November 17, 2022

#361 Briony Benjamin – Transcript

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Jess Brady
Hello, beautiful XY community today I bring you a really different topic and think I say that a lot, but I do theorising I just seriously made it. I’m talking to briny Benjamin, she’s the author of life is tough, but so are you. At age 31. She was told something that we have no person ever is told you talk about what her journey was like how to help people when they’re not given great news, and what we can do to support the people around us. I found that thoroughly fascinating. It helped me to understand what I could do better to support those in need. And I think it is very important for us to run the advice businesses to have a practice that understands the practical, easy tips to make sure that someone feels loved and cared about as a client along the way. Enjoy. Hi, Briony.

Briony Benjamin
Hi, Jess, great to be here.

Jess Brady
So good to have you here. This is going to be a really different sort of podcast to the ones that I normally do, which is either about financial advisors talking about their stories or people that you know, have in some way or shape, a business that amplifies running advice firms or enhancing financial advice firms. But actually, we’re going to talk about your personal story, which is actually I’m not going to say your personal story. It’s not mine to share. To kick off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your story.

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, well, you know, it was lovely to meet you a few weeks ago just in real life. I’ve heard a lot about you at my sister Molly’s event at the ladies finance club. And we got chatting, I suppose and I just yet where do we begin? I told you about a very, you know, unexpected curveball that was thrown my way at 31. I was working at the time as executive producer of video at Mamma Mia. It was a really fun role. But sort of 18 months into the job. I just I had felt pretty rotten the whole time really. And I was being given advice that I was just a bit stressed and work was overwhelming and I shouldn’t you know, rest more. And we did a million different tests, but it never led to anything. And with the insistence of my amazing mum and dad who were on my case, they ended up calling up my GP and saying, Look, we don’t want to alarm Briony, but we’re actually really worried that she has lymphoma, which is a blood cancer. So they helped me get a referral to a hematologist, which is a blood specialist. And two weeks ago, two weeks later, yeah, I mean, I went and saw her two weeks later, she said, come back, and we’ll get some results. And so I really honestly thought nothing of it. I thought, Oh, it’ll be another dead end. They’ll tell me I would have Iris you know, blah, blah, blah. And thank goodness, my mom insisted on flying down from Queensland to come with me to that appointment. And we walked in that day. And the beautiful specialist, she sat me down and she just said, I’m so sorry, but the results are back. And it is Hodgkin’s lymphoma like your parents were worried about. What that means is we need to clean it six months. work needs to stop. We’re going to set you on a course of treatment. And we’re going to get you through this and it was sort of just one of those completely surreal moments of life. You know, I was a had to race off to work and to, to film an interview with Sophie monk who just finished up as the Bachelorette, you know, very important content morning. And that’s where my head was. And I remember saying to Mum, don’t come down Mom, I’ve got to race straight to work, I don’t have time to catch up like, and then obviously in a heartbeat, nothing else matters other than how long do I have left on this earth? Who do I want to spend it with? And what do I want to spend it doing? You know, your priorities shift in a heartbeat?

Jess Brady
Yeah. And from that, obviously, you went through a period of, from what I can gather, pretty severe treatment, and you were quite sick for a long time. And then you went into remission, which is really exciting. And then somehow, which I don’t know, you write a book that come about, obviously, you’re sick, your whole world gets thrown into disarray, we’re going to talk a little bit more in depth about, you know, your journey and what you wish you knew and what you wish the people around, you knew. But I want to know, how did this translate for you into deciding that you were going to write what is a fantastic book for someone that is going through a difficult time called Life is tough. But so you, and I want to go through it? Because I think it can really be used as a tool to support people but kind of a come about?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, well, actually, on the very first day of my cancer diagnosis, friends said to me, you know, because I was I was a video producer, as a filmmaker, that’s what I’d been doing. And he said to me, I think if you can, you should take some time to just go and sit by yourself and just record your thoughts of how you’re feeling right now. And I said I yeah, nice idea. Thank you. But I don’t really feel like that. So I really, I really think you should no one ever I don’t want to. Anyway, I did, I took my iPhone out, went up to my bedroom, sat down and just recorded the thoughts of how I was feeling. And then all my friends pulled together actually bought some equipment to go with my iPhone. And just encouraged me to document the journey. And I’m so grateful they did because, you know, and I think also having worked at Mamma mia, the you know, seeing all the amazing women there that really just openly share a lot of their lives online from you know, Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright, these amazing women that, you know, they share things that are then actually really helpful with other people, I think they gave me the confidence to stop just capturing, you know, and a friend said to me at the time, you don’t have to do anything with it, just get it now because you can’t go back and get it. And it was fabulous advice. And so from that, when I’d finished chemo, and I was out the other side, and I was felt safe to sort of share because I didn’t really share anything while I was sick. And in hospital, I didn’t share anything until I knew I was in remission, and I knew I felt safe to share. I put together a short little video called you only get one life. And that went out into the world and went viral. And one of the people that saw it was a publisher who reached out and said, I would love to talk to you about taking the essence of this video, this idea of rising to the challenge when life gets really hard, and turning it into a helpful book for anyone navigating any kind of tough time. And that just instantly resonated with me, I thought what an awesome thing to do to turn this time into something, you know, not to give it a reason or a purpose, but to for some good to come out of it. And also, I remember I got given a lot of books when I first got sick and they were dark and dense and overwhelming. And I didn’t even want them in my room. Like honestly, I was like get them away from me. They scared me I didn’t want to know about chemo. I didn’t not want to know about treatment. And so I wanted to go back and create the book that I wish I had had at the beginning. You know, something that was like a best friend that was like, I’ve been there done that you’re gonna get through this. Yeah, this is really tough, you know, not sugarcoat anything, but also not scare you and allow you to dip in and out and just get the information at a time and a pace that you are ready for it.

