July 21, 2020

The Science of Confidence with Alyssa Dver

The Science of Confidence with Alyssa Dver

“Yes or no, you’re confident. Now here’s where the definition gets really interesting for me personally. People often say they feel confident or they are kind of confident, and that is not correct. You either are or you are not. Just like being pregnant, you are or you are not.” - Alyssa Dver

Today we’re talking about something that is such a hot topic, and that is confidence. Confidence is magnetic, but how do we be “confident?” Our guest for this episode of Brave By Design is an expert on this topic, and she explains how not only is confidence a choice we can all make, but you can empower your own as well as the confidence of other people. 

Alyssa Dver is the Chief Confidence Officer, CEO and co-founder of the American Confidence Institute (ACI) which shares science-based ways to sustainably increase personal, academic & professional confidence. 

If you’ve ever wondered how some people can be confident and seemingly radiate it at will, what Alyssa reveals about confidence in this episode could change everything for your life and career. 

Connect with Alyssa: https://www.americanconfidenceinstitute.com/

Connect with Laura Khalil online:

instagram.com/iambravebydesign

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BraveByDesign/

linkedIn.com/in/LauraKhalil

Get on Laura’s Newsletter:

http://bravebydesign.net 

Invite Laura to speak at your live or virtual event http://bravebydesign.net

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • Alyssa’s personal story and how she found her way to doing what she loves [2:16]

  • How she defines “confidence” [8:10]

  • The marriage between confidence and certainty [12:20]

  • Why Alyssa says the saying “fake it 'til you make it” is a lie [15:50]

  • The fastest way to gain confidence and give it to others [20:17]

  • You can’t vicariously learn confidence - here’s what you need to do [22:09]

Additional Links & Resources: 

Alyssa’s TEDx Talk

Her Latest Book, Confidence is a Choice: Real Science. Superhero Impact. 

All Of Her Other Works 

The In Confidence Podcast


Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
Unknown Speaker :

Yes or no? You're confident. Now here's where the definition gets really interesting for me personally. People often say they feel confident or they're kind of confident. And that's not correct. You either are or you're not just like being pregnant you are or you're not.

Laura Khalil :

Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host, Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bait, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. We are going to be talking about such a hot topic today. And that is confidence with the expert herself. Alyssa de Vere is a TEDx and Boston best speaker and you brain science to prove that confidence is everyone's superpower and choice. Alyssa is the chief confidence officer yes at the American competence Institute and a seven time author with confidence as a choice real science superhero impact that is out in May 20. Her co hosted podcast in confidence face your workplace is one of the many free resources on her website. She is an advisor at MIT his Trust Center teacher at Warren's Innovation Center, and a judge for the best employer and women in business annual Stevie awards Holy guacamole. She is committed to equality and inclusion and Alyssa also chairs the ER g Leadership Alliance. Alyssa Welcome to brave by design. Oh, I'm so psyched up.

Unknown Speaker :

Yay, us. We're here. So our listeners so you know for what it's worth Raul here. Yeah.

Laura Khalil :

