Voices of Athena with Priscilla Brenenstuhl

Transforming Risk into Value with Andrea Bonime-Blanc

Andrea Bonime-Blanc, CEO, Founder, Board Member, Author, and Risk Advisor has built her life and career determining what is controllable amidst the chaos. Her advice is, “Be as informed and diligent as you can and then take the leap.”

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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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Transforming Risk into Value with Andrea Bonime-Blanc

Intro Quote
“Be as informed and diligent as you can be, but then take the leap. One of my mantras in life is never regret, and I don’t ever regret anything. Because if I can do my best at the time of the information that I had, or the situation that I had, there’s no there’s no purpose and regretting.”

Music Insert #1
Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Hi listeners, Welcome to Voices of Athena, your podcast highlighting the personal side of the successful women that make up the Athena Alliance community. Today I am talking with Founder, CEO, Board Director and Author, Andrea Bonime-Blanc, about finding safety and value in times of chaos.
How would you introduce yourself?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
This is this is where we’re rehearsing right now. No, we’re not.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
No

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I guess I was asked who’s my audience?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Yes. So I like to kind of throw it out there and see what the initial first responses so I love so this is telling you stuff already. I am thinking more personal and less professional.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Okay. So I would introduce myself as someone who has lived in New York City for many years. But I was born and raised in other countries, Germany and Spain. And the reasons for that are fascinating because my parents have interesting lives both separately and together. Lots of really interesting post World War Two Cold War Germany. My father, you know, I don’t think he was a spy but maybe he was. He worked for the US government. And he was he was rumored to to. He was fighting in World War Two who fought in World War Two. But there’s rumors that he was OH S S, which is the precursor to the CIA, fighting behind enemy lines in Germany with so so I like to always tell people a little bit about that background and then my mother how can you not? I know it’s like it defines me, right. And my mother was born and raised in East Prussia, which today is Killeen. And then in those days before World War Two, it was part of Germany, and she and her parents moved to Berlin when she was a young girl, and her father died before World War Two. So she and her mother, as a teenager and young young lady, they lived in Berlin during the whole war. So there’s all kinds of stories having to do with that. And you know, so my parents then had in Berlin, when it was divided into four parts Russian, French, English and us. And my mother had been working for the press agency in East Berlin and she left before it was too hard. To move, because once the wall was up, and she got out while the goings good, and my dad was waiting on the other side in the American zone as a political analyst, screaming German political refugees and of course screen my mother my ways. I think it was love at first sight. Very interesting. You know, it didn’t end well, but it started very interesting. And anyway, I was born in West Germany, brother and then we moved to Spain when I was six years old. And my, my father’s retired, retired from his work, and he cashed in his pension and we all moved to the south, in the south of Spain was very, you know, remote to most people and adventurous. He was an adventurer who wasn’t. So I come from these and then my mother was very strict, very disciplined, kind of German woman, and he was a bit of a Rolling Stone. So I think that explains who I am, which is like, controlled chaos.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Controlled it’s very fitting for the professional to Yeah, ESG anti like, control is like

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
a miasma of stuff out there and I’m trying to, like fit it in to bite sizes. Right. But,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
you know, it’s kind of all angles and perspectives. And, yeah,

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I want to just say a funny thing that comes to mind as we speak. You’re in South Africa. So a very good friend of mine, South African, he was really creative guy who made jewelry and he made this beautiful piece for me that she called controlled chaos, and he basically collected the data to South Africa, my friend controlled chaos, you know, it’s like,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
and I was like, he knew you.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Oh, he knew me. We were very good friends. I just, you know, he’s nowhere close to where I live. So we don’t see each other much. But he’s a very, very creative thinker and also do our and so on the side. He was making these beautiful pieces for me and some of my friends and so one of his first pieces was this gorgeous piece that he made for me. And he put a note, he kind of named it and he said, this is supposed to reflect your personality. And I’ll show it to you. I know the listeners. The listeners can’t see it, but it’s right here. So I’m gonna show it to you so you get a sense of

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
that and I’ll do my best to describe it and I love this and you know, I always love your jewelry and I always think I’m gonna put on some of my funky jewelry for you and then I never like do it and

