Give us your “elevator pitch” (What you do, who you are, where you’re from).
I am the Co-founder and CEO of Virtuali. We are focused on helping companies attract, develop, and engage emerging leaders by providing one-of-a-kind learning experiences. Our flagship program, which we call Go!, is an 8-week leadership development experience that features two weeks of immersion in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In many ways, Go! and Virtuali are products of my own experience. After college, I moved to Spain, where I studied economics and worked at a think tank. When I returned to the U.S. and joined a large consulting firm, I realized that many of my colleagues were looking for similar experiences. At the same time, my company and others were having difficulties developing and engaging their younger leaders. We founded Virtuali to help companies address that gap by helping them offer awesome experiences that lead to personal and professional growth.
If you could spend one day with any famous person (past or present), who would it be?
I would spend the day with the writer David Foster Wallace. His mind, his insight, and his breadth of knowledge were incredible, and it would be amazing to have a dialogue with someone whose words I’ve cherished for so long.
Do you feel college and post grad education is essential for success? Why or why not?
College may not be essential for every career, but it is extremely beneficial. From a practical standpoint, it is increasingly likely that your resume will be read by a robot. Without a college degree, it may never actually reach a human being.
That said, I believe that what you do with your time in college is more important that your actual degree. College is a time to learn to be curious, to learn how to learn about topics outside of your area of expertise, and to learn how to work with people that are different from you. These are the skills that are most in demand in the workplace, and they always will be.
What’s your favorite book?
John Steinbeck has always been one of my favorite authors, and I love his travelogue, Travels with Charley: In Search of America. It captures the feeling of wanderlust and curiosity (which is appropriate for this interview!). The book also exhibits a solitary, quiet introspection and reverence for nature that we’re often lacking in our daily lives.
What causes or organizations are you passionate about?
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote that, “by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowlege [sic] among the people. no [sic] other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom, and happiness.” These words are truer now than ever. Education is the bedrock of our country’s democratic foundation, and it is the most important long-term driver of economic success. Unfortunately, we seem to be ambivalent about education in our country: there are entrepreneurs and reformers who are revolutionizing the way that we teach young people, but we are still failing a staggering percentage of our country’s youth in ways that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even knowing it, live your way into the answer.” –Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
Describe your dream vacation.
Without a doubt, my dream vacation would be chartering a sailboat with a group of friends and cruising the Mediterranean Sea.
Where do you see yourself in 25 years?
I have no idea! The people whom I most admire are doing radically different things now than they were 25 years ago. I can only hope that I have a career that allows me to do the same.
What’s currently on your radar? Tell us about your latest project.
We have been very focused on the corporate market, but we’re launching a version of Go! (our 8-week leadership development experience, part of which takes place in Buenos Aires) for university students. We’re seeing a big gap in “soft skills” for recent graduates, and we want to help close it. The curriculum is still in development, but our first cohort will “depart” in summer of 2015. (If you’d like to know more, you can email me at email@example.com.)
Any advice for recent college grads?
It’s your life. The easiest thing is to live according to someone else’s plan, but don’t do it. Find what you want and go for it.
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