New Frontier Data Founder and CEO, Giadha A. DeCarcer

Episode 53 - Giadha A. DeCarcer - New Frontier Data

Giadha A. DeCarcer is the Founder and CEO of New Frontier Data, the authority in data, analytics and business intelligence for the worldwide cannabis industry. An entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in business strategy, execution, management and business development, DeCarcer’s began her career in banking, and progressed to technology, data analytics, intelligence collection and reporting, and emerging markets across multiple sectors, domestically and internationally.

DeCarcer has launched, built and operated four data-centric businesses, including disruptive technologies for the innovation behind Progressive’s Snapshot and Verizon’s Hum.  She is considered an expert in strategic positioning and risk management in emerging high growth markets, as well as a seasoned professional in government and commercial intelligence data collection and analysis. These core focus areas, along with unwavering entrepreneurial drive, have defined Giadha’s career and her vision for New Frontier Data.

DeCarcer is an official member of the Forbes Technology Council; her work has been featured in Forbes, Fortune, CNBC, Fox News, CNN Money, Bloomberg, WSJ and many other top-tier news outlets worldwide, as well as in documentaries and books, including “Mary Janes,” “The Marijuana Show,” “The Great Green Gold Rush,” and “Breaking the Grass Ceiling,” among others. Number 7 on the list of the 20 Most Influential Women in Cannabis by greendorphin, DeCarcer has also been designated as one of The Most Powerful Women to Watch in D.C., is a two-time Stevie Awards Maverick of the Year recipient, a 2019 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist and Moxie Award nominee, and a winner of the Washington Business Journal 2019 Women Who Mean Business Award.

Her commitment to education and information sharing inspired her to create The InterCannAlliance (ICA) in 2018. The ICA is a New Frontier Data-led initiative to foster best practices and knowledge sharing amongst newly emerging cannabis markets, introducing what she has coined the “Nine Foundational Pillars” of a healthy and stable cannabis sector. Her continuous pursuit of knowledge has remained the ultimate constant throughout her life and career, also illustrated in her many mentoring and volunteering efforts such as the creation of Women Entrepreneurship Reinforcement (WeR), a program designed to mentor and coach female entrepreneurs establishing their first business. 

New Frontier Data, headquartered in Washington D.C., has been recognized in DCInno as one of 17 DC area startups to Watch for 2017 and PC Mag named the company one of just 15 Blazing Hot Tech Companies to Watch. Since the company’s inception in 2014, New Frontier Data has generated the most earned media of any reporting company covering the cannabis industry crossing 15 billion in earned media reach. As one of the winners of the Best in Biz Awards 2019, Most innovative Company of the Year, New Frontier Data is also at the center of the 116th Congressional discussion on federal legalization, providing vetted and unbiased data and analysis to regulators as they assess the potential socio-economic impact of cannabis federal legalization in the United States.  

Giadha A. DeCarcer is fluent in five languages including French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.  Born in Italy, raised in France and Spain, Giadha earned an Associate Degree in Business Administration from Miami Dade Community College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations & Trade from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Master of Arts degree in International Security from the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.


Interview Transcript

Welcome back to Episode 53 of the Built on Purpose podcast with Max Hansen brought to you by YScouts where we higher purpose aligned and performance proven leaders. Today, our guest is Giadha DeCarcer, the founder and CEO of New Frontier Data. Giadha, is an internationalist born in Italy, raised in Switzerland, France and Spain. All places I can’t wait to travel back to she has lived in six countries across the globe. She speaks five languages and has a keen appreciation for cultural and economic dynamics. Giadha an analyst and strategist by training, a serial entrepreneur by practice identified the lack of critical data and analysis through her own attempted cannabis industry research. Despite ridicule from her peers across banking, technology, energy and defense. She jumped at the opportunity to bring big data, the pillar in any modern burgeoning industry to cannabis. She has built her team of unparalleled experts from fields just as diverse as their own in 2014, New Frontier data started collecting data streams and cannabis, normalize them, and centralize them to provide vetted polished and actionable reporting to the industry before and better than anyone else worldwide. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome Giadha DeCarcer.

Giadha  8:57
Max, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Max  9:00
Awesome. Well, I’m gonna start out let’s start off for talking about New Frontier data. I just think it’s, it’s, it’s awesome. I want to hear you know, kind of what you guys do. I obviously, the introduction gave a little, little, little piece or a little intro to what you guys do. But ultimately, what problem are you solving and kind of how did you arrive at this?

Giadha  9:22
Well, the problem the core problem is visibility and risk mitigation into this booming industry on a global scale. This is an industry that was born of a movement it was some stigma and transparency into it from a financial perspective, from an opportunity and risk assessment perspective was challenging. Arguably, it continues to be challenging. So what we’ve set out to be to do is leverage cutting edge technology such as Big Data technologies to begin collecting information in a responsible, objective and comprehensive manner, slice it and dice it. So study So that we can get to the point where we’re providing actionable intelligence as close to real time as possible to again, stakeholders. Are those looking to become stakeholders in this now global sector.

Max  10:14
Awesome. And let me add a little bit on and I and I read a little bit on it, but I’d love to hear it straight from you. What How did you build up the skill sets to finally launch this company? Like, what were the building blocks of understanding and getting your feet wet in big data and getting confident enough to jump into a new industry and apply that those those skill sets?

