Carisa Leal was educated as a mechanical engineer, yet she feels most comfortable not with what she knows. Because she enjoys having her feet on uneven ground, Leal is a self described soul searcher.
“I am afraid,” Leal expressed to me “of not finding my purpose, what I am here to do. There is one thing you can contribute that let’s you change the world. I am here to explore and narrow that down.”
Leal’s elusive reference to the word “here” is interesting. Is “here” her current location of Boulder, Colorado, the Massachusetts suburb where she attended Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, or the world that awaits her? Ultimately, Leal self describes herself as a “present oriented person” who is open to life’s unknowns.
After graduating college, Leal went directly into a career that was benefited by her mechanical engineering degree. She knew it was ultimately not for her, so Leal began a TED Talk marathon for some inspiration. During the marathon, she was introduced to Scott Dinsmore. Dinsmore created the “Live Your Legend” project in 2006. His life work is to inspire individuals, like Leal, to pursue a career that makes one “come alive.” After seeing Dinsmore’s TED Talk, Leal found herself on his site and came across Victor Saad’s invitation to join the Experience Institute, an experiential graduate-level education.
“I have a thing for ‘alternative education’,” says Leal. “My college was only six years old when I started there.”
As a self-starter, Leal fits into the Experience Institute’s pioneering class perfectly. She just finished her first apprenticeship with “marketing genius” Alex Bogusky at Skoop, located in Boulder, Colorado. Skoop’s mission is “to put the benefits of superfoods into the hands and bellies of every American” through their powdered superfood blend products.
Leal’s interest in sustainable food sources and nutrition began in high school and developed throughout college. She shared her favorite restaurant while living in Cambridge, MA was Life Alive Cafe because it embodied many of the qualities of healthy, simple food she admired. This place serves food so healthy and natural, I often found myself wondering what was actually in the dish. However, this nutritional Narnia is exactly what Leal loves, just as she loves the challenges working with Bogusky has presented.
“My first week, I volunteered to help design and print business cards. I had to use Adobe Illustrator, which I had never even opened before,” Leal says with laughter. “So, I downloaded the trial it for the first time ever and taught myself how to use it.” She even found herself transforming a warehouse for product photography, editing photos and putting her work all together for Skoop’s website. Examples such as hers align with Saad’s mission regarding alternative education – it is about the unforgettable power of education taught by experience.
Leal is thriving thus far. Especially when she reveals that Dinsmore featured Ei and it’s founding students on his blog. Pausing for a moment, Leal says her life in that moment came “ full circle.”