Jess Brady
I was saying to you offline, but this is such a great book and that I had a friend have a friend who had cancer last year and I was so desperately wish that I had given it to her when she was going through that process but as we were saying it absolutely still is okay for her to go through now because it is a journey and it is a process and I want to come back to that. But before we do I just want to say that the video which I think is the one that’s on your website is so good. I haven’t seen a video that is so raw that your voice in that video made me cry. Oh, Chet is not a crier As Alison as my No. It was just so authentic and, and I felt I felt like I knew you. I felt like I knew what you were going through. And I really felt that I was part I have a support crew on your journey and watching you, which was, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before. Oh, wow.

Briony Benjamin
Thank you, Jess, that’s that’s so lovely to hear. I mean, you know, it was funny I, I had all this footage at, you know, hours and hours of footage and I thought, Oh, I’ll make a Docker What will I do? But I thought no short form sort of viral contents always been my thing. And I think you know, if you can’t, you know, to tell, tell a story impactfully shortly, in a short and punchy way is always been what I love. And I remember people saying to me, Oh, how are you going to be able to convey what you’ve been through in like two or three minutes and I thought, just give me a give me a shot. I reckon I can do this. And my gorgeous friend, who who was my work wife at Mamma mia, she edited it and put it all together. But I remember one day, I just found that track of music. I loved it. And I just sit there sat there, it was very therapeutic. And I just cried and cried and cried, listening to that song on repeat, and just wrote out the story from beginning to end. What do you do? You know, I think the opening line is what do you do when you get the worst news of your life? And I thought, yeah, what did I do? Okay, yeah, and instantly who mattered. I called in a team, you know, I held my mom’s hand, I, you know, I kept, you know, and I just wrote it out. And so it was just a beautiful thing to put out into the world. Because the interesting unintended consequence that I hadn’t anticipated, was I had a lot of people that have been through cancer or supported someone else through it, that reached out to me and said, Thank you so much for making that video. It articulated my experience, word for word. Like, I felt like you had plucked the thoughts out of my head. And it gave me something that I could show my friends and family, and then now they understand what I went through. Because, you know, you kind of go away to you have treatment, you come back and go, Oh, how are you? Like, what was it like? And how can you convey an experience like that? In a sentence or two, you just

Jess Brady
can’t, you totally can’t, and also to help people not feel alone on their journey, I think is super impactful. What do you wish you knew before

Briony Benjamin
you got cancer? As in to help for the journey ahead? Or? Yeah,

Jess Brady
I mean, what do you like? So you talked a lot in the book about being sick for a long time, before you really got it. And I think particularly women, we wait a lot longer before we get diagnosed with something and before we be a burden on the health profession, and go and seek help or demand a second opinion. From what I gather, you were sick for quite a while you were having pretty severe symptoms. And people were just writing you off really, as you know, another person who is stressed and overwhelmed with the busy lives that will lead. Obviously, I would imagine that if you could go back in time, you would be more demanding around getting someone to take a pretty serious look, because your dad is a vet. Right? And so he was the one who sort of pieced together your symptoms and thought this isn’t normal. Yeah. So

