August 4, 2020 – Walking Dead TV Star and Watch Entrepreneur Ilan Srulovicz and What Girls Need Dr. Marisa Porges

Ilan Srulovicz

August 4, 2020 – Walking Dead TV Star and Watch Entrepreneur Ilan Srulovicz and What Girls Need Dr. Marisa Porges


 
 
Ilan Muallem Srulovicz – Founder and CEO at Égard Watch Company – Read interview highlights here

Use crowdfunding as a pre-selling platform, not as an actual money
raising platform!

Ilan Srulovicz

Ilan Srulovicz

Ilan Muallem Srulovicz is a professional actor on numerous television shows and films including AMC’s The Walking Dead, an award-winning director, and Founder and CEO of the Égard Watch Company. Forged as a tribute to the bond between a son and his father, Égard produces exceptional timepieces that do more than simply tell time; they capture moments. Ilan designed his first timepiece to honor the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and since then, he continues to manufacture luxury timepieces that are unique expressions of style and prestige. Ilan has written, directed and performed in film shorts including I Hate Ned, Grit, and Spoken Word. Ilan has also appeared on television doing several roles, including Wesley from the hit show The Walking Dead, Noah from the Oscar-winning film The Big Short, and Pete in Deepwater Horizon. Being a 3rd-degree black belt and a recognized guro in the Filipino art of Doce Pares Eskrima, he is also the Founder and Head Instructor of R.A.I.D Survival Systems, where he provides reality-based self-defense training.

 
 
Dr. Marisa Porges – Head of School at The Baldwin School and Author of What Girls Need – Read interview highlights here

Girls need role models, parents and educators with specific goals
in mind. It about having girls practice the skills that they
need when older.

Marisa Porges

Dr. Marisa Porges

Dr. Marisa Porges, a member of Baldwin’s Class of 1996, is the 8th Head of School at the Baldwin School. Dr. Porges previously served at the Obama White House, as White House Fellow and a senior advisor for cybersecurity and technology policy at the National Economic Council. Prior to joining the White House, she was a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Porges also served as a counterterrorism policy advisor in the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Defense, and on active duty in the U.S. Navy, flying jets as a Naval Flight Officer. In 2018, Dr. Porges was named a Senior Fellow by The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and member of FPRI’s Board of Advisors. Her awards include the National Committee on American Foreign Policy 21st Century Leader Award and the NATO Medal for service in Afghanistan. Dr. Porges is the author of the latest book, What Girls Need: How to Raise Bold, Courageous, and Resilient Women, which aims to empower the audience to support the next generation of women so they can confidently hold their own no matter what the future has in store.


 
 
 
Highlights from Ilan’s Interview

I’ve always been one of those people who just wanted to find ways to express myself, whatever platform I could find I would use. In my opinion, watches are just another form of self-expression because I consider them art pieces that you can wear on your wrist. I do all types of stuff to just get whatever’s on my mind out there. The watch company came about because I went through a little rough period in my life, I had some serious health issues, I had to find ways to deal with myself. My father was really there for me during that time and it made a big difference. So I ended up wanting to find a way to pay tribute to him and to repay him. This whole idea of legacy and of tribute, I thought that a watch was a perfect way to symbolize that. So I spent a year learning how to make a watch and making him a watch. I had a background in design, I was working in a previous studio called Moving Picture Company, which is a very big previous studio. I used their rapid prototyping devices and their 3D printers at the time. It was a little earlier on, I was using 3D software. So I could make the watch virtually before making it in the real world, that’s how the watch company came about. I ended up just deciding to make watches for other people when we saw the reaction we got from that first one that I gave to him.

I didn’t really learn to make watches. At the end of the day, because I had that CAD background, I had the 3D modeling background, I could start making it on the computer myself using software called Maya. So I modeled it, I just made it look the way I wanted. Then I started researching movements and how movements work with watches, there was a lot of information online. Then I started looking at how I could get hands made, how I could get the dials made. At the end of the day, there was a process that I created for myself to get all these things made and tested and done properly. So I really believe anything is possible if people put their minds to it. I think the biggest mistake people make is they look at an end goal. I never was just like I’m going to make a watch, I looked at what I have to do for that specific day. Today I’m going to figure out how dials work, how am I going to put the dial together? Then if that takes me a week, that’s fine; every day, I’m just going to focus on that one specific task. Then over the span of a year, it all accumulates one foot in front of the other. Then you have at the end of the day a watch or whatever that goal was, it’ll come to fruition.

