Season 2, Episode 43

 Alejandra Diaz Velez


Changing the Narrative


Intimacy Stories


If you are inspired to start your own podcast, check out the links on Resource Arena page.

Today’s Guest

 In today’s episode I am speaking with Alejandra Diaz Velez.

Alejandra is a Colombian designer with a keen interest in understanding the interactions between humans and human behavior.

Born and raised in Medellin, studied her bachelor in Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, double major in design and business.

She has worked in the wellness and hospitality industry, focusing on service design and human centered design.

She is also the founder of the Black Bean a design studio looking to create an environment of products and services around intimacy for the Latin American audience.

One of these services being the Intimacy Stories Podcast.


If you love the show please leave a rating or a review here.

If you have a comment or question please reach out to me at or on Instagram @gladiatrixpodcast.




Alejandra Diaz Velez

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Malini Sarma 0:01

Hola Alejandra, how are you? Hola! how

Alejandra 0:05

are you? I'm

very honored and happy to be here.

Malini Sarma 0:08

Oh, no, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here. I'm so excited. And I'm really excited about, about your podcast and what you do. Because I don't think there are a lot of people in your part of the world that doing what you do. So I'm really excited for the rest of the world to hear your story. So you're from Medellin, Colombia. Yeah. And you, that's where you were born and brought up.

Alejandra 0:31

I was born here, I lived here till I was like 17. Then I moved to Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. And I lived, I lived here until I was 24. And then I moved back to Medellin. And I've been living between Medellin and Bogota for the past two years.

Malini Sarma 0:49

Okay, so, so tell me a little bit about growing up? What was it like, you know, you have siblings? What did you wanna be when you grew up? You know, what did your parents want you to be when you grew up,

Alejandra 0:59

I have a younger brother. And he actually lives in the United States right now. He's three years younger than me. Medellin Columbia, it's, um, it's a wonderful country, but it's a country that everything is like black or white. And there are like, huge gaps between, like the possibilities of people, right. So I was brought up in a very privileged household that my parents had worked really, really, really hard to give me achildhood that was different from the ones they had. So they wanted to give me many opportunities. And they worked really hard to do it. Um, so it's a country where you can clearly see who has a privilege and who doesn't. And the gap is like, gigantic, you know, like the fact that I'm here speaking in English, it's already like, showing how big and how privileged I am. Because I think only like 5% or 6% of the population in Colombia has access to English education during school years.

Malini Sarma 2:03

So you went to a like a private school that taught you English. So you learn English? Like from the time you were in elementary school?

Alejandra 2:09

Okay, exactly.

Malini Sarma 2:10

Okay. So growing up, since you came from, like, would you say like, a privileged background? Because you speak English? And you, you know, went to a good school? So did your parents have expectations as to what they want you to grow up? You know, like, Oh, I want her to be a doctor or ninja? Did they have that kind of thing? Or was it like, no, go? You know, we'll be happy to do what you do, or how was it?

Alejandra 2:31

I think that, for sure, had expectations and all and my parents, but I think grown ups around me, you know, like my parents were very careful, always, with not telling me what to do. They were like, follow your dreams. But I remember my aunts, my parents, friends, my cousins. They're like, your parents have been super stable company. Of course, you have to go and continue to work with working with them. So when I was 17, they're like, you're super young. I mean, you're definitely not old enough to decide. I wasn't even old. You're old enough to vote, but I had to decide on a career path. So I remember, I was always very good at art design. It was like my thing. And I wanted to work to go to school in Parsons in New York. I applied I went there, am but my parents, they have a construction company. So I remember everyone was like, all fine. If you like art and construction, then you should be an architect. Super easy. And you know, it's very expensive for a foreign student to go to United States. Like it's a big sacrifice. You know, I was like moving from Columbia to go to New York to live in that tiny, tiny apartment. I was 17. I didn't know if I want it. Like it wasn't sure. And it was a lot of pressure. So I was like, fine, I'm going to do architecture. And everyone was like, no great designers or architects. So I was like, fine. Okay, I'll try architecture. So I moved to Bogota. I, I think I did a semester. But after the first month, I was like, No, architecture is not my thing. I appreciate architecture. But I don't want to do this for a living. I remember my mom. She doesn't speak English that well. So if you listen to this, I think she might get mad that I'm going to say this. But she told me something that was pretty tough. I remember, I called my parents. And I told my dad, you need to come to Bogota. I need to talk to you. I was still 17 like teenager, a child

Malini Sarma 4:35

This is your first yourfirst semester in college.

