Newspaper article International New York Times

Every 90 Days, Go beyond Comfort Zones

Newspaper article International New York Times

Every 90 Days, Go beyond Comfort Zones

Article excerpt

The chief executive of Vitals, a website that connects patients and doctors, says it is important to stay young and seek out new experiences.

Mitch Rothschild is chief executive of Vitals, a website that connects patients and doctors.

Q. Were you in leadership roles or doing entrepreneurial things when you were younger?

A.Nothing dramatic. I didn't have much time. My parents sent me to a school that went from 7:30 in the morning until 6 at night. When I wasn't at school, I played a lot of basketball and read and wrote a lot.

But when I was in college, I tried to start a campground in New York City. I had done a lot of camping and realized there was no campground anywhere in the city, and I sensed a gap in the market. I scoped out a lot of property. One of them we almost bought turned out to be a toxic-waste dump, which was why there was that much open land. We never did that, but we did open a copy center at Queens College. I've always been doing stuff like that, always asking, "What can I figure out next?"

Q. What were some early influences for you?

A.I'm Jewish, and a lot of my friends' parents were Holocaust survivors, and I would hear their stories about their incredible resourcefulness to survive. That had a big impact on me, and made me think a lot about resilience and training myself to be able to flex that muscle.

Over the years, I've done things like going on a business trip with $3 and seeing if I could figure out how to survive on that for a couple of days. I've tried not wearing a coat on cold winter days - - your body kind of gets acclimated to the temperature. I think you should do something every 90 days to make sure you're uncomfortable.

I also have this theory that people make an implicit decision as to whether they're going to stay young and curious and interesting and interested, or whether they're just going to let themselves age. You can tell with most people right away. It's important to stay young and experience new stuff. I'm taking up juggling now. You've got to keep yourself fresh.

Q. What about your parents' influence?

A.I grew up in a Germanic household. My parents taught us the importance of very high standards. When I started the company, I called myself "chief perfectionist." That didn't play well with a number of folks, although I liked the concept. I just viscerally reject the concept of mediocrity. I'd say that's very much built into my DNA. Parents influence you either because you want to be like them or because you want to not be like them.

Q. When you graduated from college, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do for your career?

A.I wanted to be a film director. I majored in film, and I was the third-best guy in my class.

Q. By what measurement?

A.Measured by just me looking at the quality of films that people made, and out of the 20 students, I thought mine was third best. …

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