As I said, I’ve always been an artist. When you’re doing preface, you have to be able to be artistic, you’ve to be able to design things. So I did have an education in design, I went to Vancouver Film School, actually. That’s where I got the job out of, and that’s where I ended up working. So I did have a design background. I did come at it from an architectural standpoint, my earlier watches. I wanted to create something that had depth, that felt like it was built up. A lot of the watches I saw in the price points that I was trying to live within, didn’t really have anything unique about them. My dad calls them me-too watches. In other words, they all look the same, they all look like just every other watch. So it was something that I wanted to implement into the market or introduce into the market as very unique, this boutique-looking designed watch, where it would be affordable; far more affordable, at least than these $50,000 crazy watches that are out there.

After I built the first one for my dad, next comes the manufacturing process and the marketing system. There were a lot of mistakes in the process of what I was doing, I didn’t have any guide or any mentor or any pathway to figuring it all out. So what I started doing is really small batches with whatever I could afford. I was working at the time, I was saving up money. So I would do them by demand, essentially, I’d build them to demand, which is much more expensive. It’s much harder to make a profit, but at least I was able to get the watches out there on people’s wrists. The nice thing about watches is people wear them, people see them, and then other people buy them. So there’s a certain viral element if you make a nice watch that really stands out. I would go on the forums, just kind of grassroots approach. I would just reach out to people, I would reach out to stores, I would go on all the forums, whatever marketing budget I had, I would put toward Facebook ads to see if I can get some kind of returns there. Then luckily, early on, because I have this acting background and because I have these connections in the acting industry, I was able to reach out to certain people and pitch them on collaborating with me and doing certain watches. The first person who collaborated with me was William Shatner, he was wonderful. He loved the theme and the story behind, that I made this for my dad and that it’s about legacy.

I made this video about how when I was young, I was worried about dying, I had this obsession with death when I was a 10-year old kid where I was like, man, I’m limited. So the whole concept of mortality, of being limited, of what you leave in this world, is what drove the entire philosophy of the company and of the watches. Because you can pass watches down from generation to generation, and that’s been a part of me since I was a little kid. I look at the people I love and I go, one day they won’t be here. I’ve just always been very in touch with that part of reality and exposed to it. So the watches are my way of dealing with that, and so William Shatner really connected to that. As he’s gotten older and he wants to have something for his kids, he thought making a watch would be a beautiful idea and he came onboard. I didn’t have money at the time to make the watches on mass, so I built a prototype. Then I was looking at these crowdfunding platforms. I was the first or among the first to use crowdfunding as a pre-selling platform, not as an actual money-raising platform, but to pre-sell with the intention of coming on and being blatantly honest, that what we’re doing here is we’re pre-selling the product to help raise money to build all the inventory and to get market feedback. It did very well, I think in about 20 days, we did $700,000 in sales and pre-sales. I ended up in the Indiegogo museum for one of their more unique campaigns. So that helped really get all the inventory and the company going.

So the watch we did with William Shatner was a limited edition, it sold out, and it’s called Passages Watch. The Passages Watch is a very cool watch, I actually sourced a meteor and I dusted it. I wanted to make it unique, so I reached out to a geologist, I sourced a meteor and we dusted it. Initially, we put too much on the dials and the high iron content from the meteor was pulling on the movement and making the movements not run properly. So we put it in these little vials that are on that watch. But that watch is sold out, it’s not available anymore. But it was a great watch, I was very happy with it.

Now, talking a little bit about my acting career, my first breakthrough role was years ago. I’ve always loved acting since I’m a little kid, I would do little plays wherever I could find them and do that kind of stuff. Then my first role on television, I did this big part on Are You Afraid of the Dark? But then I got cast as a big role on a show on MTV called MTV’s Undressed, which was their first drama-comedy teen show that wasn’t a reality show. It was fun, I loved it. I did it, and then I just expected acting would be easy from there because I got lucky early on. But it wasn’t, it was actually very hard after that. I couldn’t get any roles, I couldn’t get anything. So I ended up getting a scholarship in a school in New York. I did an audition for them, they really liked me, and so I got a scholarship. I went there, I trained very hard for two years full time and I ended up coming out and just continue trying to act.

