The Confident Brain: Brain Science And Your Pursuit Of The Right Path In Life With Alyssa Dver
Confidence is key and it starts in the brain. When you don’t enjoy your job but you have to stay because you have a steady paycheck, you have mouths to feed, or you made long lasting friends and business relationships, all of these things are too important to give up in order to do what you really enjoy. You need to have the confidence to take that leap into the unknown. For that to happen, you need to listen to your brain. Go deeper into the discussion of building confidence with brain science with your host, Tony Martignetti and his guest Alyssa Dver. Alyssa is the CEO of the American Confidence Institute. She is also the Chair and Founder of the ERG Leadership Alliance and is also the bestselling author of Confidence is a Choice: Real Science. Superhero Impact. Come and explore the power of brain science and how it can affect your confidence.
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The Confident Brain: Brain Science And Your Pursuit Of The Right Path In Life With Alyssa Dver
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Alyssa Dver. Alyssa is the CEO of the American Confidence Institute. She’s a TEDx and Boston’s Best Speaker. She co-hosts the podcast In Confidence: Face Your Workplace and Chairs the ERG Leadership Alliance, which directly improves workplace diversity and inclusion. Using basic brain science, Alyssa has helped more than 350,000 people to reclaim their confidence and be able to coach other people too, which is very important to pass it on. Clients include Spotify, Wayfair, Panera, Pepsi, Staples, US Tennis Association and the US Air Force. Her 7th Best-Selling 2020 book is Confidence Is a Choice: Real Science. Superhero Impact. It was endorsed by experts at Wharton, Harvard, MIT, Yale, UC Berkeley and top business thought leaders. She lives in Westborough, Mass with her two very tall sons and her rescue dog, Georgie.
Alyssa, I want to welcome you to the show.
Tony, it’s an honor for me as well. Thank you so much.
Thank you. This is going to be so much fun. I’m looking forward to digging into what brought you to where you are now and making such a huge impact with so many amazing people in the world. That’s a huge impact, 350,000 people. When you think about that, the ripple effect is what comes to mind for me.
I appreciate it. If you or anyone else has watched my TED Talk, I conclude it with a little spoiler alert with my fundamental belief, which is to be confident, you have to give it away. If you live by that tenet, it makes everything so much easier.
As we dig into this to the show, what I’m looking forward to doing is sharing some of what we call flashpoints. These points in your story that have ignited your gifts into the world. Along the way, we will pause and see what shows up in your story. As we move along, we are going to also make sure we share what you are doing now and make sure people understand how that is making an impact. It really is, especially confidence being such an important thing these days for people to connect with. With that, I would like to pass the mic to you and let you get started wherever you like.
As they call it the hero story, you can tell I’m a superhero. I live with two boys. You can’t avoid it. Marvel then some is like the main dinner conversation here. The hero story is usually referred to as what is it that transformed somebody’s life and got them on a path to serving others, so to speak. There’s a longer version but I will keep it short here. If anyone wants to know the longer version, ping me, pick up the book or watch one of the talks online. My older son, Zak, was diagnosed with a serious neurological condition a few years ago. Basically, doctors were like, “He’s probably going to become paraplegic. We don’t know how to help him.” It’s a relatively rare form. He has a genetic reason for it, so it wasn’t reversible from their perspective.
At that point in my life, I was working as a marketing executive. I had a successful career and what the heck did I know, Tony? I had a marketing degree. We have some pretty good neurologists here in the Boston area and I was going to New York and Philly trying to get answers. Needless to say, they all were telling me the same thing, they didn’t know and they couldn’t help. There was something in their eyes and the information they were giving me. I kept saying, “Something is not right.” It’s not connecting. It doesn’t make sense. I would ask them questions and they get a little shifty on me.
