Voices of Athena with Priscilla Brenenstuhl

Spirit of Rebellion with Nadia Hansen

Is it rebellious or resilient to challenge the norm? Perhaps it depends on what side of the story you are on. We’ll let you decide for yourself as we hear from Digital Transformation Executive, Nadia Hansen, who has a long history of rebellion and an even longer family legacy of resilience.

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Voices of Athena

Sit down with the highly accomplished members of Athena Alliance, an executive learning community for women leaders, to hear the personal tales behind their professional success. We learn the real story behind their inspiring executive careers — their fears, their failures, and what song they’re singing at karaoke. You don’t get to the top without creating some memorable stories along the way.

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Spirit of Rebellion with Nadia Hansen

Nadia: The foundation is like just pushing yourself to your fullest potential. And I feel like that resilience, and that courage really came from just watching my mother at a, you know, at a scale that she started a successful business from scratch and learned that it was okay to be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Welcome to Voices of Athena, a podcast highlighting the personal side of the successful women that make up the Athena Alliance, a learning community for executive women. I’m your host, Priscilla Brenenstuhl, and today we continue on our rebellious theme with Digital Transformation Executive, Nadia Hansen, who as you’ll hear later, ran away from home at the age of 6..like took a bus and was gone overnight..but as it turns out, going against the grain is part of her roots

Nadia Hansen
How are you? I’m on my phone by the way you look so beautiful.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 0:16
I really? Yeah, baby and all kinds of things that have happened.

Nadia Hansen 0:24
I I know how long have you been?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 0:28
Teacher nine months yesterday?

Nadia Hansen 0:30
Oh my god has been so long the last time I saw you were pregnant. has been that long.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 0:36
It’s kind of wild. It’s like the before Christ and after Christ or something

Nadia Hansen 4:04
Yeah, absolutely. I’m so excited to do this with you. Thank you. I’m excited.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
With that, I’m gonna start by asking how would you introduce yourself?

Nadia Hansen 5:36
So I’ll probably start with like my current role and what I do and then I don’t know if you want to do all like professional stuff, but like, we could leave the professional out and be like, Hey, I’m just like a fun lover and I like to do things that make me happy. Like that’s my that would be my personal introduction.

I’m okay perfect, perfect. This is not like professionally. What the heck do I do? Who cares about that?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 6:02
No, it’s just how would I introduce myself and that’s really where the spirit of so much of this is coming from is like, yeah, you’ve got impressive titles and impressive experience and like under all of that there’s more. There’s a person, a fun loving person. So I love that and I feel that vibe from you. 100%
Priscilla Brenenstuhl 6:59
Who or what inspires you and why?

