Jessica Drislane: Private Equity, Lewis Carroll & Incubating The First Research Project Out Of Harvard

 

Details

37 min 16 sec
Published on May 28, 2021
Guest
Jessica Drislane - OpenScholar HBDX podcast
Jessica Drislane
CEO, OpenScholar

Jessica Drislane took her twenty years of experience as a private equity investor to help co-found The Open Scholar with Gary King, who runs the Institute for quantitative Social Sciences at Harvard. The Open Scholar helps research organizations like Harvard and other Universities build better websites that will enhance their brand and showcase their research.

Host
Piyush Poddar
VP Sales and Partnerships, Axelerant

With over 15 years of sales experience in digital services and having hosted exclusive Agency Leaders Dinners for CEOs globally, Piyush has taken his penchant for engaging digital change-makers online with “Humans Behind Digital Experiences (DX),” an Axelerant Podcast. His goal is to host an uncommon conversation that goes deeper than the platforms big organizations run on today, to a level that’s more personal—more human.

Transcript

Seven years ago, I took a little bit of a hiatus from finance and I went to art school here in Boston, which sounds like lunacy. However, starting a business is really one of the big creative acts, right? It is a creative act.

Piyush  0:14  
Hello, I'm Piyush Poddar. And you're listening to Humans Behind DX Podcast, where I talk to leaders from Digital agencies and organizations delivering awesome digital experiences. Today, I'm going to talk to Jessica Drislane, CEO at OpenScholar. Welcome, Jess.

Jessica  0:34  
Thank you, Piyush. Good to be here.

Piyush  0:36  
Jess, tell us who you are.

Jessica  0:38  
I'm the CEO of OpenScholar here based in Boston. And we are a software company. And we were originally a research project at Harvard. We lifted the platform out of Harvard, three years ago, to bring it to the broader research community. By that I mean, research one University's medical research institutes and teaching hospitals. And so we provide not only the software but also the services that are wrapped around and supportive of that software. So the hosting and the help desk and the system administration, training, and theming for all of the websites that we bring to the research community. So I run the company. And I have a team here in Boston, a team of developers and a team of sales, marketing, go-to-market folks, people that help with design work on our websites, and some folks that help with training and project management on the rollout side. And then we also have folks that work with DevOps system administration to backup data, and to make sure their servers are all running in tip-top shape. And that's the team

Piyush  1:53  
Nice. And this, this product is powering some of the websites of Harvard, probably similar to other large education institutes, right?

Jessica  2:04  
That's correct. We power the websites of the University of Virginia, Rice University, Harvard, as you mentioned, we work with the Broad Institute, which is a genomics Medical Research Institute here in Boston, Huntington medical research out in California. UC Merced, Olin School of Engineering. We are working with Joslin Diabetes, a number of great research institutions here in the US, primarily.

Piyush  2:37  
Wow, that's amazing. And do you want to tell us a bit about you know, your story? And how did you get involved with the project?

Jessica  2:45  
So I actually did not start out my career in software at all, I started out my career, working in private equity, investing in technology companies. And so what I loved about that was that I got to meet with all sorts of interesting, driven, ambitious, entrepreneurs, and hear their ideas and see how they were growing their businesses and, you know, acquiring other companies and building out their teams is fascinating to me. So I got to analyze and evaluate that, from the operational business standpoint, from the standpoint of is this a viable investment opportunity? How big is the market? Can it grow? What are the other competitors in this space? So there are a lot of strategies and a lot of financial analysis involved. But also a lot of people analysis, sort of, you know, is this a solid team, are these folks that are going to be able to grow and build this business. And so that was a terrific introduction to technology and software through this through a different lens, really, through the sort of the financial analysis, strategic analysis lens.

What I always knew, in doing that was that I felt that I was at an arm's length from where the real action was. And so I always thought, well, this is fun and interesting, because I get to look at new, fascinating technologies and businesses and these terrific teams every day. But I think what I'd rather be doing is rolling up my sleeves and working with one of these groups. And so, you know, I'd always had an entrepreneurial bent, and I knew that I wanted to ultimately work in an operational role, but also to probably run something. So yeah, so I used to finance. I worked in finance for almost 20 years. And then I moved into the software space.