As I have learned over the years about confidence, we all have radar and we don’t turn it on enough where people are not yessing us but they are not confident in some respects. They go into a defensive mode and that defense shows up in a lot of weird ways with experts, whether they are technical. I know you coach a lot of engineering types or doctors. Sometimes, they almost always won’t admit they don’t know. It became this why am I getting these “I don’t knows” from all these experts. How can they not know? When they didn’t know, they were making up stuff that was incongruent with other people’s comments.
In my depression and frustration, I had all this negative energy around it. Most importantly, I’m sure every parent out there, you as well, would admit there are moments where we think we suck as parents. We are failures. We are not good at work. We are totally undeserving to be good parents. I was mired in that. I said, “I have a choice here. I can either stay kicking myself for creating this problem, which I, in hindsight, what did I do? I didn’t create it but at that point, I thought it was my fault. I can stay there, accept the information or choose to do something different.
I chose the latter and wound up finding alternative mindsets, both in the medical and non-medical community. The end of the story is not only being Zak, Captain of the tennis team up at the University of Vermont but he is a rock star and doing everything that everybody said he couldn’t do. I figured out the brain science behind it that led me to figure out all this confidence stuff that I have now six years later, make my living.
This is when I think about the whole idea of a flashpoint. This embodies it from the get-go. The feeling that here you are in a world of marketing and feeling this element of not knowing, feeling that bad parent vibe, if you will and having that moment where you say, “I’ve got to figure out what that next call is going to be, the Hero’s Journey.” Six years later, then you turn around and you are looking at this new world where now your son is doing well. He’s thriving, not just surviving. I love it because there are so many people who would accept things as they are and be like, “That’s the lot I have been given.” You didn’t accept that. You said, “It’s time for me to turn that around and see what’s possible.” That’s something that I can imagine as part of the work that you are doing now, which is getting people to see what’s another way that you haven’t explored.
You used the word “see” a couple of times in your comments. I want to poke a little bit about that because sometimes, we assume that we should know our purpose. We should know and see that. It should just appear. We should be clear about it. I was one of those people growing up. I don’t know if you were and I was like, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” You follow the paths that show up but I think there is a profoundness in this word “see” because when you are open and looking for something, I say that confidence is the ultimate secret and anyone who’s read the book, The Secret Law of Attraction and The Lake. When you are confident and you have that “bring it on, let’s do this” mindset, stuff does appear.
The little bit of the story that I left out before was when I had made the decision I’m going to deal with this. There was this incredible situation that happened. I had downloaded a medical book many years prior that I couldn’t understand because the guy was in Spain. He was Spanish-speaking and his writing was a little tough. It was medical. I didn’t get it but it had something to do with dystonia, which is what Zak’s condition was. I was downloading everything I could get my hands on.
Needless to say, after I had made that decision that I’m going to deal with us, it was many years later from when I downloaded that book, I’ve got an email from the guy notifying us of all his downloaders because it wasn’t an Amazon or anything. It was literally on his internet that he was moving. I was like, “Why do I care?” I went back to read the book because at that point, I had three more years of knowledge and I understood brain science that much better. When I was reading his book, I almost fell off my chair, literally going, “I understand what you are saying and this makes sense to me.” I went back to his email to reply to say, “I would love to talk to you.”
It turns out that he was moving from Spain to Toronto. Guess where I had a plane ticket already booked to take Zak with me to do some other work for the institute a week later? It was Toronto. When you see those things, you see them because you have decided that that’s something that you want, you need, you are going, and those things don’t fly by your inbox. They don’t fly by on the highway. They start to appear and magical divine, call it whatever you want. That’s all part of that journey. It’s when you make the decision. A lot of good stuff can show up.
What makes me think about this is this feeling of what’s got in away. What was that moment that got you to step into action? I’m taking you back into the moment where you decided to be from not having action to being in action. Describe to me what it is that you now think about when you are working with people to move from not being confident to be confident. I think that’s something that you made a connection to intuition, which is powerful, too. I would like to hear from you. What is it that makes a difference?