Giadha  10:36
I mean, isn’t the whole you fake it until you make it isn’t that sweet spot. So if this is you mean, me personally, it was serendipitous I, I say with as much humility as possible that it almost feels like it was meant to be, I had very diverse careers that fit perfectly into new frontier data. So I started as a financial analyst with JPMorgan Chase, right out of college. So I really sort of got the opportunity to understand how financial analytics impact a lot larger company and a market when you’re looking at more financial type vehicles or investment opportunities. I then, because of 9/11, I left banking altogether, because I was in New York. And as most of us in New York at the time, it had a massive life changing impact. So I left banking, and I decided that I wanted to join the war on terror. So I got my masters and I decided to go into intelligence collection, then really honing the skills on how do you turn human human, so human collected information into something that’s actionable, all the way to the president and to our national security. And then after that, which was a gruesome experience, a very gratifying one, but certainly a very, very difficult career to have. I left after three, four years, and I decided to go into emerging markets. You mentioned I speak languages, I was very fortunate to travel the world. So I figured, you know what, I have financial analytics, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with intelligence collection at that point. And so I decided, you know, it was around the time when we were experiencing it, the financial and economic sort of crisis. And so a lot of US companies were looking at the BRIC nations is when the BRIC nations was really hot. So I was like, Well, let me go into emerging markets. When you combine experience in the financial industry, with understanding how to leverage technology and how to collect information for humans to turn it into intelligence and then understanding appreciating an emerging market, then you combine the three, candidly, you have new financial data, where financial analysts with high tech technology collecting information trade into intelligence for an emerging market. So serendipitous, is really the word that I would focus on here for for the answer to that question.

Max  12:58
Such an awesome story. So let’s take me back to when you were when you went on your, your own search for data and cannabis, what did you find? What did you find? Was there anything out there was it was there a lot of bias?

Giadha  13:14
a lot of closed doors, and a lot of people looking at me like I was asking them to show me their undergarments. When I asked for data. And the industry remember that the especially the early folks in the industry, were not folks that weren’t necessarily happy to share information with others, right? The industry was sort of operating for many years, decades behind the veil. So not only was there no information whatsoever, it’s certainly all of this sophisticated, or I guess, mature market. Usual Suspects were not reporting on the industry, it was too taboo at the time. Countries like the Netherlands that I had really had an industry in one shape or another for decades, hadn’t was not collecting any information on it. So that was out. academia had nothing, there was no interest beyond sort of, you know, your brain is a fried egg type of research in terms of cannabis. So it was there was a little bit of research, medical research in California due to sort of cancer and AIDS, etc. But in essence, there was really nothing that we could use from a financial reporting and micro macroeconomic reporting. So we really started knocking on doors, and we spent a lot of time a time building trust within the industry, so that folks would open up to us. So I, the first few years, I was attending 50 to 80 conferences a year, just to literally shake hands and meet folks and let them know that we were here to help them and help the industry by providing transparency, objective transparency, and that we’re not going to do so at you know, giving away their competitive edge. It was hard.

Max  14:56
Yeah, I bet it before we before we went on the air. Giadha and I were talking about Y Scouts transition into cannabis, I think when we first started four or five years ago now, I think we were a little bit hesitant to put it out front and center, just because we didn’t know, you know what the rest of the markets that we’re working with banks. So, man, we’ve come a long ways and and this is a legitimate industry that has a huge market ahead. So, you know, one thing I want to ask is, you know, the international experience that you have, I think everybody that has traveled the world and has spent time in other countries and has seen, you know, different cultures, they start to understand how that, you know, kind of helps them in life and in business. How has it helped you in life in business being that internationalist living in so many different countries, and particularly the countries that you’ve lived in? are, you know, very, very modern companies that you’ve probably gained some incredible insights and perspectives from But tell me, tell me a little bit about your background and how that’s helped in living in those different countries?

Giadha  16:07
That’s an excellent question. Thank you for asking it. I guess they’d be too too strong points that I’d make there. The first one is appreciating diversity. I’m very proud of the fact that new frontier data, as it’s at its birth, was already a diverse company, from a from a gender perspective, from an ethnic perspective, from a background perspective, from a political perspective, religious sexual orientation, you name it even more just for people, and then went on to be eight and then 15. And today, we’re almost 50, we were always very diverse. And I think that part of that appreciation came from the fact that I had the opportunity to meet talent, extremely talented people in very different places. So there really wasn’t a lot of cookie cutting sort of, you know, I wasn’t really looking for a profile, I really was looking for talent, especially given that we were facing unprecedented challenges this industry was so new, the the questions were asking was so complex with no one else answering them. So right off the bat, I wanted to make sure that we had as close to a 360 view into this very complex environment. And so I was able to bring, I was able to appreciate and identify diverse talent, but that diverse talent was also able to connect with me, because I had that experience. So that I think was a huge, a huge benefit of the traveling I’ve had. The second one, the further along the way in the industry, I think that I was able to appreciate the fact that the industry will go viral and global, probably faster than some of my peers. I remember in 2015, and 2016.

