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An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Effective communication — You can’t move forward if you can’t communicate (because of me being autistic and mentally ill, it’s that much more important for us to communicate because our brains are hardwired differently and we see the world differently.

As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe and Brionna Barksdale.

Joe and Brionna Barksdale. Joe, a 2011 third round draft pick in the NFL — and Brionna, a driven entrepreneur shares what it’s like being in love on the spectrum, having two daughters, and navigating their new life as a family without sports.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?

Bri: I started planning events in the 8th grade, it’s a long story, but I fell in love. This passion carried through high school and college where I produced and executed events of all sizes. When I graduated I started my own event planning company which allowed me to work wherever my husband was. While in California I met a really good friend who worked in real estate, and she thought it would be something I’d have success in as well. While I was interested at that time, I didn’t want to start something so focused on a geographic region when mine kept changing, so I waited to explore that field until Joe retired and we settled on one area. It just so happened that when we relocated, COVID hit and the event industry came to a halt. Well, I used that time to learn as much as I could about the Austin, TX market. I drove around while the roads were mostly clear, I took the appropriate classes, passed my exam, and started working to build my business. Now, I take my love of working with people, coupled with my appreciation for design, both exterior and interior, working as a REALTOR® in Austin, TX. I specialize in relocation, and work with many families making the move. As someone who has moved a lot, I know of the many hurdles, only one of which is finding a home, and do my best to help them every step of the way.

Joe: Being autistic and mentally ill it’s very difficult to communicate with people on top of not having a voice while in the NFL. I was almost fined $20k for writing “I can’t breathe” on my cleats after someone that looks like me was murdered by the police. Living the life that I have with the challenges that I’ve been facing, I have a lot to say and I wanted to do something that helped me communicate effectively with people and I found that in the arts of Music and Standup Comedy.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?

Joe: The most interesting story for me will always be seeing a child being born. It’s inexplicably beautiful and fear inducing at the same time. “Look at this life that didn’t exist before!” But at the same time “I need to do everything that I can to protect this child”. The duality of the situation makes it forever beautiful and interesting to me.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Joe: The funniest mistake that I’ve made is taking a roadtrip with Brionna and her family and drinking a milkshake (I’m lactose intolerant). We drove from Michigan to Oklahoma and I was faking sleep and farting for most of the trip.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Bri: I feel my work as a Realtor stands out because I do my best to learn as much as I can about my clients wants and needs so that I can curate a personalized experience just for them. There is no “one shoe fits all” in this business and I meet people where they are with exceptional service from start to finish.

Joe: Moonbeam music aims to produce music that people have never heard before, but have always wanted to hear. We are also huge believers in art reflecting life and being able to help people that are like us by telling our stories. I think that that combination of a refreshing sound and relatability through the truth in the music help us stand out.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Bri: Yes, so I’m still very active with events, it’s a great real estate referral source for me, so event wise I’m working 3 large scale events for 2023 that will be announced soon.

With regard to real estate, the market is ever changing, but I’ve been working in the background on my branding and marketing, and some tools that will streamline my process.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Joe: Treat them like people. Love makes people more loyal than fear.

Bri: Find out what they are passionate about and then figure out a way to support that passion. Oftentimes there is a way to incorporate a person’s passion in what they are doing and you bring out the best in individuals who are passionate.

How do you define “Leadership”?

Joe: Being the person that you tell other people to be and knowing that you don’t know everything.

Bri: For me leadership has always been about setting a standard and being the first example.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Joe: Charleston Fobbs and Kobe Bryant. I know that I picked two people but they both played the same role in my life as a mentor/big brother figure that I never had. I don’t really have any interesting stories but I will say that I used to get very nervous before football games and I would always call Fobbs, he was my confidence, because I don’t have any in myself. I hate myself in fact, but he was always there to help reassure me when I needed it the most. He started out as my high school coach and stayed a very important part of my life until his untimely death. I’d say that Kobe Bryant helped me reexamine my life and see what my real dreams were as an artist. He gave me the courage and knowledge to start on this whole professional artist path in the first place.