I don’t think it’s one thing to be blunt about it. As a marketer, I was good at it because of blended skills that I was told all my whole life I was good at. I do believe that sometimes we are good at things just because we believe that we are good at them. People say, “Tony, you are good at that.” You do it more. I was a good marketer. I was very successful at it but I was not fulfilled. I remember having multiple conversations with my boss, who is still one of my best friends, saying, “It’s interesting. It’s just not fulfilling.” He would say to me, “You are marking good products and people are enjoying.”
You can either keep on kicking yourself over a problem or you can choose to do something about it.
It’s not direct enough. I don’t feel it. I don’t see it. I’m marketing somebody else’s stuff. I clearly have an entrepreneurial streak in me, so that was part of it, too. There was all this, “I’m not aligned with my purpose, my calling or something more important than a job. A paycheck.” That was brewing all along. I certainly had some doses of motivational science and things at college when there was no such thing as brain science when I went right. We barely had electricity. I tell my kids, we had the first computers. They don’t believe me but it’s true.
Needless to say, there was some of that ignited as well. I will never forget and I won’t name the hospital because it’s unbelievable, one of the best in the world. The head of the Neurology Department was in the office and we were talking to him. He hadn’t read the records. This was like the 50th doctor we talked to and he was on the computer googling. My husband, who’s a fifth-grade teacher, the most patient human being on the planet, literally said to the guy, “Are you flipping kidding me? Are you googling it?” While I doubt and I thought, “If that guy can Google, so can I.” I can figure this out. I was like, “I’m done. Enough. I have to do something. I can’t sit here. This is ridiculous. It’s a waste of time. This is my kid.” That’s where that decision was.
It was at that moment. I was like, “I’m done. Enough.” In terms of flipping the switch to stop being a marketer and give up that beautiful paycheck to start my own business and different conversation, it wasn’t something instant but one of the things that made it all “yes,” I need to do this” is when you start talking to people about what it is that you want to do and they look at you going, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.” I would be like, “I can tell you more but can I make a living doing this?” Can I find a way to make enough income so that I want to help? I want to do good things but I also still need to feed my family. That decision point was a lot longer and a lot harder to wrestle with.
We are going to totally tap into that in a moment but I want to reflect on this because there are elements of seeing these things show up in your life. Accepting things as they are because that’s the way you have been wired. You were like, “I did good work but you weren’t fulfilled.” You went along for the ride. When the stakes got high enough where it was, “This is my son. Enough is enough. I have to do something that is going to be more aligned with who I truly am, step out of that settling in my work and my life.” You started to build that momentum and muscle. That’s called a confidence muscle to step out of living a life of settling and more into a life of taking control and being the author. That’s where it built muscles that move you towards that. I could start my own business. You tell me. Does that resonate with you?
I do think it resonates for me. There’s also a side piece of that, which is that restlessness was already there. In some ways, I use that as an excuse. I’m not loving my job. I’m meant to do something more important, something better, something more fun and yet, you get stuck in that lane. We call the neuropathways are ruts. You are stuck there. You were like, “This is what I was meant. I was meant to be a marketer. I was meant to do this. I’m making good money.” It must be what I’m meant to do. It must be my purpose and inside, you know that’s not true. It’s not what I want to do. It’s not the way I want to spend my 8, 10, 12 hours a day.
For whatever reason, you can’t justify throwing it out. I do a lot of coaching, too. Inevitably, it’s people who have been in their careers for a long time and they say to me, “The paycheck, experience and respect I’ve got but you are not happy.” Your life is not good. You are not in a place where you want to be. In one of the exercises we do with people at the institute, we have them write their own Youlogy. It never on a page has it been she’s a great marketer. Never on a page was it she earned a great chat. She was real successful Manager. It doesn’t show up on those. What shows up is the person you are and the joy and energy you bring to the world.