Nadia Hansen 7:19
So I’ll give you a little bit of history before we get started very quickly. But I was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. And I emigrated to the US around 20 years ago. And my father was a Pakistani descent and my mother is Iraqi. It’s a very multicultural family. And he passed away when I was two years old, so I never really got to have a father figure. And my mother has always been such a strong matriarch and patriarch of the family. And so I grew up in this really weird, multilingual, non traditional household where my mother was the primary breadwinner in a very subservient male dominated culture. And so she’s my primary inspiration because she grew I mean, I have three other siblings, so she, she helped raise four of us in a very, very difficult environment. Where you know, it’s it’s you grew up in a country that’s so marvelously beautiful, and there’s immense talent and but, you know, my, my humble beginnings in Potsdam could have preordained a very different life if it wasn’t for her. So I really look up to her and just kind of she’s the the North Star that guides really all of us towards you. Know, being resilient and having courage and serving others and having that sense of fulfillment, you know, throughout the course of your personal and your professional life. And I will share a very, very quick story. So, you know, I emigrated to the US about 20 years ago to redefine a completely different destinies for myself. And just when I was starting undergrad school, I was going to University of Nevada, Las Vegas to do my computer science degree. And I heard the story of an Aslan girl. Her name was Azada Han I still remember her name. And she masked herself as a boy for 12 years, just so she could be allowed to attend school, when girls are prohibited by law to get an education under the eye of the Taliban. And honestly, that story has really, to this day really moved me and inspired me to pursue a career in computer programming, you know, in technology where women are often underrepresented. I mean, I could have been hurt, you know, and my daughters could have been hurt. And so I really kind of go back and think about you know, we’re so blessed to be able to lead a life and to inspire others and really promote and uplift other not just women, but just anybody who wants to start their journey in tech. And especially that starts in like early in high school. So my mother did that for me, and I’m so grateful for that.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 10:10
Wow. Excuse me why process. Wow. I mean, you said so much. And it’s huge. And it’s like, all of these small steps that she did, right? It’s so it makes me think of a lot of things It makes me think of my mother. You know, how how my little trembling triumphs of you know, in the face of my own tradition and background, like for my family was, you know, wearing full point clothes and not my hair. Do you know what I mean? Like this kind of have like, of owning who I was and owning what femininity and feminism meant. It wasn’t that I was like denouncing being a man. But that was like my big crossed to bear the way that I felt as a young child. And I guess where I’m going with that, is that these onion layers, like I said, like these women literally lifted us up so that we can even get to a place where we see a perspective like that as opposed to like having to dress like a boy to even be represented at all. Now we have like forms of expression, like dressing like a boy because we can or we want to or because like what is what I dress like anyway and how we all know that like this, this? I don’t like this mountain of women. I don’t know. That’s right. You know, just that the idea who climbed up before us? Who went the path? Less Traveled? And that is so inspiring.

Nadia Hansen 12:20
You know, I truly feel that there’s guiding principles are instilled in you from your childhood. You know, you see your parents, you see others and that kind of develops as you grow. And then that becomes like your foundational sort of leadership style of life, right? Like how you operate, how you look at things. And really, I think part of the scene My mother raised us and she worked so hard, and she pushed herself to the fullest potential and I think I feel like that was instilled in me and I really tried to do that with now pass it on to my children. And when I go speak in high school, and you know, just just talk to others about it. I feel like that’s that mindset, that it requires tenacity. And like, I think one of my one of my favorite quotes is, understand that the harder you work, the more luck you will have. Right? So there’s no substitution for hard work. And sometimes we forget that because we see all these titles and we see all these amazing people in the world out there just like killing it, right? You’re like, oh my gosh, how can I do that? Why, how did they get there? It’s like yeah, but it’s like the foundation is like just pushing yourself to your fullest potential. And I feel like that resilience, and that courage really came from just watching my mother at a, you know, at a scale that she started a successful business from scratch and learned that it was okay to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. And you know, immigrating to another country and blending into a new culture and you know, working your way up I think it’s just it’s just one of those foundational principles in life that you know, I you get to see from, I feel like you get to see that a lot from immigrant families, especially because they’re really trying to blend in different cultures and all of that.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 14:08
I am so inspired by immigrants and immigration. I mean, I’m living in Cape Town right now. So like, I’m technically an immigrant trying to bring my family together that you know, my Nigerian partner and our kids born here, but it’s, it’s it’s hard for me to even own that story in some ways, because it’s like, I’m just like a person like, like trying to like use that to live to my fullest potential. And what you said is so important because, like the hard work, but it’s not maybe hard is the hard work isn’t hard as I as I was raised to think for as I grew up thinking like working hard has shifted to a mentality. It’s more than just like a wake it up and I grind like every day which is why I upgraded hardware to growing up. And then as I started getting older, the shift happened. It was like, I aspire to push myself. I aspire to lean into my fears. And that’s actually like really hard work. Yeah, and then I can lean into those things. And and know that that kind of work is relevant to and that that will lead me to success. And upgrading that to like natural struggle of immigrants. For everything, it was like there are all types of immigration stories rights but the idea that you have to work harder to be accepted to get a job and that’s pretty universal. Yeah,

