simply had dry rotted and it broke free from its roots.

And I happened to be either you could say too slow or too fast, or whatever the case may be. And I was directly in the path of the tree and it came down and did significant damage to me. I was left with the functioning of a three-year-old child afterwards.

Andrea Vahl: Wow, that’s amazing. At age 40 and so you…was someone with you or did someone find you then?

Tina Brandau: No, no one was with me and eventually, believe it or not, I had, I found help. And how I found help was I had this thing on my arm that I had no idea what it really was at the time. I was Discombobulated would be the only word. And I just happened to punch buttons and I was punching them on my MP3 player.

And then I did the same thing with the other thing in my other arm, which happened to be my cell phone. And it connected to someone who all I could say is bleed, that’s the only word I could say is bleed. And they were able to get help out to me. And it’s that thing where if somebody hadn’t answered the phone, would I even be here today?

It’s just such an amazing coincidence of things that have come together. A whole series of events that came together for me to be here with you today.

Andrea Vahl: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. And so you then came back from that just through therapy and you wrote your book about that.

Tina Brandau: I did, so I came back through it, so I did physical therapy, occupational therapy, so many therapies. I actually despise therapies now because of so much of the therapies. But the reality of it is I came back through it very slowly. It was a slow process and it took a lot of time, a lot of amazing physicians and healers that helped me through that process.

But it really was a slow rebuild. And in case you may not know this about me, I’m not a very patient person, so I had to learn patients in this process and then came the “what do I do next” piece? So I had to go through the healing process, and that took literal years. My last surgeries were 10 years after my accident, so it was a long healing process.

Andrea Vahl: Wow. Wow. That is crazy. That is a long healing process. But what an amazing way to have a new lease on life, basically. That was one of the things you talked about is you had some new outlooks, but throughout that whole process, what made you not give up during that?

What kept you going during all of that?

Tina Brandau: So I had helped organizations set huge goals, their BHAGs and go after them. And that’s what my gift was – peak performance. That’s what I did for a living as an executive. And so I started doing exactly as my memories came back, and I knew how to do that again.

I started doing exactly what I had done in the corporate land before. But it didn’t work for me because literally if I did too much, I would have a seizure. My brain could not handle thinking too big, so I had to find a new way to do it. And what I found was a way that works so much better. We as adults, I’m going to say this and I say this inside the book a million times.

Okay, maybe not a million, but a whole lot of times. The first half of my book is the story of the accident. The second half is how I saw the world through the eyes of a young child. In an adult or a 40 year old’s body. And the things I got to see and experience, and I say this all the time throughout the context of it, adults are so complicated.

We really overcomplicate everything. So what I did was broke it down into the tiniest next little step that I could take, that I could take. And that’s what really kept me going was that teeny tiny little step. And I’m going to also say for your audience and listeners, I am going to believe that we all know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, and that comparison doesn’t help.

I didn’t compare myself to others because I couldn’t take in the outside world and what I was doing. I didn’t have the capacity, and that is the most freeing thing in the world. But as my capacity got better, I immediately started comparing myself again.

Now think about this. I couldn’t make my hands clap together. I had no fine motor skills. If I had compared myself to anybody around me who was doing all kinds of things I couldn’t do, I would’ve given up so much faster. In that moment. So I think the big piece for me was I didn’t compare, not because I chose not to, but because I couldn’t. I didn’t have the capacity, but as I got that ability back, I immediately just started triggering myself going, wait, I’m comparing.

And I would stop it in its tracks. And I think that is a huge propellant of how I made it back to where I was, because I’m not comparing Andrea having her own podcast and Speaking about marketing all over the country. To my being able to move one little pea from one little cup to another cup.

I’m not comparing it anymore. So I don’t compare myself at all anymore, but I have to stop myself from doing it because it is a very natural tendency for most of us.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, for sure. That’s definitely something I struggle with all the time. And I know that social media and things like that don’t help and it’s hard to stay in our lanes and stuff like that.

