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Alison van Diggelen
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Alison van Diggelen is a Silicon Valley based journalist and commentator who's been described as "one of the most respected interviewers on the web."

She's host of the Fresh Dialogues interview series and contributes to the BBC World Service, Public Radio International's The World; and National Public Radio's KQED.

Her notable interviews of business leaders and celebrities include Elon Musk, Meryl Streep and Martin Sheen.

Alison has been a guest on BBC's Business Matters and NBC's Tech Show Press:Here; and moderates events for the Commonwealth Club and the Churchill Club. California State Senator Elaine Alquist nominated Alison for a Woman of Achievement Award in communication; and she has also been honored by U.S. Congressman, Mike Honda.

A native of Scotland, Alison has a Master's from Cambridge University and enjoys indulging her passion for tech and sustainability in the Valley of Heart's Delight.

Entries by Alison van Diggelen

Daydreaming Helped 13-year-old Auschwitz Prisoner Survive

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2015 | 2:27 PM


Seventy years ago today, the prisoners of Auschwitz were liberated. Irene Weiss is one of those survivors. She was 13 years old when she was captured, her long blond braids shaved off and her family killed in the gas chambers. Weiss sat down...

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Fear Is Not An Option

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2015 | 11:25 AM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

Diane von Furstenberg says that the greatest gift she's ever received is the lesson that "fear is not an option."

With 2015 off to a fearful start in Paris and its impact reverberating globally,

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Why Isaacson's Rewrite of Tech History Is So Timely

(0) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 4:41 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, Host of Fresh Dialogues

Last Tuesday was the kind of evening when you just want to snuggle up with a good book and a warm mug of Earl Grey. But I rallied and zipped up my winter boots to go...

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Chelsea Sexton Explains Why Getting Butts in Electric Cars Is Top Priority

(1) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 8:06 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

Chelsea Sexton is famous -- among electric car fans, at least -- for her role in the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? I caught up with Sexton at this summer's Plug-In Conference in...

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Kiva Cofounder Jessica Jackley Shares 3 Startup Tips

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2014 | 1:12 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

Kiva cofounder Jessica Jackley received a Visionary Award at SVForum in Silicon Valley this month. She joins an impressive roster of honorees that includes Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Padmasree Warrior.

Jackley took a few moments to share tips for aspiring entrepreneurs and some clues about her latest startup, launching this fall.

She enthuses about Silicon Valley being "an incredibly special pocket of the world" where "people have a great capacity to imagine new futures."

"So many people here have the resources and skills to make these new stories unfold, become real," she adds.

Here are some highlights of our conversation.

Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. Be passionate

Do something you are passionate about and have a vision for.

2. Start small

Remember Kiva began with seven entrepreneurs and a little over $3,000. It recently surpassed the $500,000,000 mark in microloans to entrepreneurs around the world, serving almost 2 million Kiva users in 76 countries. The average loan amount is $10.

3. Be excellent

Serve one person, or one community well and build from there. Be thoughtful, intentional and think about the details. Study and absorb what's unfolding in front of you, and be present.

Check out the full story at Fresh Dialogues and learn more about the exciting new startup she's launching this Fall.

Find out more about other SVForum visionary award winners and check back soon at Fresh Dialogues for new interviews with other 2014 honorees: Stanford's Tina Seilig, VC Tim Draper and Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America.

This video is part of a special "Inspiring Women" series at Fresh Dialogues featuring Meryl Streep, Sheryl Sandberg, Jennifer Granholm, Maureen Dowd, and Belva Davis. Check out the YouTube video series here.

Come join the Fresh Dialogues conversation on Facebook and make your suggestions for...

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Lesley Stahl Shares Emotional Reaction to Dramatic Ice Melt

(3) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 6:55 PM

Why are this week's new carbon rules critical to our future?

As EPA's Gina McCarthy described it, "We have a moral obligation to the next generation to ensure the world we leave is healthy & vibrant."

Others might be more direct: It's climate change, stupid!

I recently interviewed CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl and she shared her emotional reaction to climate change. She witnessed the rapid ice melt in Greenland and reported about it for Years of Living Dangerously, the documentary series on climate change.