Nadia Hansen 16:21
I mean, it’s about overcoming that self doubt. You know, you always kind of have that in the back of your mind. It’s like, Well, what did what they understand my accent, you know, how do I, you know, how do I have to make certain decisions based on nuances and culture, the other completely, you know, new territory. So, there’s all of these things that kind of come into play, but that really helps you grow as a person to like you just feel sometimes like you know, and maybe that’s a maybe that’s the thing that we live with. I call it like the Superwoman complex as women we want to be like these amazing, super, we want to be the best mother, the best white, you want to be the best daughter, whatever that might be. You want to be the best at everything that we do. Sometimes we’re so busy catering to others that we kind of just forget about ourselves, and then we have the self doubt. So it’s it’s really important to remember, like, we’re here for a reason and you belong. It’s okay. You’re just gonna learn you’re gonna grow yes

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 17:25
Yes, Nadia, you belong and I think that applies to everyone, disassociation right now, I think, you know, evidence and the rates of depression and stress and you know, even like I said, that only because we come from a nomadic society. Do not refer time. Like it’s like seasons in nature. Like when Can anyone ever be illegal like if that makes sense, and have to earn their place? Like, are the birds contemplating whether or not they deserve to be here. I like it, you know, it really delve into existence. We really are really vying for a place of belonging and the idea that you’re enough without
doing something miraculous, or you know, even doing lots of things that aren’t miraculous doing just being busy, you know, not resting like those, those that that mentality of earning, making a living, right, like making a living, I have to earn a living. You know, I mean, I feel like that’s actually quite a novel thing, quite a novel concept for for humans to have disassociated from from you know, oh, I have to grow food so I can eat right? I mean, there’s why happened but now it’s a little bit further from from when I really went out there on a tangent and I love that and

Nadia Hansen 19:33
I like tangents

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 19:34
show. But in that I am dying to know what’s on your karaoke.

Nadia Hansen 19:51
terrible singer, terrible singer like I cannot. For the life of me. I am extremely bad at remembering lyrics and titles. But there’s this one song that stuck in my head and it looked it up. I looked it up I recall it’s called heatwave like glass animals which nobody’s heard of ever. It is amazing. Like, sometimes I’ll have a think about you. Late nights in the middle of the heat waves been taking me oh my god, my kids will hate music such a pop millennial kitty song and I’m obsessed with it. It’s so good. I’m gonna have to share it with you.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 20:28
I feel like I know it. I

Nadia Hansen 20:31
You must know it’s playing on the radio all the freaking time and it’s so good. The beat is amazing.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 20:37
Oh my gosh, I was really inspired by you and actually like you’re like I don’t and then you so thank you and also I think you did really good and I was like I at least know like she you know that. You’re not tone deaf because I wasn’t sure I knew the song and then you start singing I’m like, no. That’s somewhere in my memories. And somewhere in my mind. I knew what you were singing and I promise you I’m going to look it up after this call and dance it out.
Priscilla
What is your biggest fear?

Nadia Hansen 21:15
nothing inspires me more than the fear of not making an impact. So I truly feel and I you see it all around with stuff that’s happening around the globe. You know, there’s a pandemic and then we have Ukraine and we have all this stuff that’s happening around us and we only have so much time on this earth and life is so precious. And I really feel that we are all put on earth for a purpose. We all have a reason. And so my biggest fear is really not being able to maximize why I am here. And I’ve always been attracted to roles in life, where I can make the greatest impact on the largest number of people. And, you know, I truly feel that every day before I go to bed. I always think like, Okay, did I make someone’s life 1% better, like 1% is my minimum number. Like, did I make someone’s life better? Did I contribute to something in someone’s life where I either help them or you know, whether it’s helped them grow or help them with something in their career or life or personal or with my own kids like it’s just, I feel like that’s my biggest I guess determining factor of whether I am successful or not. And I think it’s really kind of serving and giving back to others and I feel like that’s where I get my full sense of fulfillment and I feel very unfulfilled when I’m unable to meet that that’s my own bar for

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 22:48
myself. I’m interested. So when you have that 1% Well, you’re like, we just fit. I mean, 1% a day and think about all the days when you lay down and you have that 1% Is that fulfilled?