So I remember in 2015, and 2016, when the industry was really at the stage where we still had small investors coming in the average check was maybe, you know, 50, or $100,000, a quarter million dollar check would be a huge deal. Everyone was going into cultivation. Everyone was looking at Colorado and California, to some extent some of the newer states. But you know, all the companies that had entered along with me in 2014, were certainly not looking at an international marketplace, they were really focused on planting their flag and strengthening their position in the very local market. Even ancillary services such as New Frontier data. I immediately started traveling, I went to my first international conference in Israel in early 2016. were identified the first company I wanted to acquire which was again an international had an international sort of angle, it was very much CBD and hemp centric. So I think that because my world My, my world was always sort of cross continental. And cross border II possibly. And I guess I did see the international element and opportunity way faster. We entered Europe before any of our peers in North America we’re entering, and we started talking about Latin America before anyone else. And we were the first one to put out a global report. So I think those are the two aspects that probably benefited from my early my youth traveling my early stage traveling.

Max  19:35
Sure, well, and on that note, let’s go to the other side of the coin. Obviously, your traveled has been inhibited a bit from COVID. How has that changed? Yeah. How has that changed? both personally, you know, because it sounds like you’re the type of person that just gets charged up by being in a new place and traveling and taking that on as a challenge and enjoying the journey and in adventure of it. But how How has How has it changed both personally and professionally? Not being able to travel and you know, in getting these advantageous positions that you just talked about?

Giadha  20:11
Well, on a personal level, I must admit that traveling is exhausting to me. I’m actually an extreme introvert. I don’t appear it I know people will say that Oh Giadha, you definitely you’re an expert. Uh, no, actually, I lose energy fast when I try when I’m around people. So I’ve been able to recharge personally, massively because attending in 30,40,50 conferences a year, the Traveling is pretty tasking. However, from a professional perspective, it certainly has been challenging to keep up with some of the nuance, nuances on a regional basis. For instance, we are expanding into Europe, which is why I’m currently in Europe, by the way, and that one of the reasons is because you’re the European market is becoming increasingly important, not only from a consumption perspective, but from a production perspective and export import dynamics that I that we will be discussing later this year and reports but but that are going to become very important on a global scale. But but the the, the, we have been fortunate However, in that the because we’re now an almost six year old company, we were at a point internally, at least that we were able to focus internally and the market, the market externally sort of did not experience any massive shift. I don’t want to say that the growth of regional markets slowed down, because as you know, cannabis consumption has actually gone up pretty much globally under the COVID app and the pandemic. However, when it comes to massive shifts in Dynamics and trends, we haven’t seen that. So we’ve seen sort of more of a linear growth. Thus, we were fortunate that not that there was nothing really that required sort of this, this boots on the ground last year, because of the pandemic, I would say we will however, need to start traveling quickly this year, because we are beginning to see some pretty strong new trends, for instance, in Latin America, with Mexico and other countries, legalizing and of course, in Europe with a variety of bills and regulatory matters that are evolving. But we were lucky the one year I think gave us an opportunity to breathe and to strengthen and to really put our head down and study. But I think that pause is now short lived. I think it’s time to get back out there.

Max  22:35
Sure. Sure. Yeah, it’s coming soon. Speaking of cannabis consumption, I would love to hear maybe a glimpse into some of the trends that you see coming up like, and I’ll tell you on the on the micro level for us, I’m in Arizona, in the US and Arizona legalized obviously, for recreation, and it was this past week, where now it’s actually the dispensaries are opening up. And I’ve heard from people that have been to the dispensaries. I haven’t been there any my clients this week since they’ve opened but the shelves are like empty. I mean, and they were preparing they knew that was coming. And so this is on a micro level. And I know we you know your company, this is the data, but I mean, it can let’s get into like, What are you? What are you anticipating, as some of the trends as we start to see, you know, we’re starting to see states and countries and you know, the like start to start to move towards recreational legalization.

Giadha  23:36
So the recreational legalization continues to be centric in North America. So the rest of the world is really much more interested at least for the time being in in medical applications of the plant, not to say that there aren’t pockets of interest in adult use. And not to say that there isn’t adults use all over the globe. But in terms of legalization, most of the countries outside of North America are very much looking at legalizing medical use before anything else. Again, with some gray areas here and there, there’s quite a bit at least half a dozen nations that it’s sort of their their loopholes. What we are seeing in North America, which continues to be sort of the most mature consumer market in the world when it comes to cannabis. One of the reasons because indeed there is a mature recreational adult use market is is the during the pandemic we’ve seen triple and quadruple the size of individual purchases. So certainly a very much a stock up type of trend, which is basically what you just mentioned. So you know everybody and everything off the shelves in fear that they’ll run out and not have it. We were not necessarily surprised about this. In fact, when we started talking about this and predicting this

Max  24:56
Sorry, no worries.

Giadha  24:59
So we Very much like what you saw in Arizona, there is sort of that stuck up mentality, in case you run off and run your runs out. But this is something that we began to discuss, in fact, in March early during the pandemic, because we were also beginning to talk about it potential recession, economic crisis. And during times of recession, economic crisis, sectors such as alcohol, tobacco, and chocolate and condoms tend to do very well. And believe it or not, recreational cannabis would fall in those categories. I think the pandemic and sort of heightened that further because of the potential because of the stress and anxiety that the pandemic itself was bringing to bear. And that’s something that we’ve seen across the board. So consumption went up. The other interesting trend that’s worth mentioning is, depending on the population group, depending on gender and age, an increase in edibles and flower. So a little bit of a decrease in vaping, which, again, not surprising, given sort of what we saw happen in the last 18 months with vaping, and the health, potential health risk and health questions around it. But certainly a very large sort of a, which had begun in 2018, with a spike in edible consumption. And a sort of return to flower, especially high quality flower. So this search for very high quality flower. And that’s true across North America. And we’ve seen where that is true in other nations, we’ve seen that trend also. Sustained.

