5 Ways to Never Stop Learning with Walnut Capital


BRAVA celebrates women and their accomplishments, normalizes the success of women, and advances women through a community of their contemporaries. You could be in undergrad, just starting off your career, beginning your family, or maybe transitioning into your side-hustle after your retirement. For whatever your next step may be, you need to create the right space in your life to keep learning along the way.

I’ve partnered with Walnut Capital, Pittsburgh’s best in city living, to help share how I use my space and my community to further my education and never stop learning! Continue reading below to find 5 ways to keep guiding yourself in small and big ways.


1. Take an online course: Getting your graduate degree or MBA isn’t always a must for furthering your education in the direction you particularly may need. Try enrolling in an online course! The benefits? They are a minimal cost; they can be specific to further an expertise you are looking to hone in on; and they sometimes can be done at the comfort of your own home! I’ve tried classes with Brit+Co and really loved how simple and easy they were to sign-up for. There are other classes like the Code Academy, SkillShare, and OnlineCourses.com that can really up the ante on your knowledge base on…almost anything you have your eye on!


2. Listen to a podcast: Branch out of your comfort zone by plugging in for 10-20 minutes a day on the way to work with a conversation that feels completely new! That may mean the powerful women on the Brava Podcast, CEOs sharing their start-up stories on NPR’s “How I Built This”, or maybe it means your favorite role model talking all things finance. Whatever it may be, tuning in is a great way to keep learning a habit.


3. Attend community events: Each month, I look to my apartment community to find new and fun events to explore in the Pittsburgh area! Walnut Capital has a blog that lists different local events from yoga outside in the city to Earth Day celebrations to local weekend markets that promote local businesses. Find your community’s calendar and work to attend at least one event each month to step outside your comfort zone and try a new spot.

4. Read books: It was hard for me to get back into reading after completing my MBA. It almost felt like I was still reading for school! The trick? Pick books that actually interested me! Not the biggest revelation, but honestly, it’s what I needed to tell myself. My favorites as of late? “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “The Power of Moments” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and “The Tipping Point” by Malcom Gladwell.


5. Ask: …about educational opportunities! Whether it is at work or in your community, the first step is reaching out to see what resources may be available to you already. There may be seminars and trainings at work that are free to you, which you never knew about. Arrange meetings or grab coffee with your leadership team and learn more about how they got to where they are. The same can be applied to role models in your community! Reach out and see what stories they have to share. It may inspire your next big move!

If we don’t continue to change, we don’t continue to grow. How do you keep learning? Comment and share below!

This article was brought to you in paid partnership with Walnut Capital.

Exploring Your "Aha" Moment with Lillian Rafson

Hi, listeners and happy holidays! In the mood for a holiday vacation? Today’s episode will be all about exploring your dreams, adventure and discovering your “aha” moment. Let’s talk travel. Picture this. The start-up Pack Up & Go wants to plan your 3-day weekend. The catch? Your destination is a surprise. This innovative idea and business was conceived by Lillian Rafson. Lillian, CEO and Founder of Pack Up & Go, wants you to embrace the unknown and as an entrepreneur, she’s quite spontaneous herself! Listen below to learn more about Lillian’s start-up story, her go-to advice and her own “aha” moment.


Lillian quit her job to discover what she wanted to do. She traveled and back packed and ran into to two women who were on a surprise vacation. She realized that the “surprise vacation” market wasn’t as prominent in the U.S. (1:10).

She launched Pack Up + Go within the 6-8 weeks left in her trip in 2015, researching and interviewing the locals and tourists along the way. On January 1st, she launched her Squarespace account and let her friends and family know. At that point she planned only a handful of practice trips. A friend featured her launch within Business Insider and the rest…is history (3:00).

How you find capital or fund for your big idea? Lillian’s biggest costs at the beginning were the domain name and Squarespace account. The best part of Pack Up + Go is that it’s a cash flow positive organization, full owned by their team without venture capital assistance (5:50).

Lillian was always inspired to study what made her happy in school. She went to NYU for gender studies, marketing and French. She values her hands-on experience that internships provided her while in school (7:00).

She believes that traveling forces you out of your comfort zone and gives you the ability to explore new things. She loves that her travelers are willing to let that control go and explore new things and push their own boundaries (9:19).

One of Lillian’s favorite customer stories highlights a woman that was celebrating her 70th birthday that was traveling alone. She came home from her trip and sent 50-75 pictures from her trip and that she had the best time on her trip (11:10).

Curious as to which cities are the most popular to travel to this year? Nashville and Charleston are both booming. Lillian’s favorite cities to travel to? Savannah, New Orleans and Chicago (13:16).

Let’s talk travel must-haves. Lillian’s top 3 are: a rolling suitcase, a pair of comfortable and cute sneakers, and an external battery pack for your phone (14:30).

Lillian’s go-to message and source for inspiration, an Israeli term…”YALLA” (16:30).

Yalla! Let’s go! If not now, then when? Let’s just do this.
— Lillian Rafson, CEO and Founder of Pack Up & Go

Next steps for Pack Up + Go is to expand domestic city trips and to continue to support small business in the U.S. while creating multi-city trips for customers (18:35).

Thank you readers, to tuning into the Brava Podcast. If you like the show please leave us a review on iTunes

What from our conversation inspired you today? What do you hope to hear next? Tweet or message us on Instagram @BravaPodcast to tell us what you want to hear, even if it’s your own story! 

Starting, Owning & Operating with Brianne Conley

Have you every wanted to run a retail shop? A fashionista at heart, I’ve always been intrigued about the possibility…buying seasonal trends, decking out the store…but I have no idea where to begin! Brick & mortar in the digital world? Sounds like a fashion don’t.

Enter No. 14 Boutique, a one of a kind shop. It’s creatively curated and delicately designed. Plus, it’s spearheading a masterclass on how to best utilize social media for the retail space. Join me as I interview the savvy Brianne Conley, one of the co-owners behind the brand. We’ll be diving into the “how” behind starting, owning and operating a business and you won’t want to miss it.

Tune in below to learn more!

The Brava Podcast featuring Brianne Conley No14 Boutique


Brianne saw a need for an affordable, trendy, small boutique, family-owned spot in Pittsburgh. She opened her business with her mom and she doesn’t think she could go into business with anyone else (1:30).

Buying product really is a bit like shopping and it’s Brianne’s favorite part of her job. She goes four to five times a year picking out new vendors to fit different seasons (4:51).

When it comes to education, Brianne when to High Point University in North Carolina and majored in Strategic Communications which helped her exponentially learning about public speaking and social media. Even so, Brianne admits a lot of what she learned is from her experience in starting her own business (6:23).  

She believes there is quite the difference between branding her personal and company Instagram. On her personal, she may highlight her day-to-day as an entrepreneur, but on her business account it’s much more focused on new product and selling (8:30).  

We discussed “Instagrammable Moments”, to Brianne that encompasses creating unique vignettes in parts of her store. For instance, her fitting rooms have quotes on the floor title (10:38).

Brianne works closely with her team and bounces ideas off of them. She works to create a community where each can talk openly (11:54).  

I love Brianne’s hiring process advice. Once when she was hiring for a new intern, she gave specific directions via email. If someone didn’t hire the very simple direction in the email then it may show that the person may not be the best fit for the brand (13:19).

Brianne is constantly working ahead, buying for seasons to come. Right now what’s in style? Leopard. It’s making a huge comeback for Holiday into the new year (17:46).

Brianne’s tip to following and chasing your dreams? “Just do it and be as resourceful as possible” (21:26).

Loved this episode? Share your voice and leave a review on iTunes now!