We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Griner and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rachel, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking

Risk is the defining force in my career. I’ve always been guided by my curiosity. I start with a question and learn as I go. I worked in PR for a few years right out of college and got to lead the IBM Healthcare account for Ketchum. IBM was entering this new space, and I became fascinated with how do businesses and markets evolve?

So, I decided to get my MBA. That led me to a job at P&G in global strategy development. Within a few years, I found myself back in healthcare. This time, working with the leadership team on long-term innovation. To move toward the future as a business, you need a compelling vision for change. How does a business leader create a movement?

To learn about leading change, I decided to pursue a Board position with a social justice organization. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center offered me an Executive on Loan position, backed by P&G’s former CEO John Pepper. I spent two years creating a development pipeline rooted in a theory of change. Can business have a social objective?

I resigned from P&G when my husband got an opportunity to work in Dubai. Now was the time to study social enterprise. I learned my way from the Skoll World Forum in England to a worker-owned winery in South Africa. I ended up joining Visa to lead their venture capital unit in CEEMEA. My goal was to invest in companies that would disrupt financial access in developing markets. When it was time to move back to U.S. – I was inspired to start my own business.

The question is the safety net for me, not the answer. I could not have predicted the path my career would take when I left undergrad as an English major. And, that has been such a good thing.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I’m excited to launch Brave Nu Ventures. It’s an educational travel company for people who want to build a life of exploration. These are not tours – more like a mini-sabbatical. They’re designed so people can study a topic in an immersive destination, like Art & Social Change in Atlanta.

A challenge will be to hold the business accountable to not only the profit but the outcomes. Do people actually learn through our programs – is there that fundamental perspective shift? What meaningful connections do they make? There’s also the challenge of sustainable and ethical travel. Ensuring our programs support the environment as well as fair trade and economic development.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?

Ok – this is my jam. Day 1. The first night, drinks on the rooftop of the Hotel Clermont. The sun sets so beautifully over Atlanta’s skyline. You can’t imagine anywhere in the world you’d rather be. And, that’s how you should feel.

Day 2 – It’s important to understand how Atlanta’s history of civil rights formed a culture of activism. Put your walking shoes on – it’s time for Unexpected Atlanta’s Civil Rights Walking Tour. You will feel the movement through the soles of your feet on this 2.5-hour, 2-mile trek through Sweet Auburn, the birthplace of Dr. King.

Day 3 – Did you know that Atlanta University was founded in parallel with the end of slavery in the U.S.? African-Americans saw education as a cornerstone of emancipation. We’ll visit the historically Black campus, now known as Atlanta University Center. Spelman’s Fine Art Museum has a legacy of collecting art from the African diaspora. The museum’s contemporary collection focuses on women artists from the quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend to Rozeal, a painter known for her bold depictions of race and identity.

By Day 4, we’ve probably had Busy Bee’s famous fried chicken, dumplings on Buford Highway and a Sloppy Toppy at Slutty Vegan. But, it’s not enough to eat the food. You have to learn to slice the okra for yourself. So, we’re taking a Southern cooking class with a chef at The Cooking School at Irwin St. Maybe it will be Shrimp & Grits or a Lowcountry Boil or even Vegan BBQ.

Day 5 & 6 are a bit more chill. Spend an afternoon at Iwi Fresh Spa getting veggie facials. Head out for jazz night. Lounge at Piedmont Park. I want you to just see Atlantans being Atlantans.

Day 7 Let’s go shopping at Ponce City Market. There are great local finds and we may even meet one of the shop owners at Souk Bohemian, SustainAble Home Goods or The Village.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents taught me to take risks. My father jumped out of airplanes for goodness sake. He started out a straight D student in a rural, segregated high school in Southwest Georgia. After joining the army on a whim, he was fast tracked to become a Green Beret. After his service, he became the first in his family to go to college and earned his Ph.D. at 41. My mother, at 60, decided to take a Spanish immersion class in Nicaragua. She came back 2 years later, fluent in Spanish and with a story of how she met Daniel Ortega. My parents also risked a great deal, getting married just a few years after Loving vs. Virginia, when their marriage was still illegal in many states. Their risks shaped their character and mine.

Website: bravenu.travel

Instagram: @bravenutravel

Facebook: @bravenutravel

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