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Meet Amber Brandner of The Greatness Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Brandner.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Amber. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Life has been a golden thread of monumental moments, often only seen for their significance in a retrospective fashion when connected with the larger narrative, which indeed is everchanging. I find myself propelled in this life by curiosity, wondering what our story will be and what influences our collective belief in what is possible.

I’m fascinated by human potential and exponential change that occurs on both the organizational and individual level when led by a sincere intention for something more significant than ourselves to succeed. My life journey started in a Midwest town in northern Indiana; I am the oldest of five, growing up I made practical choices, the ones you make on a defined path that has been taken many times before. Eager to make it and “start my life,” I worked multiple jobs, took college courses at night and at 19 years old began working in an ICU, at twenty I graduated as an RN.

All my plans changed with the 2008 financial crisis when hard times deeply affected my family. To help in a tough time, I took a job with a traveling nurse company and moved to Encinitas, CA. It’s fascinating how the events we consider “negative” at one moment, go on to catalyze the beautiful next. Arriving in California, I discovered I knew very little about the world and myself. A favorite passage by Richard Brautigan sums it up “I brought everything I knew from there to California: years and years of a different life to which I can never return nor want to and seems at times almost to have occurred to another body somehow vaguely in my shape and recognition.”

In the past I made big choices, short on information and perspective, I was now beginning to understand the value of travel, life experiences, and one’s surroundings. It was around the time of the Occupy Movement when I started looking at things in this organizational, collaborative, trajectory of change sort of way. I deep dove into the philosophy and spirituality, and organized groups of friends around coffee tables and campfires to talk about the things that we loved, the systems that needed to change, all while playing records and discussing our life purpose… it was this very classic bohemian artistic moment in my life.

In 2011, I started volunteering with TEDxAFC where I worked alongside a truly inspiring group of people sharing big ideas changing the world. I began feeling that my work as a nurse wasn’t using all of me anymore, but I didn’t act on that feeling. It’s my learning that in life the universe whispers to us, then taps us on the shoulder, and if we still aren’t paying attention a slap across the face. For me, that slap came in the form of a near-death experience in 2012, only after that did I truly understand the brevity of life… and the necessity of living.

All my years as a nurse I worked alongside death and life, in many instances I helped people navigate the end… but this was the first time I understood just how extraordinary my life was and wondered what I could do with it, rather than what I should do. A series of serendipitous connections set me on a path for South America, while traveling I created short videos, wrote, studied Spanish, practiced yoga, and learned how to build websites. I met amazing people and found a flow to life. I became fascinated with the sharing economy and the collaborative creations possible through the use of technology.

A significant identity crisis paired with this self-evolution, I questioned everything and felt myself unraveling, the programming and beliefs I had taken on dismantling. Who was I? After nine months I headed back to San Diego, and in the last six years, my life’s work has taken many shapes, I started a production company, produced a city-wide crowdfunding challenge, produced several TEDxAFC events and Startup San Diego events. I’ve hosted meetups for hundreds of Tech Founders, built websites for everything, opened a coworking space, worked in Hollywood, hosted talks on nonbinary gender dynamics, and facilitated internal innovation for companies such as Nearsoft.

I’ve run launches for sharing economy startups, mentored a National Science Foundation Incubator, and became a curator for World Economic Forum Global Shapers. I’ve managed investor relations and scouted blockchain projects, advocated for equity and equality, conceived and produced a city-wide blockchain challenge and established the absoluteSUM incubator program with UCSD. I’ve spoken on stages and gathered at BrettonWoods to conspire on a new global economic vision.

At the end of my identity crisis, I landed on “entrepreneur” because this word allowed me the freedom to become, to evolve, to change my “identity.” I am a vessel, interested in the betterment of our lives, all of us because it’s all connected and it all matters. I shy away from labels, and I believe the greatest gift we can give another is the freedom to be all of who we are at any moment, free of assumptions, expectations, and projections.

So who am I and how did I get here? When I hear a problem, I’m thinking of solutions and looking to build consensus. When I meet someone for the first time, I am listening for their passion, and my mind instantly starts thinking of essential connections. When I see something isn’t happening that needs to, I start it.

I am now working with The Greatness Foundation, a community on a mission to live great lives, do great work and make a great impact. As the Community Director, I help passionate individuals connect with resources and each other to change the world. Then there is the mobile platform I have been working on which is in private beta.

The platform is how I interpret the magic of the world through technology; exploring the world through purpose filled connections and communities in this new economy. I’ve recently felt the calling to share my story and lessons learned, so this March 16th I’ll be giving a talk at Momentum in San Diego.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Ha, I think I answered that in the first question. Life is full of struggle. Though the more I live, the more I understand the breakdowns are bridges to the breakthroughs.

I am grateful for every challenge I have faced, I’ve learned the value of finding grace in transitions and accepting change.

The Greatness Foundation – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
The Greatness Foundation encompasses all aspects of life, we are guided by the Sustainable Development Goals of Basic Needs and Education. The foundation was started over three years ago by Mike Sherbakov.

Within Greatness Foundation my primary focus is our business incubator and accelerator programs, as well as the health of our community at large. Our Remote Business Incubator is the first program I’ve come across helping individuals work from a place of life purpose to launch a business creating impact and income. The beauty of the Greatness Foundation programming is that we truly honor the whole person for the entire journey.

We focus on the development of businesses that matter because we believe business is a powerful tool for change. Amazing things happen when you get 10,000 people together who share values and align on a mission. We just returned from a trip to Mexico; we went down with 47 people and over two days two homes built two homes for two amazing families.

Every year we host leadership retreats in San Diego and Bali, we go on house builds four times a year, and head to Kenya once a year to work on aligned local projects. We have built schools in Nicaragua and taught entrepreneurs from around the world in our remote program. For the first time, we are inviting individual and organizations to join us as year-long Partners in Greatness, which opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I am proudest when I listen to my inner voice and am courageous enough to act. I’ve had many quiet moments of joy, but it is the shapeshifting moment of bravery which I am proudest.

Leaving everything I knew to discover the unknown came with great courage if I hadn’t let go, I would not have experienced all the beautiful connections I have in this life. I am just curious about life, how we live, how we escape the limits we have set for ourselves and one another.

For me, much of my courage has come from the communities I engage with… being an entrepreneur, or human for that matter, can be lonely. Finding value-aligned community offers a context of courage and reminds us that we are both vulnerable and capable of great things. Community offers perspective and perspective is powerful.

It was the discovery of communities such as TEDxSanDiego, TEDxAFC, 3rdSpace, TechFounders, Global Shapers, CANVAS, Outsite, GEV, StartupGrind, National Science Foundation, Singularity University, Collision, Startup San Diego, Greatness Foundation, all the many communities which have given me a better understanding of this world and what the world needs of us.

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