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
it’s a pendant. Look at this thing.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Okay, so let’s try to describe it. It’s like, it’s like, oh my God, how do I describe this thing? Yeah, it’s like silver devil with with it’s like cradling these gemstones that are very bright, shiny, but it’s very walking.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
It is you know, it’s like an elongated amoeba with with a silver exterior, and then black silver on the inside, and then it has these three beautiful stones, and I’m gonna screw this up but there’s an amethyst. There’s a sapphire and there’s a paradigm, little dots that kind of complete the interiors. And it’s, I think it’s called controlled chaos or something like controlled chaos.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
I love it. And you did an amazing job elongated amoeba like that’s exactly what that I was trying to have like a bean pod a greeting. And I don’t have you ever seen the show Grace and Frankie by chance. I love Lily Tomlin and so sometimes I absolutely absolutely adore their relationship together and Billy Tomlin is one of my favorite actresses but sometimes she has very funky amazing jewelry. Yes. With her hair I sometimes giggle and I think this is a now I’m I’m like this is the Frankie is the devil of Andrea Alexandria, or like their control and I think of her as the control and break is like the chaos kind of a random we’ll come

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
back to so I’m a professional lawyer by training. You know, I did a PhD in Political Science and I’m sort of the highly disciplined you know, action oriented person. But inside me is this person who wants to be a free spirit Artist. I am a bit of an artist. You can see back there some of my pictures. So I like to I like to draw and I haven’t done much of it recently but but there’s that inside of me there’s that person who wants to devote myself to credit and in a way my writings or my creative outlet outlet allows me to do something creative, you know with with information or with analysis of current affairs, which current affairs have always been a passion of mine or you know, what is happening in the world and, and what is going to happen in the world and that comes clearly from my parents sort of background, you know, growing up in World War Two, their international sort of roots. My father also worked in Japan after the World War. He just was one of these adventurous people who was out there, exploring the world and then doing things which, you know, he passed away when I was very young, so I never got a chance to talk to him about his work, which would have totally fascinated me and it’s one of those things you can’t regret it because I don’t have control over that right. But, but his his, his legacy is mixed because he was a very troubled person and he left us in very bad shape as a family. Left as a young family without anything after he passed away, basically responsible, but getting back to control. That’s why I’m a little bit more controlling. Because I want to, you know, I want to make sure I take care of my family. And friends when I had that very strong, sort of need to take care and then in my work, I kind of you know, I try to help people see the way through difficult times. It’s kind of what I do.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
It makes so much sense and I love the professional and personal and how they work together. And I think that this leads me perfectly into the next question, which is, who or what inspires you and why?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Who or what inspires me? Why you know, what inspires me is really good. People doing good things beyond their own circle, you know, people who devote themselves to showing the way I love scientists and I love artists, I love people who are doing things to make the world a better place. So um, right now, I’m listening to the audiobook of Michael Mann, the new Climate War, which is supposed to be really good environmental scientists and I just started reading, reading slash listen to that audio book. And because I want to learn more, I’m not an expert in paneer. But I mean, someone like him, really inspires me because he’s applying his expertise and knowledge to try to make the world a better place. And so I really admire people like that, my God I admire President zolecki single handedly a guy who was kind of dismissed as a as a comedian slash, you know, funny man. In a in a corrupt country somewhere in the middle of Europe. This guy’s showing the way not only to his own people but to democracies. Around the world is showing what it means to represent. And so a person like that really inspires me. And the opposite kind of people inspire me in an opposite carnival. So when I see what’s going on, in Russia, with the kind of leader they have, it inspires me even harder to try to make my environment as much as I can influence it, a better place to employ people. And then, you know, I’m kind of carrying on here with what inspires me but I’m very, very inspired. By democracy. And I often use the quote from Churchill, that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. And, you know, I grew up in fascist Spain. My mother grew up in Nazi Germany, my father fought the Nazis, and I have very direct connection to that kind of environment. And so do have many other people who have grown up in authoritarian countries and difficult situations. And what inspires me is to try to get people to understand democracy is not a gift that you just accepted. Say, Oh, thank you. And then you become complacent. Democracy is something you have to earn and work on every single day. It’s up to us by by definition demos, right? So, so I am very frustrated by the times that we’re living in in terms of how some of the most established democracies are deteriorating in a very serious way. And I’m very inspired by how through technology we can, we can hopefully counter some of this. You know, you know, one of one of the things I saw in some of the work that I’m doing I review a lot of materials, Edelman Trust Barometer. 20.2 had a finding that says that fake news is what is what is a fake information is what concerns people the most. But there are other finding was that the best way to combat fake information is with quality information. And I really feel that it’s incumbent on all of us to check double check and triple check our, our information sources, make sure that we’re not by realizing garbage. Make sure we’re not all noise that’s out there is so much noise. And so I think it’s incumbent on everyone to try to double check their triple check their information and not share garbage and then help others to see the way where you know where there are reliable sources to to get information from. I’m very afraid of what the combination of polarization populism and just the explosion of social media information and disinformation is doing to our democracies. I’m super concerned about that. That to me, is one of my so going back to what inspires me someone likes a single single Hammock with his people in the whole situation which is a horrible situation. He has, they have almost single handedly shown the rest of us who have been complacently sitting on our backsides about the rights and the freedoms that we have. How important it is to protect those rights and freedoms, nurture them and develop them in good times and bad and