Alejandra 4:38

Yeah, my first semester in college, I already knew I didn't want to architecture. I am a very passionate person. I am super competitive. And I was super competitive about architecture for me like I don't care. Like I don't want to be the best. I don't want to go to extra workshops, which meant I just wasn't into it. And they all came to Bogota and we went out For lunch, and my dad, like, years later the day I graduated, he told me this story. So okay. And we got to lunch, we went to a sushi place. And we were there. And I remember, I began to say, I'm not going to continue architecture, I already applied, I'm going to do a double major in business and design. So remember, I chose this design, because I love design. And being an overachiever, child, I was like, Okay, I'm going to do a double major with business, because in my brain design wasn't enough. Right. And those also always felt guilty about the privileges that I had. So that's why I always felt like I had to do like, an extra mile, you know? Hmm. So I said that, and my parents were like, keep my dad's he didn't say anything. He was like, Okay, I support you. And my mom said something, because she's a great person and the best person ever. Don't get me wrong. But she said, dropping out of architecture to do and design is like dropping out of being a doctor to be a nurse, which is not saying that one of two is not good or bad. But like, I think she said, I would love that she was super scared. and South America as a country, we're getting an opportunity to do the same work is really hard. It's hard in United States You can't imagine in South America. Right? Right. And I remember crying my eyes out. But I was like, No, I don't want to be an architect are going to continue with this.

Malini Sarma 6:27

you were you're more upset because your mom was not happy about it. Right? Yeah. I've

Alejandra 6:31

always wanted my mom to agree with everything I do. And I think only the past years have come to be at peace, like weird little things. I bought, like, a painting for my wall. And mom do you like it. She was like, No, no, no. And she told me, I don't have to like everything you like, it's fine. But I've always wanted like her approval.

Malini Sarma 6:56

Yeah, no, I I can relate. You're an older you're the older child, aren't you? Yeah, this? Yeah. It's a kind of an elder child syndrome. I'm the same way so I understand. So you did design and you loved it.

Alejandra 7:08

I loved it. I love design. Ialso love business.

Malini Sarma 7:12

And your parents finally are okay with it. Your dad was okay. But your your mom was the when you graduated there must have been really proud of you.

Alejandra 7:20

Yeah, she was really proud. And she said that she always supported me. But I remember that day. Oh,

Malini Sarma 7:28

no, that was Yeah, approval this make you know, when you're young, especially when you when you want to spread your wings, you want that support. So by the fact that you completed it, and you made them proud, so that, you know, it kind of balances out. So now you, you study design, but now you're actually you have a podcast that talks about sexuality, which is I'm sure a because I know in India, it is in your culture, it is a huge taboo subject because that's not something that people talk about very freely. How did how did that idea even come up? How did it even prompt you to start thinking about that?

Alejandra 8:10

Okay, so my design background, um, our school, it was just like plain blank design. It wasn't like product design, graphic design, which was very weird at the time, maybe a little bit too low. But like, the school, I went to Universidad Los Andes in Bogota, I've read school, then the design faculty. They had great teachers, and they had this idea all day, I know, you've heard this term that is like the spoon was got the spoon to cradle design, which means that you can design a spoon, or city or whatever everything has like the same basis. Okay, so we were taught Human Centered Design and design thinking through a whole career. And then you could choose which kind of design you want to focus on. I like the service design, experience design. I love that the whole world taking that concept and like pushing that concept into a whole business. And I think that just framed the way my brain works. And I always think first about the user, like, what am I designing for it, and then about what I'm designing. So when I was finishing design, I had already graduated from business. I was finishing design, and our bachelor project, you could do whatever you want it like the topic could be super open, but you have to choose a design approach. So I'm in that time I was going through it's like personal stuff, like I was being I had been for like a year of like, soul finding journey. I was like a spiritual journey. And I had I don't know, I crashed into a wall that will live with extraordinary wall. And I said, I'm not living this way, I wanted to live it, you know, like,

