The name “Tebo” graces dozens of shopping plazas, business developments and apartment complexes in Boulder. Long-time commercial landlord Stephen Tebo owns over 200 properties in and around Boulder and has 850 tenants.
He also has five biological child, one of which is a daughter named Brandilyn, who has begun to carry on his legacy of building community and connecting people in Boulder and beyond; though in Brandilyn’s case, through transformational coaching rather than real estate.
Brandilyn, age 27, runs a one-on-one coaching business and since 2016 has co-owned a retreat company called The Shifts Retreats with her best friend, and yoga and breathwork instructor, Kristen Van Genderen and her step-sister, Serena Laflin. Since its launch, the company has hosted over 40 retreats in places like Ojai, California and Hawaii, with about 15 people attending each.
She started coaching professionally about six years ago after her own involvement with several different transformational programs, beginning with Landmark Forum, a three-day program which she discovered at age 19 while living in Los Angeles and struggling with anxiety, OCD, sleep disorder and an eating disorder.
Brandilyn has worked with approximately 400 people over the last five years through her one-one-one coaching. She infuses spirituality into her approach, as well as modalities such Nonviolent Communication, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Somatic Healing and more.
“I wanted to give others that same freedom, peace and possibility,” she says.
Early days: the ‘Achievement Trap’
Brandilyn’s parents never actually married each other; they had split custody of her from the time she was born. Growing up with a hectic rhythm common for kids with two sets of parents, and amplified by her dad’s incredibly visible social status, Brandilyn experienced a lot at a very young age.
At age 4, she moved to Pennsylvania with her mom and stepdad, and Brandilyn spent her entire childhood shuffling back and forth between Allentown and Boulder.
“It’s hard to have so much tumultuousness in your life,” says Brandilyn, who developed a lot of anxiety around her visits to Colorado. “As a kid, you want to be able to spend summer breaks with your friends.”
Most of her friends were in Pennsylvania; in Colorado, she would have a different kind of growing up to do. In Boulder, Brandilyn spent a lot of time going to charity fundraisers and speaking on behalf of her family, schmoozing and networking.
What began as separation anxiety from her mom and sister morphed into what Brandilyn calls an achievement trap, constantly feeling like she needed to be the best at everything in order to keep her PA life.
“Since I was little, I had to be perfect in school,” recalls Brandilyn. “I had to be on student council, in the school plays, a cheerleader, on the debate team. I needed to get A pluses on all my AP classes and run for Vice President of the student body. I was exhausted.”
This self-imposed pressure for perfection ran her into the ground physically, emotionall and mentally, leading to OCD, a sleep disorder, and an eating disorder. It wasn’t until Brandilyn began to see a therapist for her eating disorder that she first discovered transformational work, a path that would lead Brandilyn to heal her anxiety and disorders and ultimately write her book, The Achievement Trap: The Over-Achiever, People-Pleaser & Perfectionist’s Guide to Freedom & True Success.
The core of this book comes down to living life inside out and to busting the myth that we need results first to then become successful. “Achievement is an addiction like drugs, alcohol or gambling,” Brandilyn says. “It’s not treated that way because it’s so condoned in our society. We’re told since birth our worth is our productivity.”
She remembers when she did a book talk at Boulder Book Store. Her dad came up afterwards and said, “I feel like you wrote this book for me and about me.” Not really, she told him, but he definitely inspired her journey.
Though her dad’s status put a lot of pressure on Brandilyn to perform, it also taught her a lot about community, with Stephen Tebo making a name for himself as a master community-builder.
“His network is massive,” says Brandilyn. “He says himself his business is relationships.” From the time she was little she remembers walking down Pearl Street and everyone greeting them. Her dad’s network has helped connect her to people in similar fields, allowing her to pick their brains and talk to them.
Seeing both sides
Brandilyn tells BLDRfly she’s always had the ability to understand that people don’t just have one side, but multiple ones. This perspective has also helped her remain understanding when she hears negative things about her father. “If we look at their bad side and hold them only to that,” she says, “we’re missing out on so much good.”
Much of the way she teaches and coaches revolves around “listening for the gold,” extracting the goodness and helping people transform through the way we listen.
Brandilyn’s position as an involuntary Boulder socialite has given her a unique perspective when it comes to the world of material gain as it pertains to inner peace.
“I’ve been seeing my whole life that material things don’t create happiness,” she says. “You can have everything in the world — a private jet, six houses, and so much notoriety and success. That doesn’t make you happy. That myth was busted from me pretty early on. A lot of people need to acquire and accumulate before they see this.”
Editor’s note: We have updated the article to more accurately state Brandilyn as one of five biological children of Stephen Tebo. She is the only one he had with her mother.
Header Image: Brandilyn Tebo. Image: brandilyntebo.com.