Nadia Hansen 23:15
I would say it is fulfilling to some degree but I feel like there will always be one of those things where I’m striving to go after. Right I think one of the one of the things that not to bring it back to the immigrant story, but I feel like when you are raised in poverty and you don’t have any worries when you’re striving to get to that next level and you’re really trying to see what are the maximum opportunities and I feel like it’s not just with me, but 1000s and millions of others who are going through the same things like how can I make a make an impact on somebody’s life? And I feel like I don’t know if I’ll ever like meet that bar but that’s the whole goal. Like it’s a continuous improvement over time. You know, we will and I think it nice like yeah, I don’t I don’t think I ever meet the 1% but it’s this that attainment of it’s like that’s where we need to be. And I think having that feeling is is important, I guess for my own self growth, but also just for others too.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 24:19
It sounds like a fear that is in service to you. That kind of, yeah, that desire and it kind of keeps you going and keeps you motivated. It’s you feeling like you belong and it’s such a powerful thing when we can acknowledge that our fear does serve us and, and lean into it.

Nadia Hansen 24:49
Yeah, and it helps us stay motivated. I mean, that’s why I’ve been in public service for so long, you know, I mean, that’s the most of my career and honestly, I always thought it was about chasing titles and it was chasing like, you know, what’s the highest roll and getting in the csuite blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, what are all of these things that you’re just in life where you know, you you’re rewarded and surrounded by really can’t that’s probably what I’m looking for, but honestly, what it really came down to like, what makes me happy? And what, what makes you feel fulfilled in life where you’re filling your purpose, and I think that’s finding that I feel like the true north star and that takes a very long time to find and I eventually found it and I was like, That’s it. That’s where I want to be I want to be in service to others,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 25:35
which takes us back to your mother to the source that I remember saying about her that she lived a life and service to others. And so it’s so interesting right how we kind of maybe we don’t see our North Star or we fight or north star as we’re being drawn to it. And step into that and understand where we came from and how simple it can be. I mean, you know you think you want to do this. You look outwardly for all of these accomplishments and then realize mom was right like it’s really fulfilling to be in service to other people.

Nadia Hansen 26:21
That’s right. That’s right. And I would say it this day.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Nadia currently serves as a Digital Transformation Executive for Salesforce with focus on helping State and Local governments reimagine services & transform citizen and employee experiences. Prior to that, she was Chief Information Officer for Clark County, the 11th largest County in the nation, where she spearheaded digitization for an $8B public sector enterprise delivering mission-critical services for the organization.

Priscilla
What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

Nadia
This was a tough one. Because I I kind of consider myself a little bit crazy, but in a good way I think that’s at least in my head. I don’t know, maybe we could ask others about that opinion. But when I was six years old, I actually ran away from home. And this was back home and toxin and you know, like I already mentioned the culture you can just run away and be felt like I don’t know what I decided to do that I ran away from school. And I ran away to this girl’s house. I didn’t even know she was in a different grade than me. I decided what a great idea would it be? It wasn’t the end of school. I she was going in her school bus which we had like 15 different school buses. And I was so young I decided to just jump on the bus litter and I applied to when they were like, you know, taking attendance of who’s on the bus and who’s not I lied. I was like, Oh yeah, I’m brand new to the school. And I was six years old at the time. Can you imagine like a little kid just saying, Oh yeah, I belong in this little class right and I’m so here I am sitting on there and get dropped off girls house well, I know nothing about Super devious. I know very devious and naughty. Maybe. And so am I

Priscilla
Or fun loving

Nadia
That’s right. I mean, I do I like I’m adventurous like, you know I feel like life is just a big adventure. And the more you’re open to it, this life isn’t a thing. So things that you just gotta be able to take it and be like, Okay, this is my situation. Now how am I going to handle it? And anyway, so long story short, I think that was the most daring I remember I was gone. For 24 hours by the way. And my Yeah,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 28:16
You were gone for 24 hours! I have a 6 year old I’m thinking all these things about him andlike and how he just started becoming devious for the first time but also fun loving and also smart and like I’m encouraging and I don’t want to put a bad cuz it’s like, but oh my god 24 hours your poor mother.

