Co-founder, Stories Incorporated
1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a kid? Where were
you, who were you with and what were you doing?
The first thing that came to my mind was, my parents dropping me off at Zeppe’s Pizza to meet my friends Erika and Christie, and then walking across the street to the movies together after dinner. This time in my life had everything: newfound independence, talking for hours with two of my favorite friends in a pivotal time (almost-teen) … and watching a lot of movies. We also hoped to run into our 7th grade crushes at the movie theater (this happened once out of like 300 times) so there was also the hope of romance (ha).
It didn’t matter what movie it was (Made in America was one of them I remember), every time was a wonderful time. This is one of the most favorite times in my life so far.
It’s not surprising to anyone who knew me then that I ended up co-founding a storytelling and media company… I was an indoor kid and devoured books and movies. I was always trying to write a book. I cared about the process of storytelling. I still read Entertainment Weekly religiously, like I have since it came out // since I was 16. I’ve always cared about plot and character substance, visual media, and generally how to best tell stories. These things have always made me happy.
2. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that
Mr. Balk!, my high school English and elective teacher, and debate coach. I learned that the most interesting and kind people, who will really add to your life and personal growth, are not always the loudest or flashiest. You might have to hunt to find them but it’s worth it. Mr. Balk was one of the first people like that for me.
He spoke in a monotone voice. He wasn’t obviously entertaining or engaging, when at the time that seemed like table stakes to get high school student attention. But, most importantly, he turned complex ideas into perfect sense without dumbing things down. He always gave us something to think about. He was the best kind of teacher.
I took every elective he taught — Debate, Drama, an actual class called Words. I also picked his English class every semester for two years. He asked me to be a member of the debate team because they were short a person, and didn’t have anyone in the extemporaneous speaking category. Even though the tournaments were all day long, on Saturdays, and I was spectacularly bad at speaking on the fly about current events, it meant the world that he asked me personally. And I loved that I could help the group! I was honored and proud to be a member of the team.
So, I tried really hard. But I was consistently terrible. Once we were going through my scores on the bus on the way home and, oh so sweet and innocent teenage me, I said, genuinely: “Maybe the judges scored incorrectly? Instead of being ranked last, maybe I actually ranked first?”
Oh, I was definitely, definitely in last place.
I learned from him one of the most important lessons ever: Failing is no big deal, just try to get better. It never mattered that I crashed and burned every week, so I was not self conscious about it. What mattered was, I did the best I could every time, with the sole goal of learning and getting better.
Perfect training ground for starting a company later in life!
3. What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight
turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?
Christen, my college roommate, decided to study abroad for a quarter in college. I asked the rest of my roommates if Brian Sargent, an acquaintance-friend of ours, could sublet her room for those three months. Both Christen’s decision to leave and me being motivated to sublet her room = Brian as my husband today. Without living together, he and I wouldn’t have become close friends. We wouldn’t have fallen in love a few years later, and we would not be married today.
His support, love, and stabilizing presence for the last (almost) 20 years fundamentally reshaped my life and brought out the best in me. Also, two specific humans (Allison and Molly, our children) who make my world today would not exist. Thanks, Christen Visci, for studying abroad in 2002!
4. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?
I just started meditating, because of 2020. With a global pandemic, a president making the wrong choices, co-owning a business that serves employer brands and TA teams and workplaces in flux, and two kids distance learning, I’m not alone in that it’s all a lot. Just when I think I can’t handle one more thing, my basement floods. That seriously happened last week. But, I know it’s a lot worse for a lot of other people, so I need to toughen up and get over my stuff. I believe the way to get tough is to meditate.
5. What do you think is true that most people think is false? What do you think is false, that most people think is true?
I think you shouldn’t brush your teeth just before drinking coffee (even though my dentist says it actually doesn’t matter). I think umbrellas aren’t that useful.
6. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what
would be the most important point in the manual?
Don’t play it cool with me. It is a waste of time and I’m honestly trying to get to know you for real.
“Be so completely yourself that everyone else feels safe to be themselves too”