FTG 0044 – Being the Hero of Your Own Story with Former Diplomat, Defense Expert, Consultant, and Author Jaz Azari ’06

Episode 9 April 11, 2023 01:05:07
FTG 0044 – Being the Hero of Your Own Story with Former Diplomat, Defense Expert, Consultant, and Author Jaz Azari ’06
Following the Gong, a Podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
FTG 0044 – Being the Hero of Your Own Story with Former Diplomat, Defense Expert, Consultant, and Author Jaz Azari ’06

Apr 11 2023 | 01:05:07

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Hosted By

Sean Goheen

Show Notes

Overview:

Jaz Azari, Class of 2006, is a multitalented professional with experiences in diplomacy, defense, and consulting roles with the U.S. government, military, and private sector firms, currently serving as a Senior Consultant at Guidehouse in Washington, D.C. Jaz has previously worked with the Department of State and Department of Defense and was a Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in International Politics with Honors and a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts in 2006, followed by an Masters of Art in War Studies from Kings College London. She joined Following the Gong to share her career path and insights with students. While helpful for students interested in her day job industries, this episode can be helpful for any Scholar trying to decide their thesis topic or exploring industries and majors. Jaz is also a published fantasy fiction author, and provides writing help, among other practical advice, for all Scholars. Her full bio and a detailed breakdown of topics discussed are available in the show notes on your podcast app. With that, let’s dive into the conversation, following the gong.

Guest Bio:

Jaz Azari ’06 Lib is a Senior Consultant at Guidehouse in Washington, D.C. where she has helped clients with designing, developing, and implementing programs and facilitated client offsites and conversations to improve collaboration, communication, and strategic planning. Before joining Guidehouse in 2019, Jaz worked for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, was a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State and was a Fellow as part of the Global Fellowship Initiative for the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in Switzerland. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a dual B.A. in International Politics with Honors and German Studies with Honors from Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts. Jaz also holds an M.A. in War Studies from Kings College London, graduating with distinction. Jaz has worked on wide-ranging topics and is happy to speak about them further, including foreign policy and diplomacy, defense, military psychology, media broadcasts, environment, science, technology, maritime and oceanic issues, and entrepreneurship, among others. She is also the author of two young adult fantasy fiction novels, The Noble Rogues and The Obsidian Staff, Book One of The Lost Legacy Series. Please feel free to connect with her by email at [email protected] and visit her website at www.thelostlegacyseries.com.

Episode Topics:

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Credits & Notes:

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer). 

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer. 

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License. 