help to turn in sort of this really terrible trend that we’ve seen. degradation of democracy or to Lady attorney point of, Hey, we gotta we gotta work on this and we gotta, we gotta, you know, help each other into the right directions. So I think

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
that’s the hope always from those situations. And you know, it’s, I think what they’ve done he’s done stupid job of like, reclaiming the narrative which so easily. He could like, could have been bulldozed over like, it was even at the beginning and he just like took that power back. Yeah. And also like it’s interesting like what you say about it the fact checking and triple checking your information and and I think about how you talked about how you love information and writing and that’s why it’s a passion for you and it sounds easy, right? Just like attracts like, just like do some research. Right? But it’s what what it is is there’s so much information and what that does is it’s actually quite challenging because what it does is it call calls on each person to question their own beliefs because it’s really easy. You can have video or information to support any belief that you have, right? Totally. So it makes it super easy and convenient to just like, stay in your beliefs and in that pot and then find all of this information and kind of just keep regurgitating the same stuff over and over again. And so, you know, it sounds easy, but at its core, it’s really asking people to reexamine their beliefs.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
is, you’re absolutely right. But you know, I think another sort of trend that has made this worse and this has been going on for years. I think it’s just hurting us. I think it’s in a lot of places that this has happened, which is sort of the degradation of civility, on top of this degradation of information and people very willingly becoming more hostile towards each other less courteous, mean to, you know, I sound like a old fashioned, you know, old lady, but I remember the days when people would be courteous to each other and they still are, but I think there’s been a lot of degradation of them. You can see,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
I mean, I’m 39 and I’m, I would say the same thing. And I but, you know, it’s a lot of isolation and it’s a lot of propaganda. A lot of and, and it’s a lot of fear. And it’s also if you’re stuck inside all the time and filled out with all this news and you’re not engaging with your community and you’re not engaging with your neighbor or you are only every once in a while, but you are from this container of like, fear and misinformation or yeah, whatever it is, and then you go out, you’re starting from a really bad place for making connections, you know? Yeah, I agree. So it’s very challenging. It is very, it is very scary actually.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
You know, as all the things that are happening and it creates a real vortex of, of trouble. And you know, I sympathize with everyone. I mean, I kind of dedicate myself to trying to find the correct factual data. But even with the correct factual data, you can you can skew anything the way you want it to be skewed, right? So there’s no doubt about that. We all have our biases and so on and so forth. But, but I think it’s gotten much worse than that. And you know, when you have the propagation of propaganda by major news outlets, and I won’t name names, but the creates a real disinformation machine out there, and it creates for those who don’t want to be informed or who whose whose general feelings about things are validated that way. It becomes sort of a self fulfilling prophecy right? They just can’t do that. And, and to absorb and that has very damaging consequences for our societies. And for our democracies, if we’re living in a democracy in the first place, but yeah,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
yeah, well, we might already be there. Tell me your biggest fear.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I think I’m kind of telegraphed that, in the last few minutes. My biggest fear is you know, I used to believe this, and I think I still do, but we’re in a bad moment right now. I used to believe that the arc of history bent slowly towards the better, you know, progress. There’s some books out there that have been written about how the history of violence over the centuries that violence is actually really definitely degraded over the centuries, even if we still have some terrible examples of violence and frankly, the Ukraine invasion is just a barbaric example of human violence. Which just totally, I think has shocked many of us. Of course, some of this has been happening in other countries and we haven’t paid as much attention to Wanda Yemen, Cambodia, so the western world is a little bit skewed. towards its own, obviously. But still, I think it’s really shocked the world into we can still be as bad as we were 500 years ago, 1000 years ago in terms of how we treat each other. So I think the this this I don’t know how to put it but this this read wretched retrogression to more barbaric, more violent, more polarized where we’re othering each other we’re doing this country in the United States, other in each other othering others who are maybe migrants, this is all very dangerous stuff, extraordinarily dangerous, especially when one of the two political parties is actually furthering these kinds of thoughts. And I, you know, we’re in a very bad moment right now, as we’re recording this in New York State. I live in New York City. We just had a massacre of 10 African Americans in an African American community in Buffalo, by a white supremacist 18 year old boy, which I find just, you know, why is this still happening in this country? And it seems to be getting worse, not better. So I fear the degradation of civility, the degradation of democracy, the degradation of the polarization of our politics, and I think the rise of authoritarianism. I don’t think it’s something that is inevitable, but I think we’re in a really, really big struggle right now. And I have to give the Ukrainians props for showing us how much how important it is to keep certain rule of law and freedoms in society because the alternative is really much worse than than an imperfect democracy. So those those are my fears, at least.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Oh just those!

