Green Tea with Great Minds - Berry Liberman

Parlor Tea celebrates the art of living mindfully, slowing down and seeing the beauty in every day. Our Green Tea with Great Minds is a conversation series where we sit down with some of the great minds in our community. Together we discuss ways in which creativity, ritual and connection can be nurtured and maintained in our busy lives.

Our inaugural Great Minds chat is with Berry Liberman, an entrepreneur, creative, impact investor, storyteller and mum of three. Everything Berry does is driven by connection, impact and creativity and we were thrilled when she agreed to share her thoughts.

Who you are and where are you from?

My name is Berry Sunshine Liberman Almagor.  I was born and raised in Melbourne - home of the Kulin Nation. Along with my husband Danny, we co-founded Small Giants, which is an impact family office. I'm also the creative director,  editor-in-chief and publisher of Dumbo Feather - magazine, podcast and media platform. 

The world we once knew has drastically changed. What four words would you use to describe the past few months living in isolation?

Potent, enriching, confronting, and challenging.

How would you describe work at Small Giants and Dumbo Feather during this time? Has your work changed?

Berry Liberman at work
Photography: Lucy Spartalis

The first five weeks of lockdown and COVID entering our consciousness was crisis management and damage control. That was a really difficult space to be in because we didn't know what world we had walked into. We had to reimagine all of our businesses, all of our platforms, our sense of ourselves and how we were going to work together in isolation. There was just a lot of reorganising, but slowly it became fertile ground for leaning into the work we've always done, and this was the nudge right over the edge, into the work we’ve been doing around the next economy. 

We've recently launched a media and education platform around what the next economy is and how to get there, including a series of conversation events, master classes, and a Masters of Business and Empathy. This has always been our work in all the different sectors but it became more focused during lockdown. So for us lockdown was an enormous gift.

How does your work inspire meaning for you?

We all know what we don’t want. My work connects me to what we do want. It is about building a hopeful and intentional future for our children and our grandchildren. I find it hard to get up in the morning if I can’t see the light or don’t have a positive way forward. My work is very much focused on illuminating hopeful possibilities.

And how do you think the past few months will shape the future?

The world will never go back to what it was before. We can view COVID as an opportunity or a tragedy. I think it is an extraordinary opportunity. I’m both excited and equally concerned about the future of humanity, because I think the story we tell ourselves is what will happen. I'm pretty focused on keeping us all dreaming together.

The political bubbles we live in have now become much clearer. As have the ways technology and algorithms force us into strict containers that limit our capacity to imagine other ways forward. We are in a really liminal space of hallowed ground and I'm treating it with as much reverence as I can.

What has living within isolation taught you about yourself?

My morning rituals have become super important. 

Every morning I make a pot of loose leaf tea using my grandmother’s tea set. I long for this simple moment to myself. It’s like my soul lands. The ritual reminds me of my mother, but it also reminds me of myself. 

Next I'll have a hot shower and try to do either a meditation or listen to a podcast. This is a time I use to connect with the sensual part of myself. Without these rituals I find it hard to transition from sleepland to awake. I also can’t wait for the time when I can get a manicure or a pedicure, I have to feel like I’ve done something beautiful for myself everyday.

Where do you go to find pockets of possibility and inspiration?

I find that really hard to answer because I consume a lot of content and I don't even know how.  If I hear an incredible piece of music in a cafe (back when we could go to cafes), I'll find out what it is. If I see light coming through the window in the afternoon dappling through the leaves, that's everything to me and my soul takes it in.

What do you turn off and on to fuel your creativity?

  • I make sure I'm eating super nourishing food. I give myself that beauty every day. 
  • I try to be kind to myself, that's really hard. 
  • I listen to beautiful music, move my body and be connected to myself in nature.
  • I say no to toxic people and toxic conversations.
  • I avoid violent content because it rewires my brain and sets me into fight or flight. 
  • I try to be close with things that move me into deep alignment with the part of me that I know well. The part that is loving,  connected and compassionate.
  • I've also gotten to know my shadow self and the dance of light and dark that lives within me. I have learned flow comes when all parts of me are integrated.
  • I'm not a perfectionist. Perfectionism has never been my thing. Maybe it should be...

How have you managed to maintain connection in your life in these last few months since COVID hit us?

The stronger my connection to myself, the deeper my connection to my beloved, friendship circles and family. And so I think what comes through that is trust. 

I trust deeply in the connections I have with the people in my life, the people who really matter. So even though our communication might be through a screen, or we may not talk for weeks on end, my faith and trust in that connection is beyond time. I’ve also become really good at sending out a quick one-liner to friends and family to let them know I’m thinking of them. This is something my husband Danny got me into the habit of doing many years ago that I am eternally grateful for.

Do you think you will be able to hold onto your rituals moving forward?

Rituals come and go, and I think that's okay. Learning to take care of ourselves is a lifelong practice, we need to be at peace with the different rhythms of life.  It's like the seasons in that Autumn is so different to Summer. So I think maybe less tension with those changing dynamics and just going with the flow of life.

As a lover of tea, if you could sit down and have a cup of tea with someone that you really admire, who is it and why?

It's actually someone I have had the ridiculous pleasure of meeting and I wanted more time with because I was so blown away by her spirit. That was Gloria Steinem. 

I had one hour at her feet, which was incredible. And I would love to make a pot of tea and just sit with her for many hours more.

She was 83 when I met her. She'd be 86 now. I was so confronted by, challenged by and enamoured with her softness. She's one of the great activists of all time, but she was more interested in my story than in telling me hers. That to me is already the sign of humility and greatness.  I thought she was going to be bolshy and ballsy and tough, but instead she was soft and gentle and kind and thoughtful and inquisitive and curious, and honestly had a younger energy than me. She felt 33! It was extraordinary.

August 2020. Green Tea with Great Minds - Berry Liberman.