So Alyssa, I wanted to have you on. Because for me confidence is kind of like, and for a lot of us, we're like, it's this elusive thing. Like, how do we get it? How do we build it? But before we get to that question, I want to ask you, why did you get into this work? How did you get into this work? Tell us a little bit about your story. Because you know, of all the questions I get asked, that's the most popular like, what, how did you get into that? Yeah, well, it's not like everyone says the same thing I was here. When I when people ask about coaching. It's not like you graduate from college and are like, you know, I'm going to start coaching now. We usually find our ways there. So I'd love to hear more about your story.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, well, I'm going to give you a short version of it as best I can, because it was many years in the making. But my previous life, I was a marketing executive. I was cmo for a number of tech companies and kind of follow that, what I would consider relatively traditional pathway. And while I will admit and in the book in the introduction, I kind of know You know, it was a little bit narcissistic in some ways that I really had this need personal need to do something bigger, more interesting, more altruistic, more meaningful in my life. So I was kind of without open AI anyway. But what happened that really triggered everything to come into the confidence view was that my son, who is now 21, but at the time was eight, was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological condition and the top neurologists, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, were telling me that because of the kind of genetic cause of it, there wasn't anything I could really do and he probably become paraplegic. Oh my gosh, and as a mama bear, I would not accept that. And what made it more questionable is that you know, first of all, it took us almost two years to get a full diagnosis and of course, it was a younger woman who was doing her last leg of her medical training that says I think I know what it is. So that in itself kind of raised my eyebrow going, huh, getting a lot of opinions for people who don't really know what they're talking about even if they have doctorates and credentials. But the treatments were so invasive brain slowing medications, you know, that's what you want to give every child right slow their brain down, and then lots of physical side effects. Then there was Botox shots that were you know, me driving to Mass General Hospital three, four times a year to put poison in my child while he's screaming our most painful thing for him and certainly the most painful thing for me physically, I literally would be sick for days after that, because it's just terrible to torture children like that. And then they said, Don't worry, because none of this works and we can do brain surgery. So you know, it was Oh, right. No big deal. No big deal. So so the whole thing you know, you kind of go into a state of numbness like you know, like and questioning like, what did I do What didn't I do not Just while he was born, but before he was born, you know, like all this self doubt and questioning and I was sitting there one day watching him play tennis because the one thing he really loved to do his grandparents play tennis, all of his grandparents, so he kind of latched into it early. It was something that he loved. And he was really good at it. And I'm watching him play tennis. And at this point, he's about 14 years old. And he's not showing any symptoms. And so when I went back to the neurology geniuses and said, why they had no answers. Hmm, so it was kind of that maternal motivation that said, I got to figure this out. And I started reading every, you know, scientific dissertation and all kinds of, you know, test results and things and trying to figure it out myself. And, you know, I didn't question ever that I wasn't qualified. I never questioned that. I couldn't do it because I had to do it. This is my, what other choice do you have? And it dawned on me with my marketing background and why you know, I started Really analyzing what I wanted to do with my life going forward. You know, the reason I liked marketing wasn't because of the money or the title or any of that I like marketing because I found human behavior. Fascinating, right? So it became kind of a marriage of interest in need at the same time and I wrote a very saucy at the same time relevant book, many years ago now called misinform, Laura might that asterik BFF. I can't even say that, in one sense, my badass reveal. It triggered something in me to kind of really dig into this and I did it in the form of a hobby book, but at the same time, it caught on pretty crazily and ended up in the lap of HR comms leadership director who somehow you my co partner in the Institute. So that's, I said it was a short version. I guess it's a little bit longer than I intended, but I think there's tidbits in there that everybody who's listening may go, oh my god, you know, we've all had our app. Kept. And we've all had like, throw bombs at us. And I think to some extent, you know, my lesson has been, of course, the name of the new book is confidence as a choice because at the end of the day, you can choose it neurologically and definitionally is what I want on a mission to prove.

Laura Khalil :

So wait a minute, can we just finish? How is your son now?

Unknown Speaker :

Other than the fact that he's gorgeous? Just saying, No, he's phenomenal. You know, he is I won't say that he is completely asymptomatic, but he is no and he has had Botox in the system for I don't know, seven or eight years. He's on very minimal medication. He is a junior at University of Vermont and the captain of tennis team and is flourishing, awesome preparing to go to grad school and he is magnificent.

Laura Khalil :

I love I love hearing that. So you're going through this experience and you keep plugging away nobody's gonna stop you. And that's kind of like the love of a mother or the love of a parent right for their child is like no, I'm not Giving up. What did you learn? And so you like displayed an incredible amount of perseverance, and also confidence in that moment. And tell us a little bit more about what actually is confidence because sometimes we can recognize it, but we have a really hard time defining it.