I actually, about seven years ago, I took a little bit of a hiatus from finance to do a bit of a career pivot. And I went to art school here in Boston, which sounds like lunacy. But it was a terrific step away from what I've been doing for me through my career, and you know, sort of drawing and sculpting and just looking at blank canvases. It was really interesting. It allowed me to think a lot during that year. About you know, kind of what drives me as an individual like what makes me tick and what makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning. And so, you know, one of the I guess, it seems sort of like they're disconnected right? Art school in the world of business. However, starting a business is really one of the big creative acts, right? It is a creative act. And so, I went to work after art school, I actually was able to bring the skills that I had acquired in finance, and in business, to a company called Invaluable here in Boston, which was a software company, it still is, that creates software for the art auction world. So Sotheby's and Christie's uses the platform for their online art auctions, and I was their head of strategy. So what that meant was, I was looking at the core competency of the technology of the company, and I was looking at opportunities for creating revenue in the marketplace.

So you know, where are there opportunities to take this software platform and connect it to growth potential opportunities in the marketplace and drawing a long line between those two things between the core technology capabilities and the market growth opportunities. So that's really strategy, right is coming up with new revenue channels, the strip that is driven off of the core capabilities of the technology of the business, and I loved it, I absolutely loved it. What I realized in that company working in that role is that I wanted to continue doing strategy, but that I ultimately wanted to do my own thing, to run my own thing. So I started to look around a little bit and talk to different groups because I had a number of ideas that came out of the strategy sessions, things that we were maybe not going to use at Invaluable. But I thought, well, maybe I could build a business around this. And in that kind of really kind of brainstorming, I came across a number of different people, one of whom was Gary King at Harvard. And Gary is now my business partner, but Gary at the time, and he still is, he's a professor at Harvard University. He runs the Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences at Harvard, in addition to being a professor of political science. At the Institute of quantitative social sciences, he incubates a lot of platform technology that gets used throughout Harvard University. One of those platforms was OpenScholar. So I met Gary and talked with him about some of the platforms he had incubated. And we took a hard look at OpenScholar. And at that point, it had seeped out into other universities, because we had open-sourced it. So it was available. But other universities wanted all the services that we provided within Harvard, we couldn't do that within Harvard because you know, it's a not-for-profit, the only way to bring that whole suite of services to the world was to lift the technology platform out of Harvard. So I joined forces with Gary. And this was really kind of this amazing opportunity, because I, you know, I'd wanted to shift into a strategic role, a leadership role, I love the software world, I love the idea of growing something and creating something new and interesting for the world. So I joined forces with Gary, I went into Harvard, in the role of Head of Strategy of the OpenScholar project at Harvard, with the goal of lifting the platform out of Harvard.

So what that meant, it meant getting a lot of buy in from the administration at Harvard to turn the project into a vendor, that we would transfer the IP of the project to the company, and lift it out with the development team and incorporate it. And Harvard would then become our largest customer. And that's what we did. And that took about eight months. And that was the birth of OpenScholar. It was the very end of 2017 December, probably the January 2018, as we physically left Harvard's campus, so it's been just three years since we started the business officially. And so that that was you know, that's the origin story of OpenScholar.

Piyush  9:12  
Right. Right. That reminds me of a quote by Lewis Carroll. He says the things you regret most in life are the risks you didn't take. And it seems you saw the right opportunity and the right pain points. When you were I mean, you know, that everything that you started off, right with private equity, investing in tech, getting involved in art school to meeting Gary King and the opportunity being given by Harvard, I believe, you know, that that was the must have been of great timing and great luck.

Jessica  9:42  
Yeah, I mean, I think you're not gonna I mean, sort of, like, you know, um preparedness meeting opportunity, right? You know, there's luck out there. There's so much of life as luck, of course, that you're not gonna find it. If you're not knocking on lots and lots of doors. You're not putting yourself out there all the time. Talking with smart people talking with people with ideas, talking with people that want to do things and join forces. And so, you know, there, there were a lot of doors that I knocked on a lot of different opportunities that arose. Gary is just a remarkable human being. And we had terrific professional chemistry, the moment I met him, and I knew I wanted to work with him. One thing that he really kind of imparted at our first meeting is just that any, there's all these hurdles and problems are just, you know, they're just things that we've got to come up with, with it with a good solution for right. So everything was just a riddle to solve. And it was a challenge. And it was interesting, and it was a learning experience. And I love that because everything about entrepreneurship is you every single day, there are these new hurdles, and things that seem insurmountable. But if you fake it with this attitude of, okay, we've just got to figure out how to get over this thing. And we've never seen it before. That's okay, we've got good problem-solving skills, we've got smart people, we're just going to work at it from different angles. And so that was one of the reasons why I wanted to join forces with him. It's a very comforting feeling to have someone who views problems as opportunities that we just haven't figured out, you know, sort of the solution to yet so that that was a big part of it, for sure.

