Episode 6:
Cora Haenelt; BRAVE at every age

Cora is Nicole's first guest on the Celebrate Brave podcast. They reminisce about the first time they met at the Grace Hopper Celebration where Nicole and Cora, 16 years old at that time, presented together in front of 500 people. Talk about BRAVE!

How did Cora do that, what did she learn from this experience? And how is she utilizing this experience in her life? Listen to this podcast episode and find out!

The Grace Hopper Celebration: https://ghc.anitab.org/

Cora Haenelt: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cora-haenelt-05969a191/

Transcript

Welcome to the celebrate brave podcast. 

I'm Nicole Trick Steinbach, your host, and the international bravery coach. On a mission to redefine brave. How we identify it, live it, and most importantly, celebrate it. Because when you build your brave, you change your world and that changes the world. Talk about something to celebrate. Let's go.

 

Nicole; 

Hello, brave people. So today is my very first guest interview. And my guest interview is so special to me and actually played a huge role in my development and stepping into the movement to shift how we define identify and celebrate brave. So please welcome Cora Haenelt. She is wait for it.... she is currently 18 years old. And she shared the stage with me at the Grace Hopper celebration. If you're not familiar with the Grace Hopper celebration, please inform yourself. This is the world's largest celebration for women in tech. And it is hosted by AnitaB,  which is an organization focused, driven towards equity and inclusion and all parts of tech so you know, I'm a member, you know, I'm thrilled. 

 

So back to Cora. So the story. And then I'm going to welcome Cora on to and her voice on to but first context and story. So Cora, I actually got to meet her over her mom, who was my colleague at the tech company that we both worked at. I had submitted to AnitaB quick side story about being brave. I had tried to submit through the company, I was working at for a couple of years. And I was told every year. This is not what they wanted Anita to be. And so I didn't. And then for some reason, and I think it was 2019. Right? In 2019. I decided you know what, I'm just going to submit on my own. I'm not going to go through the company. I'll just do it on my own. No, it's 2018. Anyways, so and it was accepted. It was accepted, like lickety-split, got lots of really positive feedback. So I was stoked. So long story short, if you think that you have a good idea, you think that you're passionate about it, you feel the excitement, ignore the naysayers and do it anyway. So it's been accepted. I'm now in this preparatory circle inside of the company that I'm currently working for. Because when I was accepted, then, of course, I was accepted. So Isn't that funny? anywho. 

 

And I get this email from a woman who is also going to the Grace Hopper. And she sent it out to a bunch of people. And she basically says, Hey, I thought I had a ticket for my daughter. It didn't work out. Does anyone have any leads? Well, I knew some people who were working at AnitaB because I'm super passionate about women in tech. They were either full-time employees, they were volunteering, or they were actually on the content committees. So I reached out, no bones, there was just nothing that they could do through formalized channels. So I wrote back and said, I'm so sorry, you know, I reached out, unfortunately, huge demand, no tickets, whatever. And my colleague writes back to me, she says, this is a crazy idea. But would you be open to having my daughter who at this point in time, I've never spoken to, be your co-speaker? 

 

And I was like, Wait a second. Young. Interested in tech, female? Hell, yes! So I wrote back yeah, let's do it. Let's figure it out. The only thing is that she has to actually be active in the prep as well as on the stage, Is she good with that? Yes, yes. So we get on the phone, you know, I give her a few exercises, it's obvious that she's nervous. We meet in person the first time ever at Grace Hopper in Florida, and she's gonna kill it. I just know, I just know that she's gonna kill it because she's been doing the work, right, we practice a couple of times. And then I kind of drop a bombshell I remember this being a bombshell is, oh, hey, by the way, I thought it would be like 100 people, they actually put us in the biggest room possible. And I'm gonna tell the guard to just let everybody so it's like 500 people.

 

 

We get to this enormous ballroom, there's all of these round tables, we do a practice round, she owns the stage, it's obvious that she's nervous. You know, we're all there celebrating her and supporting her. And the day comes, we do the speech. And girl 16 years old, German native speaker is now presenting a model of individual change and bravery to over 500 attendees of the Grace Hopper celebration, and she kills it. She utterly kills it. Like, she knew what she wanted to say she's standing straight on the stage. She's talking one person to one person, she's just rocking it. It ends. So much clapping so much excitement. And then we both as equals, sit on the edge of the stage and start taking questions and having a conversation. And this huge high as we walked out, and then afterward, tears like I cried,I think Cora, I think you cried because it was just such an incredible relief to have made such a difference. That's how I remember it. 