Briony Benjamin
I must give my full credit to my mom who, because she was speaking with me every day. And she was really alarmed by the fact that I was having night sweats, that I was just exhausted all the time that I was sick all the time. You know, but then I suppose on the other hand, she was always like, Oh, you’ve been burning the candle at both ends for years and years. And so you do just think, Oh, I just wore myself out that she was sort of really on my case. And she kept saying to my dad, who is of it? Yeah. What could it be? What could it be, you know, like, come on, like, you know, have a look at this other thing. And he was then the one that said all? Yeah, you know, concerned it’s lymphoma. And, you know, I think as you said, we do like women are so often more likely to have their, you know, cancer diagnosis or any kind of like critical health condition, ascribed to a mental health condition. It really does go back to that old hysteria thing, doesn’t it? You know, just women being hysterical. I think also, women endure so much, they endure pain, they are really tough and really resilient. But they put up with a lot more pain than they need to. And we know a lot of these chronic conditions like endometriosis and chronic fatigue, and you know, that they’re more likely to affect women. You know, I spoke to a neurologist the other day, who said, the amount of women that come and see her that have just been having shocking migraines and headaches for like, 10 years or longer. And they’ve just endured it and she’s like, there’s a tablet I can give you today that will fix that like, instantly, you know, and just thinking, Oh, well, that’s just pain, isn’t it? That’s just what we have to endure. And so, if I could go back in time, I definitely would be far more assertive. You know, you can still be nice, you know, because I’m always worried. I want to be nice. I’m a kind person I don’t want to be I don’t want to be demanding I don’t want to be a Karen you know, whatever. And I if I’d gone back in time now, I wish I just found the strength to say I need you to know this is having a really severe impact on my life. And I’m Need another solution? So what do I do next? What would you do if this was you? You know, I met a girlfriend through cancer. She was in, she had a tumor in her chest that is so large, it had collapsed her lung. And she was being told she was just anxious. She literally couldn’t breathe like, yeah, that would make you feel quite anxious, I imagine. Yeah. And you know, and so we, you know, and particularly when you’re young, you give off a vibe of looking healthy. You know, I’m even if I’m feeling awful, I’m very energetic, and I’m very good at masking my symptoms. And so I think I also say to women do not wear makeup to the doctor and do not wear bronzer because it just gives us illusion of health. And I looked, I looked really well, you know, I was the wellness looking sick person you’d ever met. You know, even going into chemo my first few weeks, I thought, God, anyone looking at me would just think, what was she doing here?

Jess Brady
I think it’s a very good lesson. And we all know people that have been sick and have de prioritized or thought that, you know, I’m just tired like everyone else. But I think as financial advisors, we have a very privileged space to actually, you know, remind people like, hey, like, you’ve been feeling like this for a little while. What are you doing about it? Who are you going to sit? You know, we have conversations with people that no one, no one really gets to have? Obviously, there’s an insurance consideration in there. To make sure that people are insured or looked after. Can we talk about your financial world? So what did getting cancer mean, for you from a financial perspective, from memory, you changed some super or you did something?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah. So I had tried to get you know, all my life admin together and get organized. And on the list of things to do, I’d done it in in order, I decided to consolidate my super, because that’s what you meant to do. And I switched over to a superfund that had a really low rate, with hostplus. But unfortunately, as I found out later, it also meant there was I wasn’t automatically and didn’t have a default insurance on that Superfund. And then because I had consolidated, I lost the insurance that I would have had from other super funds, and get insurance was on my list. But it was just one of those things, you know, at the bottom of your list that you just haven’t yet got two now that keeps getting bumped and bumped, because it’s really important, but it’s not urgent, and then you get a cancer diagnosis that you never expected to get at 31. So yeah, that was that was really unfortunate, because that meant, also then because I did have some savings, it meant I couldn’t access any kind of support, financial support or government support, which, which is a bit of a double edged sword is, isn’t it because you’ve Yeah, you’ve done the right thing, and you’ve saved, so you’ve got some savings, but then you have to now dip into your life savings that you’ve accumulated to support yourself through cancer, you know, and I was in a very privileged position that I had parents I could go live with. And, you know, they really supported me through that time. But you know, if you don’t have that support network, incredibly difficult. So you know, being on top of your insurances, and you know, your financial world, making hay while the sun shines, you know, I think is a good phrase, and not just assuming it’s never gonna happen to you, because I never in a million years thought I would be getting a cancer diagnosis at 31. No, of