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

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Episode Transcript

Sean Goheen (Host) 00:00:01 Greeting scholars and welcome to Following the Gong, a podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. *GONG SOUND EFFECT* Sean 00:00:12 Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar Alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar Alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rang the gone and graduated with honors and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Goheen, class of 2011, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. *GONG SOUND EFFECT* Sean 00:00:56 Jaz Ari, class of 2006 is a multi-talented professional with experiences in diplomacy, defense, and consulting roles with the US government, military, and private sector firms. Currently serving as a senior consultant at Guide House in Washington dc. Jess has previously worked with the Department of State and Department of Defense and was a fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy. She earned her Bachelor of Arts and International Politics with Honors and a Bachelor of Arts and German studies from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts in 2006, followed by a masters of Art and War studies from King's College London. She joined following the Gone to Share her career path and insights with students. While helpful for students interested in her day job industries, this episode can be especially helpful for any scholar trying to decide their thesis topic or exploring industries and majors. Jaz is also a published fantasy fiction author and provides writing help among other practical advice for all scholars. Her full bio and a detailed breakdown of topics discussed are available in the show notes on your podcast app. And with that, let's dive into the conversation following the gong. Sean 00:01:58 Joining me here today on Following the Gong is multi-talented and self-described Renaissance woman, Jaz. Azari. Jaz. Thank you so much for joining us here today. Jaz 00:02:07 Thanks for having me, Sean. Really looking forward to the conversation. Sean 00:02:10 I am too. I think it's gonna be a great one for not just Schreyer Scholars, but any Penn Stater. But you know, I always wanna start at the very beginning, set the, set the stage for the story. Uh, something important for you as an, as a published author can definitely relate to. But let's start at the very beginning. How did you first come to Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College? Jaz 00:02:28 Well, I knew getting out of high school, I really wanted to be in a university that was kind of like a world unto itself. I didn't wanna be in a city. I wanted to be in a place where, as funny as it sounds, you are in that academic bubble. There is really no other time in your life where you can interact with people that are basically in the same position, are going through the same life challenges. And uh, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun. The second factor, like a lot of the listeners, is affordability, right? So you have to look, if you're living in Pennsylvania like I was at the time, Penn State made a lot of sense. And then as I was doing research, admittedly I really didn't know much about Schreyer and the more that I learned about it and I talked to a couple of people, I was told that it was a community and kind of like a family unit within Penn State that was a really attractive, uh, sell for me, came joined Schreyer. And I can honestly say Sean, that if somebody were to ask me today, knowing what I know, that you can go to any university, it'll be fully paid for. Where do you wanna go? I would not change a thing. I had the best college experience. Yep. I see you're clapping. I I anyone who's listening that this was the best decision I could have Sean 00:03:42 Made. Well we certainly love hearing that and hopefully for you listening that you know, you will be saying the same thing uh, once you graduate as well. Now Jaz, normally I asked a question about like how did you pick your major and maybe it was some lifelong passion and some folks stick to one thing and it's one track through college, but a lot of people do change their major throughout the the way. But you had a pretty interesting path to selecting major. So can you tell us about that? Jaz 00:04:07 Sure. I love that you call it an interesting path because I also call it tangential in some ways, which also somewhat explains my career when we go into that. But a lot of times it's, you know, I have a lot of diverse interests a lot of your scholars do, which is why they're in different activities. And so when I first came in, I've always been interested in science and I truly have a passion for animals and animal behavior. So I came in and I thought, alright, wildlife biology seems like a really good fit. So my first semester, my freshman year, I had ology, biology, chem, all of the labs, loved all of it was not fantastic at the chemistry side. And then when I saw my roommates, uh, the second semester trying to do organic chemistry, I looked at that and said, yeah, it's probably not my strength so let's see if we can find something else. Jaz 00:04:55 And at the time I was double majoring in German studies. So going into my sophomore year I kept the German studies as the double major. I had also been minoring in Spanish and I thought, let's make that another major. And I started in journalism, love to write as we were talking about and as we'll talk about later, it was difficult for me to really get into the newspaper writing. It was very formulaic for me. And at the time I was an intern with Town and State Magazine, as you probably read, they're on campus and I was a freelance writer for them later. But journalism also wasn't something that really like got my heart racing in the morning. So I studied abroad. My second semester of my sophomore year was in Germany. I thought, hey, let's keep the German studies, we'll drop the Spanish, get into my junior year. Jaz 00:05:41 And I thought look, you really need to pick something. It's your junior year. International affairs was kind of like the common thread that I had had throughout the first two years. I studied abroad again in Ireland in the second semester of my junior year and I stuck with international affairs, stuck with German studies and I was really happy to graduate with those, uh, and not change a bunch of times. But to your listeners, it is okay to have a major and change it is natural and do what you're passionate about it. It always works out. Sean 00:06:10 Yeah, it's, you know, some folks feel the pressure, like they have to have it picked, figured out and obviously there are factors you wanna take into consideration about additional semesters and how that might impact your finances and different things like that. But certainly make sure you enjoy what you're doing. I think that definitely helps you get through the experience. Jaz 00:06:26 Exactly. Sean 00:06:26 Yep. So obviously that was a bit of a journey there and you were eventually able to find the right fit. But another area that's important to find a fit in addition to your major or majors for many Schreyer scholars is also where you're involved on campus. Can you share a bit about your opportunities, how some of them were student groups and others were paid jobs and what you learned from those experiences? Cuz you had some interesting stories that you had shared with me ahead of time. Jaz 00:06:49 Oh my gosh, so many. Sean May maybe we'll have to, we'll have to limit a couple of 'em. Let's think. So I talked about town and state. Uh, I was a teaching assistant one semester, really rewarding, absolutely loved teaching and education. I was part of the sailing club. I was also the alumni coordinator and that was a really exciting job in the sense that having that position, because there was one semester where two Penn State alumni who happened to be twins, uh, and expert international sailors came back and they sailed with us. So I can say I sailed with somebody who was, who really knew what they were doing. It was a lot of fun. Uh, I also founded a tennis clinic and this was really, couldn't have done it without schreyer. I play play tennis my entire life. And a lot of my friends and just individuals who would come to the tennis courts occasionally would say, oh, I wish I knew how to play or, that looks like a lot of fun. Jaz 00:07:41 And after a while I was thinking, you know, with this kind of teaching background, it would be great to just have a free clinic. A lot of people can't afford lessons. Like, you know, some of the private lessons can be really expensive and there's gotta be a way to do this. So I researched, you know, can we reserve some of the courts because they're a tunnel on campus, how are we gonna get balls if we have, you know, a large enough number of people and we're doing the sessions, can we get a ball hopper? Can we get rackets? So I was able to find some rackets from one of the gymnasiums. They had just had a couple of old ones that we could borrow the balls in the hopper. I actually went to Schreyer for and I said, Hey, I've got this idea, can I run it by you? Jaz 00:08:19 I think it'll help the community. And Schreyer said yes. They gave me enough funding once I gave them the estimate. And we started the clinic my sophomore year, continued it throughout, uh, my senior year. And it was amazing to see individuals who had never picked up a racket in my sophomore year going through it for three years and then ending being intermediate. And I think at our peak we had about seven or eight instructors and about 40 students. So what an amazing undertaking. I don't know if you play tennis, Sean n no. <laugh>. Okay. I, we can add you to the next clinic. And then, uh, one of the other kind of fun stories that I think a lot of people can relate to is the experience I have had with Beaver Stadium. And that was in two separate ways. So the first anyone who has been in a club in Penn State, probably at some point has cleaned a third of Beaver Stadium because that is a way of getting funding for your club. It is a large stadium if I remember correctly. And, and tell me if I'm wrong on the numbers, I think it's 103,000 104,000 Sean 00:09:19 107 approximately. Jaz 00:09:21 Oh my Sean 00:09:22 Gosh, 107,000 strong as Coach Franklin would probably be, I would be remiss if I didn't throw that out here for correction. Jaz 00:09:28 107,000 