Again, it was still very hard and it took me years to find my footing and to really build a career for myself. But when it started, again, it’s that same process: one step in front of the other, and just focus on the day, focus on what I’m trying to get done and pushing. Eventually, you accumulate credits, you accumulate credibility, you accumulate a reel, and then you can start using that stuff to get bigger parts and bigger parts and bigger parts, and just knowing your worth. So that’s been my approach to acting, I’ve never put too much pressure on myself. The elements in acting much like life, the things that are out of my control, I do not worry about them. I do not give them time, I do not spend too much emotional energy on them. So it’s been easier for me I think, in terms of just having a good philosophy about going about it than the other actors. Because in all honesty, there’s a certain dependence that an actor has on casting directors calling them in, on directors wanting to hire them. You’re so exposed in terms of needing other people to generate your career, I never liked that. I always said, how can I do it for myself, how can I build my own career, how can I create content, which has allowed me to make my own films, allowed me to do other things where I’m not dependent on other people. So that’s always been my approach to acting.

I recently did a role on a TV series called Slasher, it’s just a crazy gritty Netflix series that is all about killing people, and there’s always this main villain who you don’t know who he or she is until the end of the season, and it’s an anthology. It’s kind of Netflix’s version of American Horror Story, but it doesn’t have a supernatural element. It’s just a Slasher anthology series. So the whole season is one story, and then they’ll reuse characters in the next season, it’s the same actor but you’re playing a different character. Or sometimes they just don’t bring back the same character or same actor, they’ll bring back new people. But it’s just anthology, the whole season is its own story and then the next season is a new story, so they’re all independent of each other.

If you ask me to choose one role that I’m the proudest of, that’d be a tough question. I don’t know if there’s a specific role I’m most proud of, there are projects that I’ve enjoyed more than others because of the relationships I’ve made on them. But in terms of just actually being proud of the performance, it’s very tough to say. There have been smaller roles back in the day that I did, on an indie film that no one’s ever going to watch, that I was so proud of. Then there are bigger roles on big TV shows and I’m just there, it’s a job. I’m like, I’m doing my job, there’s nothing here that really challenges me and that’s fine, but I know that I’m getting paid and that it’s my job. So there’s a whole spectrum there. There’s no specific exact role I can call to memoir and say, that’s the one that I was living for.

I also played Noah in The Big Short, written by Michael Lewis. They had sadly written out a lot of my role. I was supposed to be a much bigger role in the film, and then I don’t know what happened. When I got there, there were all types of rewrites and all types of stuff. But that’s part of the process. It’s one of the tougher parts of acting, budgets change. Even if you do, your role doesn’t even get cut. So it’s so hard to get cast, then you get cast, then you’re in the movie, you hope your role doesn’t get changed while you’re in the movie, then you do the movie, then you hope you don’t get cut on the cutting floor. There’s a whole process here where you can lose your entire visibility in a film, people don’t realize it. So that’s where you’ve got to just do the roll and let go. But it was very cool meeting Brad Pitt, he is a very nice guy.

If you were to make me choose between Égard going to a billion dollars or me winning an Academy Award for Best Actor, I’d have to break down that question. Because Égard is not really about money for me, billion dollars or $10 million or $100 million, and vice versa for acting, it’s not really about the Oscar. So it’s a tough question to answer because I’d say that my goal in either one of them is whichever one gives me a platform to express myself better. Arguably, I’d obviously say the Oscar would allow me to do that, rather than my company. Having a billion dollars would allow me to build a platform to express myself. At the end of the day, my end goal is to build a platform where I can get my voice heard in the world. So for that, I guess I would take the Oscar.

I put out a video initially, about a year and a half ago, countering Gillette’s video about toxic masculinity and all that stuff, just fighting back against that kind of narrative. Then recently, I put out a video that was in support of police or humanizing police, I would say that’s the bare minimum that needs to be done nowadays. But that’s what the video does, it humanizes police. The reason I do it and the reason I put my company behind it is because that has more value if my company does it. If I just do it, it’s not really a statement, it’s an individual saying he supports police. But if my company does it, and if I’m willing to sacrifice my company, then it’s my company saying we’re backing police. That’s very rare nowadays. When I was going to put out this video, I thought to myself, it’s shocking that there’s 350 million Americans, and none of the people or none of the CEOs in this country right now are willing to put out a video like this. What does that actually mean, why? How bad is it that our freedom of speech is under such attack, that we can’t put out a video just saying police are human?

So to me at the moment, I thought to myself, there are two options. The first one was, I censor myself. But I hate censorship, I think censorship is the worst thing in the world. That’s been my philosophy from the beginning, that’s why I put out the video against Gillette’s ad, and that’s why I put up the video now because I just don’t like censorship. I believe in these things and I believe I have to stand up for them. So I looked at the two possibilities: either I censor myself. I believe the world of tomorrow is far worse. It’s a world where my company may be intact, but it’s a world where I have no freedom of expression, where most of us don’t have freedom of expression, where we may not have police because they’re stepping down at record numbers, where there’s anarchy, where our America and our foundational principles are lost. So to me, that is not a better outcome than me risking my company. I’m willing to risk my company if it means helping preserve those things. So it’s not even a choice.