Jess Brady
course not. I mean, obviously, for financial advisors, this is why we speak to getting the power of advice, because we obviously understand all of the ramifications around consolidating your super before you do all the insurances and why you should be doing it the other way. And so, for you, I mean, I can imagine that you’ve used all your savings, this is you’ve, you’ve moved back for mom and dad, both for financial support, and also just added management for support. But did the treatment, was the treatment really expensive? Was the treatment mainly covered by Medicare, any private health that you might have had?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, well, you know, and it’s one of the things I felt the most grateful for, from the entire experience. I think that we live in a country that has a fabulous, you know, for all its flaws, and the complaints and things that you hear, really does have an excellent public health care system as a baseline. You know, in America, the number one cause of bankruptcy, I believe, is health care costs people’s, you know, the fact that I literally could go through 12 weeks of chemotherapy and everything that I needed, you know, and it was all covered by the government was was incredible, you know, so there were some costs associated with you have to pay for your your medications. You know, they’re subsidized but you used to have to pay for those every round which you know, if you if you can’t afford that I’m not sure what you do. There’s healthcare, concession cards and different things but really challenging for people. IVs was It’s something that I did. And it was quite funny because just you’ll love this my girlfriends and I would start at, like a finance club. And we were going through, you know, each week talking about different topics and, and literally, two weeks before I got diagnosed with we’d all been talking about freezing eggs and what that looked like what the costs associated were. So yeah, it was it was quite funny moment where like, two weeks later, I came back to the most like, Hi guys, I found out a way to fast track that and get a massive discount few catches. But yeah, because when you have, when you’re being obviously rushed through it, if you’ve got time to do it, you get one crack at it. You know, if you’re doing it normally, you might wait for you might have a few, a few months of doing it a few cycles. For me, I had a two week period before I had to start chemo though, like we’ll just get what we get. And you know, the obviously the ultimate priority here is that you are live on the other side of this not that you have eggs. But it was a wonderful thing. I felt incredibly grateful to have that time. And the opportunity to do that. And to know that I had that sort of safety net on the other side. But yeah, you know that my private health insurance kicked in a teeny teeny bit for that. And there was about a, I think, a $1,500 fee that I had to pay, and then you pay an ongoing storage fee every year about $500 to keep those stored. So yeah, though, that was probably the bigger cost financially going through it. Yeah,

Jess Brady
I want to talk a little bit about how people who are supporting someone or want to support someone who’s going through a tough time, be it cancer or you know, a different medical condition, because in your book, and I agree. Often it can be really hard to know what to do. And and I think unfortunately, a byproduct of that, is that people panic, because they don’t know what to say to you. So they say nothing, because they’re scared of mucking up and saying the wrong thing. You talk a little bit about this in the book, what did you find? Or what do you think people should know? When they’re trying to support someone who’s going through something? So life changing?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, like I think there, I wrote a whole section dedicated to this in the book, you know, I mean, I was very fortunate to have people around me that were really wonderful, and they really got it. But I’ve heard some horror stories from other people. You know, be it cancer, be it having lost someone they love, you know, people, we, I think we really, we want to jump into fix it mode, we think that’s really helpful to just jump in and start giving advice. And I say in the book, you know, unless you’ve been through that exact thing. And even then, if the person is not asking for your advice, just don’t give it. It’s not about you. You cannot fix it unless you’ve been through exactly that thing. You probably your advice probably isn’t that good anyway. Most people just want to be heard. Have someone sit with them? You know, I have a quote in the book where I just say, don’t try and fix me just sit in the rubble with me and hold my hand. You know, just being there with them. For someone to know that their loves, know that they are supported, know that they’re being heard and understood. I think that’s really helpful. Yeah, so not jumping into fix it mode. I think as well. I always go by the rule now like that. For me, it was hearing from people, even people that I hadn’t heard from in years and years and years, like all people I didn’t even know, sometimes the kindness and the well wishes that came from the most random places were the most powerful, you know, to know, I got a book and a card from a girlfriend’s friend who I’d never met. She said, I just wanted you to know that people that don’t even know you were cheering you on. Oh, I mean, it was gorgeous.

Jess Brady
I cried. I cried. That was that was a small was it? Yeah. He cried and cried. I cried. Because I thought how beautiful for someone. It also gives you an opportunity of self reflection to be like, Wow, would I ever think to write a card for someone that I know is a friend of a friend going through a hard time? I would now because I

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, you know what I’d never Absolutely. So what the

Jess Brady
kind, generous human, such a high level of empathy to be like, I don’t know you, but I need you to know that I’m rooting for you. And then I want all the best for you. Oh my god, it just like, I’m glad that I was reading it in a private place because I was a ball of mud.

Briony Benjamin
I know. And so now, you know, I always think there are very few people in the world that when they’re going through something incredibly difficult wouldn’t want to know that. They’re being supported and loved and people are thinking of them. So even if it’s as simple as just saying, Hi Jess, I know we haven’t been in contact for years. I just wanted you No, I’m so sorry. I heard the news and thinking of you and I’m sending you love. Yeah, it can be as simple as that

Jess Brady
beautiful. One of the other things you talk about is not asking for permission to do things. And I think that this is something that I really resonated as an independent human. Like if someone if I was going through a difficult time, I think and obviously you don’t know until you’re in those moments, I think if people were to say to me, what do you need? Or can I help you, you know, you, you talk a lot about not wanting to be a burden. And actually just doing the thing and giving someone a choice. I think one of the things that you talking about, it’s like, you know, simple things like, Hey, I’m going to drop your dinner this week, do you want a lasagna? Or do you want to sell it? Or do you want this magazine or that magazine? Like, you’re not offering people the opportunity to be like, Oh, no, don’t don’t bother about the bonus. Like, no, no, I’m, I’m doing this. Yes. That you want.

