Lisa Pierpont on 5 Influencers Who Are Moving the Needle Right Now in Boston

By Lisa Pierpont | March 8, 2017 | People

Game-changers. Deal makers. Goal-makers. Boston sets itself apart because of our people. We are a breed who takes pride in breaking rules for all of the right reasons. Here are a few with whom I am particularly smitten. Some quit jobs to chase their dream, others work the midnight hours on their passion projects. All are moving the needle in this city.

Andy Goldfarb, Founder/Executive Managing Director of Globespan Capital Partners and Founder of Breaking Matzo


What is your passion project?
I am a venture capitalist and invest in leading private technology startups. I founded Globespan Capital Partners (and our predecessor firm) in 1997. I also love to cook and I love the Jewish holidays. I wanted to use technology and social media to help people celebrate Jewish holidays while creating a community to help people connect with family and friends. I founded Breaking Matzo, an online resource dedicated to celebrating Jewish home holidays (Passover, Sukkot, and Hanukkah). My mission is to help families create magical, meaningful, and memorable holidays – and turn the ordinary into the extraordinary – by sharing ideas about food, fun, and philosophy. Many of the recipes and fun projects we share have been part of my family for generations.

How do you define moving the needle?
Breaking Matzo defines moving the needle when our content helps to stimulate the mind, touch the heart, and uplift the soul. This could mean that we motivated a family to host a Passover celebration for the first time, encouraged a grandmother to hand down her favorite holiday recipe to her grandchildren or inspired someone with one of our philosophy posts. I know we’re succeeding when I read incredibly heartfelt comments from our community from people sharing their stories of tradition and meaningful family gatherings.

How are YOU moving the needle?
We’re making holidays magical, memorable and meaningful for all generations, increasing the likelihood of families creating new traditions and continuing their traditions for generations into the future. In just two years, Breaking Matzo has attracted 550,000 members worldwide. Breaking Matzo had more than 175,000 engagements with our content during Hanukkah 2016. Given that Passover, Sukkot and Hanukkah celebrations involve many family and friends, I believe that we impacted many times more – into the millions of people. This represents a substantial percentage of the global Jewish community. I am also proud that 31 percent of our audience is Christian. The top five countries of visitor origin are US, Israel, Canada, UK, and Saudi Arabia. It is inspiring that Breaking Matzo has such a global and multi-religious audience.

What are words that inspire you?
My grandfather, Normie, always told me, "Don't let anyone rain on your parade!" My Mom always told me, “The early bird gets the early worm; the late bird gets the late worm; there is always a worm.”

Bianca de la Garza, CEO Lucky Gal Productions


What is your profession?
I own a production company and develop content for TV and digital platforms. My passion is creating unforgettable moments for viewers. Be it a show I am hosting or producing I want people to remember it.

Why did you choose it?
I chose to leave my television anchor job and become an entrepreneur because I wanted freedom. Freedom to create content that I would like to watch myself and share with the world. Starting Lucky Gal Productions is one of the best decisions of my life. I encourage those feeling the start-up bug to go for it. It is not easy but it is exciting. For me, life is about living every moment to the fullest.

What is your idea of moving the needle?
I define “moving the needle” as just having the guts to attempt to move it. I applaud creatives and artists who don’t care about the critics. Those who are expressing their vision because it is their truth. If you are speaking your truth you are, in fact, moving the needle in your own way. We don’t have to star in a TV show to have an impact in the world. Every single person, every day of their life can make choices that “move the needle”. It just takes courage and listening to your intuition.

How did you find the courage to pursue your dreams?
My attempt to "move the needle” is providing a platform for content I feel real people want. I’m seeing a growing interest in niche female programming. For a long time mainstream media fed us stories that didn’t resonate with us or any women in our lives. Our friends, sisters and colleagues were not reflected accurately. That is the ethos of my company Lucky Gal. In addition, I want to make people laugh because, more than ever, this world needs it.

What are words that you live by?
It’s from Osho: “I live my life based on two principles. One, I live as if today was my last day on earth. Two, I live today as if I am going to live forever.” Those words sum it up for me. Live with no regrets, tell important people in your life how much they mean to you, spread joy and love to others. Also, take special care to nurture your body, mind and spirit. It will serve you well. Wait, is that an inspirational quote too?

Matthew Boyes-Watson, Bow Market


How do you spend your day?
I'm a project producer, which means I assemble and support talented teams of people to create things. I'm currently working with a fantastic team on the redevelopment of a vacant storage building in Union Square, Somerville. We plan to turn it into a public market of 30-plus food, art, and retail vendors. We're designing the building in such a way that it is accessible and affordable for aspiring chefs, artists and entrepreneurs. The units are small and inexpensive—less than $1,000 per month. The folks we working with are simply radical.

How do you define moving the needle?
I would define 'moving the needle' as consistently working toward a righteous outcome. The most important problems are incredible complex. The people who spend every day working on those problems see 'the needle move' very infrequently and yet they continue to show up every day. Those people are absolute heroes.

How are YOU contributing?
Honestly I think the most impactful work I've done in recent months was to help my mother, who runs the Center for Restorative Justice, design a budget for a grant proposal. I'm proudest and most energized by the work I do supporting and collaborating with fantastic humans in civics and municipal advocacy.

What are words that you live by/inspire you?
Get involved.

Lisa Flores, Director of Sales and Marketing, Columbus Hospitality Group and Founder & President of SERV(Society for Event Planners: Restaurant Venues)


What are you up to these days, Lisa?
I've been working with CHG for 16 years now. What started as a support role in front of house (while I was in school at Boston University) evolved into an events position at one of the most successful restaurant groups in Boston. Mentoring junior event planners over the years is what opened my eyes to an opportunity in the industry and a need for SERV (Society for Event Planners - Restaurant Venues) - a place where event planners in the restaurant industry can come to learn, exchange ideas, network and build relationships. Each event we host includes a panel that is specific to various aspects of our roles, from elevating the event experience through innovation and creativity to adding value to your restaurants bottom line. After coming up with the idea in Spring 2016, we kicked off our first breakfast with 50 attendees at Ostra. The most recent event was a discussion with the owner of Rafanelli Events, Bryan Rafanelli, and Restaurateur Garrett Harker and was attended by more than 200 industry professionals. It's been an incredible and very rewarding experience.

How do you define moving the needle?
Recognizing that there's a need and then acting on it. Putting momentum behind an idea and bringing it to fruition.

How are you pushing the boundaries?
Over the years, I would attend various networking events with colleagues and always walked away feeling like there was more to be discussed. The topics that were focused on did not directly relate to the challenges that event planners working in restaurant venues face. I'd attend wedding planner events, catering events, executive events, conference and exhibition events, but none directly correlated with the majority of the work you do in a private dining room within a restaurant. I wanted to create something that was tailored to us, for us, by us.

What are words that inspire you?
My words to live by are from Drake: “Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.”

Brahm Callahan, Beverage Director, Himmel Hospitality Group


What is your profession?
I am a Master Sommelier. I love great service and the ability for a memorable dining experience to truly affect someone’s life. It chose me; I have a master’s degree in ancient history but kept coming back to the hospitality industry.

How do you define moving the needle? Are you doing this?
I think it is measurable in a number of different ways. Internally, I try to move the needle every day by pushing myself to be better (even if no one else notices). Externally, I think moving the needle means pushing others forward in their pursuits. We all make each other better.

What are words that inspire you?
“If they didn’t want it to break they wouldn’t make it out of glass” – kind of my spilled milk thing, but with wine.

Photography by: Photography by Todd Mazer (Callahan)