And as to Lewis Carroll's quote, absolutely. You know you don't want to look back on your life and say, you know, I should have done this, I could have done that, right. I mean, you can't do everything. But I do think that you know, people, people don't regret taking calculated risks. And a lot of what you do in your life leads you to if you're putting the work and you're putting the time and at least you know, to lots of different opportunities sets, right. And so sometimes the question boils down to sort of like, Okay, well, which door do I open? When I first decided to do this with Gary, I had a couple of other big opportunities, and I had to decide, and I knew that it settled the adage of, you know, when you say, no, you only say no to that one thing. But when you say yes, you say no to everything else. And so whatever I said yes to it, when I was shutting down these other opportunities. So once you do that, for me, there was like this period of a little bit of, you know, buyer's remorse or sort of not depression, but just sort of what have I done? How am I gonna do this, and maybe I should have done the other thing. And of course, you always think you should have done the other thing, because the thing you're, you're focused on right now. It's real, and it's hard. And those are the problems you've got to solve. So I faced a lot of, you know, sort of a talk with myself, which was, you know, okay, you pick this thing, you're going to stick with this, then you make this thing work. And suddenly, it was like, alright, marshal your forces and all your energy, all your mental focus. And let's figure this out, because it hadn't we hadn't done this before. Right? Well, Harvard hadn't had a research project that had been lifted out of the university ever before. And so not only do we not know what we were doing, but Harvard didn't have any experience doing this either. So we were feeling our way. And massive learning curve, very stressful. You know, but super interesting, right? We really learned a lot. And you know,  the tenacity is a big part of it, too. Because it's, you know, you don't know if it's going to work out, you don't know when it's going to work out. But if you could hang in there for long enough, something's gonna work out.

Piyush  13:22  
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, love it wonderful. at a time, you know, life is all about riddles, just keep solving them. The next thing I wanted to ask was, you know, you know, learn a bit about your philosophy of success and purpose in life and work, but I think you've already covered that. Is there anything else you'd like to add to that question that you probably just answered?

Jessica  13:44  
Yeah, no, I mean, I'm not sure if I have a sort of a philosophy or anything like that. But I do think that a couple of things that helped me when I was doing this pivot for anyone who's thinking about pivoting into a different career, whatnot. One of the really amazing exercises I did, which is so simple, it's gonna sound ridiculous. But a friend of mine for Business School found himself in a similar situation where he was looking to shift into a different career. And he'd done a lot of different things in his career. So he could have gone into business development or sales, or he could have been a strategist or a Head of Operations, but he was sort of like, you can't do everything. And if you divide your energy, not only are you going to be spent and burnt out, but you're not going to recognize a good opportunity when it comes your way. And you're not going to present yourself as the best candidate for any of these things. Because you're saying, you know, I can do lots of things. So he said, You've got to do this thing that I did this exercise called, you must have must not have you take an eight by 11 piece of paper, you put a line down the middle and on the left-hand side you say must have and on the right-hand side is a must not have and must is the important word here. And you have put three to five items on each side and the only rules are that it can't be less than three or more than five They cannot be the opposite of one another. You can't say, I want to work with realtors, I must work with really smart people I must not work with, you know, really not, you know, not smart people, they have to be different. And the only other rule is that there are no rules. And so you can put down anything you can say, well, we want to work with redheads.