Unknown Speaker :

We do and so we spent probably the first two years one after we started the institute really digging into this. We asked 15,000 people we have a we put out a survey work and did 15,000 interviews and every one of them was different and it cracked me up sometimes people be like, well, I'm confident when I have a good job I'm confident I'm in a good relationship I'm confident where I wear my red stilettos you know, I mean, like it was all a so here's we get very, very precise Of course, not just because of being an institute but because if you look in the dictionary, literally any of them there is a common definition that says this. The confidence The truth of something is that there's a certainty about the truth of something. Hmm. Okay, now, if we were going to talk about the weather now I'm in New England right now I'm looking out the window and it's sunny. Yesterday was about 61 degrees outside Fahrenheit. And so if I say, am I confident that it's not gonna rain today? Right, I could ask myself that question my confidence not gonna rain today. So if I go outside, I'm really an umbrella. And I have to worry about getting wet and so forth. I say to myself, well, yesterday was warm. I looked outside, it's it's pretty good outside, there's not anything causing sky. My hair's not too frizzy. I, you know, I can go down a list of things and I can come up with a decision whether or not I'm confident about the likelihood it's going to rain or not. Very easy to think about confidence in terms of the weather or if I asked you, Laura, you know, how's the stock market going to be tomorrow? Or, oh, you know, what about the election like you start to get data points that you are aware of, are you You can access, you put them into your brain, and we can talk brain science and a little bit if you'd like. Yeah. But needless to say, you you correlate all that data, and then you come up with an analysis and you decide yes or no, you're confident. Now, here's where the definition gets really interesting for me personally. People often say they feel confident, or they're kind of confident. And that's not correct. You either are or you're not just like being pregnant. You are or you're not.

Laura Khalil :

I'm not saying to pregnant. Oh,

Unknown Speaker :

you're either it's black and white. It's binary, you are confident or you're not. And the

Laura Khalil :

wait a minute, Alyssa, are you confident than when I say, Oh, I'm confident. Does that mean I'm confident in everything or does that mean I'm confident in this specific area? Yes, it depends.

Unknown Speaker :

No, it depends. It's contextual. Right. So everywhere, here's where the nuances This is what I mean it gets interesting. Even if you're talking to a scientist and they say they are confident about a result and whatever they're doing There's always a margin of error that's acceptable, that they say there may be things we're not aware of, or there is some error variation, you know, standard deviation of potential incorrect is so the key is not to be certain about the truth. It's certain enough about the truth. And that word is not in the dictionary, but it appears in our definition. So confidence again, we're talking in a very general you know, vocabulary level confident about whatever. Mm hmm. The other nuance is that the opposite of confidence is not not confident cuz here's the thing Laura, I don't know about you, but there's a lot of things in my life I'm not confident about like my cartwheel ability. Right? Don't I'm there with your girlfriend. I'm there with you. All right, good. You know, I am not confident in a lot of areas. But it doesn't mean I'm not confident as a person because when you accept your quote, weaknesses or areas of confidence, it actually increases your confidence. Wow. Right, so the opposite of confidence can be one of two things. It can either be indifference, you really just don't care. You don't give a poop. That's not really confident, and guilt. When you feel guilty of something that you're not not this is why you're saying to yourself guilt, I never thought of guilt is the office comments. Here's the reality. We've been talking about kind of what I would consider relatively objective things, whether the stock market, the presidential engine, whatever. But when you talk about the person, yourself or someone else for that matter, what do you comment about? What's the truth that you're seeking? And so our definition at the institute again, the reason it took us two years, is trying to figure out what is it that is driving people's motivation driving their persistence driving that maternal stuff that we talked about earlier? What is it that makes somebody see the truth about themselves and here's what it is, is one they are very clear or clear enough about their values, their wants, and their needs. Because when you are very clear about those things, you bulldoze over everything that's in your way, if you really want to save your son, no neurologists, nothing is going to get in your way. If you are really saying to yourself, I need those pair of shoes, and I want those pair of shoes and I really, really value those pair of shoes, you're going to buy those shoes. It's the minute that you start to question your values needs and wants or you act against them, you transgress them, you do something that's outside your comfort zone because you really don't value doing that thing. That's when your confidence wanes. It's when we really want an even value, something that we don't do it we don't live up to it. That's where the opposite of guilt lives. So in other words, you know, I was one of your speakers on your summit. Right? And I'm sure when you made the decision to do your summit, tell me if I'm not correct, you probably were like, should I do this? Can I do this? Will people come? Will they talk? Will they listen? Is that not true? Sure. Yeah. Right and you doubted maybe your confidence In your ability to do it, the value of doing it and you go through that whole roster of things, but at the end of the day, you obviously made the decision. There's something you could do, you should do and you wanted to do, and you did it. And you're now what top 100 in the universe not just Apple's universe, but the universe.