I was sitting there going 8, 10, 12 hours. Whatever it is in front of the computer and I’m like, “If I’m going to be doing marketing stuff and then years from now be like, “Who cares? What the heck?” That restlessness was already there and the catalyst was, “I have a bigger cause. I have not only the world that I want to serve. That’s scary and risky, financially and entrepreneurially but I have to help my son. What were the cause and the effect? It almost doesn’t matter.
The pain that’s staying the same became too great. You had to leap into that new world. Hearing you tell your story, I feel like I’m hearing myself but in a different discipline. I was more on the finance side of the world. We talked about sometimes we get these biases of like, “You are tall. You must love basketball.” We paint ourselves into these boxes because that’s what we do. Therefore, you must continue on that path. It’s great when you can challenge all of those preconceived notions of like, “It’s because I have taken this path of being in marketing, therefore, I must continue because that’s where I’m at.” Sometimes you want to take that person in front of you and shake them up and say, “Do what you love.”
I have been consulting with a company because it was fascinated, of course, timing is everything, with this idea of when we assess people. We have all these assessments out in the world. You used the phrase, “put them in a box.” You go and you take, again, I won’t throw any one of them under the bus, but you take an assessment and then you were like, “I’m an extrovert. I’m an introvert. I’m an NPG. I’m a this. I’m a that.” You live within that confine, so then it makes it even harder and you were like, “I can’t present on stage because I’m an introvert. I can’t do that.”
When people say to me, “Tony, they can’t be confident because they are introvert.” That’s my favorite. I say to them, “Here’s the data. We have an incredible dataset. There are so much data now that the greatest leaders, the people that want that others want to follow are introverts because they are thoughtful, mindful and lovely human beings. We paint people in these boxes that are not only constrictive but they were wrong. They were just false. It’s one of these things that gets my blood boiling.
The reality is this, “All the neuroscience, everything I write about and the title of the book is about when you choose to do something, neurologically speaking, you can change your brain and you are changing your brain. You change your behavior, brand and outcome. It’s that easy. Can everyone do it easily? No. It’s like building muscles. You do have to work at it. There is some effort. Luckily, you don’t have to sweat but you do have to put your brain to what you have to do you have to do it more than just once a day thing. You’ve got to do it more often than that. When you do make those decisions, whether it’s to change a job or to figure out a brain science thing or whatever, it might be a new language for that matter, please, anyone who’s reading, don’t use it as an excuse that you were told you couldn’t do it, because the only one who’s telling you you can’t do it, is your own self.
That’s such a beautiful sentiment. To take that one step further, I think of it as being that you have to first commit to it. The commitment to the process, once you have committed to this is what I want, then anything’s possible.
No will, no way. It has to be a will. It’s not just what you want. People get hung up on that because I wanted to do something different as a marketer. You probably wanted to do something different in your finance career but sometimes we say, “It’s because I want it, it doesn’t mean I deserve it. It doesn’t mean that I can do it.” Wanting is important and I want to permit people that if there’s something you want, that’s okay. That’s good. Listen to that. Listen to your head and gut. They are totally attached. If there’s something that you want, it’s because you value it. There’s something in there that’s important to you.
Don’t negate that because you think you are not deserving or somebody else said you are crazy. I would be a very rich woman for everyone who told me I was nuts to start an institute around confidence. I am a rich woman and they were not. Let’s just be honest. You have to negate some of the naysayers, negate some of those assessments, negate the stuff that is telling you, “You are not deserving or you are not able to do some of the things that are of value to you.” If you listen to that, that’s your compass. That’s your purpose.
You mentioned the assessments. I think of them as they are a map of the territory but they are not the territory. They are like the old saying. They are not the real thing. They are telling you this is what it could be. It could be this but until you get out there and you start to see how you show up in the world, then you see who you are and who you could be if you allow yourself to be that.
This is going to sound like crazy but whether you go to the Chinese restaurant, get the Zodiac sign there or read your horoscope, all of it is good self-reflection. You can say, “No, I’m not like that or I am like that or I never thought of it.” Those were assessments, too. For those of you who are interested, there’s a documentary that came out literally on assessments. A little scary and not a very positive picture. I don’t want to poo-poo assessments but assessments don’t define who you are. As you said, it’s a set of prompts to start thinking about who you are and, quite honestly, who you want to be.
