Kathy Wu Brady on Developing a Mission First Mindset During COVID-19

Apr 20, 2021 | podcast

Welcome to College Admissions in the Era of COVID-19 Virtual Summit! On today’s episode, we give you a glimpse into Dr. Legatt’s conversation with Kathy Wu Brady.


VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. I am Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and elite admissions expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. You’re going to be hearing today from our summit speaker, and I’m so excited to share just a glimpse of the summit with you. I wanted to give you a sense of what you missed if you had to miss it and invite you to get a VIP All-Access Pass to the summit. This access pass will allow you to get full, unlimited and lifetime access to all those session recordings. This is just a clip. You’ll also have the ability to attend live Q & A session with me where I will answer your questions about college admissions right on the spot. And you’re going to also gain access to my personal Ultimate College Application Template bundle with bonus materials and that has a value of $397. So click on the show notes. Go ahead, reserve your VIP ticket so that you can gain access to the full summit experience and all its perks. See you soon. 

So here we are with Kathy Wu Brady. She is the Chief People Officer and chief of staff at Catch-A-Fire. Catch-A-Fire is a social impact startup dedicated to supporting nonprofits by connecting them with talented volunteers. Prior to Catch-A-Fire, Kathy held a number of senior leadership roles in technology, media and ecommerce, and she’s worked at companies like NBC, Universal, Hulu, AOL and American Express. She’s passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion, social impact work and spending time with her partner and their two children. I’m so happy to have you, Kathy. And today we’re going to be talking about mission first mindset during COVID 19. And I know, you know, if you’ve been over the summit these last couple of days, you see that so many of our speakers are really emphasizing the importance of resilience, authenticity, and figuring out our goals based on a true, purpose driven mission. So we’re really excited for Kathy’s perspective. We’re going to talk about any common struggles or opportunities that families and students are thinking about and how to improve your mindset towards the mission first mindset. So welcome, Kathy! Great to have you. 

KWB: Thank you so much. A pleasure to be here. 

AL: I’ve explained a little bit about your background and shared a little bit about you, but love to hear from you. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the work that you’re doing today. 

KWB: Well, you know, it was a journey. You sometimes hear people talk about living your life in chapters or living your career in chapters, and I actually like to think of it almost as waves in your life. An example I gave is I can’t consistently exercise. I can do it like six month increments, and then it just falls off the wagon. And in my career, I’ve had different objectives at different moments. I come from a family of immigrants, and early on in my career journey, my college journey. It was about trying to go and create financial, civility and progress being that next generation in the country. But then, as I continued working, I really found that, frankly. Similarly, for example, to my mother, who was a nurse, I really want to find an industry and a line of work that I felt like was actually more resonant with what I care about most. I think media is fun. I think fashion is delightful. But as I worked in those industries, I said, I really don’t want to drive another click. And instead, I was lucky enough through my personal network, and I think that’s actually really important. Events like this are a wonderful way to meet new people and to get inspired. I got connected with a founder of Catch-A-Fire and Catch-A-Fire was able to melt so many aspects of my experience into one place. It’s an online platform. It uses technology to connect people who need to get work done together. It is a really novel method because it was a typical before, certainly before the pandemic where people would say virtual work was not the standard for most folks. And that’s been a part of Catch-A-Fire’s model from the beginning. What was fantastic is that our model serves multiple constituents, so we get to serve nonprofits professionals who want to be volunteers. And then we work with grant making foundations, which are more like enterprises, institutions as well as corporation. And so for me, the journey has really been one that has been personal, but also very much supported by the people around me. 

AL: That’s great to hear. So certainly just hearing about your own trajectory, you’ve really been continuing to define that purpose and take steps for yourself. I think that’s a great model, an example for any students listening and parents who may be guiding their students during this time. What is kind of a mission? First mindset to you, and what do you see as some benefits of developing this mindset? 

KWB: Yeah. I think this is such a valuable way to go and frankly, live life. I will caveat by saying, as I said before that, I do think life can be lived in chapel, actors and waves. And I think sometimes this notion that you have to have it all figured out at any point, frankly, is a bit of a misnomer and probably puts too much pressure on us. What I will say, though, is as a mission. First mindset, I think, is about finding purpose, finding an aim, finding a way to be fulfilled. They often distinguish in this world like happiness versus fulfillment. Happiness can be a very short term opportunity, but fulfillment lasts for much longer. And so I think that for me in this conversation, I wanted to find it even a little bit more narrowly, which is focusing on something that’s outside of you. How might you contribute to the greater good? The research on this is actually really positive that when you do focus on something a little bit outside of yourself, it leads to a longer life. It leads to lower health risks, and you can generate greater human connection, which I think is really important, something that probably has been brought into stark relief during the pandemic. Think that when you think about kind of how this is actually manifestable what’s interesting about the longer life span, it’s actually, the research indicates that when you have something that’s outside of yourself to focus on, it has a greater impact on your health than socioeconomic gender, race, education levels, or even other behaviors, such as drinking or smoking or exercising. For me personally, finding something that has given me a sense of purpose outside of my own kind of immediate needs has helped me feel more confident, more grounded. And I heard you just talking in the earlier session. I feel more gratitude every day because I get to work on something that drives towards a mission that really speaks to me.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.