Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of Global Liberal Studies with Baccalaureate Speaker Nick Grassi (GLS ’12)

This year NYU celebrates 10 years of Global Liberal Studies! We caught up with the co-founder of Finerio, GLS Baccalaureate Speaker Nick Grassi (GLS ’12), to find out about his experience in the Fulbright Binational Internship Program, the inspiration behind Finerio, and what NYU and GLS mean to him.

Nick Grassi

What made you decide to major in Global Liberal Studies?

I originally applied as a journalism major to NYU.  When I was accepted into Liberal Studies, I was pretty surprised and decided to do some soul searching about what it was I really wanted to do going forward.  Fortunately I think LS really gave me the time and experiences I needed to make a better decision.  I started to read a lot my freshman year, not only in my classes but also outside my classes.  I began to notice that my favorite books all had global themes in common.  Among them were The World is Flat, A Legacy of Ashes, and The 4-Hour Work Week, which is a pretty diverse group of books, but all with a global angle. I also came to realize that my upbringing in a Latino neighborhood in New Jersey was actually pretty atypical, and it was something that excited me, and that I wanted to use in my life. Apart from that I really enjoyed the classes I was taking in LS and I felt like I needed a broad, global based education to keep pace with a fast changing labor market.

Nick Grassi: his story continues

Do you have a favorite memory from your time at NYU?

When Obama was elected, New York City was such an electric environment.  I had just gotten to NYU that September and had voted for him in my very first election.  I just remember everybody feeling so excited and hopeful after the disaster of 9/11, the Iraq War, the Bush years and the financial crisis.  A group of friends and I went to Times Square and celebrated like there was no tomorrow.  I got a little overzealous and climbed a lamp post there before getting shooed off by a police officer.  One of my classmates said he saw me on TV the next day.  I just remember thinking that this was a historical time that we’d remember forever.  It was nice to be a small part of that.

How has your educational experience at NYU shaped what you do now? 

I currently work abroad in Mexico, and everyone has been very impressed with my Spanish.  I only learned it through GLS when I did my year abroad in Buenos Aires.  So I really only have NYU to thank for that.  Apart from that, I love the people that I meet down here who are alumni; they’re always super interesting people who are open to meeting and chatting.  Lastly, I would say, GLS specifically helped me understand Latin America on many levels both from historical and cultural points of view but also from pragmatic and career points of view.  I don’t always come at things from the same point of view as others do, especially engineers.  I think I can combine and weigh the analytical with the artistic side of things in a way that others can’t.

You participated in the Fulbright Binational Internship Program in Mexico.  Can you share what inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?

I was inspired to push myself in business terms and take my career to the next level.  I also wanted to identify more specifically where my true interests lay, which were more towards the digital marketing and strategy world it turned out.
Finerio at Techcrunch
Finerio at Techcrunch

What led you to develop Finerio, a personal finance app available in Mexico?

Well, honestly arriving to Mexico City from San Francisco was a big technology culture shock.  There were so many more real world problems going on down here and a serious lack of both private and public sector innovations addressing these needs.  I had a laundry list of ideas that I wanted to implement after seeing all that Mexico had to offer and all the opportunities it had.  I wound up creating Finerio because while I was working at Deloitte Consulting in Mexico, during my Fulbright, I noticed that a high percentage of my colleagues were doing a poor job of managing their finances even though they made good wages.  They would spend 80% of their money while they were only 20% into their pay period.  I decided that the financial culture here was in serious disarray, and that I could create something that would help them and millions others save money and empower themselves to do better.

What is one step we can do to take control of our personal finances?

It’s really simple: spend less than you make.  As long as you’re doing that consistently and you’re putting it away into an investment fund with low fees, i.e. 0.25% ideally, then you will do well.

What do you love about working in this field?

I love seeing the impact we have on people’s lives.  This year alone we’ve already saved our users over $12 million dollars, and our goal is to eventually impact the national savings rate here.  As a side bonus, I really love working with innovative and passionate people both on my team and in other startups that I see making a big difference down here.  We aren’t solving luxury “first world problems” down here, there are so many big needs that still need to be filled, and the people doing it are real heroes in my book.

What has been your favorite experience thus far while living in Mexico?

I think my favorite experience came in Tulum when I reconnected with my current girlfriend.  We met once at NYU six years earlier (she’s a Steinhardt alumna), but we really never talked while we were in college.  She just so happened to send me a message that she was down in Mexico and we really hit it off.  We went traveling around Mexico together and had such a good time that I convinced her to move down here.  Now we happily live down here with our dog.  I just loved the serendipity and the fact that two New Yorkers could connect so much more deeply in Mexico.  Sometimes getting out of your routine and geography can be just what the doctor ordered.

Sailing in Valle de Bravo
Sailing in Valle de Bravo
What travel destination is next on your list?

Next on my list are Guatemala and Cuba.  I’ve been doing a lot of domestic traveling in Mexico and have been to a lot of Mexico’s states, which have been spectacular.  I hope to reach most every major Latin American country at some point.
Save the date for Alumni Weekend 2019, Oct. 24-27, and the GLS at 10 Years celebration on the evening of Friday, Oct. 25!  Find out more at http://liberalstudies.nyu.edu/news-events/2019/gls-10.html.  

10 Year Anniversary of Global Liberal Studies

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