If you weren't working in research, what else would you be doing?
If I could do it all over again, I'd be a journalist. Before newspapers went out of style, the thought of me having my own column, where I could spout all of my thoughts and people would have to read them, was probably the thing I wanted more than anything. Having a column isn't necessarily about being a journalist; it's about being opinionated and analytical. And that's probably why it would fit so well with me, because I'm never one to shy away from having an opinion, but having an uninformed opinion is about as bad as it gets. So, if I had my own column, I'd probably just be doing a lot of research and publishing my perspectives.
Basically, what I do now.
What's one of the best pieces of advice you've ever gotten?
Be yourself. So much time is wasted on trying to be something that you're not.
Do you have a hero?
I've always looked up to Michael Moore, the filmmaker. Besides the fact that we share similar political beliefs, I think he's an amazing filmmaker and storyteller, and the fact that he applies these talents to do something good—to benefit the world—is inspiring to me.
What's your favorite part of the research process?
I like it when our research leads us to recommend something big and game-changing to the client. I don't advocate big changes for the sake of big changes, but there's also an establishment mentality that's prevalent in so many industries, and the only way brands truly break through is by doing something big. Look at the best brands that currently exist, and what you'll find is a point in time when they did something that was truly innovative and game-changing. It's not too late for brands that are among the pack to do something bold.
I also love talking to everyday people. It is so fulfilling and so interesting. You get a perspective on something you don't already know about.
Why is being people-first important to you?
Because what's the alternative?
Many brands are mindless enterprises; their sole goal is not to screw things up. That's why we have things like Q-tips, which was a good idea when our grandparents were children, but is something that people now hate. Yet no business has invested in making a version of the WaxVac that works (and isn't gross). That's why Bovitz has an important responsibility: we advocate not only for things that people love and need, but things that make sense and push our society forward.
What's one thing you love about working at Bovitz?
It's family—that's what it is. Bovitz is a family.
Tell me about some of your colleagues.
Everyone loves Greg. It's not just that he's smart and thoughtful and has built this awesome company; he's just so mild-mannered about everything that it has a calming influence on everyone. He simply does not freak out about anything; he approaches it with a calm confidence and problem-solving mentality that is so necessary in this crazy world we live in. He's the reason why we're all at the company, yet there's no aura of Big Cheese around him; he's just so down-to-earth.
Steve is so big-hearted, and most people don't realize that. Jenny has accomplished so much here yet hasn't changed a bit. Alexandria's a different breed of human being—so incredibly creative and inspirational. John was the MVP of Bovitz before he even came to Bovitz. Daren is an amazing mom; both to her twin boys and to the 25 other "children" she has here. Emmeline has an aura that makes you want to talk to her. I would listen to a radio show hosted by Ben and Charlie for hours. Jessica is one of the most selfless people I've ever known. Mike F.'s sense of humor is drier than the California drought. Besides being a great designer, Colleen is absolutely essential to our office culture. Of all the things he does well, the mentorship Manoj provides to our junior researchers is his best asset. I can't think of a person who's a better fit for research than Marissa; it's cliché, but she was born to do this. I wish I had the energy and spirit that Amy has to do all of the things she does in her life. I love the fact that Rick is in charge of a medium-sized city and that he's great at it. Megan is newer to Bovitz but she fit in from day one. Mike B. is someone that I've looked up to for a long time; we're so fortunate that he's with us. Every time I think of Katherine and Lee, I think of "Kathie Lee," who is interesting in her own way but not nearly as good at research as our duo. Connolly cares so deeply about the company and the people who work for it; we are lucky to have her. Lili never gets my pop culture references, but I think that reflects more on me. Debbie is an emperor, and we are her subjects. Nikole is the cool friend we all have. And Cara loves the Dodgers.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
I'd have the power to heal people. And I'd use it for free.
What excess would you treat yourself to if, all of the sudden, you became incredibly wealthy?
I really like the premise of this question, because it assumes that I would do something good with my wealth right off the bat, which I would.
But since you asked about excesses, I guess I'd say that I've always been equally intrigued and put off by people whose tastes become elevated when blessed with oodles of wealth. Is going to McDonald's no longer an option if you're in the Three Comma Club? Would I have to give up my annual Vegas trip so I could instead spend a week on my custom yacht?
My homie Warren (Buffett, fellow Omaha native) had his wedding celebration dinner at the Bonefish Grill when he got married 10 years ago. Sounds right to me. So, the day after I win the lottery, it's a pretty good bet I'll have a celebration lunch at Chipotle the next day, and then just regular lunches at Chipotle for the rest of my life (remember, there are over a half-million different meal combinations there, so I will not get tired of it.) If that's not excess enough, I'll hire a personal trainer to allow me to sustain this life of excess that I've chosen.
Tell me about one of your favorite people in the world.
My kids are my favorite people in the world.
Molly is 7½ and has mixing streaks of seriousness and silliness, just like her dad. She's a very good student and is a gifted artist. She wears her emotions on her sleeve to the point where nothing can get past us, and she also has a boundless energy which the walls of our home cannot contain.
Anna is 5 and, while seemingly more youthful and innocent than her older sister, is developing an unrivaled set of street smarts as part of her plans to eventually take over the world (after she takes over Bovitz first.) Underestimate her at your own risk; she's got charm and she knows how to use it.
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