Going back to Gillette, my ad wasn’t against Gillette or that original ad, it was basically bringing light to a narrative that has become so pervasive across the board, not just Gillette. Gillette is a symptom of a disease in a society where we mass generalize, where we attack based on identity politics, where we have this toxic identity politics. The police now are just another extension of that word, we’re willing to generalize the whole based on the actions of a few. You’re not a human being, you’re a police officer, and by that standard, you are responsible for the actions of all police officers and you are not a human. We’ve done this across the board with multiple identities, whatever race you are nowadays is the defining factor about you and your freedom of speech as an individual. You as a person cease to matter, you are represented by your group identity. If you step outside of that, you are a betrayal to that group identity. I don’t like this direction, I think it’s leading to segregation. It’s leading to more racial tension. It’s leading to more issues between communities and police. It’s completely counterproductive to where we should be going. The scary thing to me, and sorry that I’m ranting, is that politicians are not fighting it, the media is perpetuating it heavily, and companies are now onboard and pushing this message fully. If you challenge it in any way, shape, or form, they try and ruin your life. So I really felt the need to speak up against this kind of narrative.

We play a game of semantics nowadays, where everything is about the language we use. But at the end of the day, no one’s actually breaking this down to what we’re actually trying to accomplish or what we’re actually trying to do. This whole debate over Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, it’s semantics. At the end of the day fundamentally, most people who are good or who are not terrible racists agree that black lives matter, most people who are good agree that all lives matter. Whether we want to argue over the semantics of right now, should you be saying all lives matter, right now should you be saying black lives matter? It’s so irrelevant. What’s the goal? The goal at the end of the day should be that we’re all treating each other as individuals, that we all have respect for each other, that we see each other as humans, and that we can have dialogue and debate. Instead of that, I think we’re focusing on the wrong things, we’re not focusing on fixing problems. What’s going on right now with Black Lives Matter; the organization, not the phrase? The organization has nothing to do sadly with police reform anymore. The whole abolish the police, defund the police, dismantle the police movement, is not about reform in the police department, it’s about taking it apart. That’s not a proper outcome to the problems we see in society. Yet, we can’t talk about it, because everyone gets hung up on the phrase Black Lives Matter. If you disagree with anything, it means you disagree that black lives matter. No, I fully agree that black lives matter, that is the premise that we’re starting this debate on, Black Lives Matter. Now, how do we make life better for black people? How do we make life better for white people? How do we make life better for everyone in society? If there’s a problem in a specific community, the black community which they’re trying to bring attention to, let’s focus on it but let’s look at solutions for it, not creating more problems, and then shutting down debate because of the name Black Lives Matter. You can’t just accuse everyone who disagrees with you of racism, you’ll never see any progress that way. That’s where we’re at, so it’s worrisome.

So I started a platform called Speak Truth USA on YouTube. So if you go on YouTube and you type in SpeakTruthUSA as one word, and in the video Speak Truth, that police supporting video I put out, you’ll see interviews I’m doing now with the police. There’s a woman I just interviewed who works with officers who have PTSD, which was very interesting. I’m putting out some videos personally about what I feel about identity politics and these issues in society. So that’s just a platform to spread my opinion and other people’s opinions on these issues that normally wouldn’t have a platform to do it. As for my watches, they’re available at EgardWatches.com. If you go on Instagram, it’s at EgardWatchCO. As for finding me on Twitter or Instagram, my last name is crazy, so it’s going to be hard to find me, it’s Srulovicz. But if you go on that YouTube channel, Speak Truth USA, I always put links to all my social media on there. So that’s the place to find me, that’s the easiest place. Go on YouTube and then type in SpeakTruthUSA, watch some of the videos, and then add me on social media.

 
 
 
Highlights from Marisa’s Interview

Three or four little things girls need, I think it’s about role modeling that parents and educators do with specific things in mind. I think it’s about having them practice the skills that both men and women need when they’re older, but that women really need to lean into to leverage all their innate skills and be the leaders of the future.

