Valerie Alexander is an author, speaker, filmmaker and coach, and a former attorney, investment banker and corporate executive. Her books include, Happiness as a Second Language: A Guidebook to Achieving Lasting, Permanent Happiness, Success as a Second Language: A Guidebook for Defining and Achieving Personal Success, and How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”).
As a speaker, Valerie travels the country speaking at companies, conferences, colleges and organizations, sharing her entertaining, informative talk, “How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”),” and her inspirational “Speak Happiness!” workshops and keynotes. She helps corporations, entrepreneurs, artists and others stay positive, move forward, lower costs and maximize profits by making happiness and the advancement of women a priority in the workplace.
As a screenwriter, Valerie has worked with Joel Schumacher, Catherine Zeta Jones, Barry Sonnenfeld, Ice Cube and others. She had written, produced and directed more than 50 commercials, short films and public service announcements, including “Say I Do” for AAH8 (which can be seen on Vimeo) and “Ballpark Bullies” (available on YouTube).
Valerie started her career in the Silicon Valley as a securities lawyer, a corporate finance banker and an Internet executive. She received her B.A. from Trinity University and her J.D. and M.S. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. In the spring of 2010, she was invited back to Berkeley Law to teach “Representation of Law in Film,” and she is the 2016 commencement speaker at Trinity.
Valerie lives in Los Angeles with her husband, writer-producer Rick Alexander, and their ill-mannered German Shepherd, Pepper. She can be reached through her website, SpeakHappiness.com.
What inspires you to write?
I write self-help and nonfiction because I have always been a writer and wordsmith (even as a lawyer, I was the one asked to write the marketing sections of the Prospectus), but more importantly, I am the person all of my friends come to for advice, whether small or life-changing, and I wanted to do that on a larger scale.
I know how to help people to become happier and more successful, and how to help women be recognized and rewarded in the workplace, and sharing that knowledge has been the most rewarding career I’ve ever had.
Tell us about your writing process.
Outline. Outline. Outline. This makes the writing so much easier. As the saying goes, if you write without outlining first, you are outlining, just really slowly. It doesn’t matter whether it’s on index cards, a whiteboard or a software program, the important thing is to know exactly what you want to write before writing it — for nonfiction at least.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Who are your favorite authors?
Authors I LOVE include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley, Stephen King,Bryce Courtenay, Susan Howatch, Dean Koontz, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lawrence Kasdan (screenwriter).
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had an agent for 2 years — a very big deal, who represents some of the top people who are “brands” and gets them publishing deals (athletes, reality stars, etc.). We got nowhere. After our contract ended, I saw how quickly my friends who were self-publishing were getting their books out there and how much control they had over the entire process, and that’s what I wanted for all of my books.
My book, “How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) is based on a talk I’d been giving for two years. One day, I saw a big chunk of my content show up on someone’s blog and thought, “I need to protect my IP here.” From that day to the day the book was copyrighted, in print and available on Amazon was exactly six weeks — yes, WEEKS! That could never happen with a traditional publisher, and it’s been a huge boost to my speaking, as I now have a premium to offer to clients, and can augment other bookings with back-of-room sales.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I’m concerned about the monopoly power of the one big seller. I would like to see authors form some type of guild to stand up to them. If it weren’t for that threat — that it could all go away in a moment, or the financial upside get taken out at the whim on one mega-publisher — this would be the closest to Utopia that writers get.
What genres do you write?
Nonfiction, Self-Help, Personal Growth, Women in Business
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Audiobook