Ellen, Ella and Beni
My wife Ellen and I were married in January, 2008 in Philadelphia. She also has a PhD in Psychology and has taught at-risk children as a member of Teach for America and KIPP. She is currently a Professor of Behavioral Science at IE University.
Ella is our daughter, she's a energetic little gift to our lives. Beni is our dog. He's a mix of a Jack Russell and a Tibetan Spaniel and we think he got the best half of each parent. :)
Bio in a Nutshell
I grew up in St. Louis. I had a very comfortable, sheltered Midwestern childhood before heading to college. Brown offered somewhat of a shock-treatment for someone used to the more conservative Midwest — one that in retrospect, I needed badly, and that changed my perspectives forever. I went straight from Brown to grad school at MIT.
After graduating with Masters degrees in Management and in Technology Policy, I served as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. I worked in a range of industries including mining, heavy manufacturing, and packaged goods– and in several functional areas including operations, marketing, strategic planning, and R&D. McKinsey was an amazing organization and I learned much.
I got the entrepreneurial bug in 1995 as seemingly all things became “.com”. I moved to NYC and founded a company with a friend from Brown. We developed two services — BranchOut and IndustryInsite — that were mid-1990′s versions of the concepts that everyone now knows as Facebook and LinkedIn. We were a bit too early. We sold the company and invested the proceeds in another venture, focused on using the Internet to automate human resources — “Peoplesoft for the small business”. We received substantial funding from a private equity firm and grew the company to about 30 people. Our patient investors allowed us to continue to develop our market after the Internet bubble burst — however, ultimately we were too early, and found the market for online business services too costly to develop, so we folded our operations into a sister company owned by our investors. I learned a lot and had a great time living in NYC. After much thought about my next steps, and after about 10 years in industry, I decided to head back to school to pursue a PhD and ultimately a career in research, teaching, and executive education.
I have always loved music — playing and just listening. I played piano throughout high school and was the keyboard guy in my high school band The Bedspins. The piano was not a pick-up instrument — hard to carry — so I learned to play guitar which I still play on occasion. My music collection seems to follow in close synch with my travels. In response to frequent requests from friends for mixes of favorite music from various genres (Brazilian, Cuban, Indian, Jazz, Acid Jazz, etc.), I started using last.FM to track music as I listen to it, but because I use it primarily while working it’s only tracking the more mellow subset of my music. My lastFM music profile is here, and my last.fm playlist is here.
Cheese and Wine
I love them each dearly, and all the more so as a couple. I could try new cheeses every day, 365 days a year– the blogger at 365 Cheeses has done so and offered up images and tasting notes for all. A few of my personal favorites include (in no order): Époisses, Fromage de Meaux, Brie de Nangis, Tallegio, Livarot, La Tur, Bergblumenkäse, Schwingerkäse, Appenzeller, Raclette, Robiola, Esrom, Vacherin Fribourgeois, Fontina Valle d’Aosta, and Urgelia. Wines…so much to learn, so many to try…
I have been fortunate to have had both the time and resources to don my backpack and travel to far flung places: all of western europe, most of eastern europe and the baltics, a good part of south america, some of central america, the middle east, turkey, and north africa. Of my experiences to date, solo travel was certainly among the most important and profound — spending time with people in far off places, experiencing our differences and in the same moment the realization of the oneness of being human. Climbing Mt. Cotopaxi (image) was the toughest physical and mental experience I've ever experienced.
Years ago I was reading various works of The Beats and happened upon a beatnicked rendition of a few Zen ideas. From there I found my way into what has become a deep interest in Zen Buddhist philosophy and practice. There are many many ways of looking at the world, at one’s own life, and at one’s interaction with others — I make no claim that any one way is better than another. I just stumbled upon a body of philosophy that resonates with me — one that for me is both interesting when studied from the proverbial “Armchair” but also one that transcends the Armchair through its inherent bias towards personal practice. Religion has become a loaded term — one that incites both those who shun it, as well as those fanatical about their own chosen variety. For me Zen is a psychological approach to being human — a practice of perception and awareness — and one that has turned out to be very related to my research.