Talking Shop with Brenda Warner, Women Inspiring eNtrepreneurship conference speaker

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brenda Warner -- author, mother, philanthropist and wife of former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner -- will share her life story Saturday during the Women Inspiring eNtrepreneurship conference at Dempster Hall at Southeast Missouri State University. The conference will wrap up a full week of Global Entrepreneurship Week activities sponsored by the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship that begin today. For a complete schedule, visit www.semo.edu/gew or call 651-2010.

Question: Describe the message you'll be sharing at the Women Inspiring eNtrepreneurship Conference.

Answer: What I want to share with everybody is how I've had so many obstacles and struggles in my own life. I had to know who I was and that I was created for a purpose to overcome them. There have been many different parts of my life should have taken me out. Times when I should have given up. When Kurt and I met, I was on food stamps, starting over with two kids having just gone through a divorce. Then we hit it big and all the sudden have millions of dollars.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing working women today?

A: Working women have to balance so much in life. I'm a mother of seven and for me, it's always first things first. You have to figure out what's most important. Sometimes I look at my kids and their clothes don't match, their shoes don't match, but you know what, they put them on themselves. I have to remove myself from worrying about every detail and realize I am raising kids that are independent and want to help others. That's what should come first. We have seven, so we always joke that we'll probably screw somebody up, but so far, so good.

Q: What is the mission of the not-for-profit First Things First Foundation you founded with your husband, Kurt Warner?

A: It's not just limited to just one area, it's really wide open. Whatever we feel called to help with, then we go that way. We've worked to helping single mothers, helping kids with terminal diagnoses, we've worked with other charities as well. You don't want to reinvent the wheel all the time, and some people already have a lot figured out. Sometimes you can hook up with people who are like-minded and have the same goal and you get it done even stronger and better. Sometimes you need others and the way you humble yourself and say you need help makes you a better person.

Q: What makes you want to devote your time and resources to give to others?

A: When you are raised right, you are given the belief that you are here for other people. That you're not here to just enjoy yourself, that transpires into a life of giving. Our parents raised us that way, and now we have the opportunity and privilege. When we got all the money, fame and fortune, we already knew who we were and knew that it's bigger than us.

Q: How did your service in the U.S. Marine Corps shape who you are today?

A: I believe the Marine Corps showed me you have to have discipline in your life and there's no turning back. Once you sign up you are in. You're never an ex-Marine, you're a former Marine. It's in you. It's just in your blood. It's helped me to feel like whatever is ahead of me, I can take that hill. I want to be one of those friends you want in your foxhole. So many aspects of the Marine Corps made me stronger, made me stand straighter, and realize that I am a strong person inside and out and I love the Marine Corps taught me that at such a young age.

Q: Describe the process of writing your book, "First Things First," with your husband.

A: Everybody would come up to us and tell us that they were inspired by our story, but we found out that a lot of people only knew a little bit of the story. Or it had changed, it wasn't even our story that they knew. We said it's time to set the record straight and write our story. It's funny, have you ever been through something with someone and then you talk about it with them and say to them, "Were we in the same place?" His perspective was so different than mine. You get Kurt's perspective and mine in each chapter. We enjoy each other, we enjoy live and we enjoy raising our children. There's a lot of humor in it, and it was a lot of fun.

Q: What is your next writing project?

A: I am a storyteller, it's my forte. I'm writing my autobiography right now. Everybody knows my story with Kurt, but they don't know me. I wanted to write it to tell my daughters why I am the way I am. I've been through things that other people, women and mothers can learn from and now I'm going to share that with the world.

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