I mean, crazy, right? This isn't for HR, it's for you. So I had this list. And he said, you know, take a couple of days, write your list out, you absolutely must have to make your life great to make you excited about going to work. And what you must not have, like what would actually, you know, be drudgery to you or would just really detract from any role that you're in. And spend the time doing three to five on each side of that page, and then put it in a drawer and then take it back out again, and spend some more time and then. When you think you've got it, give it to one person, just one person, not a committee. One person knows you really well, maybe that's your spouse, it's your sister, it's your, you know, your mentor, whomever and say Does this sound like me? And if the person says, Yeah, this is you, then you're done. And I was like, Well, wait a minute, what happens next? And he's like, oh, what happens next? Well, that's when the magic happens, because it becomes a filter. And so you have these three things that I must have, and these three things that I must not have. And he says, so what you're going to do is you're going to say no to 99% of every opportunity that comes over the transom. And you have to be disciplined and stick to it. Because when you say yes, you are going to know exactly what it's going to because now you've got a filter. So the thing that fits your filter, when it comes through, not only are you extremely confident and sure of it, but every person you talk with about it when you interview when you're convincing them, you are so clearly the only person for that role that it comes through.

And so he's like, so basically you're separating signal from noise, and you're separating out like all these like possible things you could do that you're lukewarm on or that you could talk yourself into, and it's only so it was this amazing filtration system. So what ended up happening, and he said to me, he had one caveat, he's like, be careful, because you might have a couple of things that fit the filter, and then you're gonna have to decide. And that is exactly what happened. I had this possible role with OpenScholar and Gary, and another role, which was equally kind of awesome. And I was like, damn, I've got to decide. And so that's what happened, but it was so obvious. It was one of these two, and everything else was just like, nope, nope, nope, nope. And once you're able to do that, it is incredibly clarifying. And it just you who become the best candidate for the role that fits the filter, and people know it. So that was a really excellent exercise that I did, it was probably the most useful exercise I've done in my professional career in terms of finding fit. Okay, the only thing I would say is that that's like making sure you're putting your energy in the right place. To take a step back from that the only thing I would say that's helped me in my career and in life, a lot is managing your energy and making sure that it's maximized, like maximizing your positive energy. And so by that, I mean that it can be different for every person.

But for me, it's like, you know, you got to get enough sleep, you gotta get out in the sunshine every day, you got to exercise you got to, you know, eat healthy food, you got to be around people who are positive, cut people out who are negative and toxic, you know, don't watch crappy television, you know, don't like eat junk food, like it's all about, like maximizing your energy so that you can go into any situation and the energy that you exude is it is dispositive in the sense that like, it's it attracts great people with high energy, it attracts great opportunities. And so you have control over that it's one of the few things you have control over. So if you get your energy right, then the next thing would be, not necessarily do the must-have must not have exercise, but make sure you're focusing your energy in the right direction. And it doesn't have to be perfect in terms of focusing where you focus your energy. Yeah, it just has to be roughly, like, the right framework will get you there. And so, you know, it's like, it could be in the ballpark, but your energy is right, and it's an area that you're interested in. And all of a sudden magical things start to happen. And so those are kind of the two things, getting your energy right and figuring out where you're going to focus it sort of roughly speaking. And the last thing I would say, that has been helpful to me in terms of advice from other folks, as I've been leading this company, and just sort of growing as a human being is to read constantly but read outside of your discipline. And because if you're reading everything within your discipline, you're just knowing what everybody else in your field knows. And it's not that helpful. Yeah. But if you read outside of it, you get all these really cool perspectives. Well, not only does it make you a more interesting person and you run into more interesting people that make you think differently, but also, you start to think about problem-solving from different angles that you wouldn't think of if you're just approaching it through the same rubric as everyone else. So those would be the three things get your energy, right, but figure out where you're gonna focus it And read like crazy outside of your discipline, because that's helpful too.

Piyush  20:04  
Yeah, nice one. And I love the magical framework that must have been mustn't have looked like, you know, it really eases out, you know, the dilemma that you usually have and, you know, often leads to indecision. Would love to try it out. Yeah, absolutely.