Nadia Hansen 28:33
You believe that? I can’t even imagine for my kids. I would just lose it completely right? And I remember thinking you’re in this country where you know this kids get it’s a sad situation so you don’t you know and so I can’t even imagine what my mother went through. But, you know, obviously they contacted police and they call all the friends and of course, I was rebellious. I picked a friend that nobody knew. And then I just randomly reappeared like they found me I don’t even know how they found me. But they call so many people in the entire school and the entire school calls like every single parent that was part of it. Eventually they found me and I remember the look of death on my mom’s face. I will never forget it in my entire life. And I thought wow, this was supposed to be like a fun little experiment, but look how many people I heard along the way. And I thought that to this day, my mother brings it up saying oh my gosh, kids don’t ever do what your mother did.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 29:33
You better believe she still brings it up, to this day she still wakes in the middle of the night in panic

Nadia Hansen 29:39
every Christmas. Every holiday everything giving you will do as it comes up.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 29:47
That’s huge. I mean, we’re I mean, I Okay, I need to know more. So it sounds like we’re running away. You said that? Because it was it felt like an adventure was there was there more to the story like why?

Nadia Hansen 0:12
I think our lives are way bigger than, you know cooking for someone I don’t know why can we hire somebody to do that? It was that that weird little, you know, rebellious at that time everybody just called me like rebellious but I honestly feel it really came from the sense of being independent. And you know, and I feel like that translated even though my mom doesn’t recognize it, or my family doesn’t, but they were all kind of like we’re all wanting to strive for change. Right? It really came down to like, we want it to have an impact and a different way to say, you know, let’s go against the grain like why should things be the way they are? And I think we do question that a lot. So it really comes down to those roots. As to why is it okay to do things a certain way? Like, why?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 1:03
At the risk of sounding like a broken record. It’s like, it’s interesting. If you mirrored your mother because, you know to be rebellious. It’s stepping outside of your norms, you know, and so you had to do that in your own way, as well. It looks like completely different because as an immigrant, she probably had to stay more in line than she even wanted to and because of the culture and background she had her you know, she had kind of standing out thrust upon her if that makes sense and you, you were standing out on your own like in your own terms. I love that. So I can just make sure you can contribute. We would have been friends. We would have been friends. I mean, we are I mean, yeah,

Nadia Hansen 2:15
I feel you I know because I, you know, we’ve chatted before too, and I was like you’re my soul sister just in a different country. Like you know what I mean? Like if we were together, we would call them I call it trouble. That’s actually

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 2:27
that’s exactly it. I just love your I love this spiciness. And I love this spirit. And I love that there’s, you know, there’s more to life than this. And I love that it’s in your it’s in your room, and that it just permeates out of you. It’s like your perfume

Priscilla
If not your current profession, what would you be doing?

Nadia Hansen 3:01
Oh, ah, this is my favorite question. So I I love hiking. I love outdoors. I love nature. I love photography. And I went on this I started it about five years ago. Or so I went on this journey where I decided I want to hike. And I don’t know why I picked this number. I decided I wanted to hike in 52 countries by the time I’m 52 years old. And yes, I this is like one of those crazy goals in life. I know. I’m at 24 countries right now. Yes, I’m in 24 country right now. And really like that’s what drives and motivates me. It’s like yes, you know, you you work for a living. You do things that make you happy but at the end of the day like what is it that you want to accomplish personally, and for me, I love I love to hike and just go out to nature and photograph the beauty of this world. I even have my own Instagram little self page that I set up with all my photography. So if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now I would beg National Geographics to take me as one of their photographers and then become a photographer for like go to Antarctica or some like continent where it’s not been photographed yet or you know, just as be on this adventure spree with them. I feel like that’s my calling. And at some point I will go and work for nothing for them. They would take me I could do that for a living.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 4:34
I have literally had that vision. So many. And that thought, right how does that thought and I’m like people spend their lives doing this. There are people who spend their lives just like working for National Geographic, like exploring like uncharted territories and traveling and like eating like food from around the world. And yeah, amazing. That must be and I’m always photographing times in my mind that I think are very peculiar and like imagining them on the cover of National Geographic.

