To do this properly, we should really start at the beginning: I was born in the Midwest. This means that I'm probably going to err on the side of being too polite when we first meet. But it also means that I’m going to tell you the truth when you ask me a question, and I will likely talk too much once we get to know each other.
With that out of the way, I should mention that, after leaving Chicago in 1998, I spent the next ten years living in the Southwest. Which, as it turns out, isn’t much different from the Midwest because New Mexico and Arizona (especially) are full of Chicagoans trying to escape Illinois’s extreme seasons. But living in the Southwest also gave me a new perspective. It taught me to appreciate the West’s expansive vistas, the diversity of life that exists in a dead-at-first-glance desert, and the nuances between fall and winter in southern Arizona. (I'll give you a hint: you turn your air conditioner off in the winter.)
These days, I live and work in Santa Monica on the west side of Los Angeles. What I've learned about LA is that it stands for the opposite of what Midwesterners believe in: Instant gratification, self indulgence, and individualism over collectivism. As a result, I’m not sure that I will ever be able to buy into what this city is about because we’re just too different.
Professionally speaking, I started out as an engineer who designed lightweight mirrors for space telescopes. I later moved on to doing optical designs of the entire telescope, and there's a few things that I've worked on that are currently operating on space satellites. After four years of that, it was clear that I wanted to expand my range way beyond engineering, and so I spent the next 10 years at the RAND Corporation. I worked on projects ranging from developing a theory of modular design to changing the way the Army deployed its soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. I also wrote two books, one about how space debris relates to the Deepwater Horizon and another about how professionals prepare for and respond to surprise.
In 2018, I left RAND because I wanted to build a company that could do more than just study problems. I joined the partnership of ReD Associates, an innovation/strategy consultancy that helps private sector clients uncover the hidden variables that drive decision making. At ReD, I am creating a practice that can take ReD's powerful findings and turn them into market-ready products and services—it's much like having a think tank, consultancy, and design agency all under one roof.
In my personal life, I look after my wife and daughters. I spend a lot of time walking (roughly 150 miles/month), so I get most of my news and inspiration from podcasts. Some of my favorites are the Gabfest, Trumpcast, Revisionist History, Freakonomics, Ask Me Another, Reply All, 99% Invisible and Radio Lab. Those of you who know me as a photographer can find more of my work on my Flickr page or in my Twitter feed.
If we know each other and haven't spoken in a while, please send me an email so we can reconnect. You are also welcome to find me on LinkedIn. If we don't know each other (or you don't remember my address), send me a note.