Mary Poffenroth: Biology lecturer & Fear researcher, San Jose State University


My Native Admission Statement: My life is the F word. I research it. I give individual and high growth organizational workshops about it. I get on stages around the world and talk about it. I teach about it at university. I’m writing a book about it. I experiment with it, both professionally and personally. It’s the F word no one wants to talk about, but everyone knows it so well. Fear. I’m an academic researcher and lecturer at San Jose State University that focuses on how the world’s most impactful leaders in tech and creative cultivate a relationship with fear and how the rest of us can use those strategies to get to our greatness. My focus is to get down and dirty with fear so I can share my science based understanding with others on how we all can get friendly with our deeply shared fears. I also infuse my talks and trainings with stories from my own life of trying, failing, and sometimes.. every once in a while.. succeeding with my own very human fears.

How did you get into the industry?

There is a need to bridge the gap between science and art. The left brain vs right brain is a myth that needs to stop. There is both an art and a science to everything and I’m excited to bring both of those worlds into my classroom and my consulting.

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Abhijit Naskar: Neuroscientist, Bestselling Author & Speaker


My Native Admission Statement: After quitting my Computer Engineering studies, I renounced my home in Calcutta and became a wandering monk. And upon the attainment of the so-called transcendental state of consciousness, which has been called differently across cultures, such as "Samadhi", "Nirvana", "Oneness" and so on, I realized that the purpose of life is not renunciation of anything, but the realization of that purpose. So, I returned home and started investigating for a rational explanation for my experience of transcendence. As basically a useless and careerless young lad, I began studying hundreds of published materials on Neuroscience, Psychology and Philosophy, while constantly being mocked and laughed at. I was studying on my own only to have an understanding of the human mind in relation to the society and the world, without the expectation of any degree or job opportunity. I had no clue whatsoever, what would become of me, whether I’d be able to make a living at all. I did not come from a rich family, nor did I have rich friends, so, as far as everybody else was concerned, my life was doomed.

I was flowing like a canoe in the open seas without any sense of direction. And in that very directionlessnes, I constructed my own direction, without even being aware of it. Eventually, quite unexpectedly, I found myself publishing my own first book on the investigation of various aspects of our human mental universe. With that first book entitled "The Art of Neuroscience in Everything", the world embraced me as their household Neuroscientist. With the magnificent tool of Neuroscience, I opened up to the world its internal realm in terms that every person could understand. After the publication of that first book, my brain kept exploding with one book after another, on various issues of the mind and the society. Along came an inpouring of invitations to speak at various educational and professional institutions. Thus, a useless university dropout turned into a globally acclaimed Neuroscientist, Bestselling Author and Speaker.

Favorite Drink?

My mind is my offering to humanity, therefore I despise alcohol, for it corrupts the mind as well as the body. However, I do take one kind of beverage quite a few times throughout the day, and that's tea, with lots of sugar and milk.

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Elizabeth John: PowerMyLearning Executive Director


My Native Admission Statement: At PowerMyLearning, we believe that the most important adults in shaping a student’s education are their teachers and family members. Through our work, we hope to empower these adults to meet the individual needs of each child. We can do this in a number of ways, including coaching teachers and parent coordinators, facilitating bilingual family workshops at schools, and leveraging our online platform, PowerMyLearning Connect.

How did you get into the industry?:

I started teaching math after I graduated college through the New York City Teaching Fellows program. I knew I wanted to be in education since high school, but I didn’t realize that there were so many ways to get involved outside of teaching. I started at my first nonprofit in 2007 managing educational programs, and have been in the industry ever since. What brought me to PowerMyLearning was their holistic approach to improving education by strengthening the relationships between students, teachers and families.