strong. I love it. So I have cleaned a third of that, 107,000 strong and I did it three separate times. My appreciation for the people who have that job permanently is through the roof. I mean, the confetti really sticks to those seats. When you have soda, you learn a lot from those things. The other experience I had with Beaver Stadium was for one semester I worked in those little stands, you know, the carts that have the ice cream. And so you get paid on commission for that job, which in August, fantastic August in at Penn State. Happy Valley is great in November, we're not in Florida. So it wasn't really very lucrative. And I do remember one time where I was out there for six hours in November, it was probably 32 degrees and I did not sell a single thing again, great learning experience, lots of appreciation for people who do it. I would not recommend it to people after those first two months or try another university for that and then come back to Penn Sean 00:10:25 State. Yeah, something about, uh, the hot chocolate, uh, walkers might be a little bit more lucrative come those late, late November big 10 contests in in the, in the, in the cold there. But I have to ask Jaz one, well just, maybe just something silly I'm not aware of. But we're in central Pennsylvania here at University Park, not near the ocean, not far from the ocean, but we're not close to the ocean either. Where do you go sailing if you're a part of the Penn State Sailing Club? Jaz 00:10:48 That's a great question because I had the same question when I got there. There's a lake and I don't remember the name, but it was about a 45 minute drive maybe within the mountains. The only problem with the lake, as you can imagine, is there wasn't much wind. So we could be on the boats, but it was really dependent on the weekend. And sometimes you're just sitting there and, oh, let's tie some ropes because it's, you know, it's good practice. But yeah, no ocean, that, that would've been really nice. Sean 00:11:13 I know I was laughing when I see things like that or Penn State Rowing and you know, schools like Temple and Penn and Philly, they have Boathouse Row and it's like, where do you, where do you do that here at University Parks? So, uh, we do have some great state, state parks and, and obviously lots of great parks right here in State College in the borough and the surrounding townships for those at university parks. So if you're an outdoors person, go check those out, especially during the, the spring months or if you happen to be doing a summer session here in in center county. No Jaz. Uh, one of the things I always ask our guests, because this is a Schreyer podcast, is about your thesis. And so for those of you listening, well hopefully Jaz's experience will help reassure you about where you're at in, in the process. Um, you shared ahead of time that you had a change of heart real late in the game. Like we're talking fourth quarter here. Jaz 00:12:00 Yes. Sean 00:12:00 What made you decide to essentially start over with like a semester to go before the due date and why? And and more importantly, how did you go about doing that? The thesis is a lot of work, even when you have two or three years put into it, let alone trying to do the entire thing from scratch in a semester. So walk us through that. Jaz 00:12:19 Yeah, I think the, the enthusiasm and the, the confounding thought of doing that really reflects how I felt at the time. But like you said, for the listeners, this could be hopefully inspiring and and help people figure out where they wanna go. Initially, in my junior year I thought about my time in Germany, the international affairs, and I said it kind of makes sense to do maybe how Germany is going to be more of a powerhouse in the European Union. And to give context, this was in 2005, 2004 and the idea was that, you know, a lot of new countries had joined the European Union, it was expanding so it seemed like it would be a good topic. I really struggled putting a pen to paper because I didn't really have a good grasp of where this was gonna go. I didn't have really any passion about it in the way that I had passion about, for example, like the tennis clinic like we talked about earlier. Jaz 00:13:12 And so I really struggled with it for a year and a half. I'm in my senior semester and in my senior semester, so this is 2005 in the fall I had a course in international relations and part of that course was talking about Vietnam and the US involvement. And for listeners who are listening to this in 2023, this is gonna seem like very old history, but in 2005, the nine 11 attacks had only happened four years prior. Um, we had just gotten into a Iraq in 2003, so there's a lot going on in the security world and in Congress we're discussions about Iraq being a quote unquote quagmire, which basically means that we're in a situation that we're getting bogged down and we can't get out of. And they kept making these comparisons to Vietnam. So for me, I got really interested in this idea because you know, this is a really important topic, it's very impactful and what if I did a thesis comparing the two wars and not whether or not, you know, morally we're supposed to be in there, but what are we doing now that might be a mistake or something that we could do better so we can end things quickly that we can help our service members. Jaz 00:14:19 But I really, like you said, it's pretty overwhelming to think I've spent a year and a half doing this. I have four months. I had a professor in another course who was from Ireland, very sharp, always liked the Irish accent as well. Doesn't hurt. And I asked him, I said, look, I really wanna do this topic but I only have four months. What would you do? The advice he gave me is some of the best advice I have ever gotten. I would highly recommend you all to think about this in your personal lives, your professional lives going forward. What he said was, it's better to spend time and hard work and dedication to something that you love than to continue doing something that you don't just because you've invested time. And that was the lightning bolt that really got me saying, okay, the next day I went and I talked to, I think it was Dr. Jaz 00:15:05 Michael Berkman who was overseeing these and he was fully supportive. And starting in January of my senior year, so the second semester of my senior year, I started attending R O T C classes. I got permission to go to a naval academy conference, I went to war colleges and I really did work about 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week. And I was grateful able to ring the gong before it was too late. I might have been on the very last day, but it was so rewarding and that thesis launched me into my first job and completely changed the direction of my life. Um, so hopefully scholars who are listening to this do what you love and you have no idea where it's gonna take you. Sean 00:15:45 Absolutely. And you know, it's funny Jaz, as you were talking about that, I think if there's any econ majors listening, you're probably like, that's great advice because your professor was essentially telling you to avoid the sunk cost of what you had already done, right? And the sunk cost fallacy, that's immediately where my mind went. But great advice and it sounds like, you know, if you really are passionate about it, you were able to plow through that in, in the semester actually less than the semester. So kudos to you for being able to do that. Jaz 00:16:12 That is terrifying though the more we think about the time. But again, it's like any entrepreneur, if you're starting a project, I mean those guys are like Bill Gates or anyone who's doing AI now you're there 12 hours a day sometimes sleeping on a couch just to get what you love into the, into the world. So it's worth it. Sean 00:16:29 And speaking of uh, passion projects somehow, in addition to this thesis, and this is no pressure on you listening to like do all of these things, but when you're passionate about something it can give you an extra boost of energy. Here again, you wrote 150 page thesis, but you also were able to publish your first fantasy novel before graduating. And so you've talked about being a writer, it's definitely one of the things you'd probably identify with. So what tips and tricks do you have for staying organized and cranking out kind of in-depth content that scholars could use in their either their thesis or if they wanna write their own book, whether fiction or non-fiction? Jaz 00:17:01 That's a great question. Sean and I split it into two different parts. If you're working on non-fiction, a thesis, a scholarly article, I do believe creating an outline really just helps keep the flow of logic when you're trying to do your research. And remember, okay, this argument feeds into this and that's a natural segue to this. And it could be chronological, it could be topical, working with your advisor or even working with one of your friends just to see if it makes sense is always helpful, like getting that gut check. On the fiction side, I take a very atypical approach and for your creative listeners here, this is probably gonna sound very similar, I write based on emotion, not based on chronology. And what I mean by that is one of the series that I have now, it's called the Lost Legacy series. It's a series of five books. Jaz 00:17:53 I started writing all five at the same time, not because I knew exactly what I was doing, but there would be an inspiration from a conversation or an interaction that I would see between two people. And I thought, oh, this is a great scene and I jot down the scene or maybe I had a really difficult day, I was feeling frustrated, oh let me channel that frustration into something the main character is feeling and really put the emotion on paper. And then it's kind of like I had all these puzzle pieces and I was kind of trying to fit them together. And once I had the first book published, now I can have everything feedback in, but it isn't really linear, it's more like I'm swimming, something comes to mind, I run home, I write it down. So if people think like that, it's great. People have different styles of writing and you should always go with what you're most comfortable with and that kind of takes you away from the high school. We have five paragraphs, we have our introduction, we've got our uh, support, and then we have our conclusion. So lots of ways to take it. Sean, do you have a particular writing style you like to Sean 00:18:53 Use? That is a