yeah, pain points I was there, you know, for me sex was the greatest thing eve, the greatest connection espiritual. Like what Osho says that is like the connection between the Earth and Heavens and for me, it wasn't like that. So, and I have also been working, being an overachiever, since I was lucky my fifth semester. So first, I worked with a fashion writer. And then I worked at building as their wellness industry. And the fashion writer is a huge feminist and very important voice of feminism in Colombia. And she had given me some books, and she had like, taking me like, through feminism, every loving and caring way. So I was reading that, and I was like, Huh, like, I identify, like, the huge problem that it is to have sexuality be a taboo, especially in a country like Colombia, because when it's a taboo, people don't talk about it. And then that goes into teenage pregnancies, illegal abortions, and homophobia, lay a lot of things, you know, abuse. So I was like, Yeah, I like this topic. I can't stop thinking about it read about this, I'm going to do my bachelor project on this, I don't know what I'm going to design. But like, the design way of thinking is that you shouldn't have your final product. When you begin to design, you should just have like, the user and the topic, and then you'll get a product. And that's super hard to do. Usually you work you're like, No, I want to do a chair. But, but that approach is super fulfilling, because you're actually like, enjoying the process. So I began with that topic. And I remember my first week are like them, I had a teacher who was doing, like, I don't know, supervising them the bachelor project. And she gave me some question. It's a famous questionaire from from an artist. And while I was like, filling out the questions, I realize I'm not doing this to help like the, I don't know, everyone in Colombia, I'm doing this to help myself. I think that the core of empathy and storytelling, you know, because when you want to talk about a project, you want to know why someone is personally committed, you know, right. Like, like, why are you doing this? You know, hmm. So, so I was like, I have to fix over and not have to heal first. And then I can think of a, you know, helping others heal. I can just be like, Christopher Columbus was all like, I'm praying, I'm going to go there and teach people No, because I didn't even know how it looks like to have like a holistic and healthy and happy relationship with my sexuality. So that's how I began. I remember I told my parents, I didn't, I never told my dad, I told my mom, I just assume, like, she'll tell my dad or whatever.

And I opened an Instagram page. Or I began to post like, I had like a sketchbook, a physical one. And I didn't want it to be like, hidden in a drawer forever. So what I decided to do was take pictures and upload it on Instagram, but just to have it on the digital format. And what began to happen was like, my friends started to ask questions, and people wanted to talk about it. I uploaded a picture saying, like, who wants to talk to me about sexuality over a coffee? I remember mom told me like, Oh, you should. A you should put a disclaimer and say that's because of your university work.

Malini Sarma 13:51

project. And it's not because of anything. Okay, exactly. She was worried about what what do people say, Oh my God, your daughter is talking about sexuality who talks about stuff like that?

Alejandra 14:03

My mother is a very particular person. I've always say that she has a pure brain. My mother doesn't care about what people say. And it's so weird, but my mom is like the only person on earth I've ever met. Who is like so I don't know focus 's on her life and her family that she doesn't care about what other people say. So she told me that the beginning man didn't like she never ever cutt again. You know, she that's the only comment she ever did. And then they were super supportive a lot. I worked a lot on it a lot, a lot, a lot. And then they went to my presentation day, and I got him like a five out of five grade. He was like really good. My parents were super proud. My dad sent the project to all his friends. I was so embarrassed, because, like, I don't know. 50 year old guys, like are they going through Back to these information. And now they are super proud they share it with all of their friends. I think my mom has never listened to another podcast in her life besides my podcast, but she listens to me every Thursday, she sends to her friends. And I know she teaches her friends how to go on Spotify. How to podcast

Malini Sarma 15:19

that is awesome. So now, so after that project, you actually took it to the next level, because now you're like doing it on a regular basis, you will have a team. And you're and you put in a lot of work. But for that, because it's on the condition of anonymity, because a lot of people don't like to, you know, they don't like to tell their names, they don't want to tell you, or they're afraid that other people are going to find out or whatever, right? So they don't. So a lot of your stories are collected on a condition of anonymous. So how do you how do you get people to tell their stories, or you don't even have to worry? Because they'll come to you anyway, how does that happen? Okay,