Briony Benjamin
Yeah. And because also, when people like I had so many of you know, well intentioned people say to me, what do you need, I’ll do anything. And it just puts such a burden on you totally one thing of it Ask, and you know, even when I was going through chemo, there is no way in hell I was going to call up and framing Can you bring me dinner? Yeah. Or, Hey, I just want you to, like, Come and hang with me. You know, and maybe in an ideal world, we would just ask for what we wanted. But it’s, it feels hard. And you just put more life admin on the person going through the thing, they can’t even think about, like, well, I’ve got so much medical admin to get through this week, you know, now I’ve got to think of a list of nice things we’ll be able to do. So I just say, yeah, just do, don’t, don’t offer just do and give, give the person an option. If you’re worried that they might not want to do this, this or this, you know, you’re gonna come around, and what are your plans? Do the garden or do this? Like, what do you want, I’m coming anyway,

Jess Brady
you offer some really practical, I’m obviously just doing the highlights reel, like what I loved about your book is that it’s obviously for someone who’s going through a really tough time. But there’s like a whole section on the supporter community piece, and you’re like, basically just leave this part out on the bench and ask him or you gift the book to the friends and say, Hey, I think this will really help you understand where I’m at, and I walked away, going, Oh, I really think I understand how I could be a good friend or a good advisor, or a good member of my community if someone I know is going through something. So thank you for making it really easy for us to make take action, you know, make towable Thanks,

Briony Benjamin
Jess. Yeah, no, that’s lovely to hear

Jess Brady
changes. You had an amazing ATM though. Can we talk about some of the things that your friends did with you? For you? Because I felt like you really could see or hear through the book, The Power of your commute. I mean, you had your guy friends coming to do mani pedi as you had with, with people when you were up to it? Like, can we talk about some of the things that people were doing? Whilst you were in? The? I guess the is?

Briony Benjamin
Would it be fair to say that the thick of it Yeah, in the shitshow?

Jess Brady
Tell us what happened? What are your friends do to help you through the shitshow?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, well, you know, I my immediate family were just really amazing. My my beautiful sister, Molly, which is how we met, she flew back from London, as soon as she heard, and she was just by my side, you know, right through it. And that was incredibly helpful. But then, you know, just the thoughtful things. So my, my partner at the time, we’re not together anymore, but what he was really good at doing was rallying a crowd. And just because, you know, I think a lot of people want to help, but they don’t know what to help do. And they need a bit of direction. And so if you can be that person, if you can be the super coordinator great. And that there’s actually an amazing app called gather my crew that you can download. And it you just enter everyone’s emails, and it puts everyone in the same little group, and you can sort of assign tasks. And so that’s a really great way to help with the actual admin. So there’s always someone across it, because, you know, as great as my 18 were, there were definitely times where, you know, I think, particularly when you’re through it, people think, Oh, she’s through chemo. Now. She’s good, Off she goes. And that actually was the hardest time. That’s when it got really hard, emotionally, because you’ve just been through this huge ordeal. You don’t know what’s next. You don’t know, if you want to go back to work or like, what’s it appropriate time to take off? And so that’s when I was really felt the most alone. And, you know, I didn’t really hear from, you know, it’s very easy to help in the crisis, because it’s very obvious to people. So that’s, you know, I think another important message is just be there once the storm has passed, because that’s actually when people really need the support. But during it, yeah, so like, my friends did things like they all got together and for my each round of chemo, they would do a really thoughtful thing. So it was the first morning when I was going in and they all compiled a video of messages and that was really lovely. It just gave me a little lift that morning and made me feel that I was being thought of and cared for. And the second round, they all made a playlist and they each wrote out a reason why they’d given me that song. And some were really like power ballads. And some were just really silly, funny ones. And then the third one was, what was the third one? Are they all spelt then they spelt we love you Brian out with their bodies. So like everyone did a different letter. And they said that and photoshopped it together. And then the fourth one, they all went and donated blood, which was amazing did a big blood drive, because a lot of cancer patients will need a blood transfusion at some point. And so just thoughtful things that were like a bit silly, a bit playful, but it made me feel really loved in when I was in the show, as we said,

Jess Brady
and I think that there is such a nice space for advisors to do, like, maybe not all of those, but some of those things to be like, Hey, we know that this is shit. We are thinking of you like our team’s gone and donated blood, we want you to know that we’re doing that so that we can help other people like you. Like I just think about that. And think that’s such an easy thing for us to do. And so impactful to the person that knows that you they’re doing it, you’re doing it because of them. I think there’s a huge opportunity for advisors to add so much personal thought into how we can help support people through a really tough time. Beyond gathering insurance, paperwork and liaising with an insurance provider. I actually interviewed a guy earlier this year named Adam Grant. And he had a motorcycling accident, he works in the industry. And one of the things he actually talked about as an opportunity for advisors, is he wanted someone a to ask what he wanted. But B support him with milestones, because what he said was, when you go through something like this, you think so many people, no one’s really doing a holistic view of like helping you get better and achieve different milestones. Now he was an accident. So I’d say he’s a slightly different, but he’s like, I wanted someone to be like, cool, what are we aiming for in the next sort of couple of months? And then how are we progressing? And what are we doing? He’s like, that no one even asked me what I needed, and therefore could never know that I wanted that sort of support, and obviously, therefore did not provide that.