great question. Um, I've really tried to get away from that, uh, style that they teach you in high school, to be honest, being in more of a business setting and, and a lot of what I do is marketing, so it's like, let's get short and sweet. What is the value prop? What is the ask? So trying to make sure that like, um, I don't know if I have a style, but always putting myself in knowing that that's the type of writing that I'm doing. Whether that's fundraising, letter marketing, email, stuff like that. I'm always trying to put myself in the end user's shoes. So like reading it from their perspective, like what do they want from me? Do they want me to volunteer for something? Do they want me to give money? Do they want me to attend this event? What is, what is the point of this? So making sure short and sweet, unlike my answer I just gave you Jaz 00:19:35 No, it's your call to action. I love it. Absolutely. Sean 00:19:39 So going back to the previous question, you kind of left off Jaz talking about how the thesis that you did really set you up for your job. And it's funny cuz I'll ask alumni sometimes thesis didn't have any impact on their career and that's fine. Other faults, it is the basis of their career and anything in between. So you said yours was really impactful in your career and you've done a lot of work. You went to grad school, you've worked in for the government, you've worked in private sector. Can you just tell us a little bit about the careers that you've had so far in the diplomacy and defense spaces? I know you have a couple of stories that you wanted to share that you're allowed to share, um, that you identified. So I'm gonna just turn the the virtual floor over to here to you and let you just tell us all about your or day jobs in the diplomacy and defense spaces. Jaz 00:20:22 Absolutely. Um, what's interesting about the defense space, which is where I started after my thesis, is again, the the jobs are very atypical. And when I started my career moving from this thesis on basically non-conventional warfare in Vietnam and Iraq, meaning that people think of warfare as like World War I, world War ii, you've got these big armies fight fighting big armies in Iraq, we have a different type of warfare where we have individuals or small groups and they hide amidst the population. Um, it's very difficult to tell who's who. And so at that time, the US government, the US military state, we're all trying to figure out like how do we best work with the foreign populations to help us have security, not only for us but for them. So when I started my career with defense, it was not like what you would find nowadays because we were looking at a very specific type of warfare. Jaz 00:21:17 So I went to the US Marine Corps, I was asked to help with pre-deployment training for Marines, going to Iraq, little bit to Afghanistan, mostly to Iraq cause it was 2006, it'd been three years. And I worked in the Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning, which is a mouthful. So we called it kk. And there I helped develop training that was relevant to the Marines. I took it more from just having PowerPoints to doing something more kinetic. Because when you start teaching people, you wanna make sure that you're teaching them and the style that they actually learn. So if you join the Marine Corps, you like doing things with your hands, probably don't like having a four hour PowerPoint. So we changed some things, we did some field exercises, but at the end of the day, the point was to help service members interact with foreign populations more effectively. Jaz 00:22:03 So they're being respectful of the customs and traditions, which they might not have known about before and just do better in their operations and hopefully, you know, save lives on the Iraqi side, on the American side. And that to me is super impactful. I got my master's in Kings and while I was there, one of the Marines I had worked with gave me a call and said, Hey Jaz, you know, when you graduate, the army has this thing called the human terrain system, had never heard of it. And I said, well what, what would I do? What is a human terrain system? And basically the military had come up with positions for social scientists and anthropologists and their support to do basically what I did in Kayle, but in the field. So you would embed with a military unit, so a brigade or a battalion, and you would go out, talk to the population and really try and understand their motivations, their perceptions of us, of how society was, what are their needs, um, how do they feel about their country as a whole? Jaz 00:22:59 And one of the most sort of amazing experiences I had there, you know, to share a story is that because we didn't have a lot of women in the, the battalion I was with, it was an infantry battalion, I was able to find a couple different women basically like military police. And we went out to where the female military police were stationed. And it was the first time we had done that. And after putting them in focus groups, one of the questions we asked was, what made you join the military police? And without going too much into, into the Iraq war, um, a lot of the con the conflict was sectarian and people from different sex were part of the military police. Sean 00:23:36 Can I ask a clarifying question? Yes. Are you talking about American mps or Iraqi mps? Jaz 00:23:42 Iraqi mps. Thank you for that question. Question. So female Iraqi mps were the ones that we were supporting. And when we asked them the question, why are you here? They said, it's because we want to rebuild our society and we need to do that together. And the reason for that was they had brothers, they had sons, they had fathers who, they had husbands who were out fighting or caught up in the conflict in some way. And they were really passionate about helping their country and rebuilding. And that to me was just so amazing. And the dedication of being in 120 degree heat, 15 hours a day with very little water. I mean you, you couldn't get better than that. And so these are people that we wanted to identify and really wanted to empower later becoming a diplomat. As a political officer, I did a lot of jobs, some in the field in an embassy, some in Washington policy is a little bit different. Jaz 00:24:31 It doesn't change substantially. So it was very different from the jobs and defense because those were for a very short period of time. The one story I'll share from basically my six years was State Department, uh, was that when I was a staff assistant in Kenya, I was a staff assistant to the US Ambassador. And what that means is you basically do anything that the ambassador needs. You can write talking points, you arrange travel, uh, you learn when you're in the foreign service, different languages. So if you know anything about Kenya, the main language is Ki Swahili in addition to English. And I arrived at a really important time in their history because they had a referendum on a new constitution, and this was in 2010, they passed the constitution, lots of reform. They held an amazing celebration and they invited foreign dignitaries and a lot of African leaders. Jaz 00:25:20 Well the problem with that was that if anyone knows the history, oh, with Sudan, Omar Al Beier, who was the president of Sudan at the time, was wanted by the international criminal court for war crimes. And I know this is sounding like a lecture, but there is a really good ending to it. If somebody is outside the border of their country, the foreign dignitaries, were thinking, well should we do a citizen's arrest? Like how do we respond in this situation? So our ambassador got together with the other ambassadors, everyone talked and we didn't really know what the, the conclusion was. I was there with a Kenyan advisor and all of the media came up immediately after the ceremony and with cnn, N and b, BBC and Al Jazeera. And they had their microphones and they asked our ambassador, what are you gonna do? Al Bashier is here, are you gonna take any action? Jaz 00:26:08 And this was the best diplomatic communication I think I have ever heard. And what he said, and I'm paraphrasing a little bit, but he only used two sentences. He said, this is a very important day for the Kenyan people and I'm really proud to share this day with them. That was it. And he walked away and I looked at that, him and I said, that is really diplomacy in action because diplomacy is promoting good values, focusing on the partner. Um, it was a really good learning experience. And then the rest of the career, pretty standard policy, uh, items. And I worked as a fellow in a think tank in Geneva. And that is a little bit of a long summary of defense and diplomacy. But for your listeners who are interested in those positions, I really wanted to dive a little bit deeper. And um, of course after this interview, you know, I'm happy to speak with any of you, you as Sean 00:26:57 Well. Awesome. And I'm gonna ask a couple of follow up questions on some specific angles of that. So if you're interested in these spaces, you'll have some more info to ask, uh, if you reach out to Jaz. But you had, uh, two other stories that you were, you were hoping to share. There was one about an earthquake. Yes. If you wanted to <laugh> regales with this, with this one real quick. Jaz 00:27:15 Yeah. So some of you might've come from the DC Metro area, two Penn State. You might remember in 2011 there was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, which is was around 80 miles away from Washington. So at the time I was on the, what they call a desk, I was a Taiwan desk officer, so I was a foreign service officer covering Taiwan issues, environment, science, technology and health was part of my portfolio. So keeping that science connection from, uh, from Penn State. And the Minister of Health was with me at the Department for Health and Human Services and we're a few floors up, we're with the chief of staff, we're waiting for then Secretary Sebelius to come in. And all of a sudden I felt this shaking and it was almost like if you had a cart, uh, and it had a lot of teac cups on it and it's rolling around overhead, it sounded like that. Jaz 00:28:08 So at first I'm thinking, oh, okay, there's some event or something. And then the shaking got stronger. And so I immediately got up, ran to the staircase, looked down, and my first thought was, okay, we have an earthquake, which is odd because I've never seen one before. So I ran back in, I said to the