Alejandra 15:58

so first, I want to, like, clear something up and is like, I didn't take it to the next level for like, a year and a half after I did the project. I remember I graduated. And it I did, I was really happy. You know, five out of five of my overachiever brain was happy. And then I knew I wanted to be my life project, but I didn't know how to materialize it. So I work in hospitality. And then in the wellness industry for like a year and a half and while I was working there. And I began to do, like, I don't know, gatherings at my house in Bogota. And I invited people over, I got some beer, pizza. And we chose, I chose a topic and I sent the topic before them, the gathering. So for example, I am cheating and monogamy, whatever. We chose this topics. And it was super weird, because a lot of people who I didn't know, like, people who were friends or friends began to go. So I was like, okay, there's something here and you want to talk about this. But I wasn't sure how I could turn that into a project because I've never done a podcast. And this is important. I don't know if you noticed this, because I'm like doing an effort and speaking in English. But in Spanish, I speak super fast. I speak fast, and I don't like will vocalize is that a word? Okay. So when I speak, I don't emphasize and like, I remember my teachers were like, open your mouth, like,

Exactly. So I was always the girl who was like a very smart school, but his books super fast, especially when I'm like, in that comfort zone with my parents when I spend a lot of time with my family. And, for example, in vacation, I come back, my friends were like, breathe, speak slowly. So no one ever thought I was like, why would that person to speak super fast would have a podcast. And I had no idea how to do a podcast. You know, I was like, and the microphone. The editing was like, super intimidating to me.

Malini Sarma 18:17

So when you did your project, when you did your project, was that also an app on a podcast medium?

Alejandra 18:24

We I called it an illustrated podcast. So what I did was that I interviewed people, and then Am I did drawings and animations. So it was like a video with audio. Oh, and we had the real voices. I tried to do another person's voice, like a voiceover. But at that time, it sounded super fake. And then we discovered something and that like, that was like an MVP book. So it wasn't like, yeah, it was just like the the raw idea. And then my teachers husband has a foil company fully decked with people who do the sounds for the music for the films, you know, okay. Okay, like if you have to put like a bullet, they designed the sound.

Malini Sarma 19:09

Oh, okay.

Alejandra 19:10

And they did the sound for this movie. I don't remember the name in English, El abrazo de la serpiente. Like the translation is like the hawk from this name is Nick. I'm sure it's not the exact name. But it's a movie super famous It won prizes on Cannes. It is an Amazon movie about a woman who moved to the Amazon I don't remember. But it's a super famous movie. So they had that company. And she loved their project and she was like, someone in the company is going to fix the audio for you. Okay, so they did it, but he would like an intern and he was for free. And I was like, fine. And so we had like these videos, but the resolution wasn't really good, but people liked them. But it was original, like the original voice and I remember my friends saying like, can you please like show it on your project? But don't put it on Facebook,

Malini Sarma 20:01

right? Because at the time you'd recognize, yeah, somebody would recognize Exactly.

Alejandra 20:06

Okay. Haha. So that's how I there was like any, right people don't want their voice to be heard, right?

Malini Sarma 20:13

So. So now when you're doing your project so after you, you know, a year and a half later you decided to do the podcast? How did you figure out what you had to do? Because now you couldn't do this by yourself, you need to help me to collect you know, find people, your topics and then you have to cover up the voice. So how did how what was your what's your process? Like? How do you find them?

Alejandra 20:38

Okay, I'm going to tell you that and then I'm going to tell you what you asked me before about how people tell me the stories. So the process was basically that I've always I was like, No, I want that my business. We're like the big brand is called the Black Bean. And then I see the intimacy stories that it's a podcast, just like a branch, you know, the product. So. So what I did was, I went to Bogota for a weekend, I don't know. And some guys that went to college with me. They have a podcast, a super famous book in Colombia. And by that time, like the podcast industry in South America is very small is growing super fast right now. But like two years ago, 2018 19. It was very small. And they have a podcast on. It's called that 13% in Spanish, and the 13%. It's like a bridge,A percent percent are sent, because they say just like, supposedly, only the 13% percentage of people are happy in their jobs. So they interviewed those 13%.

