val litwin is a ywib kinda guy! he doesn't shy away from anything different, which has led him on varying career paths - from non-profits to co-founding blo blow dry bar to operations guru at nurse next door. we had the chance to chat with val about surfing, ice cream and everything in between.
name three people you'd like to have a dinner party with. First would be Dane Reynolds, my favourite surfer. Then I suppose we’ll need a good chef for a good dinner party, so naturally I think Gordon Ramsey would have to join us, for the food and spicy conversation. My third guest would be British philosopher Alain de Botton. I know there are a lot of dudes at this table, but all three of these guys are really opinionated, hedonists and enjoy good drinks, so I’m sure we’re have some pretty interesting discussion. Afterward...well, I’ll leave it at that.
so, english lit major - what's the last classic you read? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. It’s a brilliant story, a classic for a reason. I'm into gothic thrillers as a genre, and I think everyone's human nature has that kind of dichotomy that we see in Jekyll and Hyde. I like books that kind of make us see ourselves in the story.
fill in the blank: i wish i could stop eating ice cream but i just can't! I just discovered toasted coconut at whole foods, and i’ll tell you...it’s delicious. Because it’s not just coconut. It’s toasted coconut.
what kind of advice you would give to someone wanting to make a major career switch, like you did (ie. from brand to operations)? Be fearless! Even if you’re not, act like you are. And if you’re hesitant about it...just do it! Of course, that said, you need to be as prepared you can. You would be foolish not to plan for it. Perfect your craft and stay supple and flexible in your learning. Your mind needs to stay stimulated to grow. Keep stretching yourself. Always keep stretching yourself.
favourite vancouver moment? That's an easy one! There is a little yellow boat anchored off Jericho Beach, and in the summertime, I swim to it and back, every day. That’s my little daily ritual, and that would be my favourite Vancouver moment. Actually, last summer, there was a mother and baby seal that would follow me out whenever I swam out there.
what's the hardest decision you've ever had to make? how did it turn out? Well...I grew up on the island, and only moved to Vancouver 5 years ago – that may not have been the hardest decision I ever made, but definitely the most significant one. And obviously it’s turned out well, because if I didn't, I wouldn’t have been able to have the career I have now.
what do you wish for your future self? Happiness and lots of physical adventure (tons of surfing, lots of time in the water). I’d like to be able to look back and say that I've taken care of the people that are close to me, as well as had a stimulating career in which I’ve grown something and made a difference.
want more on val? check out this year's Business in Vancouver's Top 40 Under 40 list: he made it!