I want to get back to you about starting your company. Obviously, you did but tell me about the early days. You thought you were crazy. A lot of people thought you were crazy and still are. Tell me about what was some of the initial thoughts that you had when you were starting this company. You are a solopreneur, right?
I’m a solopreneur. When I started the institute, I had a cofounder. She decided to go into academia, so she’s a full-time professor up in Canada now. I do have people who work for me part-time. At this point, we had full-time people in the past. It has gone through different kinds of cycles. Of course, I ran the other organization mentioned in my bio, the ELA, which is ERG Leadership Alliance, which is all about diversity that I started a few years ago and I have a partner for that as well. I don’t run things kind of in a silo per se. I have lots of other people that participate. I think that starting a business and these weren’t my first businesses. I had a couple of others before. I knew what I was getting into but this one, in particular, confidence business was challenging because the idea was, “I understand this information and it’s really powerful.
Don’t use it as an excuse that you were told you couldn’t do it, because the only one who’s telling you that is your own self.
The concept was good,” but then like, “What the heck do you do with it? Who’s going to buy it? What are they going to buy? What are you selling? Consulting, training, coaching.” One thing I knew about myself I mentioned, I do some coaching. It’s not something that I enjoy but we have an incredible coaching certification program. I train coaches. That’s one of the greatest stories for me. Figuring out the lanes that fit this and then not only the ones that I like to do but the ones that were of value to other people. The certifications are a great example. That is like a magnet. People come, love it, stay with us and want to be part of the community.
God fulfills me and I have these incredible human beings. Anytime I have a question or need something, I have this Advisory Board of a couple of thousand people. That has been part of that. Keeping the eyes open and figuring out what resonates. Over the years, we have done a lot of training. We have eClasses, live classes and workshops. I do a ton of keynotes and all that. There are this mix of products and it’s always this question in my brain like, “What do people want?” I think there’s a fallacy. You tell me if you found this, too. You ask people what they want, they are going to tell you what they want but it’s a different question for what they are going to pay for. Figuring out how to ask that productively and not just would you pay for it but how much would you pay for it and can you prove to me that you paid for it? That was challenging in the beginning. We have gotten pretty masterful in figuring that out in this soft skills space, which is hard.
I think of it as one of the biggest challenges for starting a company like this because you are selling the invisible. You have to almost see through to the other side of what is on the surface. That is beautiful because in some ways you are showing the person that you see them. You see what is on the inside and what is dying to come out. At the same time, you have to figure out the challenges, trying to help them to see that, too. Before they have put money on the table and said, “This is what it’s worth to me.”
I always say to the coaches in our certification program, “There are two types of people that come for coaching.” It’s a profound example of what you’re saying. Some people were told to come to coaching. There’s something they are doing that somebody else doesn’t like, a boss or whatever, and they are, “You are broken and/or you are not easy to work with, so go get coaching.” Those are tough. The person who walks in is like, “I don’t want to be here, to begin with.” A whole different problem. The other type of person who comes and says, “Tony, I want to be coached.” There is usually a reason. There’s usually something that they want or do get. There’s an outcome that they were just not able to achieve. In most coaching methodologies, there’s this way to figure that out on a very broad scale.
One of the things that we do at the institute is we are very narrow about what is it? If you are not confident about something, what is it? Not I’m not a confident person. Different problem. That’s much more of a different conversation. It’s more like, “I don’t like to present. I want to ask for a raise. I have a terrible boss. I don’t know how to deal with him or her.” What is it? Part of the power of this whole thing, the thing that we have made it very concrete is when you can have a plan, for one thing, a small win, you figure out what that plan is, even if the plan is not the best plan but it’s a plan. You have accountability so that you get it done. You come out the other end and both coach and coaches are like, “We did it.”