Malini Sarma 21:52

Okay, that's interesting.

Alejandra 21:55

Yeah, so I remember I again, today, we're one of them.


we weren't friends. But I'm not shy at all. So I was like, Hey, what's up? It's me. Someone gave me your phone? And do you want to go and grab coffee? Hmm. So we went for coffee? The three of us? And I was like, I want to launch your podcast, blah, blah. Can you please tell me? I don't know. I don't even know what to ask, you know? And then, but my main question was, should I do this by myself? Or should I go the two I know, like the name of this companies, but I'm sure the United States you have this, that there are companies that are now offering you the service of a pod, because you know, you just have to go to the studio and talk but they do everything like they're doing merchandising, okay, they do their branding, and I think they owned IP I am not sure. But at that point, I didn't know anything about anything. So I told them, I know this guy, like this company, who makes a podcast bla bla bla, but like, the name of the podcast is, for example, apples and potatoes by the name of that company. Yeah. The actual host. And they told me, like, our advice is, if you're going to put the time into this, do it by yourself, like, you can figure it out, you're a designer, we are to the right lawyer and the other guy started business. Or if we were able to do it, you're going to be able to do it. So I talked to them. And I have a friend Maria. That has been the project since day one. But like, I don't know, for different reasons, Maria went to school with me to high school. And she started hearing edging and like communication or something. And when I was doing my bachelor project, she moved to Bogota to take courses like acting courses, and she wanted to be a voice over actress. So like to talk in movies. So I remember on my bachelor project experiment, she was the one who did like the voice for one of the audios, but I didn't like it at that time. Because voice over actors. They speak not like a true person. I don't know if this happens to you by for example, I even went to watch a movie I have to watch in the original language because the translation is super fake, you know? Right. Right. Right. Like if they're saying, like you're touching my hand or he touched me hand, no one talks about

Malini Sarma 24:16

the emotion doesn't come out because

Alejandra 24:18

it's just words exactly. Think about a stories demo. Like the emotion is the thing that connects to empathy, which connects to storytelling. I don't care if your voice is not perfect. I just want emotion. Right, right, right.

Malini Sarma 24:31

Sometimes you don't even have to say anything. It's just the the voice you hear the

Alejandra 24:36

right stock, like when your voice cracks, and that's a super important part of our podcast. So So I told Maria and Maria had never ever done a podcast in her life. But Maria is the kind of person who says yes, like you. I tell her. Can you build a building? She's like, fine. Yeah, I can do it. And I don't know, like, should figure something out. So I told Maria and I began to work with her. Do you Like February that before Coronavirus, like we already saw Coronavirus in the news. But I was like you're overreacting. This is not like this is going to pass. No, I'd be gone to work be here. But I also had like, high jobs like freelance jobs, because I quit it like one month before that my hospitality job. And then I began to work with Maria. I have, I had four stories that were the stories that I had. And the scripts that I had from my first like the bachelor project. And we recorded them she did one of the voices was a friend of her daughter. And we got like two actresses to the other voices. And on our first episode, we had a guy, it was like, I don't know, a friend of a friend. He's an actor, and he acts like in TV shows everything here. And he was like, I love your project, I'm going to do it. And he's acting like we weren't like our jaws dropped. It put the standard super high. So we decided to launch that as our first episode. and everyone thought that was a real person. So we were like, okay, there's something here, you know, you're able to tell a story without using the real voice. And we're like, our rate of measuring is like, I have to feel it. So there's something about like, the way our brains work, your brain doesn't distinguish between a lie and truth. That's true. So that's why when you're anxious, you create any scenario in your mind, your mind, your brain suffers, like for real cry, and you're really scared. So that's why when you watch a movie, you know, it's people acting, you know, like person dies, you know, movie, he's

not dead, right?

