Founder & CEO, Sub Rosa
Michael Ventura is the CEO and founder of Sub Rosa, a strategy and design firm that has worked with some of the world’s largest and most important brands, organizations and start-ups: from Delta Airlines, Google, and Nike to the Obama Administration and the United Nations. Michael has served as a board member and adviser to a variety of organizations, including Behance (an Adobe Company), the Burning Man Project, The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Musem, and the U.N. affiliated Tribal Link Foundation. He is also a visiting lecturer at institutions such as Princeton University and the United States Military Academy at West Point. In addition to these pursuits, Michael leads a thriving indigenous medicine practice, where he helps patients address illness and injury of all types on the road to better well-being. Applied Empathy, his first book, was published by Simon & Schuster in May 2018.
I believe in the power of empathy as a transformative skill allowing for the development of self-awareness, deep understanding, and enriched connections between each other and the surrounding world. I’ve run a strategy and design practice for over a decade, which is focused solely on this sort of work (wearesubrosa.com). I am a practitioner of indigenous and eastern medicine (corvusmedicine.com) treating 15 people a week in a private practice with the goal of helping them explore, learn, and grow their own ability to heal themselves. I’ve taught courses on empathy at Princeton University and The U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I’ve also worked with the Obama Administration and the United Nations on integrating empathy into systems-thinking solutions for indigenous communities both in the U.S. and abroad. This is my life’s work and I’m proud to be of service to a topic as meaningful as empathy.
Get on with it. People have so much trepidation about doing something. They’re worried they’re going to fail or embarrass themselves. Well, guess what? You’re right. It’s bound to happen, but that means you’re living. You’re taking chances. You’re pushing yourself. No one gets it right all of the time. It’s those who dare to take the risk and do something scary that actually push their limits and grow.
The hardest thing for me has always been making the right decisions for the business that require bravery to see through. Not everyone in an organization is willing to endure significant change and it can create tension and turnover. It’s not easy to do that, but if we are meant to grow and evolve it sometimes requires making choices with heavy consequences.
What a time to be alive.
My wife, Caroline is a constant source of inspiration. She is so good at creating beauty in the world. She is a goldsmith, a painter, a photographer, and more. She’s keenly aware of what she believes in and does her work bravely.
My medicine teachers. These people are stewards of long lineages of tradition and practice, and it’s been truly an honor to work beside them and become a part of their beautiful cultures.
My parents, who have been together since high school and have raised two relatively well adjusted kids. They are a true testament to the power of love as a force of good in this world.
My Daily Thoughts:
Goal of the Day: Act with intention.
Thought of the Day: How can I be most helpful?
Action of the Day: Be fully present.
Deed of the Day: Encourage someone.
Tip of the Day: Today can be the day you’re waiting for.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City? Serendipity. New York is a place where it can be very easy to be over planned or scheduled, but the best part of it is simply walking around and letting the city reveal itself to you. Some of my best experiences have been the result of being in the right place at the right time and open to the possibilities.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant? Breakfast tacos, sitting outside at Tacombi with my wife and dog.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Sleeping. It’s important! I get up at 6:30am and begin my morning practice for about an hour before heading into my first appointment, which is providing a holistic treatment to one of my private clients.
10:00 AM – Generally in a meeting with a client or my team, helping to work through a challenge or solve a problem. Either that or at my desk writing / catching up on correspondence.
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal? I’ll usually take a walk and get something from one of our neighborhood restaurants. It’s a good time to stretch the legs, breath the fresh air, and feel the sun on my face.
7:00 PM – Finishing my last private client session for the day and heading to dinner or taking a walk with my wife and dog.
11:00 PM – I’ve already been asleep for an hour. Hopefully dreaming about something weird.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)? Not a caffeine drinker so this is kinda boring, but water with lemon juice is my go to. End of the day is more of the same. If I am having a cocktail, it’s either mezcal or a natural wine.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account? Most used Apps would be – Notepad (I know that’s ridiculous), Instagram, and Mail. Super uninteresting, so let’s instead talk about favorites: Time Passages (astrology) and Babbel (foreign language). Instagram accounts: @__CarolineVentura @TSA @historycoolkids @RubinMuseum
What should everyone try at least once? Durian
Where do you enjoy getting lost? Ooh, good question. Everywhere? If there’s an opportunity to simply wander, whether in nature or in a city, I’m into it. When I arrive in a new place my favorite first stop is an outdoor / farmer’s market. This is a great way to see what kind of produce and food are being sold, to notice people’s joy in interacting, and to be part of the community. It’s an excellent way to begin to understand a new culture.
What Else to Know?
Recent Forbes post — link HERE
The paperback of my book, Applied Empathy, will hit shelves on May 21st! Pre order HERE
For speaking engagements, press & podcasts you can visit: appliedempathy.com