Sometimes it’s the smallest thing. I was coaching somebody, a very simple example, they were giving a presentation and I’m completely terrified of them. Fifteen minutes after we went through the methodology, she was like, “I can do this.” I’m like, “Of course, you can.” She figured out the steps she’s going to do it. I didn’t tell her. I would never tell somebody because the power of it is when you figure it out, you feel good about it.
Thought leader and thought partnership and leading them down that path making people realize, “They can do it.” It’s not figuring out brain science to help your son. That was a big one but it’s like, “I walked now. I took a walk. I have been meaning to do it.” Small wins. It doesn’t have to be huge stuff. Don’t always appreciate that and see that. The role of the coach oftentimes is not so much a cheerleader but it’s helping them open their eyes to see those small wins, to feel that dopamine rush, to feel in the world of all the stuff that could be going wrong, you did something that you decided to do and you did it well.
There are so many things about what you just said that got me thinking. First of all, what holds the small wins and celebrating them along the way. It gets me thinking about it’s not about arriving. It’s about starting and then along that path, seeing the little wins that help you to keep on showing up. That’s how confidence is built in my opinion but you are the expert.
Part of it, for sure but that decision point. You said how you arrive at a decision point of, “No. I’m going to try this. I’m going to give it my best go. I’m going to do it even though it feels uncomfortable, even though I have never done it, even though I’m not a doctor, I’m just a marketer, whatever, I’m going to try it, I’m going to go for it. We talk a lot about confidence cousins and I don’t want to get too tangential here but that’s not courage. Courage is one of the concepts. Courage is in the absence of knowing your limitation. I’m going to run into the burning building and save the dog. You and I would do that but we wouldn’t even be thinking about the fact that we could die in the process. We go get the dog. That’s courage. Confidence is I know I’m not a neuroscientist but if that guy can Google, so can I.
I think about the whole premise when I do the intro for the show. I often talk about people being on stage and you would wonder how they get there. Confidence is being able to maybe be on that stage and saying like, “Someone else can, how do they get there? How do they show up on stage like that? Was it the confidence to show up on that stage? It’s because they know that other people will do it and other people can do it. I can do that, too. I know that there’s a process to get there. There is a process that if I take steps towards that, that’s how it becomes possible for me to be a speaker or whatever it would be. I would love to hear your thoughts on that.
First of all, stage work is very interesting because if you get asked or accepted to be on stage, use that as a reason. That’s a divine intervention if you want. You’ve got chosen. There’s something that you said or did to that person who made the decision and says, “Tony has something to tell this audience,” and the beauty about getting on a stage, if you will, is you are there to give information. You are not necessarily there to sell when you are in a financial role. That’s a different thing. I need to convince that person, invest their money in XYZ. That’s not what the stage work is. Stage work is I have something to share with you. Some information, something that I believe will benefit you and if you take the monkey off your back and go, “I’m not worried about my hair, my shoes or if they sat on my other side.”
I am worried about, “Can I convey what I know to you and let you make the decision if it’s relevant for yourself?” We do that every day. Our eyes are not open to it. Every time you say hello to somebody, we take a walk. Again, I will use that example because we are finally getting some nice weather here in Boston. I take a walk every day and I walk by people. It’s amazing to me how many people with their heads down with or without earbuds in. They have their masks on. I feel like they are saying they are safe and I’m like, “Have a nice day.” That has an impact on that person in some way, shape or form as does their behavior to me, their head down, not looking at me.
Even if you are driving, smiling at somebody or just acknowledging their presence, making somebody else realize that they matter, that’s the superhero inside of all of us that we’ve got. Whether I’m walking or on stage, if I can make somebody else feel like, “It’s great that you are here. It’s great that you matter.” Tony, the fact that you are doing this show, 160-something one later, even if it’s one person that listens and we have positively changed that person’s day, we are superheroes.