And even in, places that like Launch Club that are super supportive places, it’s easy to sometimes be like, “oh, look at them, they’re doing so well.”

Tina Brandau: And instead of look at them, they’re doing so well. It’s heck yeah, that’s great for them. And then you just want to go.

And then you just exactly let it go. And it’s so much easier to let it go if you’re celebrating the other person. Because you don’t look at yourself. You only look at them.

Andrea Vahl: For sure. That’s a great lesson. I love that. And I definitely feel like, I feel like actually as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been better at that even in the last five years.

I’ve been able to be like, “Hey, that’s awesome.” And I’m looking at that thing and having that little bit of comparison, envy or whatever it might be, because I would like to be there. And that’s possible. And that’s awesome.

How did you change throughout this process? Were, you was 1.0 totally different than 2.0, Tina 2.0 or…

Tina Brandau: I love that. I love that question so much. Tina 1.0 and Tina 2.0 were very similar, but they had stark differences. So Tina 2.0, I went back to do what I had done before and I returned to doing what I knew how to do because frankly, that’s all I had the capacity for, I didn’t have the capacity to learn something new, so I got most of my memories back.

I got back much of my functioning. I clearly can talk and act a little bit better than a seven year old, although sometimes I still act like a seven year old. The whole reality is I did what I could do and I went back to being an executive doing the same things that I had done before. That was Tina 2.0.

But what I realized is the real big difference in her and in me is that prior to my accident, I was all about aspiring. I wanted to aspire before I expired. Now I really just want to inspire before I expire. I changed that focus and that view, and then once I got to the place where I was able and had capacity, I decided that I had helped organizations grow long enough, helped them make money long enough.

It was time for me to help people reach their goals and dreams and not corporations. And that’s where Tina 3.0 came into place.

Andrea Vahl: Awesome. And then how long, about how long was that between 2.0 and 3.0? What was the timeframe there?

Tina Brandau: So my accident was, my last surgeries were 10 years after my accident.

And then I still stayed in Tina 2.0 for a little while after that. And then I would say in a five year range, Tina 3.0, the real crux of Tina 3.0 has been in the last 18 to 24 months though.

Andrea Vahl: That’s awesome. Because the book came out, the book came out in October, or is it September 22?

What was that?

Tina Brandau: It was in actually, so long story short, it came out twice. It came out twice. Cause here’s the thing, and I want some of your listeners to know that you don’t have to be ready. You don’t have to be ready to do something. So I’d written my book and I was weeks and weeks away from it being finalized, printed and everything else, and I had an opportunity to speak on a very large stage, and they said, but you will have your book with you, right?

I’m like, yes, I will. And still weeks and weeks away. And this event was not weeks and weeks away, so I had to take it live with the pilot group so that I could in fact have my book available to have that stage and have that influence in that audience. And that book sold enough copies at that specific event that I became a bestseller just from that event. Had I not gone prepared or had I said I’m not ready, I would not have hit that. I became number one bestseller when it went officially live, which was on the 15th anniversary of my accident last October, and then after that we dropped the audible version and the Kindle version over time as well.

So yeah, it’s really been since October that the momentum of this story being out in the world has happened and so many opportunities to share the possibility. I say to people all the time, I went from, literally from A to Z. I’m now a bestselling author, speaking in places I’ve never even heard of before, or knew anyone in, yeah, I was in South Africa the other day.

Seriously, A to Z is where my life has gone. I know. Like I know you can go from your H to your P.

Andrea Vahl: Your H to your P?

Tina Brandau: Because I went from A to Z. Most people don’t have to cross the chasm as wide does I did? So I say you go from your H to your P, you can do that. If I can do A to Z, you can do H to P. You can do that.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s not, obviously not everyone wants to start over again as a three year old when they’re turned 40, so I think that’s the amazing story is that you can make huge changes, huge strides and then just, reinvent yourself multiple times. That’s the thing that I think has been a great thing coming out of this podcast is talking to people who have had several iterations like you, like 3.0, but even 40 plus several iterations.

