Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Vild.
Gina, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
From the time I was quite young, on the eve of each birthday I would reflect and write down memories of the past year and aspirations for the year to come. On the eve of my 16th birthday, I elaborated and wrote about my far-away adult life, what I envisioned it would look like. I painted an image with words of how things would shape up in the best of circumstances.
Years past and I transitioned from a small-town Ohio girl to a woman who has traveled the world, held responsible positions of leadership in some of the country’s most highly esteemed institutions — Harvard, MIT, Mass General Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Center. I also was privileged to be invited to serve as the deputy communications director for Governor Richard F. Celeste as my first truly professional role.
I achieved much of what I set forth on that March day may decades before, except for one important dream. I had always wanted to write a book.
While I was working as the associate dean of communications and external relations at Harvard Medical School, I had the good fortune to be a colleague and then friend of Sanjiv Chopra. We soon became family friends. After working on a project, Sanjiv told me he liked the way I write and asked if I wanted to write a book with him. I was thrilled. I remember saying, whatever we write it must include poetry!
Over the next many months I called on my writing and research skills honed from my earliest days as yearbook editor at Independence High School, editorial writer for the high school paper, and then professional writing in medical, science and advertising institutions in Ohio, England and Boston. I brought the dreams of that 16-year old Midwestern girl from a small town to life!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
For sure there have been headwinds in my life.
I lost my beloved parents quite young, when I was in my 20s, 72 days apart. My mom died suddenly of a heart attack and my dad followed a few weeks later with a massive stroke. (He survived for five-years but with severe damage that made him a shadow of the intellectual, powerful, humorous man he had been.) Within days, literally, my life was blown apart. I was young and single when the center came apart. I also lost my only sibling, my brother, to cancer at age 49.
No one is exempt from loss, but for sure I’ve had a disproportionate share a tender age.
Also, as Sanjiv and I were writing this book, my life took a dramatic shift in trajectory when my 29 year marriage ended abruptly. The irony …. Here I was writing a book about happiness at the unhappiest time of my life.
There was no option but to respond with resilience and for me to apply what I was writing about — gratitude, fortitude, forgiveness and happiness.
The Two Most Important Days, How to Find your Purpose and Live a Happier, Healthier Life – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am the associate dean for communications and external relations at Harvard Medical School, responsible for managing all aspects of communications for the world’s leading medical school. It’s a position I’m privileged to hold.
I am most proud of having built high functioning, award-winning teams over the years, seeking out and hiring individuals who are collaborative, seasoned, and enormously talented.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There have been many moment “big as years” as Keats wrote.
Here’s one…recently, I was invited to teach for one of our global programs, a course in Shanghai and Malaysia. The students were primarily physicians. It was intimidating. For a moment I thought, what is this small town Ohio girl doing teaching a global audience of medical experts? In the months before I left for Asia, I worked so hard on planning the course and creating a dynamic, engaging presentation.
Ultimately, the experience was a success, and I thought how proud my parents would have been.
On the last day of the last class, I wrote to my children and reminded them of something I had taught them over the years — always choose to do what’s hard. The magic happens when you get outside your comfort level and put in the effort.
(Similarly I was invited to speak a few years ago at the annual Arab Media Forum, representing Harvard to 2,000 journalists. It remains a special memory.)
And generally, I am proud to work each day for an institution that is making life better for people all over the world, so thrilled to work with people whose lives are dedicated to eradicating disease and who are tireless in their quest. Any small effort I can offer to advance that work brings tremendous satisfaction.
And finally, the moment I held our book in my hands for the very first time. I felt awe because it incorporated all the wisdom I had garnered over the years. It included my most favorite poems, and it held the promise of inspiring others along the path to happiness. There have been many moment “big as years” as Keats wrote.
- Our book is available on Amazon $16.99
- Website: 2mostimportantdays.com
- Phone: 617-584-5236
- Email: LinkedIn Gina VIld
- Instagram: Gina Vild
- Facebook: Facebook: TwoMostImportantDays
- Twitter: @ginavild