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Conversations with the Inspiring Tawnie Breaux

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tawnie Breaux.

Tawnie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story… I started my career in education. I loved learning and got my teaching degree from U of H. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement about sharing this passion with my students. Oh, to be young again, so full of ambition and dreams to change the world one student at a time. As I settled in, I experience an enormous amount of respect for the teaching process and responsibility for each student’s success.

At that time technology was evolving in our world and I was fascinated with the effect this would have on our children, their education, and our lives. I became a master teacher for Intel and Microsoft, helping to guide technical integration into our school’s curriculum. This opportunity allowed me to share technical innovations with my peers and inspired me to go back to school for my master’s degree in instructional technology.

I valued teaching and the skills I gained in the classroom helped me jump start my success in a small software company. In my first role, I taught Chief Financial Officers how to use technology to better disclose information to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was a much simpler transition than you might think. Understanding how people learn and helping them become better at their jobs was an easy pursuit for me to continue to educate and become successful in my company’s sales and marketing departments.

As I gained greater leadership and responsibility throughout my career, I found there was a disconnect between shared experiences and lessons learned in sales and business in general. The concepts learned by experience and personal growth were not always as common sense as you would imagine. As more people reached out for advice, both men and women, the idea to create a professional learning space was formed. Books, Beauty, and Business. My three favorite things.

The conversations that sparked from that space inspired me to write my first book Women in Power and became an Amazon #1 international bestseller.

My husband and I are both in technical fields but his passion for off-road fun led us to start a small business in Houston called Tactical Off-Road. It’s a small shop that modifies jeeps and trucks with aftermarket products. We create great family memories going on fun adventures all over the country. Owning a small business was definitely a learning process for us.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m not sure my road was smooth rather than a unique adventure with lots of lessons learned. I learned independence and resilience at an early age which made me stronger and better able to navigate my own course in life. I attended thirteen schools before finally settling in TX for my high school years. I love Houston and I’ve been here ever since. I finished high school at Clements and started working on my college requirements. I worked my way through college sometimes working two or three jobs. I recognized with hard work and dedication I could complete my degree with honors and start my career in education. In my twenties, I realized I had settled into a life and routine I was not happy with. I decided to make some significant personal and professional decisions to change and seek out a new path. In 2004, I became a mother to my sweet little daughter and the best joy in my life. As a teacher and young mother, I set bigger goals for myself making sure I had our futures in mind. I started thinking of company ideas. Most of them didn’t have a strong enough business plan to get off the ground but I knew I wanted to have the flexibility in a job to make money and have free time to enjoy it.

I went back to school for my master’s degree in instructional technology. As I entered the sales world, I found my new path. It was the best of both worlds. I had the flexibility to schedule my time with the earning potential directly related to my effort. Work hard, play hard, was my motto. My successful career in technology allowed me to pay off my school debts and purchase a home in Houston to raise my daughter in my favorite city. I loved every step of this journey.

My advice for women is to find your tribe. Seek out encouraging women to surround yourself with. You need friends to share your successes, failures, and encourage you all the same. A space we can share ideas and get a new perspective.

I believe everyone benefits from a mentor or life coach. If you are starting a new role or a business find someone in a similar space and talk with them. Invite them to coffee and have a chat. The lesson learned are so much more valuable than any online resource you will find. If you need help, join your local chamber or women helping women group. You won’t regret it.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am the Director of Global Statutory Reporting for Workiva. If you are in finance at a public company, you may have heard of us. Workiva created a patented technology in 2008 that changed the financial reporting space and helped solve many issues for accounting teams. With this brilliant software, Workiva quickly became a public company and one of the top 100 companies to work for by Forbes. I absolutely love the leadership and culture. I was lucky to find a role I enjoy with a company that holds itself to the highest standards.

I work remotely out of my home office so the commute is wonderful! I can work anywhere I have my computer and the internet. This makes it so nice to be home for my daughter after school. My dogs are very good co-workers, they make sure I get up from my computer to take them out and play every once in a while. I have worked both in an office and remotely in the past, they each have their perks. Right now, I am enjoying my work-life balance.

Books, Beauty, and Business started as a book club. My girlfriend and I watched the movie the Book Club and decided that day to start one for ourselves. Over time it snowballed into the website, podcast, and YouTube channel. This passion project feeds my soul. I enjoy sharing beauty tips, book recommendations, and interviewing guests for the podcast. My contributing authors are dear friends and successful women. Sharing success stories inspires and helps motivate all of us to get out of our comfort zones and reach for new goals.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
We have so much power within each of us and with great power comes great responsibility. It is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.

This is a challenge as we are mothers, bosses, friends, wives, caregivers, breadwinners, and peacekeepers. This list can go on and on. Each title holds a unique set of skills and acquires a lot of work and dedication to keep the lines of communication open and healthy. It can be overwhelming at times to be your best self for everyone else. Our job is to make sure we are giving ourselves some slack for not being perfect.

As females in the business world, we are up against some aggressive stereotypes. We have worked hard to gain credibility and the self-confidence to earn a seat at the table. We solve problems and practice great feats of time management to successfully complete the presentation and still be present at the school play. We put impossible expectations on ourselves to do it all. Still, for the most part, we do this very well. But for the times we miss that play or forget to read that surprise work email on the weekend, we struggle with our own disappointment.

We need to stop stressing about things we might have done differently or situations we need to do better. We are doing the best we can and sometimes we slip. We are there for important conversations and a hug before bed. We need to extend the same grace for ourselves as we do for our friends and family. Take time for your self-care. Take time to recharge your battery and come back energized and ready to go. That can mean something different for everyone but if you include a practice of gratitude into each day, your day will go much smoother. Give yourself the grace to make mistakes.

You are a great power in your village, and we all need to be responsible with our self-care, body, mind, and soul.

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Image Credit:
Jason Oliphant

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