Max  26:40
Yeah, and speaking of So, you know, in the US, I think, you know, in just my travels across Europe, and I think when people travel Europe, I think smoking is a lot more tolerated, obviously in Europe than it is in the US. I think that there’s, you know, some differences there. Is, is do you expect the same decrease in vaping? Is that happening worldwide? Or are you talking more in the US? I’m just I just interested in that, just just to see if there’s a difference between the way Europeans look at vaping versus the US,

Giadha  27:11
So, that is a very much a North American trend for now. And to be candid with you. And we all were always very honest about, you know, if we don’t have an answer, and we don’t have a data based answer, we don’t tell you we don’t know, we don’t have as much visibility in other parts of the world when it comes to the annual consumption, as we have in the United States and in Canada. That said, the information that we do have in from Europe and Latin America still does support those trends.

Max  27:37
What from your, if you can share what countries are really going to set a precedence, as you see. countries, I don’t want to say get more lenient as far as medical, because medical is medical in it, and you have to go through the medical system, but you only think of what countries are leading the way what when you are going to send signals to you that the industry is really making progress in Europe, when they when what countries do want I mean, Germany, like who’s leading the charge, in your opinion, like what are going to be the pillars that really lead

Giadha  28:11
from the regulatory perspective, in a in an initial sort of early stage consumption perspective, Germany, England, France, Spain, Italy, those are the those are the nations that sort of seem to have the largest opportunities, we are seeing an emergence in interest from Slavic countries. So the former Soviet nations that have northeast, Mediterranean nations are interested. I mean, the whole Mediterranean has high consumption illegally. So there is an emergence of sort of do, again, driven by this economic crisis, right. A lot of countries just like a lot of states in the US are looking at ways to mitigate the loss in revenue. And so taxation of something that is being consumed illegally is a no brainer. Something that is interesting in Europe, however, beyond the consumption, adults use or medical and medical is still most prominent beyond adults use for now is the interest from a b2b perspective, right? So large consumer packaged good companies, whether it is in food and beverage, or health and beauty are interested in entering the space to address consumption in North America and to address consumption in Europe. But there’s some very large multinational companies that are looking to come up with new brands that are seeded with CBD infused products, and even THC infused products. So that’s something that’s interesting, across Europe that we’re seeing that I would say is is fascinating to me. And that certainly shows that Europe is maturing as far as perception even if multinational corporation are getting up to speed faster than the individual concern consumer, then the shift is occurring.

Max  29:58
Got it fascinating. I’m gonna start switch gears a little bit, I want to go back to something that I think is awesome. I was super excited to have this conversation with you. What does it mean? And because of what I’m going to ask you, but what does it mean to be a woman and minority owned business or business leader? I mean, it’s, you’re such a powerhouse, I just want to go back to it. You talked about the diversity and everything that that we’re in alignment. And that’s important to really building, especially a global business doing what you guys are doing, but what does it mean to you? And then second, these might be together. And I could repeat the questions as you as you unfold your answer here. But I believe everybody’s fighting something internally, not necessarily in a bad way. But what are you fighting? And what are you fighting against? Is there something that you’re that charges you up? So they’re they’re kind of two separate questions, but I think you’ll you’ll, you’ll crush them together?

Unknown Speaker  30:48
Oh, I The second part is certainly something that I’m gonna have to think about. Again, I fight for so many things on a daily basis, I guess that would be the first answer. Listen, as a business owner, regardless of your gender, or ethnicity or business founder, right? Because can my investors own the business, we all own the business, we’re also employee owned. But as soon as the founder. It’s, it’s just it’s a constant fight, right? Especially when you’re in such a volatile high growth industry, one that had the type of taboos that the cannabis industry had. I mean, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. And it still isn’t, right. So that’s true of any as a female and, and as a minority. And as an immigrant. Some of the things that I often find is credibility, right, I went crazy getting degrees from is some of the best companies some of the best  academic institutions in the world just because of this constant feeling that I had to prove that I could be trusted that I was credible that I’m so and i think that that continues. It’s something that many women and many minorities will say, I happen to also have an accent doesn’t really help because it isn’t exactly a British Oxford accent. So there’s it when I pitch investors when I especially as we now begin to pitch very large investors, and we begin to work with very large multinational companies. When in North America, there’s always a little bit of of that fight of Yes, I know, I’m a woman, yes, I wear red lipstick. And yes, sometimes I wear a very tight pink suit, guess what I still can speak to you and I can, I can sort of hang in here and be at par with you. However, internationally, I will say that being a woman or minority has helped me so the tables have turned a bit while it was excruciatingly painful, the first three, four years. It’s not that we are an international company, my diversity and the fact that I’m a woman is actually helping. So there is a day of reckoning, I guess, as I say, in terms of what really drives me every day. It has changed over the years. At first there was this, this really wanting to there’s, I’ve always been very loyal. And I have been very grateful to the talent and the folks that helped me early on. And so there was this massive need to sort of do right by them and make sure that we succeeded. There were a lot of sacrifices made early on by a lot of people. And so there was that drive of do right by all of them, including investors and and and team members. Today, I think I’ve returned to a little bit of my a pipe alpha, early youth drive where I just want to win. I think that they’re we’re in a unique position. And this may seem a little superficial. But we have gotten to the point where we’re very well positioned to bring transparency into this industry on a global scale. And I think we can do it right. I think when I say win, it’s not just making money, when I say win is I think we can truly elevate the discussion on a global scale whereby medicine is is is being allowed, whereby in jobs are being created, where there is social equity. And so those are the things that I begin to think about after six years, and it’s exciting to be able to think of these things do you even believe for one minute in the morning, that we could have an impact on such macro level global matters. I mean, I was an international relations student undergrad so these are the types of things that I’m really excited about to see us take an active role and and and i and i think we can and I am working towards doing it. We are