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
there might be an asteroid that hits us, you know, but other than that, and by the way, I just want to underscore that because I’m sounding pretty negative. I am a very optimistic person. I am a person who’s always looking on the bright side, the glass is half full. And yet, I think we’re living through very difficult times and it requires those of us who have a bit of spirit to get things done to be happy warriors in these difficult times. And I think, you know, it’s it takes a village it’s not one person who can do this. And so I think we need to be introspective and also reach out to each other to get things done in the right way and have an ambulance coming up. So I’m in New

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
York City baby I don’t think I am forgetting the real feel for our listeners here. This is like no, she has not seen any Andrea’s not standing on the corner somewhere else. She’s in our living room with a fancy wife. And you know, it’s New York doesn’t stop for anyone.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
It’s audio very typically.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
It’s our own little soundtrack. We didn’t even have to pay for that. No, no permit sprinkled in

MUSIC INSERT #2:

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
what song are you singing at karaoke?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Oh, I’ll tell you exactly the song. I just I don’t have too many heroes icons. Whatever. But Tina Turner is just my all time favorite. She’s just amazing. What’s Love Got to do with it.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
I’ll be right up there with you. I love it. That’s a good song.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
So I’m dating myself because it came out like almost 40 years ago, but you weren’t even born.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
my mom, my mom played it. Well, there you go. My mom played on a Tina Turner. So it’s in there. As soon as you said those words. When that

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
song came out, Tina Turner had come back from you know, having a bad period in her personal life. So she comes out with this album. It’s early 80s. She comes out with this album and MTV had just started and they had the music videos. And there was Tina Turner looking like a million bucks. She was like she was 50 at the time or something or maybe 40 I’m off by a decade but she looked like a million bucks. She was wearing a little blue jean jacket, a little black leather skirt, high heels and she was walking down the streets of New York City to the feet of that song and I ended up you know, mimicking her friends. I would like walk down I just felt her passion for don’t mess with me. I’m a strong woman. Yeah, absolutely. And that

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
like, you know, I’m getting stronger with age.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
her her. She really showed that you could do stuff to 2020s and the 30s. You know, you could be a full woman successful. Fantastic and so on. So, there was recently a documentary that I think HBO did of her life, and I bawled because she’s still alive but she’s in her mid 70s I think she’s not so well anymore. But she came out and spoke on a couple of parts of that documentary wonderful documentary. So anyway, you just asked me what I would sing in a karaoke and look where I got carried away to the bandits that

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
controlled chaos. You know, you’re like telling me all kinds of things. And it’s still circling back to the I mean, we’re still on theme. So have you ever sung karaoke?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I have a couple of times, but it’s not one of those. I do on a regular basis. Believe it or not?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Yeah, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t ever do

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
not something you know, believe it or not, here’s another secret that you won’t believe. I’m somewhat introverted, so I’m not one of those people who wants to like go out there and go crazy with a bunch of people. I like a few good friends. You know