 

So I had to have Cora as my first guest. Because I don't think, I mean I don't know, because I didn't have that opportunity. But I don't think I would have said yes. I don't think I would have gotten on that stage. I don't think I would have owned it, and certainly not in a second language. So, Cora, you are now at university. You're at a Technical University in Germany. It's been, I think, a year and a half since that happened. So let us first welcome you. And then let's hear your experience how you remember that?

 

Cora;  

So it's my turn, I guess. 

 

Nicole;

Yes, go for it. 

 

Cora;

Okay, so Hello, everybody. And it was quite a big surprise for me, I guess. Because my mom told me this Grace Hopper conference. I knew about that. And I knew about, like, how big it was, how important it was for all the people and how amazing it is. But I've never been there before. So she told me, yeah, you can join me and just take a glimpse at it and meet new people and maybe ask what they did in their career and how they achieve their goals. And I said, Yes, great, great opportunity. I right away, join you. And then she's that, yeah, that but there's this little problem, you need to do, give a little speech as a co-speaker. 

 

And I actually, I've never been on a stage before, and only doing some little presentations in front of my classmates. And it was quite a huge surprise that she suddenly told me Yeah, and by the way, are you willing to do a presentation? Are you willing to give a presentation? And I was like, yeah, if that's the only opportunity to go there. I right away, do it. And, and I was really, really, really nervous. I've never been that nervous before in my life. Because as Nicole said, it's not my native language, my native language is German. And I never gave a speech at all and never gave a speech at all in English. So I did what Nicole told me prepare, prepare, prepare and get ready. So so I just tried it. It just give it a try and do it anyways, I guess that was what you told me. And I just did it that way. And it worked out, finally, I don't know how I know. I don't know why, but it simply worked out. And it was amazing. It was really, really amazing experience.

 

Nicole;  

Oh, my goodness. I'm so glad to hear that you're looking back and saying oh, this was an amazing experience. And your story, just  ah man, you had an opportunity that you quote unquote, “weren't ready for”. And so you took action, and learned and if I remember correctly, you were practicing In the bathroom or something, right, like you were practicing in a totally unexpected place for me. I was like, oh, wow, I'm going to encourage people to do that in the future. I never thought that. 

 

Cora;  

You know, the bathroom is a pretty safe place. Because you're alone. Nobody can see you and you can act in weird ways. It's a good way to practice and don't feel ashamed of what you're talking about.

 

Nicole  

That is so cool. That is so cool. I've never thought about that. For me, it's my bedroom. But I wonder if pre-kids, it would have been the bathroom. For me. That's interesting, because my kids have Oh, locked doors mean nothing. Oh, my goodness. So okay, so Cora, that is so exciting. What, you know, now we're, we're over a year past that experience. What are some of the things that you carried forward, that you learned from it, positive or negative, that you continue to utilize in your life as now a university student?

 

Cora; 

I guess the biggest thing that I learned is that, that anything is possible. If you simply try it. And there's nothing that's, that's too huge for you, that people will tell you, if you can achieve a goal, you will somehow recognize it at some point in time. But if you don't try it, you will never reach any goals or to just do it and see what will happen. I guess that's, that's the thing that I took from it. And I try to apply it in my real life by applying to several things that I personally think would be great to achieve. And if it doesn't work out, it simply doesn't work out. But if it works, it's it's great.

 

Nicole;

 You're touching on something that I call the joy of failure, it doesn't work out. I learned something. Move on. Very, very cool. So would you like to share something that in between Grace Hopper and being on stage speaking in a foreign language at the age of 16, for 500 people? And today, I mean, you've had the wildest end to your quote unquote, "high school", right? And the craziest beginning to your university? Would you be willing to share something that you gave a shot to? That maybe you wouldn't have between these two times?

 

Cora;  

What exactly do you mean, just how I spent the time? 

 

Nicole; 

No, like something that maybe you applied to, that you wouldn't have otherwise, regardless of the outcome, if you got it, or if you didn't get it, but something that you attempted.

 

Cora;  

I actually applied for a scholarship. And I don't have the outcome yet, I simply applied. And in Germany, scholarships, are something really rare. So they really collect their people and only take the people they really want to have. And so it's quite hard to get a scholarship. And you don't get that much money. It's more like we connect people. And we offer people possibilities, like language courses, or different things like where people can visit companies or that things and I applied for such a scholarship. And I see what will happen.

