Q&A with TEDxPasadenaWomen RISE speaker Valerie Alexander

Tell us about who you are, where you’re from, what you do, and what makes you tick.

We lived all over when I was growing up. High school in Indiana, college in Texas, grad/law school at Berkeley. Currently I have five jobs. Primarily, I’m the CEO of Goalkeeper Media, a tech company building communication bots to amplify happiness. I am also the publisher of the “…as a Second Language” series of self-help books under my Registered Trademark. My work as a keynote speaker takes me around the country, and I still keep one toe in Hollywood as a screenwriter and moderator. My latest project is a Christmas movie for the Hallmark Channel.

What inspired you to give a talk at TEDxPasadena Women RISE?
A TED Talk really is the pinnacle. I love the idea of only having topics worth sharing, across an array of disciplines that spark thought and conversation.
Tell us about your talk for TEDxPasadena Women RISE.
My talk was about the risks to society of unexamined behavior and the brain science behind why we gravitate towards the familiar.
What was your process like in preparing your speech for the big event? How did you choose what you wanted to share with the audience?
As a professional speaker, I have one-hour keynotes I give regularly, so I tried to squeeze one of them down to TED-sized. It was like trying to put a beachball in a mailbox. In conversation with Jacqueline, the speaker coordinator, I shared some of my challenges as a female tech CEO, including the part of my investor pitch where I have to prepare investors for facts about my company that they might have unconscious bias against. She immediately responded, “There’s your talk!” I wrote that in a few days, then did my first speaker showcase and got feedback from Heather and others. I’m a devourer of feedback, so it was terrific for me. I took that, rewrote, did another showcase 48 hours later and it was almost ready to go. I spent the next 12 days memorizing, practicing in front of two other groups — my game night and my writers group — got more incredible feedback, then put it all together. I dropped one line (which still bugs me a bit), but other than that, it came out exactly as I wanted.
What did you want viewers/listeners to walk away with after hearing what you had to say?
Everyone has bias in every situation they walk into, and that’s normal. It’s the result of 7 million years of evolution. But that’s also not an excuse. We must have the courage to examine how our biases affect our behavior and be willing to adapt. I hope the audience was inspired by how easy it was for them to change. In just 16 minutes, almost all of them evolved towards less biased assumptions.
What is a TED/TEDx Talk everyone should listen to and why?
The Science of Happiness. Dan Gilbert is both informative and inspiring.
After having given a talk for TEDxPasadena Women, what project(s)/goal(s)/plan(s) do you have up next?

The biggest goal now is to secure more seed funding for the company and launch our first product. After two successful betas, we are ready for the next phase.

Do you feel any differently now that you have given a talk? Do you see your life changing in any way?
It’s nice to put “TEDx speaker” in the bio.
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