Interview with Valerie Liberty of Balsamiq who recently submitted her first talk proposal.

Val: My name is Valerie Liberty and I work for a small bootstrapped startup called Balsamiq Studios.

Sarah: I don’t know if you can call Balsamiq small anymore. It is a bootstrapped startup that has emerged to become a force in the user experience world.

Val: We’re so proud.

Sarah: Tell me about the experience of submitting your first talk proposal.

Val: Oh, it was so much fun. There’s a conference coming up here in San Francisco. It’s called Office Optional. It’s for people who work with or without a hard-walled office. As Balsamiq Studios is a distributed company with only one office in Europe, the rest of our employees are all distributed. I got a heads-up about this conference, and after taking a class at Stanford about neuroplasticity and happiness I was motivated to answer this call for talks. My pitch was meant to be a two to three-minute video that took about 10 hours to prepare.

Sarah: Wow. 10 hours… why so long? or maybe I should ask: why so short?

Val: Yeah, it was long because I had never given a talk before, so really, that was a lot of preparation for what the content would be, and working out the technology of videotaping me, what was I going to wear in the video. I probably made 20 two-minute videos trying to hone my message, but I’m really excited about it.

Sarah: Why give a talk?

Val: Yeah, for a bunch of reasons, one, because I’m really excited about what I’ve learned, and really want to share it with other people in my situation who, I think, are first of all growing in numbers. There are people who are just becoming work from home or work-remote employees. I’ve been doing it for six years, and that’s long enough for me to see some cycles. Second of all, because one of the things that I’m dealing with is loneliness and connections with other people while working remotely and only having an online presence with people. To go to a conference, and actually press the flesh with other remote people will be, I hope, super-beneficial and refill my emotional tanks for a few weeks.

Sarah: Excellent. That’s kind of meta.


Val: Yeah. I’m really excited about this new Skype feature, where you can record a call so do let me know how it turns out.

Interview recorded with Skype ecamm Call Recorder, transcription via

Note Upcoming Course: Positive Psychology and the Keys to Sustainable Practice: Happiness at Work: Using Science-Based Practices to Increase Success and Fulfillment (starts May 13, 2014)

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