It doesn’t, you we’re not always choosing our 30 year path. We could be just choosing the path for now. That’s is calling to us, that we feel inspired by and that we feel that we have things to give to. So that’s great. That’s great.

So what was the transition from, the corporate to your own business and doing the coaching?

Tina Brandau: Initially most of my clients were actually people that I had worked with before in corporate. So I actually did a soft landing into a world where I already had people that were there. And I continued to work with them, but then building it up was not at all what I expected it to be. Truly was not at all what I expected it to be.

In fact, in corporate, I just knew that I would tell somebody I have a coaching spot open and it would be gone in two and a half seconds because they knew me, they knew my story. I didn’t have to mark it. I didn’t have to share who I was. And then stepping into the marketing world and realizing there’s this whole thing that you have to learn. I was like, wow, okay. Eyeopening, quite eyeopening. And knowing that you’ve got experts that can help you was a really huge piece of that. But, It was not at all. You don’t expect to step outta something that you’re tremendously successful with and feel like you’re back in kindergarten again.

And that’s really what it felt like for me. I was starting over in kindergarten, but the reality of it is once you actually got, or as I call it, got my sea legs and I started to understand more of it and I learned the nuances of it, it started to grow very quickly for me. And that’s why I said I’m now a bestselling author.

I’m on stages around the world, and I had so many one-on-one coaching clients last year that I actually stopped doing one-on-one coaching because it was just too much for me in what I was doing. So I slowed down the extent of the one-on-one coaching, but the reality is. It is an adjustment. It is a huge adjustment.

And there were times when I went, what am I doing? It would be so much easier to go back to what I already am doing, what I already knew and all that. And then I’m like, no, I’m doing this for a very important reason. And that’s that people don’t have the same resources corporations do. And I want them to have this because frankly, too many people don’t get a second chance like I did.

And you get, your days are no infinite. You have only so much time to do what you want to do and to waste one of them not living to your full potential, just it kills me inside and I don’t want people to live that way. So my why was helping people, more people reach their goals so that we create a better world for everybody.

And at the end of the day, It was exactly that. That kept me going through those moments of, are you kidding me? I have to do one more thing. What is this thing you’re talking about? You might have a conversation once about marketing and, we were talking about it. I don’t if you remember this, we were at the event and you asked me about something.

I’m like, I don’t even have a good answer for that.

Andrea Vahl: Oh my gosh. It is, it’s overwhelming and I like what you said earlier, I think that is a key is just breaking everything down into the smallest chunks possible. Because we know, hey, we need to put a speaker’s reel together, and it’s oh my God, that sounds, exhausting and crazy and I don’t even know how that works or whatever, or where I start or do I edit it or all that stuff.

But it, it’s okay, what is the smallest step possible. It might be like, find one of the videos that’ll go in there or identify event, something that’s tiny, that feels super manageable. Is the best way to do that. So it is overwhelming all this online branding, all this online marketing, and but it’s necessary.

We have to, you have to do it unless you have some sort of already built in pool of clients like you would at corporate or something like that.

Tina Brandau: I think that when you break it down into the tiny steps, you don’t feel the overwhelm nearly as much and you also get the dopamine over and over for accomplishing that little thing. And we know that our brain loves the dopamine. And we keep moving forward. If you’re just looking at the big thing, you never feel like you accomplish anything. And that was what I started out with. I was like, I’m going to do this.

Wait a minute, I’m not launching a course. I’m figuring out how to build a list first. Let’s start there. Let’s back this back down. And so I think when we just use our natural body’s rhythms of success, it really does make a huge difference. And the tinier the step sometimes the further you travel with it.

Andrea Vahl: I love crossing things off. I love that. Yes. It’s just so awesome. So when you’ve, when you have felt a little overwhelmed during this whole journey, how did you come back? For sure relearning how to walk and learn and all that stuff has gotta be completely overwhelming and as well as building the business.

What has kept you going and getting that mojo back in your life.