health minister, Hey sir, you're gonna have to come with me. We need to evacuate. Hey chief of staff, staff, come with me, we're gonna go outside. We evacuated the building. All of DC was basically outdoors, there were helicopters flying overhead, I've never seen anything like it. And the health minister looked at me and I said, I'm sorry sir, we'll try and get another meeting. And he started laughing and he said, you realize in Taiwan we have one of these a week. Like this isn't anything. So he was calm, he didn't mind. And then at the end, the Secretary SEIUs was standing outside. So we were able to make introductions and everything worked out perfectly. The life of a foreign service officer is not so different from that kind of one-off experience. So that's one. The second experience. Sean, which one was that? I think it was the oceans. Sean 00:29:10 Yeah, you had something on oceans. And it was just interesting, you know, I remember being in Center City Philadelphia that day, uh, kind of in the historic district around like the Mint and the Liberty Bell and those things. And like everybody started like pouring outside of the buildings and I was outside. It was like, this is weird, but it, this is also like only a couple weeks before the 10 year mark for nine 11. So it was like, oh my gosh. Yeah. And you're probably like, oh God, what's happening? And then unfortunately it turned out just an earthquake Jaz 00:29:34 <laugh>. Oh, that's incredible. I didn't realize it reached that Sean 00:29:37 Far. Yeah, you've, you could feel the, the tremors in, in Pennsylvania I believe. No, not obviously not near the extent in, in the DC metro area, but uh, certainly that was an interesting day for sure. But yes, you had a note on here, uh, about the O O C and Leonardo DiCaprio. Jaz 00:29:54 Yes. I cannot miss the opportunity to talk about celebrities in the foreign service. So the, our OCEAN Conference, which I, yes, I put O OOC because like acronyms, right? D O D in state Sean 00:30:06 You did work for the government. So I think it might be a requirement. Jaz 00:30:10 <laugh>, I have a manual somewhere that gives me the hundred acronyms for per department in 2014 then Secretary Kerry who was really passionate about the environment, I think because he always talked about his childhood and, and being close to the ocean, always was interested in ocean related issues. And in 2014 he started the first our OCEAN conference. So any scholar who wants to marry up international affairs and environmental issues, you absolutely can do this in multiple, multiple ways. And the idea of the, our Ocean Conference was to draw international attention to some pretty significant threats facing the ocean. So ocean acidification, marine pollution, so people dumping plastics or nutrient pollution runoff from golf courses for example. And then also sustainable fishing because there is a lot of illegal fishing that occurs in the world. And a lot of the capacity building we do with nations is to help them protect their borders and to protect their resources. Jaz 00:31:07 So the conference was held, the first one in, like I said in 2014, they had people from about 90 countries and these are heads of state, these are foreign ministers. Then they also had businessmen, they had advocates, they had scientists. And it was really to bring together everyone to talk about these issues, make commitments, financial commitments to protect the ocean. And also in that conference alone, they had dedicated to protect more than 4 million square miles of ocean, which is larger than the entire size of Europe, which is incredible. Leonardo DiCaprio, I have to add this into the story, he was one of the speakers because Leonardo DiCaprio has a foundation and is very, very passionate about environmental issues and there are a lot of celebrities, um, who could have joined that again also have the these interests. And we didn't know about it. He spoke at the first conference two years later in 2016, Washington hosted it again and it's been an annual conference that rotates around countries every year. So it's been in Malta, it's been in Indonesia, it's been in Chile. And a lot of what you see now with climate change and talking about the ocean really did stem from the attention that Carrie gave it at the time. So again, like thinking about the foreign service, there's so much you can do and it, it really makes a difference. That's my plug. Sean 00:32:23 <laugh>, you, you highlighted something interesting. You know, you have liberal arts degrees but you ended up working in this period on a lot of oceanic atmospheric kind of work. And so being able to like if you have interests in science but also in policy, like you need to have policy people who understand science or healthcare or cultural different and all these things. So being able to be multifaceted, I think sometimes you break stuff down into a major, but having those background, one of the most impactful classes I had was a course in the agricultural sciences. Uh, it was sustainable ag tech science and policy. And it was like a blend of all of these things and talking about sustainability from the science angle and the nutrients in the soil to legislation and all, all the different angles. So these things are complex and these roles are complex and so you might be interested in the ocean, you might be interested in foreign service. There's a place for Jaz 00:33:13 That. And there's always what, what you mentioned just now is brilliant because look at the work you're doing, you're doing podcast plus you have that background, plus you have two, three degrees at this point. I mean the opportunities are endless. Um, I'm also impressed you were able to say that name because I would've stumbled over every word. Sean 00:33:30 I recount that story. I cannot remember the professor's name for the life of me, but it was a great course circuit 2009 I think. Now I do wanna dive into a couple of specific topics within your career. The first one is going back to what you were doing primarily with the Marine Corps and with the US Army is that you did cultural training and learning and learning and development is just like diplomacy and defense is its own industry. Like companies need that, universities need that for employees, different things. Can you talk about that specific field and what it entails? What skills are helpful and, and you know, if a student's interested in those kind of roles? Jaz 00:34:06 Yes, and training and education is definitely near and dear to my heart. And there's so many ways you can get involved, even if you're just volunteering where while you're in university tutoring, uh, lots of ways to volunteer your time and learn about training and education. The first point I guess that I would make is that we always have to remember that people learn differently. It's very common in classes to have a PowerPoint or have a syllabus or have something pre-prepared that you can easily throw up and speak to. But adults really have three different types of learning preferences. So some people are visual and they do need the graphs and the illustrations to solidify what it is they're hearing. Some people are very auditory. So that's when you might repeat a concept in class. There's a actually a really fun concept called egg e dot g dot g and it's when this is for people who are auditory, you explain a concept, you give an example of the concept and then you get an example of the concept. Jaz 00:35:05 This is something that's brilliant when it comes to training. So for example, so Sean, you're an alien coming from a a different, I don't know Mars cuz they said there's no life in Venus. So you're coming from Mars, you come to Earth and I say, Hey Sean, do you want a sandwich? And you say, what's the sandwich? And I say, well the concept is a sandwich is two slices of bread. Usually inside there might be meat or cheese, maybe some vegetable. And that's what you eat. It can be hot, it can be cold. And then I say to you, Sean, what do you believe is an example of a sandwich? How Sean 00:35:35 About a uh, uh, I, I grew up outside of Philly so let's go uh, kind of an Italian hoagie, right? Jaz 00:35:42 What makes it a sandwich? Sean 00:35:44 Uh, there is meat, there is lettuce, onions, some sauce Jaz 00:35:49 And Sean 00:35:49 All in between bread. Jaz 00:35:50 Yes, perfect. And so now in this very short alien draining, you have just told me that you understand the concept that I gave. This is really important in training and education and it works fantastically. The last type of education, I talked about this a little bit before and learning styles is kinetic. So if you're doing a course where you want people to brainstorm, you can have people get up, have flip charts on the wall. We wrote, I've been in facilitations where we've done these round robin exercises. So they're jotting down their notes on the paper. That's a good way to reinforce what they're thinking with having something in their hand to write it. And there's motion. These are different ways that you train people. So I'm gonna give you two examples of how I applied that training. The first one, going back to the Marine Corps, I referenced that they had PowerPoints and I was trying to incorporate kinetic events. Jaz 00:36:39 So one of them was we talked about how to work with an interpreter. We never really had them work with an interpreter. So I didn't speak Arabic at the time. So I took a random language, I pretended I was the foreign population. Um, I had an a marine stand in front of me and someone stand sort of in front of him and had that marine pretend to interact with me as the interpreter and the other marine, try and speak with his fellow marine to be able to do that conversation. And it really showed them how difficult it was to take time and pause and let the interpreter speak. So again that came out tally no matter how many times I would have it on a PowerPoint probably wouldn't have gone through. The second example is when I taught English in China. Uh, I was an English language teacher for an adult class. Jaz 00:37:26 The youngest I had were a 16 and a 17 year old. But otherwise they were professionals like a chemist and accountant. They were really good in English skills and we were just bumping them up to the next level. So when I got to tangent, which is where I taught, I had a a syllabus and it was a hundred pages of multiple choice questions and they're gonna do the questions and they're gonna brief and it was a two and a half