Jessica  20:21  
Yeah, analysis paralysis, or oh, there are possibilities. And it's like, actually, you know what you got to boil it down, you have to, like, stop with like, you minimize the number of decisions and choices you've got to make by coming up with a framework, that's, that's narrow, but the one that you've narrowed based upon what you know, really drives you and illuminates you. Because if it's only like two or three big things that do that for you, fine, just focus on those things. Don't talk yourself into a whole bunch of other things that you're like, b minus c plus at. Only do the A-plus stuff. because, frankly, in any field, you know, there are other people, they're going to be people that absolutely adore love or passion by doing a certain thing. And if you're not like they're always going to run circles around you, because they would do it for no money, right? So you've got to pick the thing that you would do for no money, right? Like the thing that you would just no matter what I would just get up. And if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd still get up and do this every day, I'd still get up at work with these people every day, I'd still be psyched to do that. And if I couldn't do it, I'd really miss it. Right? If you could find that, that is golden.

Piyush  21:26  
Nice, nice. Nice. Okay, so moving on, from you know, achievements, and, you know, the right way of doing the right thing. Let's, let's shift gears a bit and and look at, you know, this, this kind of a different interesting year that you've just had, and you know, the world that we are living in today. I mean, as we all know, it has shifted dramatically. What's one most important thing you accomplished last year, that you're really happy about, could be personal or professional, anything that you'd be open to sharing with the listeners here.

Jessica  22:04  
Last year, we realized in April that our pipeline had totally dried up, we didn't know it was gonna come back. It was very scary, we had an amazing pipeline built up through mid-March, and everyone was just in a tailspin. Because not only will you know, the whole world was in a tailspin, businesses were going bankrupt, but also, our core constituents, the hospitals, and the r1. Universities. were all saying, well, hospitals were just like, crazy, not knowing kind of like when things are gonna turn around. And they were just on the frontlines of everything. So didn't have time to think about anything related to digital infrastructure. And r1. Universities were just trying to figure out how we teach remote? How do we, you know, make sure that we have, you know, students coming back in the fall, you know, they were furloughing employees and administrators, it was just really scary. And so we were at a holding pattern. So instead of, you know, being frozen, we decided to just get crazy creative. And we just said, okay, we want to come out of this better. So what's going to make this better? What have we been putting off? Because we haven't had enough time because we've been onboarding new clients. And we've been, you know, basically just making the business go every day. What have we been putting off? And we said, well, we really want to make the platform a lot easier to use. Okay, how much easier? Well so easy that you could put a website up in an hour? And then we kept pushing that? Well? Could we also want to make these sites beautiful? Like how beautiful, what kind of like Squarespace beautiful, well, can we do that. And so we really push the envelope on what we could do. And we had this wish list.

And we're like, we want to make the most beautiful sites in academia, that is the easiest to use, that someone who's 75 years old, with no coding knowledge can put a site up in an hour, can we do that? Alright, let's try and do that. So we've spent four months on that. Making these presets designing these templates that are gorgeous. And I would say that I'm coming out of this, you know, holding pattern that we've been in, we are launching these beautiful, beautiful new products, and we're really proud of them. And it's opened up new markets for us. And it's really made us realize there's a lot of things we can do with a small team and just an enormous amount of passion for what we do at open-mindedness. You know, we also had to give up on a lot of ambitions that we'd had for you know, March to September and so letting go of things was part of COVID and the pandemic letting go of things. And then but then saying, what are some new things we can do? You know, and I think we did that in our personal lives too. You let go of plans, you let go of activities, but then what are some new things that you can do? So, you know, I think we did that with the business and, and I'm really happy with how that went. We learn to work remotely, we learn to communicate better, I would say that it is very hard. To communicate on zoom and on Slack all the time. And that was challenging, not for us only for everybody. I figured out how to do that better. So I think we grew stronger as a team. Because we basically spelled stuff out. It was like, you know, two people speaking, you know, different languages that are not there. They're not native, and they're trying to communicate, and you just over-communicate. And so we repeated ourselves a lot to one another to make sure the point got across. So that was a different way of working. And, you know, we had to forge new paths in communications. But yeah, I'd say the biggest thing was just getting crazy creative in this period of time, and coming, coming up with some, some real, some real diamonds, right? It's just, it's been great.

Piyush  25:50  
Yeah, so summarising, innovating the digital experience that that OpenScholar as a product promises to its customers and users? I would, I would say, perhaps, that's, that's what you really achieved this last year. And what are you looking forward to? 2021? We're almost at the, you know, hopefully, you're starting to see the end. Vaccinations are, you know, the drives are on the world over? And that, you know, probably even the economy started moving a bit faster. What's the one North Star this year that you have identified for yourself or for OpenScholar? And what are you looking forward to?

