Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships at Groupon
I moved to the US with my parents at the age of 8. Grew up in New York and fell in love with America. I went to Fordham University in the Bronx and had two jobs throughout college to put my self through undergrad and graduated with two majors and a minor.
Growing up in the South Bronx (the poorest congressional district in the US) I learned to hustle, but I also saw the many issues facing the community. So, I wanted to graduate, become a politician or lawyer and help people. Senior year, I was a campus rep for American Airlines and I fell in love with travel which changed my world.
I was going to work for American airlines full time upon graduation—I already had a job, but it was 2008 the financial market was just about to meltdown and oil prices were at an all time high, so American Airlines had a hiring freeze. After graduating from Fordham University, I started to look at only travel companies knowing that it’s the only thing I want to do. I applied to Airlines, online travel companies such as Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, and Travelocity. A small site and unknown site in the US called Booking.com called me in for an interview and a week later I started an entry level role at Booking.com that would turn out to be the best decision of my life.
I backed packed through Europe with my friends in Junior year of college then fell in love with travel and senior year I seeked out a paid internship at American Airlines which changed my world. I realized I can travel all over the world and get paid to do it.
Some emerging trends I am noticing in the industry are that travelers (myself included) are seeking out unique and authentic experiences. No longer satisfied with just hitting the touristy things in a destination–travelers want to immerse themselves in the local culture and take a little bit of it back with them. What are the locals doing and where are the locals eating?
Travelers are also requesting new destinations and new experiences. They are conscious of their footprint and trying to minimize it. They are also looking for educational and ecological trips that connect them with the city or nature.
A big industry opportunity is cutting down on the noise to instead offer truly personalized content. We get a lot of deal emails, trip planning suggestions and travel content, but are they relevant? If I am a solo traveler then family travel deals or trip planning content are not relevant to me and similarly if I am a budget traveler then luxury travel deals or content are not interesting. Everyone is claiming to have personalized content or using artificial intelligence, but no one is doing it properly yet. Whoever figures it our first has a big opportunity.
And a big industry challenge is sustainability. Travel is an amazing experience so naturally we are seeing people travel more as cost of travel and reachability are getting better. However with increased tourism brings new challenges to infrastructure, local culture and the surrounding ecology. Italy, Peru, Spain and Thailand are some recent countries to limit or prohibit tourists from certain over touristy places—more are to come.
I motivate others by listening to them, smiling and showing empathy not as a means to an end but as a habit, treating people kindly, being transparent to manage expectations and by giving responsibility to others to show trust.
Always be humble and kind with others which will help to build long lasting relationships. Good relationships are the key to success. There is a saying your networth is your network.
I build relationships.
Like most first generation immigrants, knowing where I came from and seeing the hardships my parents went through by leaving their family and friends to come to a new country to give my sister and I a better life absolutely inspires me and drives me to be a better version of myself.
My aspirations are to help people around me, help those from that are less fortunate and be debt free. I would like to open a school in Africa or South Asia where kids can come to learn for free. I would also like to teach those underprivileged in developing nations skills to succeed and take themselves out of their current socioeconomic situations. I believe in the phrase “give a man a fish he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish then he will feed his family for life.” However I would like to add to the phrase: “give a man a fish he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and then what to do with the fish/how to market, package and sell the fish then he will feed his family for life.”
My biggest success professionally has been making it to the 35 under 35 in the travel industry list and personally, my biggest accomplishment is that I have visited over 50 countries before the age of 30. This is significant to me because I remember being the only kid in class not raising my hand when the professor asks how many of you have been to the Louvre, Prado, Tate or Vatican and everyone raised their hand except for me. Everyone had been abroad except for me. That 18 year old version of me felt small then, but I worked hard and achieved the American dream. Got my dream job, bought a house, traveled to all continents except for Antartica and married my best friend.
Moving to Singapore on a two year assignment for work when I didn’t know anyone there. I left my family, friends and everything I knew behind to move to a completely new country with different culture, food and way of life. Growth only happens when you are challenged to your core and moving to Singapore I had a significant but positive impact on my life in how I view the world. My world got bigger, my relationship with food changed and I learned to do many things that an adult ought to know.
If it was easy then everyone would have it.
Laughter makes life better.
To travel is to live.
My mom and my wife are my favorite role models. Both are strong women with a lot of empathy, generosity and patience.
I can’t choose a favorite travel destination—too many. So, I’ll cheat and mention top 3:
Cape Town, South Africa
Bose Noise Cancelling ear phones for my flights, my camera in my phone since I love to take pictures and my new obsession with my drone which is amazing with travel pictures and videos.
Learning about block chain and cryptocurrency both of which I think are the future. There are a lot of practical real world benefits and uses for blockchain and as it matures I think many business will incorporate block chain to increase efficiency, transparency and security.
Goal of the Day: Clear out the inbox
Thought of the Day: What’s next?
Action of the Day: Meet with people
Deed of the Day: Smile
Tip of the Day: If you don’t finish something today then finish it tomorrow.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
The snowcapped mountains as the backdrop.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
Eggs with butter and chives at home please.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Waking up and getting ready to head off to the office.
10:00 AM – Morning meetings or conference calls.
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal? – I can have Pho or Poké everyday.
7:00 PM – Back at home having dinner or preparing dinner.
11:00 PM – I am already in bed if it’s the weekday.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
I just power on. I am not a fan of coffee, soda or tea. I don’t drink anything besides water if it’s a rough day then I may indulge with a sweet treat—chocolate, froyo, ice cream or a cookie. I have a big sweet tooth.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
–Google Maps I would be lost without it. VanYork.Travels is my favorite Instagram account—it’s a chronicle of all the adventure my wife and I have had in the world.
What should everyone try at least once?
–Everyone should try to live alone at least once. I learned the most about myself when I lived alone for two years in Singapore and it is also when I went through the most personal growth.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
–When I am in a new city. Some of the best stories and most memorable experiences happen when you are outside of your comfort zone and wandering around in a new setting.