The ocean is an uncertain place. Sound travels according to the water’s temperature, pressure, and salt level. Throughout my five years in the Navy, I learned processes to understand and navigate that uncertainty – and to help other people navigate that uncertainty. My experiences in the Navy became operative metaphors for how I see the world.
I’ve always been obsessed with how to make the best decisions to maximize my impact. We have limited time and limited effort, and I want to choose well. After all, that’s the point of life. I’ll read any psychology white paper and think through any mental model if it helps me think better and make better decisions. Of utmost importance to me is motivating others to want to make an impact as well. That’s true leadership.
At age 26, I decided to leave the Navy. I wanted to make an impact more central to our everyday experience. I wanted to do something meaningful that would do justice to the people in the Navy who make tremendous sacrifices for their families and this country. Being in a transition program at Dartmouth Tuck for military veterans and elite athletes entering a new phase in their lives reminded me how much I love being on a high-performing team. When I found my way to an e-commerce company in Florida, I brought together everything I knew about process and strong communication to motivate people and get them on the same page. Attending business school was the next step in building those skills and increasing my impact.I was drawn to the values of Stern and to the Stern community. Community has always been central to who I am. I grew up in beautiful New Orleans and, in 2005, as I witnessed in real time my city get destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, what kept me going was my close group of friends. In the Navy, as I ensured a team of sailors were safe every day, I felt a sense of purpose. As I think about maximizing my impact on this community, I want to be intentional with my time, and I want to push beyond the surface. Everyone wants to know that someone cares about them and is processing them on an individual level. At Stern, I’ve started asking people how they’re doing less often, because when I do, I want to get a real answer. And when I ask, I stop and wait for that answer. It’s always worth the wait.