Jack Petrison

Account Executive
A bit about Jack...

Hello, I’m Jack! I’m from the Big Island of Hawaii. I grew up playing tennis, dancing ballet, playing the piano and saxophone, and practicing martial arts. The tallest volcano on the Big Island (“Mauna Kea”) is one of the best spots in the whole world to observe space. My junior year of high school, I made an automated shutter system for a telescope on Mauna Kea (and I also interned under our Senator, Brian Schatz!) When I started Stanford at 17, I switched from Computer Science to Philosophy to give myself the moral education I lacked at home. Philosophy taught me how to think about my own thoughts, and also gave me time to supplement my academics with outside work: I worked as a college admissions counselor, in sales for a gov-tech startup, in operations at a real estate investment firm, and on the floor in J.Crew at multiple locations. I also began my own podcast (“Problems Sighted”) where my co-host and I would interview business leaders to identify niche problems for interested entrepreneurs/students to help solve. I began a related, government focused podcast the next year, called “Rebuilding Government.” After graduating from Stanford, I knew the two qualities in my next role I wanted to optimize for: the amount of time I can spend learning about people, and the amount of impact on social good I could have. At Curious Cardinals, I am granted the opportunity to talk to the world’s most ambitious K-12 students and parents and pair them with equally ambitious college students who they aspire to be like. I think of Mentors as a mix of a student’s Best Friend and Favorite Teacher, and matching students with someone recently in their shoes that will make a positive difference in their life genuinely warms my heart.

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What piece of advice would you give parents with unengaged students?

Trust me, I get it:

  1. I love doing things that I love doing.
  2. I don’t like doing things that I don’t like doing.
  3. To live the life I want to live, I have to get over (2).

BUT — in my experience, it’s not sustainable to just “get over yourself.” You have to rewire your brain to like the sacrifice! 

  1. In the book “Atomic Habits,” James Clear illustrates a secret to long term success: Chase identities, not achievements. For example, your goal shouldn’t be to “run a marathon,” but to “become a runner.” Once I started translating my quantitative goals into qualitative goals, I saw a genuine increase in my motivation. I don’t just want to match students to mentors; I want to be someone that builds the future of education through mentorship. 
  2. Professor of Philosophy at MIT, Kieran Setiya, uses the term “telic” — coming from the Greek root telos, meaning end — to describe something you do as a means to an end; for the sake of achieving something. On the other hand, when you do something “atelically,” you do it as an end in itself. So going on a walk, for example — can be telic or atelic, depending on your intention. You can go on a walk with the intent of thinking about something, improving your mood, or getting active. Or, you can go on a walk with no intent at all — just to go on a walk!
  1. Whether I am at work, with friends, or at the gym, I adopt a mindset of being ambitious for the sake of being ambitious. You’ve heard that motivation is temporary, and discipline is permanent. What they don’t tell you is that motivation feels amazing, and discipline is kind of boring. But don’t just “get over it,” use this as your loophole: Be ambitious for the sake of ambition, and you’ll create a consistent feedback loop of dopamine that mirrors that of motivation, but isn’t temporary. 

What was the most surprising part of the college experience for you?

During my Admit Weekend at Stanford, I thought everyone was going to be pretty nerdy and socially awkward. Boy, was I wrong! The friends I made at Stanford are easily some of the most socially vibrant people I have ever met. I just had to put myself out there! 

Why is passion so important as it pertains to learning?

Passion is the reason I chose Philosophy over Computer Science. Passion is what makes late night grind sessions feel fun. Passion is what connects the part of your brain that gives you energy with the part of your brain that struggles until it learns something new & grows. 

The things you learn will become the projects you work on. The projects you work on will become the impact you have. Passion is that feeling in your brain’s heart that pulls you towards those things you want to learn, which become the projects you do, which become the impacts you have on the world, etc.

Passion is what keeps you going when you hit a slump and you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Because you have PASSION for it.

Passion is the secret sauce to making learning fun. If you like what you do, there is no fear of failure — failure becomes just another piece of the puzzle that you can’t wait to wake up everyday and put together. Find your passion, and start building!

What kind of impact would you like Curious Cardinals to have?

On a global level, I want our mentors to help your students achieve their academic and extracurricular goals! With more access to the information, resources and psychology that helped the world’s most impactful college students get to where they are today, K-12 students will be better equipped to achieve even more than what they are prepared for by their current education system. 

On a personal level, I never had a consistent role model or mentor growing up. The mentors I did have, I didn’t connect with on a personal level. The ones that I connected with on a personal level, I couldn’t really learn from professionally. Being able to provide that empowerment through personal relationships is something that makes my inner child smile :)