Tina Brandau: So I’m a person of deep faith, so faith has helped me along this journey for certain. The second thing that I think really played a huge role for me is again, taking those tiny steps and staying focused. And that’s a huge word that a lot of us don’t have these days, and that’s focused, we have so much distraction.

The focus is what really helped me the most because I couldn’t focus on multiple things at one time. I only had the one. And so I think along the wave with everything, it’s focus and having the right goals in place, having the right supports in place, accountability matters so very much.

I know I joked earlier that I’m tired of all of the therapies, but my occupational therapist, I knew good and that I had to go in there and I was going to have to show her the log of everything that I did. And when you walk into something and someone’s counting on you for something, you’re more likely to achieve it.

And accountability is built the exact same way it is just having all of the mechanisms in place with having your goals, having your vision, knowing your values so you can make decisions quickly. Having then also some accountability baked in is huge to getting over that overwhelm, but I always start my day also with very specific rituals and habits to make sure that I keep my overwhelm at bay the best I can.

Andrea Vahl: I’d love to hear, do you have, can you share some of the things, your morning ritual that helps you kick things off in a good way?

Tina Brandau: Be glad to. I actually use hacks. That’s what I do. because who doesn’t like to start the day off feeling successful?

It changes your whole attitude, right? So I, this is something I’ve had people do for a very long time, and that is create the first three things that you’re going to do when you get outta bed in the morning. And then when I say create them, write them down on a list the night before.

So have your list ready the night before, and they are the most simplistic things you can possibly think of. Like maybe it is, put on my shoes. Maybe it is, get out my clothes, whatever it is that’s like really quick that you can do all three things within five minutes. And one of them is make the bed.

Okay. Make your bed when you get out of it. Why do you make your bed? Not because you really care about making your bed, but because you start the day with a sense of accomplishment. And when you have a sense of accomplishment, overwhelmed doesn’t come at you as hard. So creating those three things that I do right away when I get out of bed in the morning, in the first five minutes.

So I start the day, it’s really jump starting your day. That’s what it really does. And then the other thing that I do is start with gratitude. Always starting with gratitude. And the gratitude for me is five unduplicated things that I write down every morning and every night, and they’re unduplicated. So think about this, you have thousands of them by the end of, in my case, I actually think I’m over 45,000 of them I have at this point. And I sit down, this is what I do on New Year’s Eve. I spend my New Year’s Eve reading back through my year of gratitude. Because it is like holy macro, when you actually see all the things that you were grateful for throughout the year.

It’s an amazing thing and it just, it starts your year off the right way as well.

Andrea Vahl: I love that. That is great to write them down. That’s so good. At our dinner table, we all go around and talk about one thing. We were grateful for the day, but I love the idea of writing it down.

It was such a great thing to do on New Year’s. Awesome.

Tina Brandau: So Andrea, one of the reasons I wrote them down is because I couldn’t remember them for a long time. I would say something out loud and then the next day I’d be like, what was that? I don’t remember because my memory so bad. So I started writing them down just for that simple sake.

And it’s interesting to me, even though my memory is really good today compared to back then, I still forget things from last month, or last two months ago, three months ago. And so at the end of the year, I’m like, wait, I did do that. I forgot all about it. It really does make for a great experience.

Andrea Vahl: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And I know you had touched on the support and things like that, support that you had throughout this. Tell us a little bit about the support you’ve had with friends, family. How did that play into everything that you’ve done with Tina 2.0 and 3.0?

Tina Brandau: Wow. So I would not be able to do what I’m doing today if it was not for friends and family. Truly. I literally needed someone to help me walk. I needed care 24/7. In fact, the name of my book is Standing Strong and it’s only named that because my husband at the time, he’s still my husband, but in the moment, fact I was standing up and I would wobble, my gate was so bad, I literally would wobble back and forth. And so he went to grab my arm and I held up one finger and he knew in the moment that all that meant to him was. I’m processing something, give me some space. That was my cue to him to give me space. And so I held up my finger and he kept asking me, are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay?

