Ruth Penfold-Brown

Founder at Bloom

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

When I was about three or four years old, I was audacious and bodacious, no one could tell me anything. I fed myself as soon as I was able to hold a spoon, I was tiny but I took up a tonne of space. It shifted soon after that at about five or six, when I started to shrink and become who I thought the world wanted me to be.

2. What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?

Swiping right on Tinder with a man who was based in the US. We ended up video chatting for a while, then managed to arrange to meet one another in St Lucia for our first date. It was peak pandemic so this was one of only 7 countries in the whole world that we could both fly into. That was in October 2020, we got married in March 2022 and I am now living in America!

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

Giving thanks before I eat. When I met my husband, he liked to give thanks before he ate, so I started doing it with him. Now I absolutely love it. A moment of pause, and of total gratitude does wonders for the soul. It also makes you eat a little more mindfully.

4. When was the last time you changed your mind about something really important?What was it and what led you to change your view?

The only thing that comes to mind here is me! I had very low self esteem for a very long time, and I worked for many years to overcome it. I have gone from feeling un-intelligent, un-attractive and un-worthy to completely embracing and loving everything that I am. I’d say that is pretty important haha.

5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

That because I appear joyful that things have been easy. It is safe to say I walked through fire to get my joy haha. But joy is a funny thing, because I think it isn’t about being ecstatic, it’s that feeling of calm that you get when you are walking in alignment with your soul.

6. What is your untrainable superpower?

Meeting strangers like old friends. I know people from the moment that I meet them, look them right in the eye and love them instantly. Therefore it is very easy for me to act like we have known each other forever, because we kinda have. We are all same same but different after all.

7. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

I think I have felt like an outsider at more times in my life than an insider tbh. Sometimes that is about being a woman in male dominated spaces, but most of the time is has been down to the fact that my brain works a little differently to others. I have a brain that can jump from thing to thing to thing. I used to judge myself on that, and see others as more intelligent or better because of it. Now I completely love my brain and all its creativity and quirks. I love that I can read energy, people and situations and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

8. What do you think is acceptable today but will become taboo tomorrow?

I am all about a world of evolving into more openness, so I hate the idea of more taboos. I think we can already see old taboos creeping back into new, and that scares me. But if I can just pick anything I would choose screen time yo. I think we need to become more disciplined about screens and the role they play in our lives, and I think if we feel like something is taboo or wrong, some of us may start to choose to do something different.

9. What’s the last image on your camera roll? Care to explain?

It’s a picture of my husband and I, a selfie though, nothing crazy haha. We are travelling a bit together with his work.

10. What’s your favourite meal? Can you say why?

Anything pancake related. I have no idea why I love them so much haha. I have long been a fan of edible round flat things; pancakes, pizzas, tacos. I have literally munched my way around the world looking for the best ones. My favourite haunt is Little Choc in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, amazing crepes!

11. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

One of those bougie beautiful coffee bars, all exposed brick work, high ceilings, think New York loft ish. Lush.

12. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising most? Why?

Erik Killmonger from Black Panther. He was just a kid who lost his Dad really, I wanted him to become part of the family and for them to be friends.

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it and when?

Be yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it was also the hardest! There are so many factors that have and do alter us in society, that most of us grow up not really knowing who we truly are. If that’s you, start with figuring out your values, they are a great way to navigate back to your essence!

14. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

My energy. I always show up fully for stuff, and I will always give my all, even if I don’t always get things right!

15. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

I can easily fall into leader or organiser roles. I will do whatever I can to help optimise and make people come together better. I think it comes from not being comfortable with discomfort and wanting to be liked, both things I will always be working on haha.

16. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?

Yes I think I have and I was the leader. It wasn’t that I was weak overall, but I was weak at being who I needed to be to help the team to be successful. I have worked on that since, a lot!

17. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

People leaning into challenging conversations at work. Humans avoid conflict and discomfort, and as long as we keep doing that, we lose so much by not being honest together. Relationships take effort, every single one of them.

18. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?

Learning how to be me as fast as possible, then building from there. It’s magic, I tell you!

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

What is your life philosophy in a tweet?

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Hmmmmm Luke O’Mahoney I think, he’s super insightful!

Thank you to Ruth Penfold-Brown for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Ruth on LinkedIn.

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