Approaching everything, presenting and emails. Unfortunately, it’s part of what I do for a living. I noticed when I send an email to multiple people, I watched their different responses to things, you can read into the email and I never suggest people read into emails because people are thoughtless in their emails but read the emails, you can smell where somebody is insecure responding you that you pushed a button or they are having a bad day.
You could see it in an email. If they were negative or they were like, “I did that and I did this” versus “Tony, congratulations. Great show. You can smell it and see it and that conscientiousness, that decision that I’m going to make to send you positive, “I like the podcast.” Even if I want to say, “Tony, here’s an idea that I think might make it better. I can still give you constructive criticism but not make it about me.
I could go off about this. This is such a sweet spot because especially now where we are not having that chance to have the interactions in the workplace, as well as we used to. Email and being on Zoom are the only places we get to interact. Some people who have never met each other in person. Email is the only way. It makes you think like how you can make it more of a venue where people can hear you, feel you and sense you?
We are going to stay a little bit on the email path, Tony. I went out for a walk. I ran into my neighbor who I haven’t seen in months. She has a dog. I have a dog. I was with my son and the entire time, all she talked about was herself, her dog, her lawn, and her job. I was walking down the driveway with my son, my younger one and he was like, “Mom, she didn’t ask one thing about us.” I’m like, “No, she didn’t, did she?” We have the Zoom-based work environment for the most part. Again, we are humans in all our different roles as parents are everything. Honestly, I do believe it even impacts our pets dramatically. It’s when we don’t have to be Pollyanna. We don’t have to be a ray of sunshine all the time. I’m not saying that but if the world revolves around you, most people don’t want to be in that world.
I can’t agree with you more. I could talk about this for hours but I want to respect your time because we have covered so much ground. I want to give you the chance to share 1 or 2 things that you wanted to leave us with when you reflect on your path to getting here. What are the things that show up around your life? What are the lessons you have learned about yourself?
The greatest leaders, the ones everyone looks up to, are introverts.
Tony, this is like the biggest question anyone’s ever asked me. I don’t even know how to answer that. I guess echoing a lot of what we talked about is you have the opportunity to make an impact in everything we do. You didn’t have to be on a podcast to do that. When we are a little mindful, it doesn’t have to be a lot of mindful. A little mindful of that and it changes everything. Every aspect of your life gets better, easier and more things show up. They do. That was just such a breakthrough for me and when you start noticing those things. I just had a birthday. I’ve got three bouquets, all kinds of Facebook things, all this and all that. I was like, “Ten years ago, that would never have happened.”
I grew up in New York. I went to the Wharton School of Business. I was in environments where it was self-protection on 24/7 alert. I had to unlearn all of that. I was the person who would walk down the campus, looking at the ground. That was hard but poignant and it sounds almost woo-woo but trust me, there are a whole bunch of science. I could explain it to anyone who wants to get into a deeper discussion. I would say, “Bring some tequila for me. Coffee is also welcome.” I know you are a fellow coffee addict but needless to say, I can’t even explain how profound that was. All the things that we talked about led to that realization. I also think that there are a lot more learning and I’m curious what else I have to learn to go further. We are all work in progress and it’s never too late to pivot. The best is yet to come and it only happens when you continue to pursue it.
What I have realized about you is that you radiate something, this positive energy. Part of what your story tells me is that when you started to show up differently, you gave off this vibe that attracted people into your world and created something powerful. We may lose some people because they don’t get that but that’s what it’s about. There’s an element of, I will call it spiritual leadership, but it’s about being connected with your soul’s purpose. When you are, without even trying, you simply radiate. That’s powerful. That’s what you are portraying to me is that you are connected with that purpose.
I appreciate that. That’s flattering. I went to a conference right before COVID, actually down at Wharton. I do a little bit of work there as a teacher but I get to plug into some of the neuroscience stuff that’s going on. They had an international conference where they were literally unveiling research that our brains do give off certain kinds of waves, not alpha-beta but even a higher level than that where we do give off that energy we connect with people and by the way, pets at a very attractive level.
