EVERYONE ELSE IS ALREADY TAKEN.
Oscar Wilde (maybe)
Who Am I?
F. Scott Fitzgerald, I must gently disagree: I do indeed believe there are second acts in American life. I know, because I've already lived three.
My time here has been a revolving door of adjacent and intersecting interests: a striving Founder, a seeking Storyteller, and an unyielding Philanthropist. In short, I am a protean multipotential, desirous of deep purpose. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what that means and how to best achieve it.
Why Fear is My Thesis
My mass transformative purpose (MTP) is to remove fear from everyday life. This was not a conscious choice; rather, fear found me. And so, the red thread of my work as a Founder, Storyteller, and Philanthropist became the abatement of fear.
More fundamentally, fear is one of our most important biological allies, and one of our greatest societal hindrances. In this way, it is not only fascinating to study, but it is a fundamental contradiction in search of reconciliation between our mammalian and reptilian Triune brain.
Most importantly, fear is increasing in our global and local citizenry at a time where we have never been more statistically safer. This irrational discrepancy manifests itself, for Americans at least, as broad fears about the government, the environment, money, health, and physical safety (see Chapman University Index of American Fears).
While I am resigned to the reality that we will never fully remove fear from our lives, I imagine a world in which it is removed in certain parts (e.g. freedom from the fear of economic harm)—and that is a world I would very much care to inhabit.
Check out Notimor, my fear-based venture studio, to see what I'm doing to abate fear today.
[M]y firm belief that
the only thing we have to fear is fear itself
—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933)
I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (My Lost City, 1934)
A Life in Three Acts
The life of this Taurus, young James Spader doppelgänger, and "universal man" has been anything but linear. In fact, it's been quite happily perpendicular (quadratic?), with bisecting and overlapping moments of founding, storytelling, and "philanthrophisizing" (FSP). More confounding still, there were moments of F-S-Ping while also helping someone else achieve their dream. At 27 years old, I was the Chief Marketing Officer for a $12 billion investment firm (Shepherd Kaplan) and I helped an artificial intelligence startup raise millions of venture dollars and double-up on topline as Chief Growth Officer (Vestorly).
My proudest accomplishments, however, remain the several colleagues who, when called upon, have followed and rowed alongside me in multiple entrepreneurial longboats across the years.
In a similar vein, throughout my life, I have relied on the strange kindness of friends (& Mentors) to get where I am. I have been blessed to have come into my ken, a series of personal masterminds—from David Shepherd who showed me how to build a business with a tandem of obsession and emotion; to news anchor Charles Perez and the late forensics coach Paula Mittleman-Edelson, who helped me master the art of how to persuade and inform; to the inimitable Wallace Mathai-Davis who instructed me in the power of intellectual humility and convicted pursuit. My gratitude to all these figures is extensive and ever-lasting.
One More Thing...
Ok, a Few More Things...
Philomath: A Man of Arts & Letters
Academically, I've been fortunate to attend some wonderful institutions. I went to public school in New Jersey, and graduated from Bridgewater-Raritan High School, where I was a multi-sport athlete (mostly baseball), theater geek, and host of Panther Power Plays on our school TV station. I still provide a scholarship to debaters at BRHS, and made the national finals in Public Forum way back in 2004 as part of the National Speech and Debate Association (then the National Forensic League).
I wrote and defended my dissertation on national self-determination and remain passionate about the topic (my thesis was entitled: "Debating Rights of National Self-Determination: A Theory of Independence & Viability for the International Community"). While at BU, I won the Bob Zelnick-hosted "Great Debate" three times and also spoke at the famed Oxford Union. I earned several national and international awards as a member of the Boston University Debate Society's American Parliamentary Debate Association (APDA) and World Universities Debating Championship (WUDC) teams. I created and hosted the butv10 show, "On That Point." I'm very proud to say that OTP is still airing today—more than 15 years later.
I also attended Oxford University (St. Anne's College) as a student in Modern British History as part of an honors program through Boston University.
I later attended graduate school at Yale University (The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs), working towards my master's in International Affairs (Economics Concentration). While at Yale, I founded the campus chapter of The Adam Smith Society and was admitted as a Venture Fellow to the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (then called the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute).
I imagine at some point a return to academic pursuits with a Ph.D. or JD "just for the fun of it," but for now, I am intellectually poor and content, and that is rich enough. In the meantime, I "get my nerd on" through being borne ceaselessly back into the past. I spend a bit of time researching my lineage (split between French-Scottish-English and Russian-Jewish heritage), and I'm a member of several historical and hereditary societies. I also enjoy pursuing my lifelong journey of reading every definitive U.S. Presidential biography (up to Monroe...thus far).
L'incompréhension du présent naît fatalement de l'ignorance du passé.
(tr. The incomprehension of the present is fatally born in the ignorance of the past).
Marc Bloch (Apologie pour l'histoire ou Métier d'historien, 1941)
As a former athlete, I find it necessary to continue vigorous pursuits of mind and body. To that end, I'm a below-average marathoner, but I have completed six, including the Hampton's (full), New Jersey (half), and West Point (half) runs. I'm a decent squash player, shooter, and skier as well.
When allowed, I also enjoy raising my voice in song, including choir performances with Rocktopia and at Boston's Symphony Hall with the Boston University Symphonic Choir.
Finally, I'm a bit of a clotheshorse with a predilection for double-breasted suits and an aversion for hosiery (haven't worn socks in more than a decade). I'm also a foodie with an oenophile kicker. 1945 Château Pétrus, anyone?
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton The Musical, 2015)
My name is Alexander Hamilton and there's a million things I haven't done. But just you wait, just you wait...
What Comes Next?
A few years ago I wrote my own obituary. It's a strange exercise in self-actualization that allows you to reverse-engineer your life and start taking steps towards forming your own headline. It was through this macabre performance that the contours for my next half-decade began to take shape. Some of the sketches found in my obituary have now manifested into several current projects:
And while I'm sure my best-laid plans may go astray in some way, I take great pleasure in the journey. I'm still in my 30s and have plenty to keep me busy, but as I keep my eye on the future, I hope to expand my impact through politics (Senator St. Clair, anyone?) and a few other twists and turns of fate that will help solidify my "shot."