Entries in Yoav Gonen (2)


"On Abroad Experience Impact on Beliefs and Goals" by Erik Michielsen

How exciting is the World Cup right now?  Think about it.  On average, one BILLION people are watching these games.  No matter the country, this is humbling.  And exciting.  It is an opportunity to make clear the possibilities that exist outside your particular country's borders and the expected, and unexpected, potential that exists for you to see. 

Abroad Experience is a pillar amidst the leadership enabling ingredients, or themes, that provide structure to the video interview segments shot, edited, curated and presented to you on Capture Your Flag.  By experiencing the unfamiliar, we are constantly pushed to better understand not only our passions and interests, but also our potential and capacity to evolve them over time. 

Whether you have friends and family attending the 2010 World Cup or are, like me, simply enjoying the games from afar, it cannot go unsaid that the effect global culture has on opening our eyes to possibility is tremendous. 

Many Capture Your Flag interviewees have shared their abroad experiences with me in our interviews.  As interviewees return annually to share new ideas and insights into their developing careers, we will build upon these stories. What excites me most is how the video panel element - year over year interviews - will chart change and development over time. 


Just as we started out here in Brooklyn knowing little and aspiring high, abroad travelers only know a destination.  Plans and events may be charted, but the stories and their effect on us remain unwritten until actually experienced.  Often, these experiences are unfamiliar, yet, is unfamiliar a bad thing?  Interviewee Yoav Gonen shares why he embraces the uncomfortable and unknown and uses it to better chart his own course in life. 



I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Hutson out of school back in 1996, where we worked together at what was then Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).  Hutson found purpose outside business process consulting and it hit him by complete surprise, while traveling abroad to Honduras to assist with Hurricane Mitch relief efforts.  His story certainly does not begin here but this moment, and those pineapples, proved more transformative than anything he could have imagined.  Have a look...


From that point, Hutson continued his quest toward what he would soon be defined as "corporate sustainability".  After returning to school to evolve and refine his ambition, Hutson was released back into the wild - in other words the job market - to apply his trade.  Over time, a job at the Environmental Defense Fund led him to Bentonville, Arkansas, where Hutson was presented an opportunity to work with the world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart and help lead its corporate sustainabilty strategy, in particular the elements involved with green supply chain.

Who would have thought that an idea stemming from a pineapple field could frame a life purpose realized by working inside the largest country for the largest company to plan a green initiative scalable to the entire world. How, exactly?  I'll let Andrew explain...

In short, abroad experiences offer extreme potential but that potential only has possibility to be unlocked when the trip is taken.  I highly encourage everyone I meet to push themselves to meet new cultures, be they regional, socioeconomic, generational, or, of course, global.  Watching Andrew Hutson, Yoav Gonen, and the other interviewees inspires me to continue trying new things and also, for new things I discover and like, to revisit and share them with others over time. 

Please visit the Capture Your Flag Facebook Fan Page to share your own Abroad Experience! 


"On Formulating Viewpoint Over Time" by Erik Michielsen

Over my first year conducting Capture Your Flag interviews, my experience learning why interviewees believe what they do has proven to be immeasurably illuminating.  Central to my curiosity rests this question: If views inform intent, what informs views?  It is a joy engaging each interviewee to understand the variety of ways factors shape views over time.

To date, I have found three elements, knowledge, experience, and wisdom, central to understanding how interviewee views, and the resulting intent and actions, develop. 


The first, knowledge, is less about building academic subject competency and more about the unsuspecting ways the classroom environment may unleash passion onto the career experience.  For some interviewees, formative education experiences underlie why interviewees choose a certain path of profession.  Based on interviews to date, "Knowledge" goes beyond choosing a major and, in the case of formulating viewpoint, is often tied to an unexpected moment that broadens options while sharpening direction.

This unexpected moment strikes Scott Gold during college non-fiction classes.  Gold finds non-fiction an appealing writing an appealing medium, in particular the process building characters, dialogue, structure, and story around a framework not present in fiction writing.  The realization propels the Washington University philosophy major to build his world around non-fiction writing and launch his food-inspired publishing career. 

New York Post reporter Yoav Gonen relishes the unfamiliar and foreign as a traveler and the same can be said in his career.  After journalism school at New York University, Gonen finds himself reporting for the Staten Island Advance daily newspaper doing investigative journalism across education and community.  New York City provides Gonen access to a wide array of experiences, and through them he learns to embrace the freedom, license, and responsibility the journalist role provides in connecting him to previously unapproachable city elements, including Staten Island public housing residents. 



The second, experience, is more about life experience connecting to core passion and belief rather than "punching the clock" or "clocking hours" in the office or on the job.

Jason Anello's direction and passions are found in design details.  From food to advertising to Yahoo marketing, Anello starts everything understanding how and why details - shape, color, arrangement - create an experience.  Over time, Anello's ongoing desire to use details to build larger experiences builds a bridge not only into advertising and marketing, but into a larger social sciences context, specifically ways details inform behavior.  Repeated projects then allow Anello to better understand the human condition as it pertains to how individuals function and make decisions in social environments.

A Cambodia travel experience transcends initial goals to visit Angkor Wat and proceeds to transform how Shaheen Wirk approaches conversation.  Wirk, no stranger to being inquisitive in his medical school and financial services training and career, nonetheless learns to be more engaging in everyday discussions, providing once common interactions the opportunity to be unique, inspiring, and memorable. 



The third, wisdom, builds upon knowledge and experience into a mental or spiritual state that offers connections into higher level fulfillment areas, including legacy building and mapping purpose

A necessary ingredient here is time.  Formulating a viewpoint or perspective is a continuum and the contribution "Knowledge" and "Experience" make advances informs a broader commentary on life and why we live it.  At some point in the continuum, "Wisdom" forms.  Now, by definition, Capture Your Flag interviewees are up and coming, developing, cultivating, learning.

Filmmaker Tricia Regan kindly shared her own commentary on what she has learned to date and what, at its core, informs her actions and shapes her intent. 

"Formulating Viewpoint" is a common theme continually underlying Capture Your Flag guests development and aspiration.  We will be closely following how this develops both with new guests as well as with existing guests care of annual interviews.  Moreover I will continue to gather feedback and information to build upon the "Knowledge -> Experience -> Wisdom" approach highlighted above.  It is only the beginning and I look forward to enjoying the journey with you all. 

*** For a complete list of all "Formulating Viewpoint" chapters, click HERE ***

- Erik