Nadia Hansen 5:08
This is totally me too. And I’m all about walking the city. So I’ve been to I’ve been to South Africa. I’ve been to Cape Town. I’ve been to Durban. I mean, I’ve been to all of these places Everybody wants to show you around like you know everybody’s just like oh my god like I’ve pride of ownership. Right? This is why I live let me show you right and it’s just it’s that feeling of getting to know people and finding out how close you are. How grounded you are to the earth right. It’s like it’s a completely different feeling are

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 6:01
no more going back to that.

Nadia Hansen 6:03
That’s right. That’s right. Like

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 6:08
I mean, flooring can just mean like from a strange, different place or like, not something familiar, you know, but I’m really trying to tap into that idea of, you know, this idea of immigrant or alien concepts like what I did we even are all the same. And even, you know, we think we’re different if you sit down in front of each other long enough, you’ll realize that you’ve come up with different defenses or mechanisms or way of sneaking in your life out of necessity that has framed you perception into believing are different. But when you get past all the jargon you realize that that’s all it was. It’s jargon, right? It’s like suited for your time and space and where you are. And if you drop that, you’re really just looking at like another you

Nadia Hansen 7:06
right? I really think like what separates somehow either politics or geography, or language or culture, and I think that’s kind of about it. But at the end of the day, you’re, you know if you can get through all of those four and you’re together, it’s like, That’s dumb. So what’s your community, no matter where you go?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 7:37
I agree. Like, what separates us? Like geography really crossing the miles right now. And right? Politics a lot of times, like, on TV, when I start, so So this is just a different depending on who I’m talking to, because sometimes it’s like Yeah, somebody who understands, and lately speaks about the policy different than I do, or has a different idea of what policies should look like. And are, you know, so there’s no conversation that’s going to happen, but usually if I find that there’s somebody who we we seem to have a very differing opinion about our policy, I’ll just say that as opposed to politics overall. Again, if we started talking about it, I like I guess another example is religion, like I call it you call God one name or another, start talking about what the fundamental values are. It boils down to the same thing usually, like we all want a sense of freedom. We all want a sense that we can do better for ourselves, you know, we all want certain undeniable like, this concept that politics separates us, it usually does but I think

Priscilla Events 9:16
it rises up more than it should lead us into the conversation experiences kind of muddled. Anyway, I want to save enough time for for this next piece. Keep going on forever with you about all of these things, and I imagine it’d be like, with like a little crackling fire and it’s like, yeah, yeah, and we’d like to just type in and we’re like, talking about life and like, we have the cameras set to take over the whole night so it can be in a time lapse video that we can watch later and see our crap oh

Nadia Hansen 10:07
my god, that’s like my dream trip. That’s like, let’s make it happen. My dream trip

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 10:14
Yes, and to dive deeper into these conversations
Please tell me about a life changing moment.