"I thought global warming needed an alarm bell rung before I went, but it was extremely emotional for me to see first hand the ice melt," says Stahl. "Knowing what it's going to do for the rest of the planet."

She's talking primarily about global sea level rises, but there's also the devastation that will occur due to rising temperatures, widespread drought and the increasing frequency of deadly storms like Hurricane Sandy.

Find out more about Stahl's report for the Years of Living Dangerously series here. It's produced by David Cameron and features reports from Tom Friedman, Matt Damon, Jessica Alba and Don Cheadle.

The interview was recorded at the Foothill College Celebrity Forum Series in Silicon Valley on May 15, 2014.

Here's my interview with Lesley Stahl on Barbara Walters' legacy.

Check out Fresh Dialogues interviews with former Energy Secretary Steven Chu and many other policy...

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Mad Men's Harry Hamlin: It's Easy Being Green

(1) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 1:16 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues


It's amazing who you bump into at Silicon Valley conferences! Last week, it was Harry Hamlin of Mad Men fame. Turns out he's a huge fan of Tesla Motors...

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Lesley Stahl on Barbara Walters: Why They're Soul Sisters

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2014 | 2:23 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

Last night, I caught up with acclaimed journalist Lesley Stahl to discuss Barbara Walters' retirement. Here's Stahl's tribute to her television colleague and fellow crasher of the boys' club:

"Barbara has been a pioneer all along," Stahl says. "Even in hanging in there to the age of 84, she's still leading the way."

The 60 Minutes correspondent and former White House correspondent for the Carter, Reagan and George H. Bush administrations gives a historic perspective on Barbara Walters' groundbreaking role in TV journalism.

"When she started, when I started, it was generally assumed women couldn't last in television news beyond the age of 40," Stahl says. "Then it was 50, then Barbara reached 60... Barbara is 84, it's fabulous!"

At 72, the vivacious Lesley Stahl continues to report news-making reports for 60 Minutes as well as Years of Living Dangerously. In her early days, her producers told her to ''never, ever, ever smile.'' She famously wrote in her biography, Reporting Live, that when she started work at 60 Minutes in 1991, joining septuagenarian colleagues like Morley Safer, she felt younger, "There simply is not a better job or a better shop in all of television news -- possibly in all of journalism."

The interview was recorded backstage at the Flint Center in Cupertino, minutes before Lesley Stahl took the stage with her 60 Minutes colleague Bob Simon, for Foothill College's Celebrity Forum Series. Special thanks to host Dick Henning and Foothill College President Judy Miner for their warm welcome.

Check back soon at Fresh Dialogues for Part 2 of my interview with Lesley Stahl about climate change and her eye witness account of the dramatic Arctic ice...

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Climate Change Response: How to Keep Cleantech Fire Burning

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 11:57 AM

With climate change now officially a real and present danger, attention is turning back to the promise of clean energy and cleantech. It's no secret that cleantech has taken a bashing in the last few years, yet Andrew Chung, a partner at Khosla Ventures...

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Great Gatsby Era Building in San Francisco Goes Green

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 4:04 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues


Built in the "Great Gatsby era," this remarkable Art Deco building was the tallest tower in San Francisco for almost 40 years. Today, 140 New Montgomery may be only...

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Apple vs Samsung: The Battle for the Green Halo

(1) Comments | Posted April 25, 2014 | 3:12 PM

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues


Yesterday, I was invited to join the live BBC World Service show, Business Matters to discuss Apple's green manifesto and its rivalry with Samsung. I was interviewed...

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What's Next for PBS NewsHour?

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 4:45 PM

PBS NewsHour had a major update in 2013. It introduced the first all-female anchor team, refreshed its website and added a weekend program. How will it change in the next 12 months? Longtime PBS correspondent Spencer Michels shares the long view with Fresh Dialogues...