But you cry, right? So whenever I need to hear the actor saying this story, even though I know he's not his story, he has to make me laugh, or cry or shiver. He doesn't he doesn't do that. It's not working. Right. So that's how we got to measure that. And that what we tell is that every serve is a real story. And I remember when I was young, like seven, seven or eight, I loved watching the Titanic with my mom. But the best part about the Titanic, it was it was real. So when I finish any movie, I asked my mom, mom, but is it real in real life? And when she said yes, for me the story like the movie had, like a huge value when she said, No, it's not real. I always went it waited to the end of the movie to see the credits, because I wanted to know if it said based on how the real story, right, right. So I think I don't know why that's super powerful. Like people always want to know if it's real, and they are all real.

Malini Sarma 27:42

Mm hmm.

Alejandra 27:43

So that's how I began with the team. And then you start to grow. And then we needed someone to do the editing, because Maria and I had no idea how to do anything. But I think everything we saw on YouTube also, like, the technical part of everything is on YouTube. Life Hack. I'm sure everyone knows. But I think what is important is like the core, and that's where my design background in the business rank from ethnic debt comes in.

Malini Sarma 28:13

So how are you able to pay for all of us? I mean, do people how do you cuz I remember you said that you have a an investor, who is helping you with that. So how did that come about?

Alejandra 28:24

Okay, so first, I was using my savings. I've always been, since I've worked since I was in college. I have my savings. But I was like, I don't know why. Like bream. I don't know the words, not cheap. But I didn't want never, I never wanted to extend my savings. I my mom was like, that's why you save money for to use it. So. So at the beginning, I did pandemic started and move it to my parents place. I wasn't doing anything. So we didn't pay the actors and Maria figure out how to edit she had never edited in her life. So we were doing this just like as we could do it. And then and then I needed the guy to do the sound. And then I want to pay Maria. So I first began to pay with my own money, like my savings. And my mom also put a little bit in. And then on December, I run into an old friend of mine who is at this like I don't know, startup, a Y Combinator kind of brain, okay. And we we went for dinner. And we talked about he loves a podcast, but he knew a podcast since it began and all the project. And I told him that I had an idea how to monetize it, because I wanted to get a product out and I told him about the product and i think i think this is a great idea. Please take my money. I know look, no I don't want your money. I don't want to touch anyone's money. What am I doing? Like for me? You know, it was just like I'm just trying things out. But when you get So much money, it's not compromised, like, I have to do this, you know, there's pressure. And I wanted his mentorship mostly, honestly, you know, because my brain, I always say, I'm my brain, I'm forgetful person, like, my brain doesn't work in a practical way. And my mom is always like, for example, whatever even going to move to another place, like the practical things, pick everything up take the biggest things I'm like, I'm going to I'm going to take a candle, and my crystals. So so that works really, really well. For the creative side. You know, like for storytelling, I'm very detail oriented. I love a, I don't know, we have different cards for every single episode, because I don't know if you know this, but in South America, like the biggest podcast and listening distributor is Spotify, not Apple podcast, right? So in Spotify, you can have different covers. So we have the art different for every episode, because I'm very like, detail oriented. But since I'm like that, I sometimes get distracted from the picture. And I told him, I want someone who thinks about money in business, you know. So that's when the investor came in. And it has been great on is just only two months. But I found about on deck because of him. And he's keeping me grounded, but he lets me do all the art direction and everything I like to do. But I have at least someone to talk about decisions, you know, because he's been our partners super hard. I know, people who are built a business by them. So like, for me, it's always about my love My team. And my friends contribute a lot like my community.

Malini Sarma 31:42

So what Where? Where do you see your because you said it's only been a couple of months since you know, you got an investor now your team. So where do you see your podcast going from here?

Alejandra 31:55

So I want to create, like a whole ecosystem for intimacy. A. And that's why at the beginning was super hard to differentiate, like, why the black bean with intimacy stories if it's the same thing, but I was like No, it's not the same thing. So now that we are launching our first product, it's super exciting, because the product is also going to have a different name. And I see it's just like an ecosystem of services and products around our intimacy. So for me intimate stories is not a podcast is just like the channel through which we're distributing stories right now, you know, but then it could be a book, it could be, I don't know, a on theatres. Like, they're just stories, and there are many channels to tell your story. And I never answer you what you asked about how people tell me a story.