Briony Benjamin
Really interesting, really interesting.

Jess Brady
I think, to your point, you need to ask someone what they looking for, though, right?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, I think so. And, you know, it was a really beautiful thing a friend did for me at the very beginning. And just just amazing. When I go back and think about it, he printed off like a list of values and wants and needs. This was in the first week. And he came and sat with me. And he’s like, random, like he like actually, Dell at Bondi booked like a little room in the pavilion, and we just sat there. And he printed out all these different quotes and beautiful ideas. And I was just able to go through it. And he’s like, this is about you just getting really clear on what you need through this time. Because it’s actually really hard to ask for what you need, especially if you don’t know what it is. So that was a bit different to what you’re talking about. But that was a really interesting idea. So I wrote about that in the book, but it was getting really clear on it. What do I need right now? Actually, do I want to learn time? Do I want to be surrounded by people? And do I need connection do I need? Yeah, and you know, it was really interesting, looking at this list of values that was so different to the sort of things that I would normally circle of independence and creativity and fun. And, you know, I still needed those things, but the most immediate values and needs really shifted. Interesting to that. That was a lovely process to go through. Yeah, people are so clever,

Jess Brady
like I was reading I think, never think to do this stuff. This is so so clever, interesting awareness that the values piece had shifted, because obviously your immediate needs required something quite different to perhaps my life or your future life, etc. So you launched the book, which can I just say, I read a lot is so easily digestible, very tangible, as I think I’ve said a 7000 times, but it’s pretty, and it’s our Thank you. really uplifting. I was like, This is great.

Briony Benjamin
And amazing. exactly how I wanted it to feel so that lovely to hear. Because it is yeah, I just, you know, I was like, oh, particularly when you’re in a in a funk or in a big giant, you know, huge thing that you’re going through, it’s like black and white and dance and texty. You know, well, I think that’s like my background of viral video making. I’m constantly thinking about the audience, right? Who is this audience? What would they share? Why would this impact them? Why would this like, be important to them? And it was the same with the book, I was really, really clear on who I was writing this for, and how I wanted them to feel when they picked it up and exactly, you know, really was very thoughtfully designed in that way.

Jess Brady
And in the book, you talk about the power of journaling, and you’ve made a journal tell us more. Yes.

Briony Benjamin
Yes. So journaling for me was absolutely critical, I would go as far as to say it was one of the most important things I did during chemo. And I just became quite religious about it, there’s a practice known as the morning pages, you get up first thing in the morning, and you just write down three pages, dump everything out of your head and put it on the paper. And it’s incredibly therapeutic and helps you just work through a whole bunch of things. And you know, there’s no right or wrong way to do it, you can whinge and moan for the whole three pages if you want. And it’s really important that you understand that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person that doesn’t reflect anything about you. They’re just thoughts, and you’re just getting them out, and you’re putting them in a more productive space. And I think it’s a really good tool, if you’re not yet ready to talk it out loud with someone, if that feels too scary, it’s you can journal it out, and almost almost practice on the page, you know. And over time, the idea is that it gives you clarity, it helps you just process. And, you know, they’ve even shown that journaling helps people heal heal quicker, they’re more resilient after traumatic events, that their wounds heal quicker, because, you know, it really is taking this stressy underlying central processing unit being overwhelmed and removing a bit of that a bit of that data in a way. Yeah. And so it was incredibly powerful for me. And so I was chatting with my publisher, the book, you know, book had done really well. And they were saying, What do you think, you know, you love journaling? And what about creating a journal version of this that people can work through as they go? So yeah, that’s gonna come out in January, which is really exciting.