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Can Elon Musk Replace Steve Jobs? Tesla and Apple Innovation

(3) Comments | Posted February 18, 2014 | 5:39 PM

There's been much talk this week about the secret meeting between Elon Musk and top Apple executives. Some speculate that there may be an Apple-Tesla merger this year, others say collaboration is almost inevitable. Bottom line: Apple needs some serious visionary power to keep its innovative...

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Why Is Tesla Part of Google's Electric Fleet?

(0) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 12:16 PM

In this exclusive Fresh Dialogues interview, Google's Rick Needham describes the company's fleet of electric vehicles and how it has enabled millions of miles of electric driving (almost 2M and counting).

As well as the "usual suspects" like Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Focus Electric, Google's...

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Tesla Fires: Will GM Share Volt's Protection Tips?

(38) Comments | Posted November 18, 2013 | 7:45 AM

Silicon Valley, Nov 18, 2013 (Fresh Dialogues) - Will GM experts share their wisdom with Tesla to make the Model S less prone to fires? That's the question Fresh Dialogues put to GM's Electrified Vehicles Engineering Chief, Pam Fletcher last week at

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Katie Couric Explores 5 Rules for Happiness

(4) Comments | Posted October 18, 2013 | 6:15 PM

How to find happiness? Katie Couric explored the pursuit of happiness today at Stanford University, California with a panel of experts in psychology, business, neuroscience and design. Fresh Dialogues was super happy to get a front row seat at the event.

Here's what we learned:
1. Adopt Happy People Habits
Look on the bright side, be grateful, exercise, eat well, invest in deep friendships and be authetic.

2. Embrace Good Stress
Sometimes short-term stress, for example appearing on a panel at Stanford, can be a good thing. Embrace it and don't let the fear overcome you. Remember Yoda: Fear is the path to the dark side.

3. Find Meaning in Your Life
Be a generous giver and do what makes you feel good (i.e. philanthropy, volunteering, giving back). Give the gift of an experience not things. (E.g. treat your wee nephews to a night at the Lion King Musical -- trust me, it's the best birthday present ever!)

4. Be Creative
Don't opt out of creativity in 4th grade! Nurture your small creative successes and you will have better ideas, confidence, tenacity and less insecurity.

5. Don't expect to be happy all the time
Happiness ebbs and flows through the day, through the months and years. It's OK to wallow for a while.

Finally, for parents: how to make your kids happy? Let them fail sometimes. The panel was unanimous on this one: being a helicopter parent, insisting on "everyone is a winner" can be counterproductive. Plunge them into new environments, give them challenges, and they will learn resilience and be happier in the long run.

Many thanks to Katie Couric and her excellent panel: Jennifer Aaker, Firdaus Dhabhar, Ian Goblib, Sonja Lyubormirsky, David...

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History Making TV Journalist Belva Davis Shares Passion, Advice

(0) Comments | Posted August 22, 2013 | 7:50 PM

This weekend, San Francisco's inimitable Belva Davis receives the Hogan Distinguished Service Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) in Los Angeles. In this Fresh Dialogues interview, the first black female news anchor on the West Coast explains her need...

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Cisco's Warrior Shares 7 Secrets of Her Success

(6) Comments | Posted August 16, 2013 | 3:11 PM

Cisco System's CTO Padmasree Warrior discusses the "Lean In" Movement with Fresh Dialogues, and shares the seven lessons she's learned in her remarkable career. Warrior, an influential Silicon Valley tech leader, on the Forbes List of 100 Most Powerful Women, says women shouldn't hold...

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Inside Elon Musk's Head: Hyperloop Inspiration

(10) Comments | Posted August 13, 2013 | 3:26 PM

Some call Elon Musk's plans for The Hyperloop "insane," others call it "genius," but the question remains: What's going on inside Musk's head and where does he get his wild ideas?

It's a question I put to Musk during an in-depth interview earlier this...

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Newsom Explains Carbon Tax for Dummies

(11) Comments | Posted July 18, 2013 | 12:34 PM

In this exclusive Fresh Dialogues interview, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor of California and new father, explains why the U.S. needs a national carbon tax. Newsom was attending the New York Times Global Forum in San Francisco, June 20, and shared his views on climate...

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