What inspired you to stay at Bernstein as long as you have?
I have stayed with Bernstein since 2005 largely because I get to do the things that I am most passionate about every single day: solving our clients’ most complex problems; delivering those solutions to our clients and their professional advisors in a way that everyone can understand; publishing articles on recurring themes in professional journals that influence how readers of those journals advise their clients; and most importantly, speaking about my research in a practical way to the professional community. I use lots of real-life examples and interject humor into everything I do. After speaking to a large professional group a few years ago, one of the attendees approached me and said, “I never understood that topic until your presentation today. And you made it fun!” I still consider that to be one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. So, in a nutshell, my job is to solve, explain, publish, speak, and have fun. And I love every minute of it!
Which book had the most profound impact on you and why?
Back in 1983, I was an ensign in the Navy serving on the USS Jarrett, a frigate homeported in Long Beach, CA. The Navy works you hard: 12-, 16-, even 20-hour days are not uncommon. I would come off a midwatch at 0400 (4 a.m.) completely wound up, with only three hours available for sleep. What could I do to calm myself down and get the sleep that I needed? I decided to go to the local B. Dalton (remember that chain of bookstores?) and buy the most boring book I could think of: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, a hardbound edition. But instead of being bored to sleep, I was spellbound! I quickly bought another Tolstoy novel, Anna Karenina. Next came The Complete Works of Shakespeare, followed by the many classics that I was supposed to have read in high school and college, but never seemed to find the time for. Thus began a lifetime love affair with books, which continues to this day. I never go to sleep at night without reading a few chapters. And it all started with War and Peace.
What passions do you pursue outside of work?
I exercise every single morning, before work, at Planet Fitness in North Olmsted, OH. I don’t skip a single day at the gym; it would be unthinkable, like not brushing my teeth. I also enjoy reading and cooking. And although I solve complex problems all day at work, I love to solve puzzles in my spare time as well: sudoku, acrostics, and most especially, cryptic crosswords. Cryptic puzzles were made famous in the movie The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. Turing used cryptic puzzles to select the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park, a historic landmark in England. His team eventually broke the German ciphers, a key element in the Allied victory in World War II. It’s hard to find challenging cryptic puzzles these days; one is published monthly in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. A tough puzzle may take me 10 hours or more to solve. In part, I do these difficult puzzles to keep my mind active and stave off dementia, which has been prevalent in my family’s history. But mostly, I just enjoy the challenge of solving complex problems, whether at work or at home.