Frits Dirk van Paasschen (I am the fourth 'Frits' in my family, starting with my great-grandfather, and my son is the fifth. We all have different middle names, so no roman numerals.)
Greenwich, Connecticut, plus last year I fulfilled a lifelong dream and bought an apartment on a canal in Amsterdam.
Place of Birth:
Oegstgeest, The Netherlands. Both of my parents spent years as children in Japanese internment camps in Indonesia during the WWII. They wanted my sister and me to grow up in a safe place, so they came to America.
Aside from Amherst: Mercer Island High School and Harvard Business School. Not to mention more than a half century of making mistakes.
Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
Ed Wall visited my high school. I figured any college with such a charismatic dean of admissions must be a great place. I also thought I had a shot at making the soccer team at a D-III school.
Most memorable or most influential class at Amherst:
Genetics, with Professors Hexter and Yost. Their lectures were hilarious. The content was equal parts science of heredity and history of science.
Most memorable or most influential professor:
Frank Westhoff and Stanley Rabinowitz taught me you could be friends with your professors.
My current favorite is Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. It turns out that we are not the rational, information-seeking, utility-maximizing automatons that we learned about in Econ 11. Magicians and marketers have known this for awhile.
Oliver Sacks. His vignettes offer a glimpse into how the brain works, and he writes with a voice that is at once clinical and empathetic.
Tips for aspiring writers?
I am still an aspiring writer looking for tips.
Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author:
I started writing as an endeavor to make sense of my own kaleidoscope of experiences. For my work, I went to more than 100 countries, everywhere from South Sudan to Paraguay, the Maldives, and Oman. In search of investors, I met with sheikhs, oligarchs, and billionaires, as well as heads of state and managers of sovereign wealth funds. I wanted to write about disruption because my experiences led me to believe that the pace of change is not only accelerating, but outstripping our ability adapt.