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I’m more into going to the beach and walking around nature but that’s a different Yeah, a different speed.
I am married to a musician so I’m surrounded by music every day.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
There you go. What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc

resigned from my corporate job and started my own business.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Yeah, that’s pretty bold.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
That when you’re used to a good corporate job with all the benefits and your family benefits from it, because you’re the sole, you know, and you decide to, to walk away from a corporate job because it’s not working for you. And you say, You know what, it’s time for me to turn the ship around and start my own business. Scary stuff.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
What do you think pushed you through that?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Um, you know, one of the things I had a very good corporate executive life I had four different jobs for different great companies. And yet, at the same time, I always felt like I couldn’t really completely do what I am good at doing. You know, I was a general counsel for a couple of companies and I was compliance, ethics and risk. Officer was charged with a few different things, and all great experiences, and I learned a ton. So it was all sort of building up to where I got to, which is, I think that’s the the controlled chaos pieces. You know, I always wanted to break through the corporate sort of box that I was in, but it was a great series of experiences. And all that I learned through that I haven’t been able to apply my own business, which is great, you know, so I kind of come to fulfill my own professional wishes, I suppose. And now I’m kind of in a place where I’ve never been in terms of professional fulfillments. It’s the best I’ve ever felt in doing the work that I do because it’s seamless
But I felt that I was constrained and given the nature of what I used to do within the company’s compliance and ethics and risk and crisis management. You will never fully appreciated for what you brought to the table despite my really wanting to interconnect and always sort of work well with the businesses and so on. And I was appreciated not to say that I wasn’t but I wasn’t feeling fulfilled, I guess is one way to put it and I wasn’t going to compromise my integrity. Leave that there as well.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
I mean, fantastic answer.
Andrea is now the CEO and founder of GEC Risk Advisory. She is a global governance, risk, ESG, ethics, cyber, and crisis strategist who serves on several boards including her role as the independent ethics adviser to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
So if you but if you weren’t doing when you weren’t in your current profession now. What what what would you be doing? You have another like, what’s that?

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Ah, you just so so I, if I was someone who didn’t have to worry about paying the bills I wouldn’t be I wouldn’t be an artist full time or at least part time and I have a big studio and at the end they’re going crazy. I certainly would be traveling, although I used to travel a lot for business, so I’m not complaining. I love to travel. Right now. I’m not interested in traveling, all the pandemic stuff going on there. pandemic, some wars and a few other things. So traveling, being an artist and devoting myself I do a lot of volunteer work already I do on boards of nonprofits and you know, doing more to do good I guess, is one way to put it.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Is there you know, I mean there’s a lot of places to good what areas in particular interested in that way.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
You know, I serve on the Board of something called the epic Theatre Ensemble here in New York City, which serves I’m not a theatre person, but

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Epic Theatre, tell me more!

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I’m going to give you two examples. One of a board and one of the clients that really spoke to my passion. So, you know, this is a very exciting place for me to be and it’s all about social justice at the end of the day. So epic Theatre Ensemble is a 20 plus year old nonprofit theaters that serves high schools in New York City that are underserved, in terms of basically neighborhoods that are mostly black and brown, that don’t aren’t very well funded. There’s a lot of actual segregation in the school system in New York City. And so this theater ensembles really talented directors, actors, screenwriters and playwrights, and they teach in the public schools in several places and they do just the most amazing job I’ve ever seen anybody do. These kids come from broken homes from poverty from violent places, and they ended up going into great colleges and fulfilling their dreams. And we’ve seen that several generations is several groups of young people really turning around and becoming very, you know, big contributors and giving back themselves and so on. Anyway, so that’s one and that’s, that’s a nonprofit board I’ve been part of for about 10 years now. And it’s