Jessica  26:34  
I mean, I'm really looking forward to seeing the team again, in person. I'm really looking forward to seeing our, our clients again, in person, I mean, it's just I've missed seeing everybody in person. And so I'm looking forward to getting on the road again and traveling to see our clients. So this is, it's, I think that's the thing I'm most looking forward to is in-person meetings, I get an enormous amount of energy from the people that we work with, not just my team, but also our clients and even potential clients who were cultivating relationships with. It's just, I mean, I know it is the digital world, right? But we're still like, we're carbon-based, not silicone-based like you need to shake someone's hand, you know, and so, I just, I missed that. I'm really looking forward to getting that back.

Piyush  27:22  
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And, you know, everyone, I believe every listener is having similar, you know, look forward expectations as well. Cool. How And do you think that you know, in the last one year since you have done a lot of innovation with your product and the platforms in, in general, the tech industry or the digital experience, platforms or solution, ecosystem has evolved a bit as well, any, you know, larger trends that you are seeing coming up in the near future that you know, agencies and other development entities should be aware of or should take a note of?

Jessica  28:06  
You know, it's a good question. It's when we think about a lot I think one of the things that that we're noticing and seeing more and more of is that like consumer companies that have done a really great job with creating, allowing users to create groups around affinities and so like one example I'll note is like Peloton does this right? Like you can have like hashtag user group of people that have, you know, autoimmune diseases, but that ride the Peloton every day. I mean, it's like these like very narrow groups around you for different reasons why people ride on the Peloton. For example, these consumer companies, which is digital Peloton is a digital company. I think that because we've been isolated and add or remove and online using digital tools more and more, that creating this kind of groups around affinities is going to continue to be a trend and that these are sort of powerful, narrow, like narrowcast, like marketing channels effectively, that are self-selecting, and I think that we're gonna see more of that not just. You know, you see it in as the music channels, right? And, like Spotify, but you see, the Peloton has been doing a great job of it as an example I just noted, but, you know, Slack encourages these different channels, but I think you're gonna see more and more user groups around certain use case specificity or just user affinity on the consumer side.

Piyush  29:38  
Right. 

Jessica  29:39  
Umm... Yeah. 

Piyush  29:40  
Right. Okay. And so, you know, last few questions. You said, you know, you know, keep reading and try reading things outside of your maybe space to get a new, expanded, broader perspective. Tell us what are you reading right now? or listening to?

Jessica  30:01  
Okay, what am I reading right now? Oh my goodness. I've got a whole bunch of books on my, on my bedside table here. But um, I just finished reading a biography of Alexis de Tocqueville by Joseph Epstein, which is like 10 years old. But that's, I read a book called The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe. Last week, okay, um, I read. I mean, I read it, I read a lot of biographies and histories. But I, you know, and there's some, some authors that I really like, I really love anything that's written by Matt Ridley, he wrote, The Rational Optimist and The Evolution of Everything and right genome and how innovation works, I think his most recent book, he's sort of like evolution as a binding principle. And he's one of the kinds of optimistic folks/ scientific folks about the future like Steven Pinker, for Enlightenment Now, who's an OpenScholar user and a Harvard professor. And, um, but I, you know, so I just read a tonne, and I read things that are recommended to me by people who are great readers. You know, I'm fascinated by science. I'm fascinated by cognitive science, especially right now, by mental models.

One of the podcasts that I listened to a lot is in the blogs, I read Farnam Street, The Knowledge Project. He interviews people on, you know, better decision making, better mental models learning from the best of what, of what other people have already learned. And I found that I found that fascinating. So. So he's got a couple of books out on mental models. And there's like this great book, Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models. I'm sort of fascinated with that stuff right now. I also really like the stoics. So you know, Marcus Aurelius and Seneca and I, there's a guy Ryan Holiday, who writes a lot about the stoics. But there's another guy who wrote this terrific book called stoic joy. I'm gonna see if I can see where he wrote it. It's like, Oh, yeah, Irvine, who wrote A Guide to Stoic Joy. It's awesome. But basically, this idea that you can't control anything, pretty much you can't control anything. All you can control is the way that you respond to it. Stoicism gets like this kind of not a bad rap. But people think, oh, you're stoic, and you're emotionless. And that's not what it is at all. It's really just, you know, having control over how you respond to a situation. And there's a lot of, there's a lot of peacefulness in that if you can get to that place. And so I'm sort of fascinated by that.

