Why are you working in research?
One of the things I've learned about myself is that I love to make sense of complex problems and find solutions. It's what drives me. And so, I suppose that's what attracted me to academic research at the beginning of my career—having the freedom to study the questions that captivate me and bring a novel perspective. It's fun to be learning new things all the time. This really is the best job if you're endlessly fascinated by why people do what they do.
What's your favorite part of the research process?
Being proven wrong. It's the surprises in the data that get to me. That's the best feeling. If there weren't any surprises, there would be no reason to do the research.
Do you have a hero?
My grandfather, Jack. He was an entrepreneur—a pharmacist with his own pharmacy in downtown Detroit. He had the pharmacy for his entire career and worked until he was 88 years old, the year before he died. He had this amazing work ethic. He was outstanding at what he did and created an amazing store experience. He connected with all of his customers and was committed to making it a great place to be. He took such pride in it. And he just had an amazing sense of humor and wisdom about life. I try to model myself after what I observed in him.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
I'd like to be able to beam myself to other places in the world instantaneously. I'd really want the convenience of being able to beam back and forth between New York and LA more easily; I have great passion and reason for being in both places and it's difficult to feel like I can't be in either as much as I want. And beyond that, it's so impractical to be able to go to all the places around the world that I really want to experience. I'm curious about the world and people and cultures, and I often think about the idea that, in your lifetime, you only get to really live in so many places. That's a very ominous feeling to me—that we don't really get to see it all.
Why is being people-first important to you?
I'm driven by a desire to make sense of complex problems and come up with solutions. For example, I'm constantly racking my brain to figure out how to end homelessness. Or understand why umbrellas always suck. So, I'm inspired when companies tackle complex problems, both big and small, and seek to solve people's unmet needs. And I couldn't be more turned off when a company tries to ram 'met un-needs' down the consumer's throat just to make extra bucks.
What's one thing you love about working at Bovitz?
Being on the road with colleagues. I feel like I get to know people better when I travel with them—you know, getting out of the office, doing something outside of the norm, going out to dinner together in some random city. That's the stuff I really enjoy.
Tell me about some of your colleagues.
I'm really proud of the group that we have and I feel like I could say something nice about everyone. But, of course, the first person I thought of was Carey. He's really been here forever at this point, and I have lots of nice things to say about him. I think Carey may be the funniest person I know. And this is coming from someone who wants to be a stand-up comic! I often find that he says things that I want to steal for my own material. I keep a running list of the topics that I want in my stand-up routine, and I make notes sometimes of things that he says, but I put his name next to them so I know to give him credit. He's really funny in just regular conversation—that's why I think he should have his own podcast where he's just talking to other people. I would subscribe to that podcast.
What inspires you?
The first thing that comes to mind is big wave surfers. I am not a big wave surfer—I am a little, tiny wave surfer, with the occasional slightly bigger wave that makes me feel really powerful and accomplished. But I follow the World Surf League and pro surfers on Instagram, and I'm just constantly amazed by the video clips of what these people conquer. It's really astonishing, in terms of not only their physical ability, but then their mental toughness and confidence and drive to be able to pursue that and accomplish it. To me, that's the ultimate symbol of embracing life—going all over the world to be in nature and accomplish these feats. It's not only amazing to watch, but also somehow seeing what they do has this strange effect of making me feel capable and confident in myself.
I'm also inspired by entrepreneurs. Of course, I'm one myself and I know the challenges and joys of it very deeply. I'm amazed by those who have exceptional accomplishment and empathetic to those who run into challenges. It takes a lot of boldness and perseverance; you can't be afraid to fail, and you have to be willing to keep going and committed to just keep getting better. When I'm facing challenges, I draw a lot of inspiration from others and how they have approached their own challenges.
And then I'm inspired every day by the energy of New York City. There is such a diversity in the people here, and there is that element of perseverance going on with people at all levels of society who are coexisting in this one place. There's such an embrace of culture and experience here—it's everywhere. It's inspiring to be able to walk everywhere and just be constantly surrounded by all of that all the time. And I'm always amazed when I see people being kind to total strangers on the subway. It restores your faith in humanity when you see people who would never talk to each other in any other circumstance being kind and courteous to each other. Whether it's in New York or somewhere else, it's just that notion of everyday kindness that's also inspiring to me.
Tell me one thing on your bucket list.
I'm sure there are more profound things on my list, but the thing that jumps to mind is that I really want to visit all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums. I'm at 21 out of 30. The vast majority of those have actually been accomplished since I started the company because I've had the opportunity to be in so many places for work. I actually try to schedule business trips around home stands.
What's something that you're really proud of?
The people of Bovitz, Inc.
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