 

Nicole;  

Congratulations. I'm excited. I want to hear about that. Very cool. Thank you. So Cora, one thing, too, as part of this redefinition of brave or away from brave meaning only going to war and crushing the competition and all that silliness. And being way more inclusive of things like applying for a scholarship in Germany, which is a big deal, because University is properly paid, right, properly funded by the society, or standing on stage or asking for what you want, or choosing to be silent when you're supposed to speak up and cover for other people, etc. Who is someone in your life, it doesn't have to be directly in your life like anybody that you look up to that is your role model or a role model of yours for living a brave life.

 

Cora;  

I guess it's hard to choose just one person because there are so many people doing amazing things and making the world a better place by by simply doing what they do. And I can't decide on one role model. We had a couple of people in our past, especially in Germany during the past I guess most of you will know about the German past. There are so many people who stood up and, and gave up their life just to save other people's lives. And, there are so many people, you can just say I have one role model, I guess. It's, it's a combination of different things. And I really look up to many people who simply do what they love, and what they like, and doing a step forward, and somehow never looking back. And I guess there really, there are many people in our world who live like that, and who make a difference.

 

Nicole;  

I love that answer. Because it's both, you know, it's generational, generational answer. And also, and this is one of the huge benefits of having global relationships of, you know, looking past our navel or tummy. And really looking out into the bigger world is that we get exposed to stories and to role models that we wouldn't see in our every day. So would you mind Cora, sharing just a couple of names that come into mind, so that people can go and learn a lot more about that if they wish to, that others just won't know about right. So let me give you a concrete example, as you play around with that. So I have an article, I was interviewed by authority magazine, and then that interview was also published on Thrive Global. And one of the questions was, if you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be? Alright. 

 

Cora;  

Oh, that's, that's interesting one.

 

Nicole;  

Isn't it?Yeah. And I said, Oh, hands down. Angela Merkel, hands down. And the interviewer was so like, What? What, wait, wait, wait, what. Why? And for me, having lived in Germany for 13 years, and still, you know, married to a German, I get most of my news from German sources, because it's just way more factual. In my experience. For me she's like an omnipresent figure, of course, you know, like, I don't agree with everything. I'm not stoked about everything. And she was born into what we in English call East Germany, experienced the wall falling, decided to go into politics, and actually became the Chancellor of Germany, and has faced some really, really wild, unique times, and main choices that for her, were a direct reflection of her human and her party's proclaimed value. So very concretely, you know, like it don't like it, Germany embraced over 2 million refugees in one year. And the way that that choice was made, she was very, very clear about at the time, and continuing to be clear about was a reflection of the Christian democratic values and her experience as a quote unquote, "refugee" from East Germany to West Germany, because East Germany didn't really exist anymore. And that, to me, is bold, brave leadership, and not consequence-free because right, like, wow, y'all can go back and look at how that all was experienced at the time and how it's impacted Germany now. But that's an example and and the interviewer was so shocked, because he had never been exposed to that entire story. He'd only been exposed to it through North American media, which tells a very, very different story. So Cora, would you mind sharing with us a few of those role models names, you don't have to share much about their story?

 

Cora;  

I guess a person that had to come back to your question that you answered with Angela Merkel, I guess a person that I like to meet is Michelle Obama, because I guess she knows so much about life and about the most powerful people in our world. And I guess she knows how to deal with that and how to find your place in the world and and how to, don't let people, I don't know how to say it properly. She She knows how to behave in difficult situations. And I guess that would be quite interesting to take a look at her experiences and learn from that, because I think she's seen a lot. And I too like to, I really look up to Angela Merkel. Because, as you said she achieved so much. And she always stood up for her opinion. And she, she never does anything that that's doesn't make sense. Like, she always wants the best for the people. She simply does it. Especially, we have now had a couple of people who voted for Alternative for Deutschland. And they have kind of, I say in nice words, different opinions on certain topics. And she has found her way to deal with that. And that's what I admire about her.

 

Nicole;  

I agree with you for alternative for Deutschland. And I am not going to be as polite I'm going to say these are people who have their voting campaign was literally Germany for Germans and having been a non-German, paying a lot of taxes, raising my children, volunteering and helping to make Germany even better place because it is already great, but even better. That was crap. I mean, that was xenophobia, hatred, etc. So and, and yet, you know, insecurities and lack of self-awareness and a lack of reading and thinking about the implications of this, people voted. People that I worked with daily voted for the what's called the AfD, the AfD. And what's so much impressed me and I love that you bring Michelle Obama and Merkel into this, because they were both part of this conversation in different, very different ways. And very different cultures is still saying that's unacceptable, that your value is a value that is unacceptable, right? Xenophobia, racism, hatred is unacceptable. And here, you are duly elected, we need to find a way to continue to work forward, but not compromise down to your level, you need to figure out a way to come to be a part of this whole table here space, figure out a way to be there, right, we're not changing tables. And that is a level of maturity that I have yet to reach. I'm like, take your hatred and go home. But I love that you brought those two examples to the table. Thank you so much, because it just bring so much forward. So hey, question, having shared these stories, right, these moments of standing on a stage, but also the entire process you've gone through and applying for this very prestigious scholarship? How do you experience bravery. So you know, for me, it's like, this foundational weight at the bottom of my spine, so that I can lean forward for other people, they say things like, Oh, I just get so excited, or my heart starts to sound like how do you experience that Cora?