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Allison Alt: Social Impact 360 Executive Director


My Native Admission Statement: “Buy this car to drive to work. Drive to work to pay for this car.” We aren’t going to be doing this anymore. I’m changing the future of business with the next generation. There is no reason we can’t have meaning and purpose in our work, and there is no reason we can’t solve important issues that matter to all of us in a financially sustainable way. Too long, it has been a choice, do well or do good. Make money or live a meaningful life. No more.

Social Impact 360 is a Teach for America meets Tesla.  We train young people to build businesses that solve social issues and how to create social impact in corporate America. We have more than 1,000 alumni who are young CEO’s and young innovators at top companies, and we are transforming into the Service Corps for Business for Good. The purpose of the Service Corps is to train companies in how to solve pain points using corporate social responsibility and sustainability concepts because everyone should have the opportunity to “do well and do good” no matter where you work. Everyone should feel meaning and purpose in what they do, and we shouldn’t struggle for resources to do important, good, and meaningful work.

My Current Passions?

I’m a music addict. I listen to music as if it’s going to run out of supply. I’m an artist at heart.

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Dave Roberts: Professor of Hospitality & Tourism Management at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech & Former SVP, Revenue Strategy & Solutions at Marriott


My Native Admission Statement: I just retired from Marriott, and I’m now immersed in academia. I have the great fortune to work at Virginia Tech! (aside: Va Tech has a wonderful Hospitality & Tourism program – I say that with no bias, as neither I nor anyone in my family went there). My aspirations are to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the program, and on the students that I have the privilege of teaching. I plan to do some consulting and some writing as well, but my focus is on teaching and mentoring.

My Motto?

Believe in people, and act on that belief. This was the final line of my retirement speech at Marriott. I feel very strongly about this. If you look for the good in people, the talent, the exceptional work, the creativity, the new perspectives, . . . you are very likely to find it. And if people believe in you, and act on that, you will surely be highly motivated, and deliver outstanding results.

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Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia Founder


Read The Native Influence Full Q&A

Inspiration for Wikipedia? I was watching the growth of the free software movement, or open source software as many people call it, and I saw programmers coming together to create all the really great software that runs the Internet using free licenses and collaborative techniques.  GNU/Linux, Apache, Perl, PHP, MySQL – all of these technologies and more were created mainly by volunteers sharing their work freely online. I realized that this kind of collaboration naturally started with programmers (because they could create the tools they needed for sharing their work) but that the concept could be extended to all kinds of
cultural works.  Hence, the idea for Wikipedia.

Career advice? Don’t waste too much time on a prior thinking.  Just get started.  Fail faster, which means: do small low-cost low-risk experiments to test your ideas and be ready to change quickly.

Carl Schramm: Author, Professor, Economist, & Entrepreneur

My NativeAdVice:


Carl J. Schramm is the author of Burn the Business Plan: What Great Entrepreneurs Really Do (Simon & Schuster; January 2018). He is a University Professor at Syracuse University and former president of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Schramm has served in major corporate roles and chaired the US Department of Commerce’s Measuring Innovation in the Twenty-First Century Economy Advisory

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Sven A. Beiker, PhD: Lecturer in Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business & Founder, Silicon Valley Mobility

My NativeAdVice:


Dr. Sven A. Beiker is the Founder and Managing Director of Silicon Valley Mobility, a consulting and advisory firm serving startups, venture / consulting firms, and corporations to understand trends in mobility. The firm specializes in market sizing and implementation roadmaps for mobility topics.

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Peter Cappelli: George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School & Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources

My NativeAdVice:


Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA, served as Senior Advisor to the Kingdom of Bahrain for Employment Policy from 2003-2005, and since 2007 is a Distinguished Scholar

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CANDY ARGONDIZZA: VP of Culinary & Pastry Arts at International Culinary Center

My NativeAdVice:


Chef Argondizza has been cooking professionally since 1979. At ICC she leads a team of 50 culinary and pastry chef-instructors and oversees the daily menu of the award-winning restaurant L’Ecole. She was chosen in 2012 as “Best Cooking Teacher of the Year”

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