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
not to cut you off, but is that through like theatrical expression and find that voice and all those things.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
So So what the what the staff do, so people who are actors and directors, they basically they have a variety of different that do that with some of the most creative people I’ve ever seen. And they hand over Shakespeare to the kids and the kids create an you know, a Bronx version of Shakespeare of Romeo and Juliet and they stage it, they write it, they rehearse it, we have shows, we raise funds around that. Yeah, so the kids end up becoming the creative people. And they use sometimes they use existing plays and adapt them. Other times they’ve written their own shows their own, and they’re all usually about social justice things and powerful powerful stuff. So that that’s one. And then I have a client of Puerto Rico, called the platform. Basically, a couple of years ago, the Boys and Girls Club for Puerto Rico, which is one of the branches of you know, all over the United States is boys. And girls clubs. And they serve again, underserved communities. They give the boys and girls you know, a place to go for after school and things like that. So the one in Puerto Rico is led by this guy who is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. Actually. So so the Boys and Girls Club in Puerto Rico has been around for 50 years. Their mission is to eradicate poverty in Puerto Rico. Poverty in Puerto Rico is twice as bad as poverty in Mississippi, which is the worst in the United States. So child poverty rates in Puerto Rico have been over 50% for many years. So this sister organizations, a charter school and Research Institute, they are pulling themselves under this new umbrella. They’re calling the platform for social impact. And they hired me two years ago to do their governance ethics, Expert Advisor, whatever you want to call it, and we we just launched it last week. It actually was launched internally with the staff last week, and the goal is to bring in social impact funds foundations, is government money did they already have some of this but this is really to turbocharge the eradication of poverty, and the education of the kids, the well being health and well being of the families and be a shining example in Puerto Rico. For how you can do this without corruption with great governance with ethics. And so I’ve been part of the team that’s been creating this transformation. And all I can say is, it’s been the project of a lifetime. So awesome, and the people involved I was telling you that the CEO, just visionary, wonderful empathy, everything you want out of a leader, like what you see when Stilinski this guy’s doing it. We need more empathetic leaders who know how to get things done. We cannot have these toxic people. Getting positions of power. And I think the real nub of the matter here is we have to do a better job in society and politics in corporations, to choose the leaders who are going to get things done, who are going to get them done without hurting people. And you know, that’s

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
to know that it’s possible and to sell us lots of causes like a ship to celebrate. We’re trying to be inspiring or even tolerable.

Andrea Bonime Blanc
Exactly

MUSIC INSERT
Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Tell me about a life changing or life defining moment.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Oh, gosh, think about that for a second. I mean, resigning from my corporate world was definitely from a professional but also from a personal in the sense that, you know, I said to myself, you can do this totally,

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
just super daring and risky. Yeah, you know, lots of moments of self doubt. And I’m sure and you’re and

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
loathing and everything else. No, I actually I was sitting next to somebody at some function a few months after I had decided to go off on my own. And she had just met me she’s a really smart woman and she had just met me and I said, Yeah, you know, I decided to go off on my own and and I’m a risk averse person. She said, No, you’re not. You’re a risk. Analyst, you’re looking at yours, and you’re not risk averse. And that’s so true. So that goes back to the control test. You want to know what the chaos is, so you can actually control as much of it as possible so that’s kind of how I operate right. I want to be as informed as possible about everything that I need to be informed about, and then make the right decision. And I think that carries over into the work that I do with boards and with corporate groups and with decision makers and others is, be as informed and diligent as you can be, but then take the leap, you know, do do the thing that you think you can do. Yeah, and another piece of that puzzle is one of my mantras in life is never regret, and I don’t ever regret anything. Because if I can do my best at the time of the information that I had, or the situation that I had, there’s no there’s no purpose and regretting. We can’t do anything about it. Don’t regret. So so that’s one life changing moment. I think, you know, leaving Spain when I was 17 was a life changing moment. It was a terrible moment. My father had passed away a few years before that. He had left us penniless. My mother was struggling, and she did her best. She was wonderful. She was a resilient, wonderful human being, but she said we have to we have to move to New York. This is where my father was. And because we are American citizens living in the south of Spain, my mother couldn’t find work. You know, it was a difficult situation. For me, leaving Spain after living there for 11 years and being a Spanish girl to go intents and purposes, was one of the most devastating heartbreaking things for me. And I was, you know, you could call it a mini depression for a couple of years but I pulled myself up my Bucha bootstraps and I went to school I got straight A’s and I went to college here. I have not been a strange student before. So I kind of know I’ve been, you know, kind of average kid. And suddenly I became this really like FOTON person because I was turning adversity into the next thing that I could turn it into, which is hopefully progress, right. And so that was a very, very terrible moment for me personally, leaving Spain was horrible. All my

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
At 17

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
and then coming to New York, which at the time was in terrible condition. I mean, it was like crime writers. I remember arriving here it was like everything was gray and dirty. I have come from Malaga, you know, great, beautiful. So that was a real shock to the system and it was also a cultural shock to a great extent. But I kind of pulled myself together and through my kind of, I don’t want to call it despair, because it wasn’t despair, but through my depression or anger, maybe a little bit. Although I understood why my mother did what she did a couple of years later. I met my husband and I’ve been with him forever. And he’s turned out to be one of the great people of my life. It’s not the greatest so we have a son who’s who’s wonderful as well. So I you know, it was transforming risk into value which is why I kind of transformed my situation, which was not great. I try to pull myself together. And I know not everybody can do that. You know, I’m, I’m the lucky one because somehow I was built for this, you know, for resilience. I have a sibling who was not built to this. And so I know that there’s a difference and there’s luck and there’s hard work. Don’t get lucky on top of whatever else you bring to life. It can be very, very hard. hope I answered your question?