Laura Khalil :

Oh, my God, you know, can I hire you as my hype woman? You know, so as I've been hearing you speak, there's something that I keep hearing and it sounds to me, like confidence and certainty, seem like a very clear marriage of those concepts. Do you also see it that way? Because when I hear you talking about confidence, I also hear certainty in your voice about what that confidence is about.

Unknown Speaker :

Absolutely. So, certainty, again, needs boundaries. You need to be able to say I am certain within these parameters. So if I'm very clear what I value needed want, those are my parameters. Those are my boundaries, my bumpers. And if I'm staying within those, it creates certainty. Just like if you were to look at like a scientific bell curve, and again, I don't wanna get too techie on people, but they'll cut off the ends on each side, the outliers, as Malcolm Gladwell, so coined, right, the ones that are, you know, may not fit the typical, but within the belt within those standard deviations within those lines, we have certainty. So, and again, it's not absolute certainty, you never 100% certain about anything, but if you are certain enough, that this is something I value need and want, you create those boundaries that you can operate with certainty and subsequently confidence.

Laura Khalil :

Okay, so then let's move on. Okay, this is really interesting. So for those people who are listening, who are saying, I really just want to feel more confident in my career, you talked about values needs and wants, all being really aligned and clear. What is so what is the next thing they can do? If they're saying, you know, I really want to develop more confidence in how I, you know, move it through my career, how I present in a boardroom, how I advocate for my projects, what do you recommend as the next step?

Unknown Speaker :

Well, that's a wonderful question because 99% of the time, other people are going to tell you, you can fake it till you make it. In other words, you can learn how to write you can learn how to have executive presence, you can just stand or do certain things in a certain way. And I not only an admin, I can prove to you that it's wrong. It's a lie. It's bs fat.

Laura Khalil :

Does that sound good?

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, is it does that mean you do not believe in like the quote unquote power poses? No, I do believe in power poses because power poses are something that's called a structure. It's a neurological psychological technique called a structure okay? Which again, if we had more Time got into the deep sea of brain science. I'd explained it to you in detail. But the different think of a power pose like a lucky charm, or a mantra, or something that you're basically warming up your brain and you're telling your brain we're about to go on stage. We have to bring it right now. Yes, it does is it triggers all kinds of neurotransmission, dopamine and all kinds of good stuff, read Amy Cuddy or read my book, get all the details, but different, that's not faking it. It's okay actually creating a neurological chain in your body. And if you practice that they work now that every power pose or power has, in general don't work for everybody. But the concept of a structure is what professional athletes do every time they get up at that they're doing that kind of crazy. Whatever their little routine is, that's also a structure it's the same concept as a power play. Got it? Right But fake it till you make it is when you go to a class and they tell you to sit and stand and say and do certain things and underneath the hood, your engine, your confidence is not there and that shows through no matter what you're going to try and cover it up. It's like putting makeup On the pig, right? Yeah, you can't fake it. No, you can't. But what you so our methodology is as follows. There are a couple steps. The first thing is to really understand what confidence is. We've done a little bit of that today. You know, we've kind of tipped the iceberg there, but really understanding it, getting it solid in your head, because you can't necessarily be something you don't know what it is, right? So we do a lot of exercises to recognize and understand what it is what it isn't. And then really get into your values needs and wants so that you understand your own bumpers. My bumpers are different than yours, Laura is different than anyone elses. And we have to understand what our boundaries are. And when you understand what the boundaries are, then it makes it a lot easier to understand when you're outside them and also when other people want to pull you outside. Because what happens in the world, particularly in the business world, is we live amongst a ton of confidence villains and kryptonite, but we don't even know it's there until it's too late. So we have to recognize it, identify and understand what it is in our own little worlds but also how we're going to deal with it so we get people really nice tools. strategies tips kind of weapons if you will armor for ways of not only avoiding those villains and kryptonite, but dealing with them when they show up because they do show up every day several times a day. Once you kind of get past that now you're like, you know, you're in superhero mode. Mm hmm. Then you can start to layer on. And we have some incredible simple techniques to communicate verbally, non verbally, in ways that come out, make you feel more confident, but also make everyone else feel confident and also see you as more confident there's there's three pads there that you got to lay down. And then the last piece of the process which is really in my opinion, I don't even know how to say it. It really is the badassery piece of it is that when you are at that point, now you can help other people will be more confident you can start to coach them even if you're never going to be a professional coach. You can be a better parent, a mentor, a manager, a citizen and a be a role model for everyone around you and you know assignments. In it God bless his heart. He's another Ted talker more famous than I am at this moment. I have to say that because I'm the confidence queen to say,