Max  34:40
I I really respect the you know, the the idea of fighting credibility but as I was preparing to talk to you, I’m thinking you might have an accent but you you speak five languages. So you could be talking about me and five, you know, four other languages that I don’t even know what you’re talking about per se. I mean, I know a little bit but So you’re not fighting credibility with me. In fact, the interview with you today for me is helping build my credibility, just so you know. So. So I’m gonna move on to some other probably a little bit more personal questions, but I think you’ll, you’ll enjoy them and so of the audience, but is there a particular motto that you live your life by?

Giadha  35:24
Do it. And I know Nike has its Nikes. But hey, I live by, just do it. I’ve learned early on in life that fear is is probably one of it fear and envy, right or hatred. But for me fear because I’m lucky enough I don’t think I I have had much much envy or hatred in my life. But fear certainly. And I decided deliberately that this should be no fear regret, this is something that’s awful. So just doing things not to do it thoughtlessly, obviously, not to be, you know, careless, but certainly to just do it, talking and talking about it, thinking about it too long talking about it too long. I it’s frustrating to me. And I feel like it can be a waste of time. So the model for me is, if there’s something that we need to do when it just do it. And then if we need to go back and tweak the tweak, but just take that step forward.

Max  36:17
Got it, love it. And then you talked about winning, which hits home for me, because when I when the when the gloves come off, and I really think about what are we sometimes if I’m frustrated and moving the business forward, or at the end of the day that when I think about what what am I, What’s pushing me? and I say the same thing I want to win. But and and I can trace that back to you know, playing a lot of sports and being competitive. And there’s a big difference that I had to learn over time, and being competitive in business and being competitive in sports. But what When did you first starting wanting to win? Like what was it? Was it did you? Did you play an instrument? Did you compete? Like Was there anything like early in your childhood that started you down this feeling of like I want to win? or How are you raised? Like, is there something I just want to go back to like, that really connected with me and I, you know, I gave you some of the reasons. For my early childhood. Most of it was sports related but wanting to win. And for the right reasons. It’s wanting to win, it’s wanting to achieve certain, you know, goals and hit certain pylons with your company, not only not just making money, but that is part of it. But what was the starter or the driver of wanting to win early in your life?

Giadha  37:27
I don’t know that anyone’s ever asked me that question in such a manner. So very, very helpful question. Well, I, I moved every three years growing up, which is why I speak the languages. But with that came a certain level of solitude and independence and autonomy. Every time I shift countries, I had to learn a new language. And as such that getting getting up to speed with everyone else and not feeling like I was left behind was I guess my first I need to win. That said, I think I was born competitive period. In terms of the sports I always played loner sports began, again, the language barrier. So I’m a runner, and I to this day I run. I remember I was in relays and I wanted to win, I wanted to run against the male team and school and I did, and we won. So there was a little bit of there was certainly competitiveness. But if I had to say one experience in my life that wasn’t so young, that truly turned things around and made it that sort of ignited that that drive if not passion. early on. When I moved to the United States, I went to community college for about five years. Again, that was the last language I learned English. And I only knew Romance languages. So this one was the hardest for me. And I was older. So having moved here at 16/17 to pick up in your language at that point was certainly a little more challenging than when you’re five or six or seven. So it took me a long time to just get my associate’s degree. Again, it’s a two year degree and it took me almost five years, but I wanted I really, I was very perseverant. And I remember, my goal was to transfer to a to a really good school, I actually wanted to transfer to an Ivy League school. And I took Esau which is English for Spanish or other languages for many years. And finally I was able to take in normal English and I even got to an honors English class, my last year, all with the same professor from Israel to the honors. So I asked her for a recommendation when I applied to Harvard, Yale and University of Pennsylvania and those were the only three schools I applied to. I also took the SAT like 57 times, literally I kid you not. So when I did that, I provided the time you thought it was all typed, and we literally mercy you know, the typewriter and I sent it again with the forms and the next day she came to the seminar and she she called did class to attention and she said that she wanted to discuss Something that was really important. And it was the understanding of not reach, overreaching in life and not to set yourself up for failure. And she used my application to Harvard, Yale and University of Pennsylvania, as an example of overreaching and setting myself up for failure. Something triggered inside of me that day, the humiliation first and foremost was huge. And the lack of confidence from someone who I thought I had made proud, having gone from Israel to honors, was crippling inside. And I did get into Penn. And I sent her a postcard from it. And from that, beyond, it’s been sort of this thing of like, I don’t care how many times people tell me, I can’t do it, I’m gonna win.