Nadia Hansen 10:31
First one for me. I don’t I don’t share this broadly, but I decided to do that. hoping that it would help someone else out too. So when I moved to the US, actually didn’t intend to move. My family and I we were in Pakistan, it was summer of about 99. We were forced to flee from Pakistan ton of violence, political instability, it had always been accepted as the backdrop of everyday life that I grew up in. And so, you know, my mom being a very skilled entrepreneur, despite all the cultural challenges with a very male dominated society, she had managed to build a very thriving apparel manufacturing business from scratch. All that was amazing, but the success of my mother’s business, you know, also attracted the attention of a criminal gang who considered us as an easy target. And so yeah, it’s extortion and increasing sets of violence and even an unsuccessful thank God assassination attempt on my family and my brother’s life. So to preserve the family safety, you know, we we uprooted and really left everything behind. For the shelter of a better life in the US. And so my mother and I traversed the globe on this euro long journey. I mean, we went and we lived in London for a while we lived in we lived in Dubai for a while and we eventually arrived in the US and you know, even though it’s probably one of the most traumatic episodes of my life, and really proved to be the best thing that could have happened to me, personally and professionally, you know, I’m a, I’m a naturalized citizen, as in the US now and I’m very keenly aware of all the opportunities that are available to me. And now my children, right, so my children will never know. And don’t need to know the challenges and hardships that I grew up with. Right. So I’m very abundantly grateful to be the first generation in my family to pursue an education like I had a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I got my master’s degree at UCLA from one of the most prestigious schools in the country. You know, I always look back and think you know what I would How would things have turned out if it wasn’t for that traumatic episode, where you have to flee the country, you come to the you know, you move to a different country with $200, right? And it’s one of those like, I don’t call it rags to riches. It’s the other way around. It’s riches to rags stories. Right? Where you just completely leave everything behind. And now you’re just like out there in the world trying to figure out okay, where do I go just to be safe? And that that feeling of safety and I feel so blessed. I mean, every day I tell my kids, I’m like, hey, you know, we have the freedom of speech. We have the freedom to do what we want, you can be whoever you want to be. And it’s so hard to explain that some, like you don’t understand how the rest of the world lives. I mean, look at the atrocities that are happening just around us, you know, in the globe, and we’re just so fortunate to be in a place where we can be saved and I feel like safety is like the number one thing in this world that you you can’t take for granted. And one of my, and I’ll close this was one of my favorite quotes and I have this like a sticky in my office. You know, things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. Right. So I think you really have to, like have that mindset in life where things happen, like there’s, you know, personal things happen to people where you are forced to just figure out your circumstances based on your situation. And I think that sometimes just things happen for a reason. I’m a firm believer that you how do you take it and you make the best out of it?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 14:54
And then when you’re able to turn it around, how do you be in service to other people or trying That’s right. That’s right. And how do you how do you remember right? Because even like you’re saying with your kids, like, they don’t know, and I keep going back but I love the thing about stories for me it’s like these themes and getting to know the person in this like thematic way. This vein that courses through their life and their decisions and the way that they speak. And for you, it’s again, this theme that we started with with the mother and the onion in the layers, right? Like you know, I don’t want my kids to know that struggle. You’re yeah and and, and that. That privilege of them not having to know that struggle and they and it’s hard for them in there not knowing it’s hard for them to even identify how fortunate they are right? It’s easy to, to to forget how far we’ve come once we’ve gotten somewhere. It’s that quest to yearn for more and keep wanting to go further and it’s in their roots. It’s part of their DNA. And it’s, it’s something that you you I want to I want to really get the point across eloquently. You know, it’s you don’t want them to know, but they can’t help but know, but they know it in a way from from victory. They know it from the side of victory, you know, the memories and the traumas and the struggle I mean, they say that you know even when the your grandma right had had something happened to her while your mother was in her womb it got etched in your DNA because the eggs were already there and just how she watched you live and grow up so it is there you can’t you know that experience is there that generational trauma that nervous system all of those things were affected in there and they are there and and what they do is they keep trudging along for even more victory. Even more opportunity.

Nadia Hansen 17:23
You put it beautifully, Priscilla.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 17:28
I wasn’t sure if I was going to get that out right.

I won’t keep going because I’m like I hope I do. I’m doing this how I feel it because I just it’s just so
inspiring. And the thing that you said about you know rags to riches and riches to rags and how I said that there’s you know, different immigration stories and I feel like they often get, like lumped into one immigration story by media sometimes and mainstream at least, where you said this wasn’t you know, Rags to Riches this was riches to rags and that’s a lot of people. I mean, that’s, you know, of course, your experience is unique, but you’re not the only one and your family wasn’t the only one and, you know, mainstream media would have you thinking that everyone’s just coming to take and it’s like, this idea of safety is so real that people leave behind you know, their success and our life’s work. And that just how it’s a whole different type of trauma and it’s a whole different type of unsettling.

