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Getting Excited for Convention: A Conversation with Keynote Speaker GG Johnston

Our Keynote Speaker for the upcoming CWBA Convention is Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator GG Johnston. In anticipation of her interactive training with the CWBA, I sat down with her (virtually) to learn more about her approach and what we can expect. After spending 30 minutes with her, I can say that we are all in for an exceptional experience!

About GG and Why She Became a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator

After running a company for 16 years, GG decided that her passion was working with leadership teams to achieve strategic alignment and build strong internal dynamics. As she started working with leaders and their strategic goals, she also was introduced to Dr. Brene´ Brown’s books. She found them so incredibly helpful -- particularly how they dealt with the excitement and stresses of being a leader -- that she wanted to share them with others. GG was accepted into the first cohort of Dr. Brown’s Dare to Lead™ facilitator training with a cohort of members from 10 different countries. As a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, she now has taken multiple groups through the 24-hour Dare to Lead™ program. According to GG, the Dare to Lead™ training is game changing for a team to go through, and she has seen how transformational it can be. She particularly likes the strategies for how to have tough conversations and how leaders can pick themselves back up after making mistakes.

Highlighting Vulnerability and Self-Awareness as Key Leadership Skills

Being vulnerable and self-aware are two of the biggest components of the Dare to Lead™ program. GG highlighted the research which shows there is no way to be courageous without being vulnerable; when we act with courage we are stepping out of our comfort zone which is risky, so it can be uncomfortable and there is vulnerability in all of that. Because of this, much of the training focuses on teaching leaders how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, and perhaps most importantly, shifting into a frame whereas leaders, we see ourselves as learners, rather than knowers. Dare to Lead™ helps leaders become learners and build our curiosity muscles, which are necessary in order to be innovative and adaptive. GG also imparts that being self-aware is potentially the most important leadership skill we can work on. When you have power as a leader, it’s imperative to have self-knowledge. She states that it is easy to misuse power if you don’t understand your blind spots. Therefore, vulnerability and self-awareness are integral to courageous leadership.

Dare to Lead™ with Lawyers

Shifting from being a knower to a learner can seem intimidating, especially in the field of law where we are often expected to know a lot of information. GG explained what she focuses on with lawyers is relational vulnerability, rather than systems vulnerability. What she finds is when teams have relational vulnerability, they actually reduce systems vulnerability. In other words, if teams are working well together, they can have an effective strategy on how to move through issues; it allows teams, including those working in the law, to be able to call out the strengths and challenges of the team and adjust accordingly. GG believes the workplace is a great arena to become self-aware and work on self-examination. She observes that at home, we surround ourselves with people who want to be around us, and at work, we don’t always have that luxury. Therefore, work is a perfect place for us to practice stretching our skills and become better leaders.

Dare to Lead™ in the Time of COVID

GG sees the Dare to Lead™ tools being imperative during the uncertain time we have all experienced with the pandemic over the past year and in how we move forward as our communities hopefully continue to open up. According to GG, we are experiencing a fast-paced need for innovation and creativity. We shifted our workforce to being remote almost overnight, and now we have to figure out what it means to come back from that, what it’s going to look like, and how we are going to adapt. GG thinks this will be just as hard as the shift to full remote; we are now having to do this in a time where many of us are weary, stretched thin, and are feeling a little less resilient. During this time of uncertainty, GG and her team have seen that courageous leadership skills help teams not only weather these times but grow and transform.

What to Expect During Convention

The CWBA’s Annual Convention is taking place virtually on May 21st. During GG’s presentation, “Courageous Leadership – A Dare To Lead™ Experience” from 8:35 – 10:35 a.m., she will give us the opportunity to learn about the research and courageous leadership. She promises it will be interactive, allow for us to connect with each other, and participants will walk away with tangible ways they can be courageous in their own leadership. So, come with your video on; it will be fun, informative, and interactive! Register to attend today!

For a chance to win a copy of Brené Brown's book, Dare to Lead, click on the heart at the end of this post. Your name will be entered into a random drawing and the CWBA will reach out to the lucky winner!

For additional information about GG and her company visit Downstream Partner's website. To learn more about Dare to Lease visit Brené Brown’s Dare To Lead™.


Julia Kneeland Lazure is a partner at Kneeland & Lazure Law, LLC, where she works with individuals and families to navigate major changes in their lives, so they can have peace of mind and plan for their futures in the areas of estate planning, business law, and family law. She graduated from the University of Colorado School of Law, and prior to joining Kneeland & Lazure Law, LLC, Julia worked at Denver District Court as the Family Court Facilitator and served as a judicial law clerk. In addition to volunteering with the Colorado Women’s Bar Association, Julia serves on the planning committee for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Annual Continuing Legal Education Conference; volunteer guest lectures and provides trainings at Denver District Court; and is the Immediate Past President of the Junior League of Denver, a women’s training and civic leadership organization.

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