This week, we interview TJ Sarda, Analyst at Fahrenheit 212.
What do you do at Fahrenheit 212?
I’m an Innovation Analyst on the Commercial Strategy team. I help develop our strategies and make them tangible for our clients. I’ve had a growing interest in behavioral psychology and human motivation, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to approach our client’s challenges with a lens that emphasizes these areas.
When do you feel most creative?
When I am in a room with a group of people where I can build on what people are saying. Actually, according to the Basadur Innovator profile that we use here, I’m an Optimizer—that means I love collaborating and pushing ideas.
Do you have any rituals for the innovation process?
I’ve been doing this one since middle school: my friend gave me an hour-long audio track of the sound of ocean waves that I listen to. It’s hard for me to listen to music I really like when I need to focus, so I’ve found that this does the trick and gets me in the zone. Film score is another favorite for when I need to buckle down and focus.
Where do you call home?
Home is a tricky question. I’m originally from Connecticut, my family moved down to Florida when I was in college, but I live in New York now. It’s cheesy, but home for me is really wherever I’m with my parents and sisters—regardless of place.
What do you never leave home without?
My headphones! Sound is really important to me, no matter what I’m listening to. I have different types of headphones for different purposes—producing, traveling, relaxing, working out, you name it.
When did you first get into the field of innovation?
I studied entrepreneurship as my major at Notre Dame, and I actually was one of the first interns at F212 on the Commercial Strategy side a few years ago. I started my career in innovation straight out of college and have loved it ever since.
What innovation are you most proud of?
I worked on a project for Nestle that launched in market and has been quite successful. I remember being on vacation last summer, and unknowingly, one of my friends pointed to something on the table and said “This is such a great idea. Why has no one ever thought of it before?” That happened to be the specific product I helped launch so that was definitely a cool moment for me.
What is your go-to reading source?
I check a couple of news sites pretty regularly, but one of my favorites has to be VICE. Right now, I’m actually on a kick to read a book a month. I recently saw “Theory of Everything” and found Steven Hawking’s character’s perspective on time very compelling, so I’m trying to read more and make my spare time more productive. Currently, I’m reading “Applied Minds: How Engineers Think” on how to apply systems-based thinking to whatever you do.
What is your favorite innovation in the last decade?
Venmo. My sister told me about pretty soon after it launched, and I was one of the first people to introduce it to ND. I gave a presentation in a public speaking course about a company that others should invest in, and I chose Venmo. At the end of the presentation, everyone in the class pulled out their phone and downloaded the app—I guess I convinced them it was worth something after all.
Do you have any side projects, hobbies, or a previous life you would like to share?
I produce music on the side under the name Thero. I grew up taking piano lessons, playing the drums in the school band, and teaching myself the guitar in high school. I went to a music festival in the summer of 2011 in Colorado and that was when I knew I had to become a part of it all. Three and a half years later, I’ve built an audience of tens of thousands of followers across platforms and have collected millions of plays. You can check out my music here: https://soundcloud.com/thero-official