Nadia Hansen 18:40
Yeah. It is. It is and I think people you know, people leave their situation, whatever situation might be in for different reasons. But you know, at the at the end of it. I feel like there’s a bigger power around us. And I always believe in the power of positivity. It’s like, you know what, somebody has this mapped out for me. Right, like, I think I just need to do what is this the best I can do today? Like and I always tell my kids don’t like did you give it your best? If you gave it your best shot, everything else will fall into place. That’s the best you can do.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 19:23
Yeah, because why else would it why else try

Nadia Hansen 19:26
like right right?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 19:29
If there’s not celebration somewhere, even if it’s not here, but I helped, like bring it about in some way. If there’s not love somewhere, if there’s not hope somewhere if there’s not a piece somewhere. If there’s not safety somewhere, then like why bother with anything? Like we have to have hope for all of those things because those are the very things that inspire us. To strive for, for for greater and to to want to be of service and to want to belong.

Because it feels so good when you do and it doesn’t come down when you don’t

Nadia Hansen 20:15
I mean, and I think as we like grow older to like get to realize that more and more technologists it’s not about me anymore. This is about others. And this is about how you leave your legacy behind or even if you help one person become successful, whatever success might mean to them. Right. I feel like that’s your purpose.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 20:35
Well, and it’s how you share and it’s the ability to mirror and to understand that the other person is you. So that’s right. It’s like this understand there’s an interconnectedness. So yeah, it’s not about you, because there is no separation. You’re not an island. You weren’t brought in as an island. You went out as an island, you know, there’s a whole bunch of communities and people that helped you that loves you that inspired you that drove you crazy, that got you to where you are, there’s really no, there’s no separation.

Priscilla Events 21:17
What a beautiful conversation. We’ve had Nadia,

Nadia
I know let’s go to Kilimanjaro after this.

Priscilla
We’re calling us word Kilimanjaro it’s like you like is that a real? I feel like that’s a battle cry. But like, you know, like Kilimanjaro, like to the top of the mountain.

Nadia Hansen 21:43
I bet. You say Everest or Kilimanjaro? Doesn’t that make you feel like? Yeah, that’s the mountain to climb. Like, I don’t know.

Priscilla
we’re running out of time and I do want to ask if there’s anything else that you would like to share or say,

Nadia Hansen 22:42
I am. I am so honored that I am part of your, of your Athena radio. And thank you for having me. And this is such a pleasure and I love hearing the stories of others too. It’s just I think if there’s one takeaway from this is like you know, know that when you analyze yourself, it’s crucial for improvement and so life is all about just getting better and improving yourself. 1% a day.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 23:16
1% a day. I’m probably going to be thinking about that as I go to sleep and it feels attainable for me, Nadia. Thank you. It feels really. I like it. I like an actual takeaway.

Nadia Hansen 23:33
Because people always I can’t do 10,000 things in a day or you put all of these 45 goals that seem very hard and unachievable like let’s just boil it down to like one thing. There’s one thing you could do today
Priscilla Brenenstuhl 23:47
I feel like hiking wisdom coming in? calm in general, but once you get to Kilimanjaro, once you get there, you’re like, Okay, it’s one foot in front of the other.

Nadia Hansen 24:00
That’s right, that’s exactly like down.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 24:05
And if you’re able to slow it way down, the whole journey changes.

Nadia Hansen 24:13
It really does and you really get to enjoy no pun intended smell the roses.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 24:23
Nadia, thank you so much. Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me. Thank you for being vulnerable and open and candid. Thank you for putting visions of hiking and visions of the spirit of ancestral victory and of rebellion, youthful rebellion, carve into strategic maybe adult rebellion that is reflected and grateful. I appreciate you and I value our conversation.

Nadia Hansen 25:08
thank you so much, Priscilla. I really appreciate being on here. Thank you for having

Priscilla Brenenstuhl 25:13
me. Got it. I hope you that your day is 1% 1% more miraculous.

Nadia
I wish the same for you and for everybody else too

Priscilla
Voice Insert #3
Thank you for joining us today. It’s an honor to have you share your time with me. Our next guest, Maria Colacurcio, is committed to eradicating pay disparities in the workplace. Listen in to find out why stepping into her current role as CEO of Syndio Solutions was the most daring thing she’s ever done.

If you’re a member of Athena Alliance and you’d like to be a guest on the show, please reach out to me at [email protected]

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