Malini Sarma 32:48

So how do they tell you there's stories

Alejandra 32:50

so we launched the first four episodes. And so I was like, Okay, we have this first script. Let's go. Episode Four. I was like, these, like, it was like a turning point because I had to decide, do I want to continue doing this? Or this is just going to end up here. You know, I had never done like, I did just those interviews on my bachelor project, but not like last year when we began with the podcast. So I was talking to a friend and he was like, No, I have a story. And he told me a story. And we publish it. And then I started to ask around some friends. And then by Episode Seven, six or seven, it's no bolt. And everyone started to come to me and tell me I love your podcast app is sorry, I wanted to I wanted to tell it to you. So it's very weird, because now we have like stories just coming to us. Like, maybe if I want to talk about a specific topic, I look for this story. And on our Instagram account, we have like our community that we call the black bean tribe. And we have some courses. And that's why I get to know a lot of people from Yeah, I've met so much. So many people in the pandemic, like virtually. And that's how we get our story. So people get like, I safe space to tell this story. So we are at the beginning was weird, because it's like, I can't believe you're telling me this.

Malini Sarma 34:15

Am I arranger? I am not a therapist.

Alejandra 34:18

Exactly. And I'm not a therapist. But I think sometimes people it's easier to open up to someone you don't know. And like who's not going to judge you and who you don't have to see ever again. So this is how we get our stories. And I think I'm genuinely interested only in listening to everyone's story because I think that everyone has something to say you know, I think in the podcasting world lately, a lot of people because they want to get numbers or whatever do just interview big household names has been called them. Mm hmm. But I think everyone like, like your podcast, which I really like about it. Everyone has that story to tell. So that's why I love listening to people.

Malini Sarma 35:00

Yeah No I agree I'm just like you said I love listening to the story because this everybody has their own trials and tribulations that they went through a hard time that kind of push them to do something and then they're like, Okay I have to do this or you know made them do something that they thought they probably never could could have done. So it's it's a it's a very powerful medium but but you should be really proud of what you've achieved your your young look at you I mean, you have investor and you've got your podcast going and people are like lining up to tell her story and you're talking about a topic that is not you know that people are mostly not comfortable with busy you're almost like you're the agent of change. So when when when other people when you see other people or other people ask you what kind of advice would you want to give them somebody wants to follow their dreams? What would you tell them?

Alejandra 35:52

Okay, so I'll tell them first, I think you will have to heal the way we with think about success. Because for me, I've always like my brain is like, my brains way weird. They have like I have my brain super creative, artsy, but the other half is like, I want to be Forbes 30 under 30. And we are constantly receiving information about Forbes 30 under 30 people and super succesful am like 21, I built an app that saved the whole world. So the way we've used success is like never enough, you know, like, I guess for me, at some point you I was like, No, if I launch it, it's success. And then no, if I get this many listeners is to success. So I think every day have to talk myself into like being present happy with your now and everything can change at any second. So I think success is just like, doing what like you feel like you were doing like value not just for you, but also for other people. And so like reevaluate your vision of success. I think that's the first thing that you should think about. Hmm. Before I worked in the podcast, I worked as I was working in hospitality, and I was, I had supposedly, like a job everyone wanted, you know, and they were like, I have the best job, or the best place. And I was like, so burnt out, I was dying inside. You know, I remember I told my boss, I'm like, I can't do this. It's killing my soul. I thought this is killing my soul. But like, for me, like for Alejandra, it's important to be a creative being. And also I see my life as a whole, maybe other people don't. But I can't separate work from personal life, right? From emotional life, you know, for me and my whole being so even really, like even suffering, my my job is going to translate to every aspect of my life. Right? So I think they just like understanding yourself and do not put pressure on yourself, on the pressure on yourself. On those words, that dreams, passions, I think into this, like full pressure. For me, it's just like, follow your curiosity. You know, like, decision makers didn't maybe in a month, I'm going to be like, I'm done with this. I don't want to do this anymore. And it's fine. I don't think you have to be married to, to your passions. I think that's like, I don't know, I don't like that word. And just like following my curiosity, right? And trying to figure it out. Like I have no idea what I'm doing. You know, I'm improvising every single day of my life.

Malini Sarma 38:22

I love that.