People who are in that same frequency are going to show up and they are going to stick around. Again, it’s not about necessarily being this happy, joyful. Sometimes people are even sickening. They are so nice. Especially if you don’t live on the East Coast, you are like, “Go away.” If there is something to be said for being comfortable in your own skin, giving that energy of positivity, giving that energy of, “I actually care about you as a human being and I want you to feel that you matter. I may not agree with you. I may not even like you for that matter, but you matter.” That’s attractive. That’s the sexiest of sex.
We are going to go to the last question now. The last question is something unrelated but I always love asking this. What is one book that has had an impact on you and why?
I was so glad when you gave me a heads up on this because I write more than I read, my husband says that. He’s a voracious reader and I’m a voracious writer but I do read a lot of brain science books. I read a lot of weird, all kinds, the different stuff and oftentimes, I’m asked to leave a quote on a book. One of our certified coaches who came through the program years and years ago, she’s up in Canada, asked me if I would endorse her book and it’s called Find Your Voice, Save Your Life. I was a little skeptical for a lot of reasons. She’s a little out there in her posts and stuff but when I read her book, Tony, I was sobbing. I couldn’t put it down.
It is a collection of stories and in this case, women who had a lot of trauma but not all that had something in their life had a hard time standing up for what they believed, what they needed, what was justifiable and what was safe. That moment of clarity where they were like, “I need to say and do something,” and then become crusaders like I am to tell other people, “You’ve got to stand up for what’s important to you.” I can’t tell you how moved I was by the stories. They are beautiful, hard to read in many cases, really well-written stories. Find Your Voice, Save Your Life by Dianna Leeder. It’s on Amazon. Please get it if you want a good read and a good cry and bring you tissues.
Thank you so much for bringing that. I’m going to just start by saying thank you so much for your stories, your insights. This has been truly an amazing hour. It feels like it has been even longer than that because it has been so packed with so many great insights. I can’t thank you enough for bringing yourself to this space.
I do a lot of podcasts and I don’t want to say that one is better than the rest but this has been truly one of the most enjoyable conversations. Thank you for having me.
I’m going to cry. Thank you so much. That means a lot to me. I want to give you an opportunity to share where people can find you. Obviously, they should go out and buy every one of your books. Tell me where is the best place people can find you.
As you know, my name is tough to spell, it’s AmericanConfidenceInstitute.com. There’s a page About Me but there are all kinds of contact links and resources. We’ve got a bunch of free stuff on the site. We have some new programs that we are running out. Please check it out. If anyone has any questions, write on the contact form. I or one of the team will certainly get back.
Thank you, again. Thank you to the readers for coming on the journey with us. I know you are leaving with so many great insights and a warm heart and soul.
- American Confidence Institute
- In Confidence: Face Your Workplace
- ERG Leadership Alliance
- Confidence Is a Choice: Real Science. Superhero Impact
- TED Talk – Alyssa Dver
- The Secret
- The Lake
- Find Your Voice, Save Your Life
- About Me
About Alyssa Dver
Confidence is everyone’s right. Definitionally and neurologically it is a choice that we all have, yet our society encourages, and all too often, rewards bullies and villains – people who feed their own confidence by taking it from others.
Even sadder, we don’t teach each other how to strengthen and protect our confidence. In fact, most times we are taught to fake it, just do it, or be badass. It's not just superficial, brain science tells us is BS.
To be confident, we need to know more precisely what confidence is and how it works in everyone’s brains. Only then can we build better serving neural pathways that allow us to stay calm and in control of our confidence – and in fact, other people’s, too.
In all our roles as leaders, parents, partners, friends, and citizens, we can learn how to be our confident best and help others, too. It isn’t just a right or choice – it is everyone’s superpower. You just need to learn how to use it.
I hope you’ll choose to join me in bringing more confidence to the world.
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