And I finally was able to put three words together, and this is the very first time I was able to stand on my own after my accident. And I said, I stand strong. So I named it Standing Strong. I was going to name it Stand Strong, but we put it out in front of a focus group because, you do that, and the focus group said it sound like a protest book, so we decided not to do that. Instead we need it standing strong. And so that’s so important to me is to know that you have to have a support network if you want to be able to stand strong.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, that’s, that is great. And I definitely feel like that’s as entrepreneurs as well, that I feel like that is so key in success is just connecting to other entrepreneurs.

It’s a lonely business. It can be challenging when you don’t know what you’re going to do next, what you know, what the best route is, and that’s why I love Launch Club as well, is just having that great community of people doing all different kinds of things. So it’s not just B2B, it’s B2C as well.

It’s all different types of businesses and it’s so inspiring. Yes. Love that. Love that.

So let’s see if there was, I had one other question I was going to make sure I asked you. Oh yeah! Having to do this at age 40 and then now even launching your business at a time where people aren’t necessarily thinking of launching a business in their fifties sometimes.

How has being older contributed to your success in, in, being successful with these two endeavors here?

Tina Brandau: I think that with age comes wisdom, I think that you learn a lot more about yourself along the way. I will also add, for Mother’s Day, my family decided that they were going to help me make something else come true for me, that I’ve said out loud several times I want to do, and now I’m going to do.

And that’s, I’m starting to take flying lessons because I want become a pilot as well. And I’m now past, after you’ve had a traumatic brain injury, you can’t fly for a period of time. And I’m now far enough out that I can actually fly, so what is it about it? It’s the freedom to make the choice.

And I think the older you get, the more you realize that your days are more precious. I realize that more than most people do, but there’s no time to wait to actually live your potential. And frankly, I believe many of us live with potential still left inside of us. I don’t intend to leave a single ounce when I leave.

Andrea Vahl: No that’s very true. I have a joke about how I just wish someone would tell me, you’re done. You have no more potential. Oh, man. It’s always an evolution. We’re never done. It’s always more done to more to do in this world.

Tina Brandau: But I think that after you’re in your later years also, Andrea, I think the thing that really happens is you realize what lights you up.

And you don’t worry about what others want you to do or what you feel like you should do. I actually say all the time, stop shoulding on yourself. Don’t should on yourself anymore. Just go forward with what it is you know you need to do or want to do. And then you actually, it’s freedom that comes as you get older.

Andrea Vahl: Love that. Yep. So true. So true. This has been so fun and as I love to ask people for an inspirational quote or saying, or something that really motivates them. So I’d love to have you share that with our listeners here.

Tina Brandau: I would love to, I actually have one that is from an author. Her name is Hillary DePiano as I said it correctly. We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them.

Andrea Vahl: Yeah, very true. Very true. Exactly. We just have to make the most of our time, awesome. Tina, thank you so much for being with us, for being an inspiration.

Thanks for your, so much for your book. I can’t re I ha I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to get that right now and take a look and read that cause it sounds like really amazing and I know I’ve. Heard from people who have talked about how great that book is. So we’ll have all the links in our show notes here.

Anything else you want to leave with our listeners here?

Tina Brandau: If I may, I absolutely would love to leave you with this thought. And that’s that I believe that the biggest challenge in our life is to become everything that we have the possibility of becoming. And the reason I wrote this book and shared the lessons inside of it is so that you too can become unstoppable at becoming what’s possible in your life. And that is my challenge for each of you.

Andrea Vahl: Awesome. Love it. Thank you so much, Tina. And thanks everyone for tuning in.

Hello, late starters. It’s your host, Andrea va, and today I am joined by the amazing Tina Brandau. She is a premier sex co.

Changing your career for you. God. Oh

Tina Brandau: my gosh, that’s priceless. Tell you about that story.

Andrea Vahl: I’m going to enunciate this time.

Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide, top Tools for Late Starters on the website at latestartersclub.com and let’s turn dreaming into doing.

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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.

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