Jess Brady
What an amazing tool and what an amazing gift to give someone who’s going through a tough time to give them the Book and to give them the journal the practical piece to say go and do this. And can I just say two things on that? Firstly, I loved that you said that when you were journaling, things that were coming out of on your pen, you were like, Whoa, where is this even coming from? Which shows us how sometimes we’re not actually aware of the thoughts that are racing around in our brain? Totally. And I just want to miss bus that journaling is not a girl thing. Exactly. That I don’t want to hold space for that. And if there’s a guy listening to this, going, oh, yeah, journaling. Cute. No, there’s lots of the data and the research that you suggest. And I want to hold space and say, No, guys, we can all benefit, I think,

Briony Benjamin
I think if men journal more frequently, the world would be an improved place. I think it’s great for everyone. You know, and it is, and I don’t know, I wouldn’t have written the book without that process as well. There was something very freeing about I just reconnected with my love of writing. Just got it out. And the woman who invented the concept of the artist of the morning pages is a book known as the artist way. She is just like the amount of creative projects that have been birthed through this, books, plays, films, you know, career changes, just all sorts of interesting things. Because it helps you get clarity on your life. And the thing that I found interesting is when you’re journaling, somehow, I don’t know why. But it is impossible to lie on the page. It’s really, really difficult to write something that is untrue that you don’t really feel and I found I couldn’t actually so it makes you get very clear on what you’re thinking.

Jess Brady
Um, people say really dumb shit when people get diagnosed with something terrible. And you and I are very aligned on this point, like, you know, what not to say? Like, nothing happens to strong people or God has a plan or you know, all of those crazy dumb things that are well meaning but so extraordinarily unhelpful. Yes, I’m going to try to not ask one of those. Framing, I don’t think that everything happens for a reason. I don’t think people get cancer for a reason. I think that’s a really sad thing to say. I agree. I do want to know, having been through a really tough time, where you’ve stared down the barrel of really dark questions, and had to hold space for Who am I have, what do I want and basically reinventing at a very early age? What have you learned about life? Or what changes has this led to that have been really positive? And please know that I’m not trying to

Briony Benjamin
say positive? No, you can say I 100% agree with you justice. Like I say to people, I don’t think things happen for a reason. Some people really love that phrase. For me, it’s like, yeah, like you said, you don’t get cancer for reasons. You know, someone doesn’t lose their child for a reason. Like it’s just supremely unhelpful and actually just really dismissive of someone’s pain and grief to say those sorts of things. Yeah, but I do believe really good things can come out of really awful things as well. You know, I mean, even even as simple as like the book and putting that now out into the Well, that that could never have come if I hadn’t been through a really challenging time. But yeah, I think, you know, big this big perspective shifts, there’s nothing like the wake up call of a health crisis, particularly at a young age. I think some of the really big learnings were women are freaking amazing, with just the way in which they turned up support and knew what to say my mother was just extraordinary as well, my sisters, like, the women in my life, were just amazing, the men were great too, but the women really took it to another level, the people that you have around you, and in your corner, you know, that determines the quality of your life. And really only invest energy and time into the sorts of friends that are going to be there for you, when the times get tough. Because you fairweather friends, there might be a bit of fun, but they’re not going to be there, when you need them. And, you know, I was, felt very fortunate to have an amazing, amazing crew in my corner. But I’ve always been very, very strict about the company that I keep, ya know, and the energy that I have around me. And then, you know, for me, I spent a lot of time, I’ve always been really passionate about the environment and the planet, and climate change. And I had a lot of time to think about that during my illness, but I think I was, it was a bit overwhelming to really engage with climate change, and those sort of things too much at that time. And that’s fine. I, I just decided to just put those thoughts on pause while I was recovering and healing. But as I came out of it, yeah, sort of, it very much increased my desire to make change and impact in the world, we get this one precious life, and we also have this one precious planet, that gives us everything that we need to sustain our health and well being, you know, and, and we see ourselves sort of as so separate from the environment, in Western culture, I think in in western white culture. And yet, you know, I have a lot of time, I think, just to look at nature and be in nature, even just sitting out in the garden and taking it in and, and, and just being in awe of it, you know, like when you actually stop and take it in, it is extraordinarily magical. There really is magic, just everywhere that we so often miss. And a reflection that I finished the book with, is this idea that, you know, I think we get so overwhelmed sometimes by the challenges that face our world, and we think us too hard, like, I’m just not going to engage. And I sort of made the parallel that it’s a bit the same as a cancer diagnosis. You know, like when I got taught, I had stage four cancer. Oh, that’s bad. That’s no good. But we never say, Oh, well, bad luck. Too bad. We do everything we fight, tooth and nail to preserve that life. And that same parallel with this planet. Yeah, that the problems are big and global and complex. But, you know, I think a new world is possible. And I think actually, when we’re freaked out into overwhelm, we all just a paralyzed and we don’t do anything. And so how do you keep that hope alive as you do with it with a health crisis, or, or you know, if you’re dealing with severe grief, knowing that it will get better. And I was speaking to a friend on the weekend, and he said, this most beautiful thing to me, his dad’s a farmer. And he called him when he was having a really challenging time. And he just said, our son, the rain always comes. But you’ve just got to write now and do everything you can to keep yourself alive until the rain comes again, you know, and I love that kind of idea. Like the rain does always come. But it’s just you gotta get is it every day is one day closer to the rain coming in and keeping that hope alive. So yeah, that was a bit of a long winded way of saying, you know, doing something purposeful with your time on earth. You know, being connected to a community, this community really is everything.

