Meet Eduardo Placer (Storytellers '17)

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REALITY: Could you share who you are and how you make an impact?

Eduardo: I'm a public speaking coach. My company is called Fearless Communicators. I believe that a fearless communicator has to be grounded in their body and be present in mind. They lead from the heart, and they speak in to the spirit of our shared humanity. And I have the privilege of working with people who are poised to make a difference and elevate how they speak. I do that with storytelling, called the story doulah. I am able to bring a story to light and help people to usher in that truth. I also help with the delivery part; I work both ends.

REALITY: Who inspires this incredible work that you lead?

Eduardo: The people! I was an actor for many years, and I felt like I was not bringing forth my whole self in the world, and what I realized is that there's so much that I'm passionate about. I'm also humble enough to know that I'm not the person to speak about all the stuff that I'm passionate about. And if I have the privilege of working with the people who are poised to make that biggest difference, then I am able to contribute to all of those different conversations.

REALITY: Let's switch to REALITY and talk about what was a meaningful moment from your journey.

Eduardo: There are so many. A very specific memory I had was when I saw Jerusalem for the first time. My family is Catholic, and I just remember for generations hearing, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Millions upon millions of people dream to set eyes upon the city. When I saw Jerusalem for the first time, when we got to Mount Scopus, I just thought of my ancestors and my family, and I thought about the eyes I had to view this and thought about my family who hasn't yet. I have the privilege of giving eyes to this and sharing this with my world and my community. I got to make this pilgrimage for my family. I am someone who is spiritual, but not very religious, and I feel like in that moment there's a rocket ship to the heavens of prayer. It's a little ritual I have. I write down the names of my family. I have a very big family, so there are a lot of names. There are relatives of mine who are deceased, so I'm remembering the people who never made it, honoring their memory for their family and being a representative of people in my community at that space of profound holiness.

REALITY: You led us at Reunion in a beautiful gratitude session that started on Shabbat morning. Can you talk to us about that session and gratitude in general? I feel like that's a part of more of your own rituals and more than just REALITY.

Eduardo: I led the same gratitude session on my Storytellers trip. It's a physical and vocal warm up. We take for granted that we can speak, and it's useful to warm up and get our voices and our bodies in alignment together. So many times we bring movement into learning, but we don't really do voice to movement. My commitment is to align breath with body and also voice. We connect to our breath and then we connect with our bodies. Then, we connect to our bodies with very dynamic movements that are very silly and fun and wild, and part of that is to push out of our comfort zone and to push the boundaries of play and fun and silliness. Then you take a moment to stop and be grateful for all that you have.

I think gratitude is a practice. We sometimes focus so much that we don't have, and it's a real muscle to focus on what we do have. When you focus on what you do have, the next level is to be grateful for it. It's like, Dayenu. It would be enough that I have a body, that I have a voice, that I have movement, that I have a family that loves me, that I happen to be in Israel with extraordinary human beings, that I have an education, that I have the opportunity to serve, that I have a brain that works, that I have language, that I am loved and supported. You know? In this moment, I can take stock of that and say thank you, not just as a thank you for myself but as a thank you for the community. We can express that as a community of gratitude for this moment, because it's fleeting. In the moment where our cup is not full, we can draw on the well of gratitude. Even when things are not going well, you can still be grateful.

REALITY: Was there a moment that stood out at Reunion for you? What brought you back to Israel?

Eduardo: I wasn't just a yes, I was a f*ck yes. You can quote me. REALITY was a profound experience, and when they said that there was this Reunion trip, it immediately went into my calendar. The conversation of tikkun olam is very powerful and resonates with me. In the Catholic tradition that I come from and my schooling was with the Jesuits,there is a saying of “men and women for others.” I've always had that innately. There was a community of people that hosted events all over the world. I worked with women to have a breakthrough in public speaking and owning their story and sharing their voice. And I know that I have a community of Israeli entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv. I'm coming back in October!

I also spoke at some events in Tel Aviv. I really took the relationships that were formed on this REALITY trip to continue to serve. One of the women who was in my cohort I met at the REALITY-ROI mixer. I went back to work with people we met with during Reunion. I met with the leadership at Tevel B' Tzedekon storytelling. I also worked with Palestinian women we met with from East Jerusalem and their organization, Jerusalem Entrepreneurs Society and Technology (JEST). I stayed in town and went back to East Jerusalem, so I did a workshop with the entrepreneurs there. At Reunion, I took advantage of the fact that I was there. We were there to serve. I came to serve, so I served. And I continue to serve.

REALITY: How has your REALITY shifted personally since your journey?

Eduardo: I don't think I had language for two very profound models that I now use with which to lead my life. The first is when we herded sheep. And then I remember Shir talking about the word meodcha, which means “very.” I have that to mean, “believe the authenticity.” And it's almost like the uncompromising force of self expression for everything that you do. And that is something that I connect with and is so much a part of who I am. When I bring myself to REALITY, I feel celebrated and loved from both groups, including having 40 people break out into show tunes in the final night of Jerusalem at 3 in the morning. That was this culmination of this music and this harmony that we created together.

The second is the term tikkun olam, the life's mission or commitment to repair the world. I didn't have words for that, and now I do.

REALITY: What about the other way around? How have you shifted REALITY since your journey?

Eduardo: I've had the honor of working with various members of he community in profound ways. I've coached people from the community, and more importantly, I think that I contaminated a good 70% with show tune-itis. My hope is that wherever they find themselves, in a moment of quiet and peace and wanting to draw on a little bit of joy, they're only a show tune and a Disney song away from a smile and a big laugh.

REALITY: How have you stayed connected to Israel?

Eduardo: It's the people. I think that Israelis interact with me in a different way because there's no space for bullsh*t. It's just the real deal. I've had the privilege of working with many Israeli entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs. There is a call for a new form of storytelling in Israel, and I'm working with people who are poised to make a big difference in shifting how they speak about what they do in a more heart-centric way.

REALITY: How do you do Shabbat?

Eduardo: I absolutely love Shabbat. I love the ritual of everything slowing down and of being with a community and with family. My background is the theatre, and all ritual is theatre. I love that these gestures, and these words, and this language and these prayers have been recited for millennia. There's a lineage and there's a connection, and there's something really profound to me about that. I don't do it very often, but when I do, I'm very grateful, and it feels like I'm home.

I think there's a generosity in Shabbat, and it's always great to extend the invitation. I love the generosity of the [REALITY] group; it's like the more the merrier! It doesn't feel exclusive, and I think that's part of the community. If you call upon it, there's always a Shabbat to go to, and I love that. I feel like in any city that I go to, I could reach out to somebody from REALITY and there would be a Shabbat to go to.

REALITY: What should the community know about you that we haven't covered?

Eduardo: I'm eager to collaborate, so let me know. They can contact me about soccer, tikkun olam, show tunes, public speaking and storytelling. What I'm really passionate about is harmony and the conversation around harmony, and I'm interested in bringing people and voices together. I'm really interested about doing work in Israel, and I feel like I can do that as someone who's not Jewish or Palestinian or Muslim. I'm none of the above; I'm an agnostic, secular humanist, humanitarian universalist. I'm committed to a conversation about creation and that happens in business, entrepreneurship and also art. So anyone who wants to jam on how to repair the world or social entrepreneurship or art, let's play.

REALITY: Anything else?

Eduardo: I am so grateful for the community. When I applied I thought the age limit was 40, and I had just turned 40 and I felt like I was gonna age out. And I applied and I got in and it felt like a homecoming and it's been that and so much more. I think I've always felt an affinity towards Israel and people who identified as being Jewish and now there's a committee for me to make Aliyah!
 

The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.