When we first met Jack Fritzinger, he was between destinations in an RV that he had converted from a van, all in preparation for an adventure-filled road ahead. As an entrepreneur and former fellow of Venture for America, Jack has a fascinating professional background. What lies ahead for him is equally fascinating, which is why we knew he'd be the perfect match for our month focused on pathway-carving.
He was our spotlight feature in En Root on November first in his article, Pathfinding - Doing a Research Project on You! (a must-read). Below, he takes the time to dig a bit deeper with us, answering our quick Q+A as he talks to us about his childhood in France, his interest in medicine, and his upcoming year-long trip around the world. Enjoy!
Tell us about your personal and professional path to date (however straight or winding that may be!).
It's been a windy path for sure! Here are some highlights:
An interest in medicine led me to ski patrol in my home state of Colorado. Those first aid skills allowed
me to travel to Haiti after the earthquake, where I provided medical relief, and my love of travel grew. I decided to take a gap year before college to travel and work around the world, through France, Cambodia, and South Africa- a truly amazing experience that challenged me to reflect on my path in work and life. In college, I discovered a love for entrepreneurship and joined a biotech startup in Baltimore through a Venture for America fellowship. Now, I'm embarking on a new adventure, combining my love of travel and small business as I travel around the world studying startup ecosystems in different countries!
At OutGrowth, we are committed to giving access. Tell us about your approach to pathway-carving, and what this concept of access has meant for you.
My approach to pathway-carving is centered around pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I believe that this is where the true learning and self-discovery happens. The beautiful thing is that anyone can do this! You don't have to travel or change jobs to push yourself. You simply need to open yourself to new opportunities and take a risk. Social, financial, and logistical barriers exist, but at the end of the day, pathway-carving is all about your mindset.
Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment in your personal or professional pathway.
In 2005, as I was entering seventh grade, my family picked up and moved to France. I was devastated. How could they do this to me, when all my friends were back in Colorado? I can't help but look back at that reaction and laugh. The year my family spent in Aix-en-Provence proved to be life-changing. I attended an international school were I was forced to learn French. I studied alongside peers from all around the world. I embraced the slow pace of life in Southern France, so different from our as-fast-as-possible mentality in the US. These experiences birthed my love for travel and my interest in other cultures- things that continue to shape my path today.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook?
For me, travel is so exciting because it is uncomfortable. I enjoy being thrown into situations where I don't speak the language or need to engage with a new culture and work in a system with a different worldview. I think that I appreciate these experiences so much because I always emerge from them having learned more about myself, like how I behave under pressure, or that I love to work in schools with young children. I'm finding my path by challenging myself. As I set out on my newest adventure, a year-long trip around the world, my aim is to continue that self-discovery but also explore ways that I can make it more accessible for others.
What would you say are the top three most important steps that students and young professionals can take today to carve our a meaningful path?
1. Follow your interests and allow yourself to pursue diverse opportunities.
2. Find mentors who you trust and can help guide you.
3. Take risks and understand that failure is just accelerated learning!
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Go all in. Too often (even now) I hold myself back because I'm scared of failure. Sometimes the best way to learn is to fully commit.
What are some words of wisdom that you would offer students exploring the possibility of an immersive experience as a component of building their own way forward?
It's hard to know what you want to do until you try it. Immersive experiences are opportunities to challenge yourself and figure out what you like to do. Embrace it and try to fully engage. Even if you come away from the experience knowing that it's not something you want to pursue further, that knowledge is immensely valuable.
What is your favorite quote?
"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2019-2020?
Next is an immersive experience of my own! After seven years of saving and planning, I've just started a year long trip around the world to explore new places, ways of living/working, and better understand how I want to structure my career and life. I'm incredibly excited to get going!
Jack is a wanderer and entrepreneur whose passions have taken him around the world. Working in real estate, biotech, telecommunications, and finance, Jack strives to view the world of startups through a multifaceted lens.