Alyssa Dver is the founder and CEO of the American Confidence Institute. She’s a two-time TEDx speaker and a trainer. She’s trained more than 350,000 individuals. And she’s a seventh-time author. Dver’s confident, ambitious and successful, and has had many sources of inspiration throughout her life—but the biggest one was her son, Zak. At eight years old, he was presenting with neurological challenges and conditions that no doctor seemed to have the answer to.
Dver took the matter into her own hands. She started doing her own research, contacted doctors from all over the globe and was able to help her now-23-year-old brilliant tennis player and future school counselor son. “That is my greatest success of all time, but I took that body of knowledge and realized that we could help everyone understand their brains better to improve their confidence.”
How do authorship and speaking support each other?
For Dver, there’s an easy answer to this question—the two roles are beneficial.
“There’s nothing like hearing yourself speak, whether if it’s a recording to test how you sound, or if you’re in front of an audience. When you practice your speaking and repeat the concepts most important to you like a mantra, they stick with you.
“Doing this exercise really helps organize my neural pathway. So that when I go to write, it falls onto the paper, and by then, it’s almost like a commitment. It’s harder to change a book, right? So I’ve already beta-tested, gamma-tested and zeta-tested the whole story so that when it comes out, it’s really ready for print.”
The speaker’s journey, from Dver’s perspective
Unarguably, being a speaker is like throwing a rock in a pool of still water—no matter how big the waves are, you will always have an impact. And this has always been an inspiration for Dver.
“The reason I love speaking is because it really motivates and transforms people. There’s something that they need, something that they want. Being able to deliver that to them, have them come up afterward with this sense of gratitude—which they often do—it’s magical.”
It’s never about the money, and always about the people and how you can help.
Speaking about speaking… what about confidence?
As someone who has been a TEDx speaker twice, Dver groups her thoughts on confidence into three metaphorical pillars.
The first one is that confidence is not something that you are born with. You learn it. “It’s not genetic inheritance, it’s something that you learn. It’s a learned skill, like anything else that you do. You don’t come out knowing how to use Excel; you learn how to use Excel. And you learn how to speak properly in front of an audience.”
The second one is that confidence is a decision. After her extensive neurological research, Dver has proven her point. “When people say they feel confident, it’s not accurate. Definitionally, neurologically, confidence is a decision. It’s a decision about the truth of something. The truth that I can speak well, the truth that I’m going to do a great job.”
And the third one could be summed up by the Latin saying, “Mens sana in corpore sano”, which means, “A sound mind in a sound body.”
“We know, scientifically, that your brain is very much like your body. If you don’t condition it, if you don’t take care of it, if you don’t look at it like a muscle, you’re not getting the best of it. You’re not utilizing all the power that’s inside your head. So, you have to be very deliberate about it. You can’t just assume that you’re going to be confident today. It’s a practiced technique. It’s a practiced set of thinking skills.”
According to Dver, our brains make, on average, about 30,000 micro-decisions in a single day. “All the magic happens in our prefrontal cortex, and for those choices that are a bit stress-inducing, our amygdala steps in, often causing anxiety. That spike of anxiety suddenly triggers our survival responses, meaning we may become shy, nervous or even aggressive at times. Being the strongest part of our brain, it can be hard to fight these feelings of public speaking panic.”
“The best antidote,” Dver recommends, “is still to be deliberate and train our responses.”
From inner to outer beauty, how does one become an IT Cosmetics spokesperson?
Dver describes her encounter with IT Cosmetics’ digital marketing representative and VP as almost “divinely set”. Back in 2018, one of her talks was next door to L’Oréal’s headquarters in New Jersey. (IT Cosmetics which is a major L’Oréal brand.) Later, IT’s digital marketing representative found her through the American Confidence Institute. After their meet-up in person, they clicked so well that they kept in contact through the years.
Last fall, IT Cosmetics contacted Dver to become a spokesperson for the brand. The cosmetics company was focusing on confidence, and especially confidence at work.
Dver couldn’t let the opportunity pass by, and she graciously accepted.
“It was such a privilege.”
“I think the moral of the entire story is that no matter how your hair looks, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you put on your face or even on your body, what people are going to see, what they’re going to remember is your confidence.”
Other initiatives to inspire confidence in the workplace
Dver also has a program that helps both employers and employees: the ERG Leadership Alliance.
ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are gaining huge importance. They’re sparked by recent social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter. “It’s a way for employees to feel a sense of belonging, to get together and do professional development, a little bit of networking and make connections. It’s another way to really feel that they are part of the organization,” explains Dver.
ELA, founded in 2019, helps ERG leaders through operational governance training, and strategic planning for their executives so that they can understand and know what their roles are.
POV: You’re at a cocktail party, and you ask Alyssa Dver for some advice on…
Starting a second business: “If you’re starting a second business, be really clear about how and why it’s going to leverage your primary business. It’s really hard to have two businesses running at the same time if they’re not helping each other.”
Being confident about starting your business: “Fear is not a problem. It’s what you do with it. And if you look that fear directly in the eye, what it’s telling you is there’s something here that you need to pay attention to. There is a moment, a nugget of truth, or something about it that’s transgressing your values. There’s a signal in that fear. And if you can look at it, not freak out and rather instead decode it, it will tell you what to do, what the issue is and help you figure out what you should do next. And the next step is to not give up.”
If you want to learn more about confidence or Alyssa Dver, you can check out the full interview above, or visit the American Confidence Institute’s website.
If you would like to hear more about speaking success from Alyssa Dver, check out her next webinar details here!