Max  40:46
I love it. Thank you for sharing that. For those of the for those of you that are listening, and are thinking about ever giving up this is she learned English last out of all of her languages, and then went on to to be successful, you know, in the academia, world, and obviously successful in business. So thanks for thanks for sharing that. And take an SAT 57 times. I mean, there is perseverance.

Giadha  41:14
Maybe we feel less but I took it certainly a couple of dozen times I kid you not I took I took this at, at least across the two years period. My first score was 790. And I’m pretty sure you get like, what 600 points for getting your name right. took me a while It took me a while.

Max  41:35
I have a feeling here a pretty humble person. So I appreciate this. When thinking about what’s your bit, what would you say your biggest professional accomplishment is today, and I have a feeling you’re you always think moving forward. Like you’ve you’re humble you’re you feel well accomplished to a certain degree. But I know you have your eyes on something moving forward. But let’s stop and just think about what what has felt like the biggest professional accomplishment today.

Giadha  42:01
The talent that I was able to bring together and I say I and I say that and I shouldn’t because it’s we write it really has been. We started with four why I started by myself then it was two than it was four and now we’re over 40 people across the world. But, but I do still keep the little part of me that says you know what, Jenna, you brought this team together. And with the help of others, but you did and that that, to me is a great accomplishment because the talent of the company is what drives us. Um, I early on, I was not a micromanager. Like, you wouldn’t believe OCD control freak, you name it. But I call I call myself a war General, right? Because at a time of war, mistakes cost lives. And so I made that analogy. We have evolved and and certainly I’m no longer that word general. I don’t have to be there’s incredible talent around me that now leads lives with me. But it’s, it’s, it’s kind of awesome to see. It really is like it’s I never thought I could bring that many interesting and unique and intelligent and driven people together in a rather risky journey. This this is still today a risk, like, obviously much less risky than it was five years ago. But there’s still it’s still an emerging market and you know, so. So that I would say is my feeling my greatest accomplishment. And you’re right, my greatest accomplishment, I believe is yet to come beyond.

Max  43:36
But man, our worlds just collided as professionals, obviously our entire business is built off of the premise of talent being the number one priority, and really building businesses. So not surprising that that’s where you went with the, you know, with the biggest professional accomplishment. What about on a personal side? What would you say you by the way, you’ve mentioned some good ones. So I’m not discounting anything you’ve said. But personally, like a personal accomplishment that you look at, like you’d say, that was one of the biggest for me personally.

Giadha  44:08
It’s gonna sound a little I don’t know if it’s gonna sound a little petty. I’m gonna say it anyway. I’m nothing if not honest to the fault. Honesty is our core value number one core value New Frontier data. When that incident occurred, I was waitlisted the school one the English teacher, one I went to, I went to university Pennsylvania, yell straight out, say thank you, but no, thank you. But Harvard, Harvard wait listed me and I had seen the movie with honors early on in life. And I had this sort of vision of you know, one day I want to go to Harvard, I was finally able to go to Harvard as an executive for an executive program. December of last year, now well, the year before last. And it was probably one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. The type of individuals that I sat across and next to I couldn’t believe I was there I mean from soon to be president to incredibly successful multinational executives to scientist and folks that have really, that should get Nobel prizes for peace and a variety of other things. And I, it was a very short program, but to me was something that I always wanted to do. And I guess I’m very academically driven. So on a personal level, being able to do that, while working, and while driving forward without sort of stopping to work. I was very excited to take that off my bucket list.

Max  45:41
As you should,

Giadha  45:43
I think I’m done with studying there now, because it also, after nuts not been in school for like, 15 years, I kind of was like, What the hell was I thinking, Jesus work what.

Max  45:54
So, on kind of that note, and this might fall in line with it, what person has had the greatest impact on your life and why?

Giadha  46:05
I mean, this is gonna sound a little cliche, but it’s the truth. I mean, my mother, my mother, with her presence, and my father through his absence. And you know, and not to get too personal. But I think that the parent dynamic as many of us, as is true for many of us, a truly shaped me, my mother very early on, as early as 10 years old, sort of, remember this as if it was yesterday said, you always need to be autonomous and independent. And the few things that my father ever said to me early on in life, because after that he wasn’t around was, knowledge is power. He didn’t say it in English, but it basically translated to that, because I could do he had, he had, I believe, nine he spoke then languages, I had three different degrees in two PhDs, which is why education is so in trenched into me, but sort of the idea of being autonomous, that being strong and independent certainly came from my mother and this this need to, to know and to use knowledge, as my strength is definitely driven by by my father while he was around.

Max  47:12
Awesome. Well, I have a very strong mother too. So I can, I can relate to that. And I know I do have some Italian friends and their mothers are usually very there, they have presence presence was a great word that to bring the table there.

Giadha  47:27
That’s one way to put it. Yes.

Max  47:30
So I’m going to I’m going to switch gears just a little bit. But. So before, I’m going to take it into some sort of some rapid fire questions, that’ll just be kind of short and a little bit light. But before doing so, I want to kind of go back and just see from your perspective. COVID-19, I always talk to the guests that I’ve had lately, I’ve always want to, like reach in and find out what good things have come from COVID? Like, what is it? You know, obviously, you haven’t had to travel as much. And you said, That’s personally kind of taxing on you. So it’s probably allowed you to I’m just making some assumptions to do some things personally that you haven’t probably done or maybe never did. But what are some good things that have come of COVID. And I always try to concentrate on the positive side, there’s obviously a lot of challenges and things that have come up COVID for people and some very unfortunate things, but what are some things that have come positively from the COVID-19 challenges?