Laura Khalil :

Hey, hey, okay, hold on to your seat Alyssa

Unknown Speaker :

yeah wait there we go strapping on needless to say Simon Sinek has made everyone paranoid about trying to find their purpose and my claim is this we all have the ability to not only be confident to get it but to give it and when you give it to somebody else, like you just did for me.

Laura Khalil :

What Okay, yeah now what does it look like when you give someone confidence? You just

Unknown Speaker :

did it my friend you just hang on like you. Okay, okay, you said I'm gonna be like that makes me feel good. Yeah, I know how it made you feel on the other side because right podcast land. But let me tell you when you deliberately deliver confidence to somebody else and you see that you've lit up their world. It only reflects back on to you so the fastest way to get confidence is to give it away and it is renewable. No more controllable than karma. It is the greatest gift you can give, because it keeps giving it back to you.

Laura Khalil :

Oh my gosh, that that is I mean that that just really hit me. And I would imagine as you know, sometimes you know, adjacent to confidence I often look at the area of charisma and magnetism and why certain people are very attractive to others. And I don't just mean that in a physical sense. I mean, there's certain people we want to be around. And one of the things that I am kind of listening to when I hear you talk is helping lift other people up is very magnetic.

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, it is not very it is magnetic period. You know, in my TED talk, I literally say it is confidence is what makes the law of attraction happen. It is what gives people confidence. It's what allows people to achieve more, and it allows you to have impact and you can walk into a crowded room COVID after Look around and not even know the person and you can feel and see their confidence from the other side. It's just coming off them. It's coming off them now Who do we want to hang out with? Look, the older I get, you know, just saying there are very, very quick judgments about people I want to spend my time with. And it's not the people who are toxic or make me feel less than they're not the villains, trying to steal my confidence. It's the people who I want to help in a positive way, but at the same time that are you know, like you like, you want to help me I want to help you. We're good. It's a good healthy relationship. Yeah, that confidence, you know, that you get the energy that you give kind of thing, but at the same time, the confidence that, you know, has to be a mutual equation. You can't just keep pushing confidence in somebody who just wants to keep taking it,

Laura Khalil :

right. Oh, yeah. Oh my god. I love that Alyssa because I want it. This is what I want to ask you about is let's talk about the people. Because what I hear you saying is one primarily This is an inside job. You got to work on yourself. Like, because there are a lot of people out there who will try to look to external authorities, external individuals for having their needs met. And what it ends up doing, at least in my case is it sucks the life out of me. Oh, yeah.

Unknown Speaker :

You know, I mean, you

Laura Khalil :

can't just get confidence, like from other people telling you, you're a great person, if I understand correctly, you got to work on it yourself. Look, you know what,