hour class. So if your eyes are not glazing over while you're listening to this, my eyes were glazing over when I received it. So what I thought was, well if you're businessmen, if you're doing anything that you're doing, it's marketing. So what I wanted to do was let's do a presentation where they have to write down some ideas, create a product, uh, and then present it to the group. Jaz 00:38:08 And it was 2005 at the time. The apprentice I believe started in 2004 and it was supremely popular. And so I basically used that format. The students had known what it was and it got them talking to each other in English. It got them writing, it, got them presenting and we ga I gave them feedback on what went well and what they could improve upon. And that was a more effective way of training than simply having pieces of paper to wrap it up. I think I would also recommend to to students that if you are in even a student organization, that type of understanding your audience and the people that you're working with and how, how they best do things and what makes them happy, really crucial. So asking those questions up upfront is always helpful no matter what you're doing. Sean 00:38:50 So in those roles, Jaz, you have worked for both the US government as we've mentioned and you've also worked for some private sector companies. So thinking particularly talking to maybe our fourth year students or some recent alumni who are looking at their early career opportunities, this is a really loaded question, so just, you know, generalize as much as you can here, but what are the differences broadly speaking between working in a public organization like a state, local government, the armed forces and a private company that is profit driven? Jaz 00:39:18 It's always interesting to have this question because it does come up quite a bit as people are considering their careers. One of the common stereotypes, but not necessarily untrue is that if you go into government, it's very bureaucratic, it's hard to move the ship and it does make sense and it is relatively true because all of the policy that we conduct across all of the departments all feeds into the White House strategy and the priorities. And those priorities are based on American values, based on our constitution. So a lot of what we do in government, what I used to do rather, it doesn't change that much. Even administration to administration, like a lot of things take a lot of time to change. When you're working in government, you obviously have job stability because the issues that you're dealing with don't go away. There's always policy. Jaz 00:40:06 There are always foreign communities you need to work with. State and local government, I am imagining is the same. I don't have a lot of experience with it, but I know that the types of work you do, you're serving the people and that's again, never gonna change. Private sector, you do get a little bit more flexibility because of your funding, you don't have to run it through Congress. And that helps create innovation, which is a lot of times why uh, the federal, state or local governments will come to consultants and say, Hey, we have this problem, we don't have the funding for it, we don't know how to fix it. Can you come in and help? I'm not gonna be able to speak to all of private sector because there's so many things you can do, but from a consulting standpoint, you are able to do multiple projects, you have a bunch of different skill sets and it does help you be very mentally agile because you're constantly learning. Jaz 00:40:58 And um, I know that the Schreyer students really like to learn, so consulting might be something of interest as well, but they're very, very different as organizational cultures and also in the subject matter that you're covering. So whatever your gut instinct is to scholars who are researching online or speaking with people within an organization or connecting with people on LinkedIn, if you have this gut reaction that, hey, this is really interesting, follow it. Because no matter how much advice you get about whatever it is we're talking about, your gut instinct is going to tell you where your passion lies. And probably Sean, that's where where I would say they get the most benefit. As much as I can talk about things, Sean 00:41:37 You tee me up really well for my next question cuz you are a consultant and just broadly speaking, you know, a lot of our, our scholars lead student organizations or they're going to lead student organizations, maybe if they're first year student, they're gonna work their way up. The little ladders in those clubs, whether it's you know, sh strive for women student council or TH U P A or the literally thousands of other opportunities that you park or across the commonwealth at other campuses. Do you have any just quick tips that like, you know, common mistakes you see leaders make that a student could take to their club and you know, learn from and you know, make sure that they're having the GR best experience, whether it's a club for 15 students or THON that serves thousands of students? Jaz 00:42:15 That's a really good point to make that a lot of these skillsets are applicable no matter how many people you have. What I would say from a consulting perspective with the first thing that's really helpful for organizations is really define your mission and have a mission statement. And the purpose for that is to understand where you are. The three questions that you have for a mission statement tend to be what do we do, who do we serve and why does it matter? If you don't have the answers to those three things, you wanna work with your team to come up with one or two sentences that really teases out. It's almost like an elevator pitch, but it does give you focus. You also wanna think about where you're going. And this is more like within three to five years, what do we wanna be known for? Jaz 00:42:58 How will our stakeholders, how will our community be different because of what we're doing? That's useful to keep in mind, but you do wanna start with those three questions. What do we do? Who do we serve? Why does it matter? The second point I would say for student organizations is to make sure that you're empowering if you're in a position of leadership, empowering the people in that organization to come up with their own ideas that, again, I say this so often, but that they're passionate about. So if you're just leading top down, people might come out to events or they might support in the ways that they can, but being able to ask open-ended questions really helps people get forward. A lot of consulting is being able to ask good questions, being able to be a good active listener. So a good question you can ask, uh, would be something like, how do you all feel about X? Jaz 00:43:44 And then people don't answer yes or no. They provide a really long answer and you say, what else do you think about this? Or could you explain more how we would do that in this organization? And you, if you're speaking more than you're listening, you're probably not doing it the right way. So they should speak 90% of the time you speak 10 and you take all of their ideas and you make a really strong organization because of it, because people have buy-in. Those will be the top two takeaways from consulting that I would offer and hopefully that that helps. And Sean, some of this might sound familiar already. Sean 00:44:15 Yeah, it absolutely does. Between NBA coursework and just different clubs that I've either advised or been in, but Jaz talking about active, active listening, one of the things that kind of popped up in my mind is maybe a third point you could talk about real quick, you know, in the real world, if you wanna call it that you could be in a role role for five years, 15 years, 20 years in a student organization, you time out, like you have to be thinking succession plan and legacy. How do you encourage leaders to think about when they get, you know, at some point the torch has to pass, whether because you time out or you retire, you move on to another job, whatever it is. How do you advise leaders on that and how can that apply to student organization leaders? Particularly? Jaz 00:44:53 This sounds like it gets into a, a larger question maybe of mentorship and mentees when you're in a leadership position, whether it's in the university or like you said, in the real world, and I'm using air quotes, you can't see me. It's, it's always good to find people who are, have similar interests that look to you for leadership or as a, a new member to an organization. Find someone that you are interested in, that you can go to for advice, that you can help develop yourself as a person, develop skillsets, develop knowledge about that organization. So it's really a two-way avenue. And if you're thinking about, like you said, rotating out, if you really invest time in the people in your organization, again by asking these open-ended questions, people will come to you and they'll express interest that, hey, I'd like to continue this. And oh, this mission statement really resonated with me. And probably as, as funny as it might sound, you might have more people than than you can even put into leadership positions. But really that broader thought about being a mentor and being a mentee, and this is throughout the rest of your life, you, you could be a C E O and you could be a mentee is really important and that's what makes an organization strong. Sean 00:46:08 That is really stellar advice. We had a lot of great questions about your day jobs and I do wanna ask a question here about your side hustle, your side gig, your, I don't know what you wanna call it, but you are a published author. We've talked a little about you, you said a little bit about your, your books. What is that like <laugh>, I don't know a better way to ask that. Like what is that like and how do you find time for that? Because there are people like being a fiction author that is their day job like Stephen King and countless others that you see at the bookstore, at the library and you know, through hundreds of years of classic literature and modern literature. But that's your side hustle. What is that like, what is it like being a fiction author? How do you find time for that? How do you navigate publishing and fans and, and book signings and I don't know, tell us about that. I don't really know what to ask, but tell us about Jaz 00:46:54 That <laugh>. Oh my gosh. Fans would be the, the highlight of this, the whole