Thought Leadership

The Power of Gifts

July 12, 2023 | Brown & Brown Insurance | Thought Leadership

The Power Of Gifts
by Julie Turpin, Chief People Officer at Brown & Brown Insurance

In my recent keynote at the second annual Brown & Brown Insurance Women in Sales Summit, I shared a version of the following. This Summit brings together a group of powerful, intelligent, capable female leaders from across our organization to support, share and learn from each other. The theme of this year’s Summit was “Grow, Girl, Grow!” and we took a deeper look at the experiences and perspectives that help us grow, both personally and professionally. No matter our background or current position, we are all shaped by our experiences. Our experiences become our stories. We share our stories to connect with and inspire each other. This is part of my story.

(Pictured above: 2023 Women in Sales Summer Keynote)

What if you looked at every challenge, every bully and every difficult interaction as a gift? How would that change your perspective of these people and situations?

Early in my career, while working at a different organization, I was looking forward to meeting a female executive I had interacted with on conference calls.

I will never forget my initial disappointment when meeting her in person for the first time.

While she seemed so friendly and kind over the phone, she made me feel irrelevant in person. She gave me the up-and-down look and then turned away. I was crushed.

It wasn’t until I changed my perspective years later that I could look back on this experience as a moment of learning and as a gift, providing insight into the kind of female leader I didn’t want to become and motivation to be someone different.

For example, when a male colleague of mine, a little bit later in my career, threw a fit over not receiving special treatment during the buildout of C-suite offices, I handled the situation like this: I sat with my colleague, heard his concerns and had the critical conversation with good intentions. I then took that experience and grew from it as well.

This is the power of gifts, experiences that may feel negative or challenging while in the moment, but with the right perspective, they can be nothing but positive to your personal growth.

How to accept gifts you never asked for from noble friends

These individuals who challenge or antagonize us throughout our lives are just as valuable as those that lift us up. I encourage you to be equally grateful to these ‘noble friends.’

I believe women who fall into the behaviors of noble friends are getting caught up in the bitch pitfall, considering their success only through the lens of scarcity. And we learn the law of scarcity at a young age.

But the secret to managing noble friends is to learn from the gifts they are giving you. These noble friends usually disappear once you’ve grown through that experience, but the lessons learned remain.

Unlike the ugly sweater or vase your friend gave you last holiday, it’s not rude to regift the gifts we’re talking about here. You’re likely not asking for challenging situations (at least not yet 😉), but I encourage you to find ways to accept them and repurpose the lessons you learn. I know that’s easier said than done. Here are three techniques to get you started:

1.    Take full responsibility for your response. You cannot control how other people treat you or the gifts they throw your way. All you can control is your reaction and how you choose to grow from that relationship or interaction.

When faced with a difficult situation, I ask myself these three things: What am I being asked to learn about myself? What am I being called to heal within myself? What am I being guided to change? When you take responsibility for your experience, you open yourself up for growth.

2.    Embrace forgiveness of others. Grudges are heavy and can weigh you down. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone but allow yourself freedom from anger. A technique that has worked for me is a 7-minute forgiveness meditation. Instead of holding on to negative experiences for years, take 7 minutes in the moment or right after the moment to process how you feel, what you can take from the situation and how you can move beyond it. I’ve witnessed the power of the forgiveness meditation in others as well, as a woman who hadn’t spoken to her cousin in 15 years reached out after taking the time to meditate on it at the Women in Sales Summit!

3.    Embrace forgiveness of yourself. When we receive the gift of feedback we disagree with, we can quickly become defensive and slip into denial. It is difficult to acknowledge and accept our shortcomings or mistakes, and it takes real vulnerability to recognize personal areas for improvement. But showing up for yourself helps you show up for others, and a big part of this is learning to forgive yourself.

Acceptance is wisdom gained. When we accept gifts — whether it be feedback or a challenging encounter — we add new tools to our backpack of wisdom that will help us navigate future situations. I no longer resist lessons but seek them out by approaching difficult experiences openly for the sake of incorporating a new nugget of wisdom into my backpack.

My backpack of wisdom is the biggest gift that I can share with others.

Always share your brownies

Imagine you’re alone in the kitchen baking brownies while your friends and family gather in the living room. A friend comes in to comment on the delicious smell. You promise to bring them to the group when they are done, but instead, you eat them all yourself.

According to author Fabienne Fredrickson, when you don’t share your gifts (brownies!) with your community, you leave them hungry and wanting — and maybe a little bitter! When we all share our gifts, we nourish the world.
I believe there is a bigger plan for each of us, bigger than we can imagine for ourselves. We create a new reality when we allow ourselves to imagine something different.

I once changed my life’s blueprint by accepting the Chief People Officer position at Brown & Brown Insurance. I never imagined myself in this role. It took someone else’s encouragement and recognition of my gifts to stretch my own beliefs in myself. When you allow yourself to believe something is possible and expect it will happen, so much more is possible.

The Takeaways: Your life is a journey — a series of missions and projects, all with beautiful lessons and gifts. While not all of them are pivotal turning points in our stories, they each offer nuggets of wisdom that shape us into who we are.


  • How you show up for yourself impacts how you show up for others. Even when others aren’t giving you their best self, when you know how to forgive yourself, you know how to forgive these noble friends.
  • It’s not what happens to you that matters but how you react to it. You are responsible for your response, and you never know the impact it could make on others and the wisdom they are gaining from that same experience.
  • If you open yourself up to every gift, one day, you’ll take inventory of your life and accomplishments and notice how many times you’ve achieved something you once thought was impossible.


PurposeFULL Leadership
How Personal & Professional Growth Can Help You Lead A Fullfilled Life
by Julie Turpin, Chief People Officer at Brown & Brown Insurance

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