Giadha  48:27
So I assume you mean for me personally, not for our company? Yeah, you spending time with my family. I mean, one of the reasons I came to Italy was because I wanted to make sure that my entire family was close by I think the is the crisis at this global scale. When many of us are used to being in different states, hell, in my case, we were in different countries, literally, like we see each other over the holidays. And that other than that, it’s FaceTime and zooming. But the this pandemic and and I sort of took it I living in Washington, DC, I actually very early on last year felt that the the situation around election was going to make Washington a little bit of a HUBZone. And so I literally just under the umbrella, we can all work remote, I left and I got all my family together in one place. So one great thing is sort of it pushed us and now that we are close together, not to say that we’re all in the same house, but we’re very close and literally within five minutes we can see each other I don’t think we’re going to go back to not I think it reminded us after after living apart for most of my adult life, I think there’s a renewed appreciation for being close to family. Not just in a time of crisis, but just periods. So that’s one big thing. I I’m pretty I’ve been pretty high stress and high strung for the past six years. Starting this company was a challenging endeavor. But the COVID-19 answer, as you said, the non traveling did allow me or it forced me I’m not really sure which of the two just to be in a little more introspective and to kebab can take better care of myself, not just for me, oh Lord, I need to be strong and healthy, I can’t, you know, I, my immune system needs to be strong, I need to work out more, which I’ve done in the past, but more meditating, sleeping better, drinking less, to say I was drinking that much, but literally like not at all. And I and that is again, a shift that I hope I can maintain. Because the introspection the meditation every morning, well, it’s all it’s helped me manage my stress associated with everything that’s going on. It’s also given me a tap of a kind of equilibrium that I had not had before. So I would say that those those two things, I think we’re triggered by this pandemic, for me and my family.

Max  50:58
Awesome. Well, let’s just dig in on that a little bit further, are there, which you spoke of some of them meditation for for mental, and physical well being, but any other rituals that you have stuck with or that you have now that really help you as a person and as a leader, you know, whether it be what you do in the morning, or just rituals that you that you have two different types of workouts, anything like that, that really helped you to perform better as a person and as a leader.

Giadha  51:29
I have one. So I’ve never presumed to be a yogi. Because I don’t know yoga. But I do like to stretch. And I do like to meditate. And I like to read about metaphysics I consider myself a spiritual person, I was raised very religious, and I’m today I think, more religious or more spiritual than religious. Every morning, the first five minutes of my morning, literally, I could still be in bed, I stretched my entire body just sort of and take very deep breath to sort of wake up my body first. And then I spend a few minutes just setting I guess, one could say an intention for the day. affirmation. And I literally, it’s, I do it before anything else. Like as I open my eyes, I don’t want to waste one second of breath of life without a clear intention of what I’m going to do that day. And it’s, it was something that was triggered recently, during this pandemic that I had done on and off, and now I just do it well, religiously. I guess. I even though it’s not a religion. But yeah, I have helped me set the tone. I know that Yogi’s do it, I don’t do it or thinking matter in a way that it’s as it’s supposed to be done. But the idea of setting an intention for yourself for the day, I think is very powerful.

Max  52:54
Well, thanks for sharing, there’s a, you know, the last three or four guests, they’ve kind of poked around in this topic. And I’ve learned a lot and and I guess not ironically, there’s been some sort of alignment in, in the thought of really getting things straight in your mind in the mornings. Ian Lopatin is the chairman of spiritual gangster. He’s really into breathing in the mornings, with along with some other stuff. But so thank you for sharing that. I’m going to go through this, by the way, I will say has been one of my favorite conversations like Time flies, and I’m sitting here like, Okay, how do I bring this to a close? Because there’s so many, I probably only got through the questions that I kind of structurally have in my head, I probably only got through about 20% of the questions. So there’s so much more that I could ask, but and I’d love to selfishly, but for the sake of time and to respect your schedule and everything you’re doing. And by the way, she’s in Italy right now. So it’s what time is it there?

Giadha  53:58
It’s about 7pm.

Max  54:00
Okay, 7pm. So we’re just getting started about 10am here. But so one, this is kind of selfishly, I want to ask, but hopefully there’s other people that are listening that want to know this question, too. So out of all the traveling that you’ve done, and the places that you live, like I said at the beginning, they’re all places that I can’t wait to travel back to some of my favorite places, or some of the places that you live, personally. So what is what’s your favorite city in the world? And why that you’ve been to?