journey and oh my gosh, I'm not a classical author by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't tell you, writing for someone who wants to be an author, writing is not just, uh, an activity that you do. It's something that where you're entrepreneurial and you have the dedication and the discipline to sit down every day most days and just put some thoughts on paper. What I was saying earlier about the long form content, when you're writing about your thesis, and I was talking about inspiration, something about fiction writing that I've always loved is I know that at some point somebody's going to have a rainy day or they didn't get what they thought that they wanted, or maybe they're going through a breakup. And if you love fiction, it's a way to get yourself out of your own mind and to go to a place that is safe where there's a character that is going through a struggle, a challenge, but they're overcoming it and it's very inspirational and it might make you feel better. Jaz 00:47:53 So I don't know if there are any books that you would recommend, Sean, that you really liked in the fiction space, but a lot of, a lot of what I've gotten back from the publishing, for example, from a book signing you mentioned earlier was that I've had people come up to me and they've asked me about my books and I've given them my email address. They went and they read the book and then they would send me something really nice that said, Hey, I had a really tough week at work and I read the entire book during work. So at the Renaissance Festival as an example, uh, as a visiting author, I'm there in period attire. And one of these individuals did come up to me and they said, look, I love fantasy fiction. Um, my kids love fantasy fiction. Can they talk to you? Jaz 00:48:35 Can they get an autograph? And whatever it is, can we get a picture? And it really just made me smile because I'm thinking, here is a 10 year old kid who one day wants to be an author and he's looking at me, just the average person on the street who happens to have a novel. And it really just made it feel very impactful. So there's a, a saying in German, and I'm not gonna get it completely right, but it's, you don't find like, have time to do something. You make the time. And that's the difference between writing and publishing, is you might not really feel like you have time, but conduct an audit of your time during a week. Like what do you actually do during your week? And if there's something you love, you'll end up making the time and you'll shove away. I don't know, I have to watch Netflix because there's something that I'm really engaged in. Whatever it is, you'll find the time. Sean 00:49:20 That is really insightful. And speaking of insights and reflecting, I wanna pivot to the last set of questions that I asked everybody. What would you say is your biggest success To date? Jaz 00:49:30 Yes. Success for me, if I had to define it, is something that helps my community or my family or my friends. And really goes back to this idea of having an impact. So one of the most successful things or accomplishments I've had was when I was writing my master's thesis, I came up with this new mental health concept called cultural stress. And the reason why I was looking at this was it was between the time that I had studied the Iraq Vietnam connection, I had worked with the Marine Corps and I knew that the Marines suffered from post-traumatic stress. I'm sure a lot of your listeners have heard of it, they've probably heard of it as P T S D. And it occurred to me, I was thinking, you know, with the training for Marines, again, they don't join to go and interact with foreign populations. Jaz 00:50:15 There must be a stress by having to do a job that they're not trained for, that they're not prepared for, and they might not naturally be good with because that's, they're not going to become like a Spanish professor. They join this specific profession. They learned amazingly. But what I was trying to figure out was, is there a unique stressor with culture that's similar to civilian health research on culture shock? Because we know, and a lot of the students who are listening who have studied abroad culture shock, you go overseas even though you're doing it voluntarily, there's a foreign language, they're foreign foods, foreign smells, all of these things. And you're being bombarded and it feels really overwhelming at first. So between military health research and civilian research, I combined elements of the two to say, all right, four service members in an operational setting, there's this thing called cultural stress, which is an adverse reaction to pressures of interactions with foreign populations in these operational settings. That's a very long definition. But now 12 years later, there's been a lot of follow on research, it's been adapted in mental health products and I hopefully it's helping us treat our service members when they come back. It's another tool in another area to look at to Sean 00:51:27 Help. That is amazing. And uh, I hope you learned something there too, listening. Now on the flip side, you had that amazing success. You're published, you have a great career, but you messed up somewhere along the way. What what'd you say is a big transformational learning moment that you've had and more importantly what you took from that and it integrated into your life and career? Jaz 00:51:43 Sure. I'm not sure if it, this would be considered a mistake, but this is something that really changed the way that I looked at things. I applied for a Fulbright and again, being in Schreyer, you're always told you're gonna be successful and you're gonna do these things and everything's gonna be great. And I was rejected. And at first I was really disappointed and I thought, oh my gosh, I thought that I was really doing a good job and I've got these degrees that are coming up, what went wrong? And somebody told me that rejection is redirection. So sometimes if you don't get the Fulbright for example, that would've taken me back to Europe. I would not have looked at the military again. I would've probably been in European politics, but the rejection is redirection. Put me on a path that I've really enjoyed and I've gotten a lot of rewarding experiences from. So if you don't have an interview that goes well, you don't get the job that you think you really want, maybe that's redirection. And it really tells you to look at opportunity versus something like quote unquote failure. I don't think really anyone fails. You have to have some sort of risk tolerance to get anywhere in life, but just think of it that way. Rejection is redirection. And that for me was really powerful. Sean 00:52:52 That is a really good quote. I might steal that Jaz. Now a couple questions back. We got into mentorship, so I don't know if you have any further thoughts on that topic that you wanted to share. Jaz 00:53:01 Just that even after this podcast, if you don't have a mentor but there's someone you look up to reach out to them, most people are really honored that you've come to them to share their life experiences and advice. It's very unusual for someone unless they really are short on time to say, I don't want a mentor. No, find a mentor. And like I was saying before, be a lifelong L learner. I have have mentors. I will continue to have mentors until I'm 90 and can no longer take up their time. But it's important to have and it makes you a better person. Sean 00:53:33 Very sage advice. Now we're gonna go into this kind of the fun questions here. Are there any professors or friends from your days on campus that you wanted to give a very quick shout out to? Jaz 00:53:41 So many more than I can actually say in this podcast. But the first person I would say Dr. Nan Bt, who was my thesis advisor for those four months, I came to him obviously, like you said, very last minute. And he was pretty much the only professor doing research in insurgency in terrorism. And he had his PhD who's relatively new, I believe, to campus, but he spent at least every other week with me steering me, helping me take all of these kind of scattershot ideas and putting them into some form that would then become the wonderful clay pot that was the thesis. And um, couldn't have done it without him. And then I mentioned Dr. Michael Berkman, he gave me a lot of flexibility to be able to go and do and meet people outside of Penn State and have those events. And then I have to give a shout out to my master's professor as well, although he was not at Penn State, maybe one day he'll come, uh, professor Theo Ferrell, who is the professor of war in the modern world. And he did the same thing that Dr. BT did and took all of these ideas that I had for cultural stress and put them together. So really those professors couldn't have done this without. And all of the friends who supported me, my roommates, just people in class, it takes a village. And I'm only where I'm at now because of all of those people who have helped me along the way Sean 00:54:59 And don't forget to help others along the way on their journey because yet out of it, what you put into it, right, Jess, Jaz 00:55:05 You pay it forward. Yes, absolutely. Sean 00:55:07 And that was some great advice from the two of us. Uh, I'll toot my own horn as we're wrapping up, is there any final advice on any of the topics that we've covered today that you wanted to share that we didn't get to, or anything you wanted to summarize of your experience that might be helpful for students? I'll let you have kind of the last word on that topic. Jaz 00:55:26 I have one piece of advice that I gave to a Penn State student who was really struggling. Um, she wanted to be in local politics, very committed to grassroots organization, but she didn't come from a really wealthy family. Uh, she had to work full-time for a semester, take a semester off. She wanted to come to Washington. And she told me one day really frustrated, you know, all of these people that I know, they've got enough money to do these internships. They know people who are already in Congress or they have family who are there. It just seems like I'm not getting where I wanna go. And what I told her was, you're your hero of your own story. And what that means is that if anyone on this call has watched a movie where in the first five minutes the challenge that the person is fate saving is like fixed immediately, that's not an interesting story. Jaz 00:56:14 And the character probably doesn't have that much depth. So