I think fathers and mothers are incredibly important role models, and I think both bring unique perspectives to the table and reinforce what young girls in particular need to hear. It’s interesting when we think how much children sop up every word we say and every moment we spend with them, but in particular, when their parents reinforce the small ways of being, that we may take for granted, make such a big difference. Things like risk-taking, things like collaborating with others when we problem solve, things like empathizing with others, taking into account other people’s perspectives. As an entrepreneur, you have to take into account your customers’ perspective, we have to do that every single day in other ways, and it makes you a successful business person. But when we talk about these things and model them with our kids, they pick it up.

I had one young woman I was interviewing for the book comment on how her dad in particular used to comment on a daily basis about her writing, and it just reinforced that this was a skill that she was really good at and she hadn’t realized it. But she just mentioned that my dad, he used to model it for me, he used to show me things he was working on, and I would practice too alongside him. It became her thing, she’s successfully in college now and an entrepreneur with a startup trying to make her way in an area that is both aligned with her writing skills and her entrepreneurial skills. So it’s definitely something both men and women, moms and dads have to think about. Not every day, it’s not like you have to put pressure on yourself. You just have to keep it in mind when you have those moments with your daughters.

So in terms of what you need to be talking to your daughters about, I think at the forefront of so many parents’ minds right now are issues of sexual harassment and gender bias that are out there. Those are definitely conversations we all need to be having with our daughters and our girls, but then there are some everyday skills that are as important and we just need to make them part of everyday conversation. One really interesting one is when we think about competing. Research shows that by and large girls tend to be less competitive, that they opt out of competition; sometimes for social reasons or sometimes for fear of failure or not wanting to put themselves forward in front of their friends. That can hold people back when they’re older. Of course, we want our girls to lean forward take risks, as the book says, be resilient. One thing that’s interesting is how often do we honestly talk to our young women or with our girls, even when they’re five or six or are just starting out, about moments that we’re competing. Whether your wife is competing for a big job and talks about it around the dinner table, or you as a dad talks about the time that you competed maybe and failed, whether it’s running for PTA president or the head of your church congregation or something else entirely. I think having those conversations and talking about them in an open way, and then asking leaning questions of your daughters, maybe five is too young, but when she gets into middle school and she’s eager to try out for something, you say, what would it be like to compete for that, why not? It’s about really helping them push themselves in an honest but caring and supportive way.

I just think the earlier we start these conversations, the more likely we are to see that. When your daughter is gone off into the world after college, she’s almost there, she’s going to be more prepared to stretch her muscles and compete, lean in, be resilient in the face of failure because she will have heard about those skills and those ways of being from a young age. It’s something that I learned I was fortunate to grow up and actually go to the school I now lead, crazy as that sounds, and these are some of the skills that I learned when I was here as a kid and as a young teenager. It helped me later on when I wanted to go test my actual wings and fly for the Navy. At the time, it was a difficult proposition, particularly as a young woman, and I had the wherewithal to lean in and go for it. Those stories of my own adventures in my early career were a result of the conversations that my parents and my teachers had with me when I was young.

So one thing to think of is when you see how your daughter works with others. There’s actually been research that shows young women are, by and large, it’s a generalization that has been borne out by studies, better at collaborative problem solving, something that is incredibly important. But it’s something that people more and more are hiring now for. Then again, something that women, by and large, need a little more work at and need to think about and practice, is negotiating. So one thing I’m always interested to hear is, have you talked with your daughter about how and when she’s negotiating? Because studies show that when receiving job offers, over 50% of men negotiate and ask for a higher salary, while only about 12 to 13% of women ask for more money. It has a lifelong disadvantage in terms of your career trajectory from there if you start out at a different price point. So these are just some of the topics, and the book goes through them in terms of competition, collaborative problem solving, negotiating, even the ability to adapt some of the key skills that will be incredibly important more and more moving forward in the future of the workforce, that we need to put front and center for our girls from a young age, so they become natural skills for them; not just when they’re teenagers, but for the rest of their life.

Generally speaking, women are socialized to communicate differently, to find solutions to problems differently, to think about the other in any given moment in a different way. It sometimes does put us at a disadvantage, but when it comes to the major problems that need to be solved, whether it’s a website building or say climate change, whatever you’re thinking these days, so many of the problems we’re facing requires this approach. It’s amongst the reasons I described in a book for why if we can nurture these innate skills in our girls, they will have a competitive advantage for the rest of their lives. It’ll work at home, and it’s just a personal passion of mine. I think it’s something for our girls everywhere we need to really put front and center.