Giadha  54:27
Oh, man, that’s such a hard question. It’s a really hard question. And I have been asked that before, and I really struggle. Because it depends, and I’m sorry to say that but I’ll name a few of my favorite washington dc Believe it or not, despite the chaos that it’s recently been through is a city that is very dear to my heart does it because of the education I got there, and the friends I have there and my company was born there and the opportunity that it represents is the capital of the nation that gave me everything. I am today professionally. I love Washington DC. It also happens to be a very European looking city for someone who grew up in Europe, and then was sort of shifted over to Miami, I had a very difficult time in Miami. So Miami would not be on that list. But DC certainly is. I love I love Rome. I love Florence. I mean, those are obviously I’m Italian. And so those are, those are the cities that that truly means something to me. And they’re just beautiful in terms of the history they bring to bear. And it’s really live museums. But to go a little further away from that in terms of truly beautiful places. I had the opportunity to travel to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, as well as Thailand, Phuket. And I cannot think of more. I at least personally have not seen more natural beauty than I have seen when I went there. Truly in incredible, beautiful places. So I would say those, those are the 10 there is one one last one that I will mention, which is kind of unique for those who have not gone to Petra. And can. I’m someone who’s traveled a lot. And that took my breath away. It certainly should be considered one of the wonders of the world doesn’t really qualify as a city. But it is certainly a place that I would suggest people go It’s really amazing.

Max  56:32
I would second that. I’d say one of the most amazing experiences I ever had with my wife was in Cannes for the firework show. We did we didn’t even know that was happening there. We were traveling and we were getting they’re showing us to our hotel at the JW Marriott i think is where we’re staying. And they asked he said by the way, you’re going to watch the fireworks show tonight. We’re like what fireworks show? And then what a question to ask because now we will go back and watch the fireworks show they have. I think it’s over four or five weeks, each country puts together a firework show over the Bay of Cannes, and it’s choreographed to music. It’s one of the most amazing things you’ll ever see. I’m sure you’ve probably seen that.

Giadha  57:11
I know. But I tell you what, I’m going to make it my business. This is something amazing.

Max  57:18
It was amazing. I mean it when once they told me about it, and then we were out at the beach club, watching them set it up. I mean, they have barges all over the water with a bunch of police around it because it’s the other barges full of explosives, but it was one of the most breathtaking taking things you’ll ever see in your life. Like it will like bring you to tears without many fireworks with music. And just it was amazing. So Alright, well I’m gonna move into the rapid fire questions. You’ve been an amazing guest. I’m going to start kind of bringing us to a close but what we’re now going to move into kind of some some quickfire questions. What book Have you read more than once? Or what is one of your favorite books?

Giadha  57:54
Hmm. I feel like well, I read his news and intelligence reports these days. I can I can tell you I read many of our reports more than once. And some of them are actually not in English. One that I have read multiple times is called Landry. They don’t the night of times that it’s it’s I don’t know that if I was ever translated in in English, but it’s a childhood favorite of mine. And I’ve read it in this adult as well. I I actually don’t read books multiple times, if I do is for recreational purposes. And I must admit that I don’t read for recreational purposes as much these days. So I would say that’s the only one that I can say for sure. And the reason why I have read that one more than once is because that is the book that got me into reading. I used to hate reading until a teacher in Spain differentially save forced me to read this book. And that changed me. So yes, let me get on.

Max  59:03
Awesome. What’s your favorite song?

Giadha  59:09
Hmm.I have quite a few Live To Tell I wrote an essay in college about it by Madonna. That’s one of my favorite songs.

Max  59:20
But what is your favorite word?

Giadha  59:24

Max  59:26
What is something on your bucket list that you’re waiting to check off?

Giadha  59:30
I had to jump off a plane. I have to do it. I’m a little afraid of heights. I just have to face it. Remember fear? No fear.

Max  59:38
If you could teach one subject to schoolchildren, what would it be this is you’ve been through a lot of school and a lot of different places. But so this is coming from somebody that’s been in the international school system. So what would it be one subject to school children? What would it be?

Giadha  59:54
I don’t know if it’s a subject that Max and I don’t know if there’s one word to explain. But learning that the the idea of learning to be kind and listening and instead of understand others around you, I don’t know what that’s called. But I think we need more of that. And I don’t know if that’s a subject in school.

Max  1:00:18
Almost like emotional awareness. Yep. Are you a morning or night person? I mean, given the fact that I’ve talked to you at night and given I heard your morning routine, I’m now confused.

Giadha  1:00:31
We’re both we’re both confused my entire life. I’ve been a night owl. In the past year, however, I’ve turned into an early morning person coming to the south of it, and I’m in I’m in rural area, South Italy here. I learned now get up with a chicken. And so I’m becoming and maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I’m now definitely more of a morning person.

Max  1:00:52
Awesome. If you could change one thing about the world right now, what would it be?

Giadha  1:00:57
Oh, Lord. You keep them light. Hmm. That’s judgment. I like to stop judging each other. I don’t think it’s really helping anybody.

Max  1:01:09
Awesome. Well, I’m going to leave you the last word. But before I do, I’m going to kind of close this out. This has been the built on purpose podcast with Max Hanson brought to you by Y Scouts where we higher purpose, purpose driven and performance proven leaders. I’m gonna give the last word did Giadha, give us the last word?

Giadha  1:01:27
Well, first and foremost, Max, this is a really fun interview. very thoughtful. So thank you for that. I’ve generally enjoyed it. And then I would leave any listener, especially women, minority, right. And you know, and folks out there that are that feel that they’re facing challenges and want to achieve something that I would leave them with, you can just do.

Max  1:01:49
Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing. And if you’re listening, please be sure to share the podcast and thank you for being a guest today, Giadha this was amazing. I’ll be sure to follow up with you and I look forward to reconnecting down the road sometime soon.

Giadha  1:02:03
Thank you.

Max  1:02:04
Alright, talk to you soon. Thank you. Bye

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