being a nerd, going back to fantasy fiction in Lord of the Rings, if Frodo had that ring and he put it on a table and Aragon took his sword and he cut it in half and that was the end of the movie, people would walk away going, uh, yeah, I guess it was okay. But the point was that here's somebody who doesn't have magical powers, is not a warrior, and he goes out on this quest and he fails and he wants to give up. And it's, it's arduous both mentally and emotionally and physically. And then he finally gets to his objective. And that's what people empathize with and that is where they see themselves. So the more hardships that you face, it makes you a richer person and it builds a story that people were really interested in. So accept the hardship and know that you are really gonna come out better on the other side. So with that, Sean, I would like to take the privilege of asking you one question before we Sean 00:57:08 Go. You know, I was thinking there, it would've been a kind of a dull movie if they had actually listened to Gandalf and like called up the Eagles <laugh>, the actual phy, not the, not the football team Go Birds, but if they had called up the, because he told 'em what to do, he was like, fly go likes fly there, like you fools. Like this is, that's the route. And they didn't listen to him. So like, you know, listen to your mentors, he had good advice and they didn't listen to it, but it would've been a pretty boring movie in book or a book series if, if they had actually listened to him. So Jaz 00:57:35 Yes. Oh my Sean 00:57:35 Gosh. He gave him the roadmap and they just ignored it. So <laugh> poor rodeo, your point, it would've been they wouldn't have had the heroes journey and they wouldn't have developed as, as, as Hobbits or people or elfs or Dwarfs or whatever. So yes, Jaz 00:57:48 I'm so happy you got that reference. Sean 00:57:49 Oh, absolutely. Uh, read, read them in middle school very long, very long time ago. Jaz 00:57:54 So I'm gonna build on that. I've heard your podcast, I love hearing about your experiences and maybe one day we can interview you two. I'm sure your listeners would love that. What is one fun fact that your listeners don't know about you? Ooh, Sean 00:58:08 A fun fact that listeners don't know, I guess I'll keep it on brand and related to Penn State, removing the covid season, obviously when nobody outside, unless you were actually on the team, could go to, you know, or on the coaching staff or whatever. So removing the 2020 season giant se, but I've been to at least one Penn State football game every year since my junior of high school in 2006. So I've seen them in several states, mostly here at Beaver Stadium. But I've had the privilege of going to away games at IU at Michigan. I've seen them in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl in Glendale, at the Fiesta Bowl. I saw them at the pin strip bowl in New York, which was actually a really fun game. That was really funny. We, my friend and I, we got tickets through the alumni association and we finally got through on the phone or whatever it was like a month into when I had started at Kentucky and I'm like trying to call <laugh> lunch. Sean 00:58:58 I'm like, I want tickets. I know I'm gonna be home for Christmas, and so we can drive up, it's like New York is like three hours from where I grew up. So I'm like, we can make a day trip of it. It's not like going to Pasadena where it's like thousands of dollars to fly to California. And I get through and they're like, well, we have tickets available, but they're, um, obstructed view. And I'm like, when else can I go to a bowl game for like a hundred bucks? Like we get to Yankee Stadium, which is a beautiful venue. I'm a Phillies fan, but at Yankees stadium's beautiful, gorgeous stadium. And we we're looking at our seats and we're like, okay, it turns out they're behind the Yankees dugout, which was awesome. Like, uh, you look it up for a Yankees game, these are like $1,200 tickets for per game per seat, uh, for Yankees baseball game in the summer. Sean 00:59:38 But because of the football arrangement on the field, we're like right along the first baseline, you know, and they have ESPN cameras on those little carts. And so anytime there was action on our end zone, yeah, maybe you have a couple people blocking just a little bit of your view. But we were basically on field level. We were one ro it was like dugout one row seats and then us, the bathrooms had like TVs in the mirror that was a little bar area. And I'm like, this is awesome. And like the Penn State fans showed out that day. The BC fans showed out that day and we had a walk off win. Wow. That was a really, that was a really fun one. Obviously we, we wanted to go to the Big Bowl games, but after a couple years with everything and not getting to go to any games and I was like, I'm a grown adult, I can go to a bowl game now. This works out. Well. That was a really fun one. So I've been to at least one game every, every season, uh, since then. So I've had a kind of a cool little streak somewhere. I have a spreadsheet. I've tried to document all the teams I've seen in different things, but, uh, a little bit of a nerd. I got more into Penn State football after I graduated than I was when I was here. You Jaz 01:00:33 Hear that a lot. That's amazing. Sean 01:00:35 There's something about like, once you, you don't realize what you have till you leave and then you're like, yeah, this is a special place. I've worked at other universities, I've lived out out of state. You'll find we're a fun bunch. We really care about this place. Uh, Penn State alumni do. You don't get that at every university. Yeah, you really don't. Other people just, they were like, oh, I went to such and such school here, and you're like, I went to Penn State. And like, it's, you don't find other fan bases like that Ohio State. Maybe a few others, but like, yeah, it, the passion in this network is great. So if you're still listening at this point, you haven't tuned me out, leveraged this network. Talk to alumni like Jaz, talk to alumni like me and the other thousands that are out there that wanna see you succeed If you're a current student and if you're a fellow alum, you know, make sure you're doing what you can to help our Jaz 01:01:14 Students. And if they need a way to contact me, I will offer an email. It's the Lost Legacy [email protected]. And the website, if you can't find the email is www.thelostlegacyseries.com. And you can contact me either way, we can talk about anything on this podcast and more. I'm now sounding like I'm in marketing, but I, I would love to hear, would love to hear from you and, and what you're doing as Sean 01:01:43 Well. Well, you hopped on and answered my question before I even asked. It's almost like you knew what I was doing to ask e es d. Yeah, it's amazing. Cloud-based documents. They're wonderful <laugh>. Now finally, uh, if you've listened to any of these, uh, uh, any of these before, you know the gen, there's some questions I riff, but I want our guests to be prepared and have a great experience and make sure they can help you listening so they see the questions in advance. There's no gotcha questions. That's not the point of this show. Now finally, Jaz, you know what's coming. If you were a flavor of bey creamery ice cream and I really need to work on getting that sponsorship, which would you be? And more importantly, why would you be that Jaz 01:02:18 Flavor? So Sean, I had to do extensive research on this more than any other part of the podcast. <laugh> cause I'm lactose intolerant Sean 01:02:27 And I I'm too, I'm too Jaz 01:02:29 Oh, so you are a fellow not probably knowing. Well, from the podcast, you now know all of the flavors, uh, Sean 01:02:35 Late, late discovery in life. Jaz 01:02:37 But a wonderful one. Sean 01:02:39 <laugh>. No, I mean that I was lactose intolerance and not a great discovery. Jaz 01:02:42 <laugh>. No, not a wonderful one. <laugh>. Oh dear. So I looked on the menu and the one that struck me was BJC Jams, which it's been 20 years. I did not remember that. That was Bryce Jordan Center until I looked at it. But before I did that research, I said, look, this is something that sounds interesting, I don't know much about it. Let's give it a try. And that literally sums up my entire life from my personal life to my professional life, to all of those careers. You hear about something interesting. Ah, let's give it a try. Sean 01:03:13 That's a great reason. I'm sure our friends over at the Bryce Jordan Center appreciate the shoutout for their flavor. It does look really good. It's like vanilla and raspberry swirl. Pretty simple. Something like that. That sounds really tasty. So I'm gonna have to try that one at some point. Get the lactated pills out, not sponsored, uh, but have to get those out and try that one at some point. Jaz, whenever you're back here on campus, we'll have to make sure you get a chance to try it as well get you some lactide pills or something too. So Jaz 01:03:36 Yes, I wanna sample all of them. Sean 01:03:38 Everyone, we've had a great conversation. If you're still with us, thank you for listening. Jaz, thank you for being on here. Lots of great insight on consulting, diplomacy, defense fiction, writing, abandoning your thesis, and starting a new one with four months to go. Lots of great insights. Thank you for sharing all those with our scholars. Jaz 01:03:54 Sean, thank you so much for having me. And like I said, we need to interview you. Well, Sean 01:03:58 Let's make that happen sometime, uh, maybe a future episode and you all can hear my backstory you've gotten, if you're a regular listener, you've gotten snippets, but maybe we'll, we'll do the, the deep dive. Jaz 01:04:07 Thanks Sean. *GONG SOUND EFFECT* Sean 01:04:16 Thank you Scholars for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show proudly supports the Schreyer Honors College Emergency Fund, benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at raise.psu.edu/schreyer. Please be sure to hit the relevant subscribe, like, or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the College on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to stay up to date on news, events, and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or are a Scholar Alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on Following the Gong, please connect with me at [email protected]. Until next time, please stay well and We Are!

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