Bri: I am very grateful for my mother. She made several sacrifices for me to be in the position that I’m in now and she’s still such a very strong support system to our family. She’s always a call away and there when you need her. A few weeks ago while picking up Joe’s Father’s Day gift I ran over something and got two flat tires. She came and picked me and the kids up, pretty late in the evening, as opposed to me calling an Uber, just because that’s who she is. I definitely have her servant’s heart.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Joe: Community service and bringing hope to people on stage. I love giving back to the community and always have. I believe the strength of a community lies in the people which is why I love investing in people. I like to think that I bring hope to people during my comedy and music shows by sharing my story and hopefully helping people feel seen and know that they are not alone.

Bri: Joe and I love to do things for the community. A few years back we started an Annual Backpack Giveaway with the goal of giving kids bags they could be proud of. We purchased bags from Sprayground and handed them out with school supplies. While Joe was with the Chargers in Orange County I organized with the department of family services a give back program where we adopted families with kids in the foster care system. Each year several of his teammates stepped up to adopt families.

What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.

1.Effective communication — You can’t move forward if you can’t communicate (because of me being autistic and mentally ill, it’s that much more important for us to communicate because our brains are hardwired differently and we see the world differently.

2.Sense of Individual Purpose- Joe and I have found that having an individual purpose that we can both support works better for us then both working on the same thing.

3.Team Oriented Attitude- Both Joe and I come from competitive sports backgrounds, So we look at our family like a team, and we both like to win. We share our goals with each other and then both do as much as we can to help the other achieve their goals. Sometimes that could mean Joe coming with me to an open house so that I’m not there by myself which is unsafe or me helping plan events around what Joe is doing to get him in front of more people.

4.Honesty — It’s important that we’re honest with each other, because the last thing you want is someone from outside the house to tell your spouse something that you could’ve shared with them prior. For example, when I first started doing comedy I would run all of my material by Bri. Her feedback helped me shape some of my jokes to make them funnier and remove those that weren’t funny at all. That helped me get better.

5.Trust — Trust is so important because we know that we have each other’s best interest at heart which allows us to receive feedback from the other objectively and grow from it.

You are people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Bri: If I could inspire a movement it would be called the Give Love, Give Kindness movement. I think there are so many people in the world just starving to feel loved, or that someone cares about them. Sometimes it’s just one act of kindness that could impact how someone views themselves or their life here on earth. Also, giving those two things away is free, and no one can “run out” of either, so this is something that could, and should, go on forever.

Joe: I’m behind that!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Bri: Seek Qualified Advice. I’ve found that many people seek out advice prior to making a decision; however, there are many times where the people they are asking for advice aren’t qualified to give advice on that topic. For a long time I went to only one person for advice, but it wasn’t until I realized that person had not done some of the things I was trying to do, that I branched out and found mentors that could give me advice based on their experience.

Joe: A poem entitled, “The View From Halfway Down”

The weak breeze whispers nothing

the water screams sublime.

His feet shift, teeter-totter

deep breaths, stand back, it’s time.

Toes untouch the overpass

soon he’s water-bound.

Eyes locked shut but peek to see

the view from halfway down.

A little wind, a summer sun

a river rich and regal.

A flood of fond endorphins

brings a calm that knows no equal.

You’re flying now, you see things

much more clear than from the ground.

It’s all okay, or it would be

were you not now halfway down.

Thrash to break from gravity

what now could slow the drop?

All I’d give for toes to touch

the safety back at top.

But this is it, the deed is done

silence drowns the sound.

Before I leaped I should’ve seen

the view from halfway down.

I really should’ve thought about

the view from halfway down.

I wish I could’ve known about

the view from halfway down —

This is a poem that I read at least once a day to remind myself of what is on the other side of suicide attempts if that makes sense. I love this poem and the show that it comes from (Bojack Horseman) and think that this show and episode that this poem came from in particular will save many lives. It helped save mine.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Joe: Dwayne Johnson. He’s been such an inspiration to me and is one of the reasons that I was comfortable walking away from football to chase my dreams because he walked away from wrestling to do the same. He’s also talked about his struggles with mental health and he’s just been such a huge part of my life without even knowing. It’d be nice to meet him so that I could say thank you.

Bri: If I could have lunch with anyone it would likely be Mark Cuban. He seems like such a brilliant guy and I love it when he talks about how he’s raising his kids. You can tell he has a good heart and I really appreciate that about him.

How can our readers follow your work online?

Bri: instagram is best @BriBarksdale

Joe: instagram is best @jbdale72

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, With Joe and Brionna Barksdale was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.