One of the questions I get from dads is whether they’re allowed to call their daughters beautiful or even just use that as a name. Well, I think any nickname or any comment we make to a girl or a boy, it needs to be put in context. It sounds like you’re also complimenting, not just innate smart, but how she’s applying for smarts and her skills and how she’s working with others or the things that she’s able to achieve. So listen, I think that we all want to think of our loved ones, whether they’re daughters or sons or members of our family, in personal ways, but it’s just making sure that we remind particularly our girls, not just of perhaps their innate beauty or their skills of their brains, but how they’re applying them and what they’re able to achieve with them. So I hope you’re also complimenting her on how well she competed in that field hockey game when she was in high school, or how well she negotiated when she gets through that first job offer because those are as important.

As far as directing your daughter to entrepreneurship or tech industry if she’s interested, she’s definitely going to have an incredibly uphill battle given, both the gender bias that we still see in the tech industry and in entrepreneurship, whether you’re looking from the investment side or the product placement side. So it’s a double-edged sword on that one. Nonetheless, encouraging her to pursue her passion if it’s clearly her interest, of course, I think that should be front and center for every parent when you see something that they love doing, that they are eager to do better and do more of, and there’s a clear career trajectory she wants to pursue, I think encouraging it is what every parent should be doing. I think one of the things to talk about, and I’ll pull from the book, here again, is the skill of adaptability. As an entrepreneur, being able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances is incredibly important, and it will be even more important as an entrepreneur for the next number of decades, but also whatever direction she heads, just given changes in the workforce and changes in the job market, particularly in the next decade that we expect to see. So maybe thinking about some of the things that would help her as an entrepreneur and in other places is a good place to start. So helping her become more adaptable, become a risk-taker. Because even if you argue against the risk-taking, I think it’s an important thing to still have as a core function as an entrepreneur. I know that it’s served me well, both in the military and here as I’m running a school. So I fully cheer on parents for supporting passions of their daughters and then thinking about what things you can do, whether it’s opening opportunities and places she can explore her entrepreneurship. Even if she’s old enough to explore courses or try out new jobs, help her open doors or introduce her to people to talk about it, but even just sharing your own stories is more impactful than I think parents realize. Especially when they’re young, they really listen to the role models in their lives and learn for both our failures and successes.

The COVID-19 crisis and shutting down of schools, this is a prime case of being adaptable and resilient and creative. Schools across the country, we are facing the pandemic realities of the coming year, lots of uncertainty. Baldwin School is looking forward to reopening if local authorities allow, although we did have to close down this spring and we were remote for the last two and a half months of the school year. But as of now when we’re having this conversation, we are headed the direction and looks like we will be able to reopen this fall, with modifications to ensure safe reopening and protected health and wellness of our students and our teachers. I’m actually sitting in my office now, and out the window, I can see that we’re preparing the campus to welcome the girls back. So we look forward to seeing them all here soon. But we also have options on the table and we have a fully remote program that we’re preparing, so that if need be if there is mandated shutdowns in our area like there was in spring, that we can move quickly to what we call Baldwin Wired; our remote program. Then there’s a hybrid program too so that for those students or families for whom there are health concerns, they can also video into class and participate from home. So it is a crazy world right now for those in education, and we are all leaning in with our parents and our families to really find creative solutions for the year ahead. But it is the epitome of adaptability, collaborative problem solving, and all those other things in that one.

I was a civil servant under both the Bush and Obama administrations for years. But I have to say, it was a true honor and a pleasure to serve the last administration. After serving as a civil servant, I was able to come back on my last round and serve in the White House at the National Economic Council. I’ve heard that President Biden is running for election again, but we’re all watching it unfold together. I can vividly remember my second week in the job actually, that I was in the hallway and it happened to be my birthday. My colleague, as then-Vice President Biden was walking past, flagged him down and said, Sir, it’s my colleague’s birthday, and he said, not only Happy birthday but why don’t you join me? He pulled me in, and he was doing a public service announcement. It’s a funny moment when, again, you get to see behind the scenes and how these things are made, and both the time and thought that goes into decision making, and also those moments when they’re outward-facing to the public. It’s a truly tempting thing to see at that level, especially how much there is the commitment to our country and to have served, and seeing different administrations and what it looks like. I’m excited to see where it goes from here. I am here to serve our country, but at the moment I am serving the girls of the Baldwin school and looking forward to making sure they get the best education in the country for the coming year.

My book comes out shortly, it comes out the first week of August. MarisaPorges.com is my website where you can find not just information about the book, but other writing I’ve done on girls and leadership and national security. Then, of course, go to Amazon or any of the independent bookstore links and pick up the book from August 4th.