So now looking back, you know, knowing what you know, now, is there anything you would have changed?

Alejandra 38:31

Yes, I think usually people at interviews are like, No, I wouldn't change anything and everything have been at the right moment. And, of course, life happens the way it happens, you know? Right, right. But I think if I could change two things. When I was in school, I loved I've always loved fashion. And I work in fashion. I don't, I didn't want to continue the fashion industry, because I think it's like going to high school again. But I love passionate like for myself. And I remember my friends. It was like the blogging like that. I don't know, like golden years of blogging. And I remember my friends were like, No, you show up in like a fashion blog or post your pictures on Instagram. And that was actually how they named it black bean was born. But I remember I was so afraid of what people thought of me that I never did it. I was like, blogging is like for losers. If you wanted to be an influencer, they look so pathetic. And and I didn't do it. And then, like, I know, I'm building a community and an audience that everything happens at the right time. Right. But I think like if I look back if I tried it when I had that idea on a no, I could have done it. I could have even more experienced, you know, so I would I think I would just like dive in, you know, like, it's never going to be perfect. So I think I would change that because I was to talk on what people think of me, you know, and of course I still care. But if like right now I'm talking about like intimacy and trolley that's like a super hard topic, right? Back then it was fashion, you know, way more digestible topic. But I didn't want to be not cool. And it was like perceived to be either you were like the best blogger ever have you know, you were like I want to be no. So I think I do I regret that I would have changed that. Like being so hesitant. I think that that's important.

Malini Sarma 40:26

What would you tell your younger self? Knowing what you know, now, what would you have told your younger self

Alejandra 40:47

to be patient? My, my dad, since I was little, my dad, he jokes and he says you weren't in the line when they were giving that out to patience. And and that's thoroughly true. I'm working on it. Because since I'm impatient and get up like a girl who is impatient overachiever wants to be Forbes 30, under 30. So when you have like these in your brain, like you can do things, because you just want to know the result. And then you can't be focused on the result. I read a book that I'd loved it last year, that's called Deep work. And they talked about how like, you can focus on two kinds of results. I think they're like lean or on leap. I think they're calling that by like, basically, there are like, I can either focus on home and new listeners, I have like the numbers. Oh, I can focus on how good my script is. Right? I can't I literally physically can't affect how many listeners they have, you know, a result, I can affect my script, you know, so focus on your script, and then do it like the other kind of a result of way to measure it will come You know, right? And if things that I've, I would have told that, you know, be more patient about everything, not just job, but myself. My personal growth. Like I remember I took my first Java class, I already thought I had to be like a saint Nirvana

Malini Sarma 42:16


Alejandra 42:19

And I mean, in life is not like it doesn't work on a timetable anyway. Right? Exactly. It doesn't you know, and the process are not linear. Life is not like a math equation. It's not going to be you know, so. Yeah, I think my dad maybe was right when he talked about patience, but I'm getting there. I'm getting better.

Malini Sarma 42:43

Yeah, no, you definitely are. I'm really I'm really impressed. And I really love the passion that you have, how you're, you know, going going behind your podcast and talking about a topic that is a tough topic. You know, it is a very tough topic, and especially when you're in a country that doesn't encourage that kind of discussion. It makes it even more hard. So I wish you the very best of luck and I'm sure I'm gonna see you on a Forbes 30 under 30 ion desk.

Alejandra 43:13

Forbes You're listening to this.

Malini Sarma 43:17

Yeah, Forbes if you are listening, check her out. No, but thank you so much for being on the show and sharing your journey. I am really excited to see how your company grows and I know your your podcast is just growing every day. So I think after ODP, I can see go even further. So very, the very best of luck to you. And I will be talking to you soon. Okay, thank

Alejandra 43:45

you. Thank you for having me here. I loved it. You're very welcome.

Transcribed by

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About The Show

This podcast showcases women, predominantly women of color, who in spite of their fear, are forging ahead, chasing their dreams and becoming stronger.

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Malini Sarma

Malini Sarma

Your Host

Hello. I am Malini. I am a dancer, world traveler and storyteller. I am a hard core fan of chai and anything hot. I am always looking for new adventures and would rather be outside than inside.

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