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Yeah, so well. It’s just so lovely to hear people’s stories. And it’s like, everything about this conversation surprises me and yet nothing about this conversation surprises me. You know, and it’s like it’s like the painting of Andrea, or whatever, you know, and how all of these may come back to control chaos, they come back to resilience, they come back to risk into value, and you can just see how life set you up on this path. Or how you carved a path through your life journey, and how important it is. Maybe to have that story to have that thread to have people who see you and make your jewelry and say you know your controlled choas and to say yes, okay, things have been chaotic and I like that’s where my strengths are is I’ve been able to be resilient and that man who said that when you said I’m not a risk taker, she said you put you are but you’re a risk

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
when you said something along the lines of analyst risk analyst actually, you understand risk and you’re able to then take a risk because you’re

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Yeah, how great to be seen and have people around you see you

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
for 10 minutes, but she was obviously a very perspicacious person, you know, she she kind of could read people and it was

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
And you ooze, I mean, you may be self proclaimed introvert and but you are very sincere and expressive and passionate about lots of things.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
That’s the Spanish girl in me I use my hands a lot.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
So, but to have that reflection is really important to see yourself through through those situations. And so I really appreciate this conversation.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I do to Priscilla You’re wonderful conversationalist. You’re very, you’re very natural and very smooth. And flowing and not controlled chaos, just smoothness.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Oh, I like that. Thank you. Although sometimes I’m just chaos chaos but part of that is being in the flow. Hey, is there I mean, we’re like out of time right now, but I just want to know if there is anything else

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
I just want to give my mother a shout out. You know, she would great constant. She was a very strict German mother in the south of Spain where people would go out, you know, teenagers would be going out till all hours and I couldn’t because I had a German mother at home who said no. So there was a downside to it. But she kept me safe. My entire childhood and teenage years and she was the most resilient person I’ve ever met in my life. She was obviously someone who had suffered a lot at some points in her life. You know, having been a teenager during World War Two. I don’t want to think about it and then being in East Germany for the next 10 years after that. She was very introverted. She was not very social. But she loved her family deeply and she she was resilient. Beyond resilience. She was something else to behold and gracious and graceful, and beautiful woman actually, she wanted to be an actress when she was a young woman but couldn’t

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
and I was and even with that reserved, introverted, shy nature that’s interesting. And now you’re doing this theater thing, but you’re not a theater. No. There’s that. There’s that but Mama’s in you, you can’t get rid of you know, and maybe that’s something she would have loved to do. And so it’s like coming out in this way. It found you through the spirit of mom and there’s no doubt she’s beautiful because you’re gorgeous. You’re just stunning. You’re so beautiful. No, no, keep going. I’m going to tell you but what is amazing message. It’s such an amazing like oh, I didn’t realize it was going to choke me up to say it but like mom gave you safety in chaos.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
Yes, she did. That’s a beautiful way to end our conversation. She really did.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Absolutely. Thank you and it shows and you’re able to carry it into your work and find safe spaces for people and find the half of the cup that’s full and remind us of that so we can keep charging on.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
You’re a poet

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Thank you. I’ll receive that. I think I just see the thread shine and other people and I’d love to celebrate it and talk about it. So thank you

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
This was a beautiful conversation for me to thank you.

Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Thank you and have a deep breath Have an awesome day.

Andrea Bonime-Blanc
You too, my dear. Take care of yourself.

Music Insert #4
Priscilla Brenenstuhl
Thank you for sharing your time with me today. I hope you will tune in next time for my conversation with experienced CEO and Member of the Board of Directors, Edie Rodriguez whose many mantras include, “Find your passion and follow it.”
If you’re a member and you’d like to be featured on an episode of Voices of Athena, please reach out to me at [email protected]
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