 

Cora;  

Okay, the good thing about it is that people don't see if I'm nervous, they maybe hear it in my voice, if they know me well, or if people are trained to see it. But I can hide it pretty well, but the only thing that happens is that my legs really start shaking. If I'm doing something brave, and I'm nervous about it, if it will have a good outcome. So my legs start shaking. And I, an example is I had to give a speech at, we got our grades at the end of the final exams in high school. That's what we call Gymnasium in Germany. And I had to give a speech, and I was standing there. And suddenly my legs started shaking because I had to write my own speech, and just wanted people to feel my speech and to be excited about it. And I didn't want anyone to just start sleeping. So I was really nervous and excited. And at some point, I had to grab a hold onto the table in front of me because my legs started shaking so much. And that's where I feel bravery. When when my body simply start shaking, and I can't do anything about it, but that's exactly the point where I'm about to do something that brings me a step forward. So although I hate those situations, kind of hate those situations. And yeah, I can't control anything. It's exactly those situations. That good and useful. 

 

Nicole;

Oh my goodness. I love that story. Yes, the legs shaking and the heart beating. like grabbing onto something for, for some external stability for the internal economy that is.. oh.

 

Cora;  

Actually, no one saw that really no one recognize it? Yes.

 

Nicole; 

And they were all like Cora. She is so cool.

 

Cora; 

Yeah. But I was so nervous.

 

Nicole;  

Beautiful, beautiful. Oh, thank you for sharing that story. So I'm going to ask two more questions. The first question is, what piece of advice do you have for people to step into their own moments of bravery.

 

Cora;  

I guess bravery for every person is something different. So you can't tell anybody do this or do that it's, you have to find a goal that you think you can reach that somehow in your range, I wouldn't set, my goal couldn't be I want to be President of the United States, because I'm not a US citizen. So that's the wrong goal. But the goal could be for someone stop smoking, it could be anything, get rid of bad habits, or apply for something, for job you think you will never get, it's in your field of work or some point you have a chance to get it and simply do it. Because although the chances might be really bad at you get actually achieve this goal. Yes, it's never zero. So just do it and find people who support you. I guess that's something something important too. Because if you're alone, and you don't tell anybody about what you're going to do, you're very, I don't know how to say how to put it into words. And you can give up easily and say, Okay, I reached a point where I don't want to go on. So So find somebody, tell him, tell him or her about about your goal and ask to support you, or find somebody who supports you. Because then there's no chance to give up and have a fixed date, or have timeline or something like that. I had to, when we go back to Grace Hopper, I had a day where I had to deliver. And I had to do something changed something, learn something to this date. And if I didn't do that, well, it would have gotten really bad. And so so I had to change something, I had to be brave. And I guess that's something that helps me. It might not to work for everybody, but it's something that really helps me.

 

Nicole; 

That was beautiful. And for the listeners who are familiar with my build your brave framework, you heard Cora naturally move through all of those parts. For the listeners that aren't head on back, listen to the overview. Episode, it is the first episode. Cora that was beautiful. The very last question I have for you is how can people continue to stay in touch with you? How can they watch your adventures? I know we're connected on LinkedIn as an example,which is so cool. How can people stay in touch?

 

Cora; 

That's a good question. LinkedIn is a really really nice thing to use if you want to stay in touch. 

 

Nicole; 

Awesome. So follow and connect with Cora on LinkedIn. And Cora, I am so grateful for you and being my first partner in this journey towards how to build your brave and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your journey and I am stoked to continue to be that because you and I are connected for forever. 

 

Thanks again for listening today. If you are ready to build your brave for more money, deeper relationships and more opportunities in your life. Reach out to me, Nicole Trick Steinbach, I would love to help you. And please remember to rate and review this celebrate brave podcast so that more people can support our movement to redefine brave, how we define it, live it and celebrate it.

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