There's a great book that I read what I gave to my nephew, who's, he's now 10. And it's a kids' book, but I thought it was one of the best books I read last year, which is called Chop Wood Carry Water. And it's about a kid who goes to become a Japanese samurai, but it's a lot of like stoic wisdom and, you know, beating on your craft and finding the diamonds in your own field and perseverance and patience. It's a great book, there are just a gazillion terrific lessons in it to become you know, a master of your trade and doing it patiently over a long period of time, through self-discipline. And then I don't know that a couple of other podcasts I listened to are like Freakonomics. I love that podcast is great. I love the Hidden Brain. That's another great one. I read a lot of books. I read well, he hasn't read a lot of books, but I read everything by Nassim Taleb, Antifragile, I try to read that book every year. He wrote Skin In The Game most recently, which is a terrific book. Yeah, and the other, the other couple books that I would recommend would start, Start With Why, which was a terrific book that makes you think about the why of your company, like why do we do what's the why that is an excellent book was recommended to me by a woman, Danielle Tiffani at the Broad Institute, she's a fantastic person. And she recommends that book, and she recommended it to me I read it and thanked her for it. The other one is Steven Pressfield's series, The War of Art, Turning Pro, Do The Work, that trilogy is fantastic. And he basically, it's like, these short books that are, they offer great advice to anyone who's doing something that's like a solo thing, like either an entrepreneur or a writer, or someone who's starting a nonprofit. But the idea that like when you get out of bed in the morning, there's no one looking over your shoulder, like the only reason that's gonna happen is that you make it happen. And he talks about this war against resistance, which is this invisible force, but it's within all of us. And it can take the form of procrastination, or it can take the form of self-doubt, or it can take the form of drama or anything, but it's basically anything that prevents you from doing the work. And so it is a fantastic trilogy that motivates you. You ever read them again and again and again, to stay focused. And so yeah, so those are the things, yeah. 

Piyush  34:48  
Those are amazing recommendations. Especially I know what I'm gonna recommend to my son, who's 12 years old. 

Jessica  34:53  
The Chocolate War. 

Piyush  34:54  
Absolutely.

Jessica  34:55  
Best book I read last year. It's just so fantastic. Is such great, great, great life wisdom.

Piyush  35:02  
Yeah. Okay. Okay, that's great. Awesome. And we have a final question and this one is, you know, a pretty personal favorite, post COVID-19. When the world is back to normal, where would you like to travel or do anything exciting that you'd like to share with us, you've already shared that you'd love to meet people? So anything other than that?

Jessica  35:24  
I want to get back to the ski slopes. I was out by Stephen King last year, this time with two of my oldest dearest girlfriends, we go out and ski every year one of them lives in Colorado, a couple of friends live in Colorado. And I try and get out to either Vail or to Steamboat, every February, sometimes a couple of times every March, just for a long weekend because there's like now these direct flights from Boston on JetBlue. And, and it's just the most awesome fun. I love skiing. I love being outside. I love being outside with my old girlfriends, and not all girlfriends, but girlfriends who are my friends. So we've had the best time and it's just, you know, it's just it's completely invigorating. And we were there last year this time. The last time I traveled anywhere, Piyush. I can't believe it. So I can't wait to get back on the slopes and that's what I'll say.

Piyush  36:18  
Awesome. Well, wish you all the luck. So that you get united with powder soon. And yeah, where's the best place people can find more about you? your writings on your work, etc.

Jessica  36:32  
So go to our website, which our Director of Marketing Elizabeth Dukaff has redone our website in the last that's another thing that happened over the over COVID she did a phenomenal job of redoing our website, www.theopenscholar.com and you can find out all the different things that we do, ways we support you. services and products that we offer there. And you can read about the team and yeah, come visit our sign up for our newsletter and blog and see what's new.

Piyush  37:01  
Lovely. So that's www.theopenscholar.com this was fantastic. Thank you so much. listeners. This is Jessica Drislane, and see you next time!

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