December 2, 2019
Q. This October, you participated in the 2019 Young Leaders seminar in Chicago – your first of two years in the program. What was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
The friendships. I met so many smart, talented, and humble individuals who are curious about the world. Experiencing Chicago with them was a thrill because I felt that I was learning from everyone. Every meal, ride on the bus, and panel conversation was an opportunity to discover something new. I admire so many of the people I met, and I believe many of the relationships forged while in Chicago will endure.
Q. What are you looking forward to most about next year’s Young Leaders seminar? How do you see the program impacting your future career?
I’m indeed excited to meet the new batch of young leaders and learn more about them. The French American Foundation does a remarkable job curating the class so that there are people from many disciplines. Of course, I am also excited to be in France, as it will be an international adventure for me. I have remained in touch with several of the Young Leaders – including some who I may be partnering with on creative projects in the future.
Q. You’ve worked in a range of industries throughout your career, from banking and the military to music production and writing. How have these experiences shaped your view of what it means to be a leader?
My career may appear scattered. But I suppose that I just follow my curiosity, and that has led me into various areas and fields. Having my feet in various worlds has helped me bring ideas and people together that normally wouldn’t collide. For example, I recently made my first documentary film “Fandango at the Wall” about son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico. This project required me to include musicians who I knew, activists who I met from my time in politics, and donors who I know from my business career.
Q. You’re a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who’s published fourteen books, including a new children’s book with your mother, Surishtha Sehgal. What was the experience like of co-writing together?
It’s a joy to collaborate with my mother. We are constantly thinking of what might be a good story idea and what may resonate with children. Her dream in life was to write children’s books, so we decided to write stories about life in India. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the success of these stories. And we hope that they inspire more people to write children’s literature that has diversity.
Q. You’re also a Grammy and Latin Grammy Award winning producer – a career that must seem quite different from your roles in banking and the military to many people. Do you see these as separate career paths, or is there something that connects them all for you?
I like to be creative. Whether it’s writing a book, producing a song, or negotiating a deal. We are all blessed to share in this human existence. When you create, you’re adding more ideas, nuance, subtlety to the world for everyone to experience.