We had the good fortune of connecting with Keele Burgin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keele, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Several years ago I climbed the Grand Canyon. It was the hardest physical thing I have ever done. I went with eleven women I had never met and one woman I’d been wanting to get to know better for a decade. We were in the middle of a government shutdown which meant there would be no water stations, likely no bathrooms and no rangers in the Canyon. We would be on our own. Just because that wasn’t enough to deter us, we found out the main water line was out at Phantom Ranch, the place we were staying our lodging at the bottom, so we would not have any running water after the descent.
My determination to stay on the journey was unrelenting. I signed up for this crazy adventure because I knew I had to do something drastic to shock myself back to the land of the living after a decimating divorce. I was going to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to leave my marriage behind and climb out to my new life. The only problem was I needed a plan – I had no idea what my new life was going to be or if I was capable of creating it.
In the past I’d been very successful starting, growing and selling businesses. My resume was solid, everything from taking my international strategic marketing company public to selling an analytics business to a Fortune 100 company. But this time I was worried, would I be able to do that again? How could I make something valuable when I didn’t feel my own worth?
As you can imagine I had a lot of time to think, to place my life on an observation wheel, and to take in the awe of my surroundings. As the temperature dropped and the snow began to thicken, I found myself watching the women as we walked in silence for hours. They were each in a place of their own fear, contemplation or excitement. As the snow began to thicken I felt a sense of waking up, like the last part of a yawn when you know you are about to put your feet on the floor to start another day.
I saw the women fall and get picked up, I heard them share their wisdom and their devastation. I watched them give their water when they didn’t know if there would be more. I listened to their stories and in a profound way I knew I wasn’t alone. One woman in particular was my counter opposite, her actions in her relationship reminded me of my “wasband’s” hurtful behavior. In hearing her story I was moved a step toward empathy for him.
I witnessed in those four days how women show up for each other. I saw that when Julie couldn’t carry her 35-pound pack another step, we divided her things among several of us and kept her moving. We sat up late in our old wooden bunk beds, and I listened to beautiful words dripping from these women’s lips. Things they had promised to never say out loud now took residence in my heart. I could feel the healing taking place because we were present for each other, we were cradling the words of joy and suffering. Life is both; we sometimes run from the suffering, but it is still intertwined in the fabric of our life.
I went home from that trip a changed and motivated woman. I knew it was time for me to start a new business, and by the time I climbed out of that canyon I was clear about the mission. Within weeks (B)Tribes was birthed into the world. We curate groups of twelve like-minded women who walk through a three month or six-month curriculum together, embracing all that they are and coming out on the other side transformed. Like the Canyon was for me, (B)Tribes is a challenging, invigorating and rewarding experience.
I named it (B) because I want everyone to BE who they are in the moment. Be giddy. Be free. Be powerful. Be a hot mess. Just BE and know you are worthy. Another tenet we live by is the knowing that we are all the teacher and we are all the student; it just depends on the topic. The collective wisdom floats to the surface.
In that same 3-week period everything shifted. Not only was (B)Tribes coming into fruition at full force, my book, Wholly Unraveled, where I tell my own stories I didn’t want say out loud, was sold to a major publisher in New York. Equally breathtaking, my childhood sweetheart, whom I hadn’t had contact with in decades, reached out and we have been together ever since.
So, to answer the question, “What was the thought process behind starting your business?” I guess my short answer is I didn’t know I was starting one, but I was committed to doing the next right thing and those things became a string of important decisions that led me here and I am grateful beyond measure for the life I live now. It is my authentic life!! I feel blessed to work with women who want to up their game and find and use their voice to change the world for the better.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
(B)Tribes believes in profound transformation. The (B) experience, with its powerful curriculum and deep relationships amongst the tribe, changes the trajectory of women’s lives and opens them to move along their unique path with worth, direction and accountability.
Some of the lessons I have learned along the way? I know wholeheartedly that when a woman finds and uses her authentic voice she will change the world around her. I know that we are all the teacher and we are all the student, it just depends on the topic. I know that when you spill the stories that you don’t want to say out loud you can release the shame, guilt and fear that is trapped inside of you. I know that there is a direct correlation between sharing our stories and happiness.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Boulder, otherwise known to many as “paradise”. I would begin our day with a hike, probably at Annie U. It wraps around a beautiful stream and goes deep into the forest where I feel most alive. There is something about hearing the water run down the mountain as you are climbing to the top. Ahhhh. From there we would stop at Snooze (& probably wait in line) and I would order a Bhakti Chai, extra dark and we would split the Bella, Bella, Beni. We would spend the next few hours roaming in and out of the Pearl Street mall shops and my friend would probably buy a Lakshmi statue of some sort from Old Tibet. It’s tough to get out of that store once you are in, so we would probably end up making music with singing bowls and entertaining each other by reading the little pieces of paper that tell us the different energies of the crystals. A stop at Cedar and Hyde is a must for the most spectacularly curated clothes, jewelry and home goods. Yum! From there we head to Jax for the coveted outside table and begin a wonderful night of food and bevvies Boulder style. On our walk home there are musicians and street artists adorning our little town with their talents and tricks and my friends turns to me and says, “Wow, you are so blessed to live here. I think I’m going to have to move here.”
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?
I was coming out of a year-long silent retreat that (obviously) changed my life. Integrating back into the world was tough! I met Connie Ning and she became my go-to person for me for all things spiritual and worthy. She took me to Vietnam and introduced me to being of service to women in need. She is the founder of friendshipbridge.org and maiaimpact.org where I served on the board for over twenty years. Thank you Connie!!
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