Jess Brady
Totally agree totally. And look, I think having such a big thing happened to us. So Young, I actually haven’t said this out loud. So I’m just going to see how I go. Thing is, over the last 12 months, I’ve actually had two cancer scares, not all process, cancer some years. And in those moments where you’re waiting for results. It’s really it’s really full on and I obviously had totally specialists in surgery and you know, you it is really terrifying. And it does create this really beautiful opportunity to pause and have your very busy life and say, what is really important to me, and what am I genuinely want slash need to do? Because I might not be here forever. I’m not here forever, obviously. What if this is it and for me, it cascaded to a whole like it ricocheted across my whole life. And it gave me profound insight in terms of what I was doing that was very aligned and what I was doing that I needed immediately to come up with I plan to change. And I think in a lot of ways, I’m super lucky because the results were really good. But also, I feel really lucky to have been forced in an uncomfortable place to have that really hard conversation with my self, and then to take action. And it sounds like you have done that, but far more amplified.

Briony Benjamin
Well, what an amazing outcome from a really difficult challenge, Jess, and I’m sorry that you had to go through that. But as we say, you know, good things can come out of terrible, terrible things that you’re faced with. So yes, yeah, there’s, there’s nothing quite like that, that in the waiting period is there to go. Oh, okay. Are we on track? Am I doing what what I’m meant to be doing on this earth?

Jess Brady
Yeah, it’s probably why I like inhaled your book. I think you know, I read it really fast. I was really, I could talk to you all day, but I’m really conscious of time. I think every financial advisor and every person that works in a financial advice business needs to read your book, because we are invariably going to come across someone in our personal life in our professional life. And I think the practical tips are so helpful. How can people learn? I’ll obviously put a link to the book in the show notes. But how can people learn more about you?

Briony Benjamin
Yeah, well, they can go to I’ve got a website for money. benjamin.com.au That’s Brian is b r i o n EY. I think it was a tricky name. And on Instagram, that’s where I spend far too much time, but has made some incredible connections with some beautiful women and some amazing men as well. On the on the ground. So yeah, that’s probably the best place to find me.

Jess Brady
Wonderful. And before we wrap up, are you okay to do a couple of very quick, rapid fire questions,

Briony Benjamin
please. Rapid fire.

Jess Brady
Oh, my guess the same ones. And I love the insights and wisdom that comes from so I’d love to know, what is one thing that you do to look after your mental health,

Briony Benjamin
journaling? Honestly, journaling, get it out of your head onto paper, it’s somehow it takes the power of the thoughts away, gives you clarity,

Jess Brady
I’m going to try that. What is a piece of advice that you would give to your younger self

Briony Benjamin
sleep, get as much sleep as you can after reading more about sleep? I think you know, and also the cancer fighting powers of sleep, like when you release melatonin in your body and literally fights cancer. You got to get eight hours of sleep guys, if you’re not like you’re on a pathway to bad health. It’s not worth it.

Jess Brady
It’s totally not worth it. Tell me something that’s on your bucket list. Oh, that’s

Briony Benjamin
such a fun question. Well, let’s let’s go big audacious goal to write a New York Times bestseller. I mean, that’s more work related one. But I’d love to go to Cuba one day as well. So that’s on there

Jess Brady
to cool ones. And last month and book recommendation for my fake book club, or nonfiction or fiction,

Briony Benjamin
whatever you want. Oh, so many at the moment. Um, I’m just reading so many book, good

Jess Brady
books, sharing all of the books in my background. Okay, do

Briony Benjamin
you know what I really enjoyed. And it’s a quick snappy read that you can get through really quickly, the gift of asking by this amazing woman coming next the pile. She’s just a power source. I met her at a conference. And it’s all about when you ask people for what you need, you actually give them a gift. She’s like most people actually want to give you what you want. But we’re not very good at articulating it. And sorry, I know this is rapid fire. But my favorite chapter is chapter three. It’s just called the mind readers. And it just has one phrase, and it just says they do not exist. So I think it’s particularly good for women, right? If we don’t ask for what we need, no one can like, give us what we want. So yeah, that’s what I’ve enjoyed recently.

Jess Brady
Amazing. A huge thank you. I know sharing your story is very personal. And I’m sure it’s still painful in some parts to talk about. And so I want to say a ginormous, thank you on behalf of the Expert community, for letting us learn more about your story, and also how we can use it for good for others. So a massive massive thank you today.

Briony Benjamin
Thank you, Jess. Well, just an absolute pleasure to have this time with you. And I’ve just loved every second of it. So thank you for making it happen. And thank you for reading my book. You know, I think that that’s been such a beautiful thing to put out into the world and having people read my story, and, you know, talk talk back together. It’s been really healing the whole process. So thank you

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