Unknown Speaker :

again, I'll refer back to the TED Talk, not just because it's self promotional, but because, you know, I said this at the risk of pissing a lot of people off and I'm going into it again here. I get really upset when people say, you say, oh, you're a motivational speaker. I'm like, No, because motivational speakers are going to get up on the stage and they're going to tell you a story like I told you in the beginning, because you asked me but I refuse to tell on stage these days before after my talks. Because my sob story, my hero's journey, as they call it is not yours, right? Because I had maternal motivation to do something that gave me confidence, you might be inspired by this like a car, you're going to swalot today and tomorrow when you have to deal with your own obstacles. My story doesn't help you. So yeah, maybe you get a message of all I can do what I can do it but at the same time, the reality is you can't vicariously learn confidence like that. But what you can do is you can mindfully notice people in your world that you see every day that you hear every day or even for that matter on television or wherever media you're looking on that you go, that person's confident, why, and what is that they do and are saying and behaving in a way that makes me see that that I want to imitate and at the same time, find all those people in your world because there's probably a one to 10 ratio one confident to 10 not confident and find those not confident people be like I don't want to do those things. Right. I don't want to be rude and I want to interrupt people. I don't want to be cocky. I don't want to be, you know bitchy. I don't Want to be one upping? I don't want to all that stuff that not confident people do

Laura Khalil :

yet. Tell us a little bit about what are the tells, so to speak, of people who are not confident.

Unknown Speaker :

All right? I'm gonna do my exercise that I do in my workshops and keynotes and you're gonna be my audience. All right, here we go. Okay. All right. So pick somebody, you know, don't need them. We don't want to dis anyone. Oh, no. Okay, but you know, somebody that you know, personally not a celebrity or somebody like that. But some of you really know that's not confident and describe that person.

Laura Khalil :

Okay, the person I'm thinking of gains a lot of their desire for being like, okay in the world, by other people telling them they are okay. Do they ask it or do they? Do they solicit that they solicit it, and then everything is taken very personally, when it's not meant to be personal. It's kind of like, it seems actually quite self centered, to be honest with you. Someone who says sees the world as spinning around them. And if you are not catering to that, you know, to their universe so to speak, they can be very, very immediately incredibly upset by it.

Unknown Speaker :

So here is just a perfect snippet of an example You know, when you see it, you know what confidence looks like when you see it you know what not confidence I'm not you notice I'm not using Word insecure for the reason we said earlier. Yes, secure about a lot of things. But this is not confident behavior. You know what, immediately. Here's the thing, you often feel almost pity for those people. You may get frustrated, aggravated, yes, a future I call it brain mark, you know, like a bookmark brain mark in your brain. I'm not doing that. And that person just needs confidence too bad for them if you want to say it that way or that's a shame, but it's not your problem. Right and whether you choose To feed that need of theirs or not, you can make that again choice. But the choice I really want people to make is to say, I don't want to be like that because it's not confident behavior. So you don't have to go through my training stuff to know what confident looks like or not confident we know intuitively but we don't pay attention half the time. So start to pay attention. And there's something in your brain called mirror neurons mirror neurons is what allows us to learn anything in the world kind of in a physical level, like grab a bottle or drink for that matter. Okay? And I'm not saying that has to be an alcoholic drink, but you know that any kind of drink. But okay, mirror neurons, you turn those mirror neurons on you call them to attention when you start to notice things like somebody acting confident or not confident. You say to yourself, you know what, I'm going to do more of that or I'm not going to do that. That's hugely a step in the right direction. Because we know what what looks like and what it doesn't we just don't always pay attention.

Laura Khalil :

Wow. Okay. So that really that mindfulness piece is so Important here, I love that Alyssa I could talk to you for forever. Oh,

Unknown Speaker :

I obviously love the subject that I love the fact that what it does is it empowers people. And it empowers them on a personal level and then also as a way to really have impact in the world. So yeah, you get more charisma and magnetism yourself. But you can really help other people once you get there. And so the more people that we can reach just makes my day. Thank you for allowing me to do it today.

Laura Khalil :

My pleasure. Now, for those who are listening, how can they learn more about you? How can they find your book? Where do they dive in?

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, perfect. So depending on when you're listening to this podcast, the new book confidence is a choice real science superhero impact. You can go to the website, which is American confidence Institute calm. There's a bar right on top, put your name in in the mailing list and you'll be in our database and subsequently as we make announcements about TED talk and the book and everything else coming out, you'll be in the know of course. That's it. Way to reach me directly as well.

Laura Khalil :

Alyssa de Vere, thank you so much for joining brave by design. It has been such a pleasure, Laura, thank you so much. I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe through your favorite app so you can stay up to date, and I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode, please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave