‘Ribald’ is the last word anyone would use to describe my sense of humor, but the truth is my greatest delight is listening to The Howard Stern Show. I play it in the background whenever I need to get something truly mundane done—applying my makeup before work, folding laundry, that sort of thing. Stern is unparalleled in the art of the interview. My friends say I have a gift for establishing intimacy with another person really quickly, and Stern shares that same talent, times a thousand. My favorite interview he’s ever done is the legendary Vincent Gallo one from 2004. No one gives interviews like this anymore!
Favorite age so far and why?
I don’t have a favorite, but 15 was my most pivotal age. I was living in the Dominican Republic and attending a large international school. I’ve swung towards introversion my entire life, but that was the year I mastered short bursts of extroversion. In certain environments and with certain groups of people, I can be miraculously outgoing and even a little unpredictable. My sophomore year of high school, surrounded by feisty kids from all over, there was no way to survive except to figure out your own way of expression. I’m always curious about people, and that was the year I built up the courage to just ask people whatever was on my mind. It’d take people by surprise, and it still does. Mostly, though, it flatters and disarms them. That Stern quality!
What do you admire most in others?
I admire people who put their own satisfaction first. I’m an indulger, which means everyone else’s needs are usually met before my own, and so I’m easily impressed by people who are selfish in the right ways.
Immediate turn off?
One big turn off is someone who’s not a good sport. Not having a sense of humor about yourself is so bleak.
Something that makes you smile?
Outrageous celebrity gossip, my friend Max’s dog Rainer (he’s the most thoughtful dog I’ve ever met and I wouldn’t be surprised if, like, Mark Ruffalo did his inner voice narration), Mariah Carey and her antics, a restaurant that has mastered its sense of ambience, 1980s interiors, my friend Ezra Glenn’s absurdist Twitter feed, and so on. I smile easily.
Biggest insecurity or fear?
I worry that I’m too co-dependent—I need to be less of a people pleaser if I want to accomplish even a fraction of things I want to do before I die. I’m working on it!
When do you feel like the best version of yourself?
When I travel! There’s something about a change of scenery that really forces me to be my most nimble, productive self. Or when I dance. I dance with a lot of joy, and nothing brings it out of me quite like the music of CHIC. I love disco.
Words you live by?
“Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed”—John Waters, my role model. I’m obsessive about a wide variety of things. I’m just happy to be here.
Something you have yet to figure out?
Defeating analysis paralysis! I’m guilty of letting perfect be the enemy of the good, and I’m often 20 steps ahead of myself, which is great for strategizing and navigating the course, but detrimental when it comes to taking a leap into the unknown. Just beginning where I am and having that be okay is pretty daunting.
Something you have figured out?
At work, our CEO has a phrase: “Pitch like you mean it.” Whether you’re in a meeting, on a conference call, doing some big presentation, or just talking to a coworker about something, it’s important to articulate your idea with conviction and wonder. If you’re not conveying your excitement about something, it’s going to be an uphill battle to get others to buy into your vision and help you execute it. Public speaking isn’t necessarily you standing with a megaphone and bossing people around—it happens anytime you have the courage to express something clearly and with feeling. It’s a huge leadership skill and one I’m getting better at every day.