Each month, The Well highlights an amazing (and eligible!) individual.
This month, we have a conversation with NJP Robert Sallen!
TW: How did you decide to live in Detroit after school?
RS: Detroit is booming! I was drawn to the area because it is in a period of rebirth. I wanted to contribute to the rejuvenation. It has been an unbelievable experience down here. There is something wildly “cool” about Detroit that you have to live here to understand. It’s historic, cultural, architecturally gorgeous, and coming back in a big way. I would recommend living in the city to anybody. I was lucky enough to nab one of the few lofts in midtown that was available for rent. I’ve been living there for almost 2 years, and I am now in the process of purchasing a condo in the area.
TW: What was it like going to school at Grand Valley? Was it easy/challenging to build Jewish community there?
RS: Grand Valley was a tremendous experience. Being 20 minutes from Grand Rapids and about 40 minutes from the beaches of Lake Michigan offered up a lot of fun during my 4 years there. I have visited every major public university in Michigan, and I firmly believe that GVSU offers one of the best collegiate experiences you could ask for. With that being said, there is not a large Jewish population on campus. I was one of about 20 members in the Hillel group, and I was the only Jew in my fraternity. People constantly told me that I was the first Jew that they had ever met. I did not experience any anti-Semitism at GVSU; I just encountered many people that were not familiar with Judaism. The school continues to grow. Since I left, they have built a brand new library, business school, among other facilities. Seriously… Any parents reading this with kids in high school please take a long look at Grand Valley.
TW: You recently started a new job at Jackson Dawson Communications -- what're you doing for them?
RS: I can only speak generally about my role at Jackson Dawson because information about my project still is not public knowledge. I am an account manager, meaning I manage a team of people executing a marketing job that we were hired for. I interface with the clients that hired us, and make sure that the team is exceeding their expectations. I am fortunate enough to be working one of the most coveted cars to be announced in the last year or so: the Ford GT. The passion and enthusiasm that the clients have for that car is contagious, and it has been very exciting working with them.
TW: In the past you worked as an area sales manager for Chrysler. Would you call yourself a car guy? What's your dream car?
RS: I would not call myself a car guy; I would just say that I have a passion for business. However, getting the chance to be around shiny new cars all the time was not so bad! Living in metro Detroit, it was fitting that I would land in the auto industry. Had I been born in California, I would probably be working at a tech company in some sort of business role. I love business and getting the opportunity to present value to people. Chrysler was a great experience out of school but I am so thankful for my most recent career move. My dream car would fall under the Aston Martin brand. When I am in a position to drop $150,000 on a car, that’s where it’ll land.
TW: Do you have a favorite charity?
RS: Every year I donate to a charity called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). I am a major advocate for this charity because of what they provide. They provide service dogs to people who have very unique needs. The dogs undergo intense and costly training from CCI to assist their owners with their needs. They are not seeing-eye dogs; they are dogs that assist people who have multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, hearing impairments, and many other physical and mental ailments. When I was a senior at GVSU, we were able to raise $13,000 for CCI.
TW: Rumor has it you're an appreciator of the great outdoors -- what are your outdoor activities of choice and why?
RS: Those rumors are true. I like snowboarding, camping, and watersports, but I would say my all-time favorite outdoor activity would be playing pond hockey. It could be 5 degrees outside, but with enough friends, beer, and good ice, we could play for hours. This winter has been tough to find any ice, but traditionally we have some awesome sessions out on the ice.
TW: What's your favorite Jewish holiday and why?
RS: Passover is hands-down my favorite holiday mostly for the food, but also for the family time. It’s tough to get the whole Sallen clan in one room for the holiday as we have a couple Sallens in California, but when everyone gets together, there are no shortages of laughs and crude dad-jokes.
TW: Who is the coolest Jew?
RS: Larry David is the coolest Jew. His comedy is hilarious because everyone can relate to it. I imagine that hanging out with Larry David would be a riot.
TW: If you could add an 11th commandment what would it be?
RS: Thou shall not make the duck face in pictures. Cut it out, ladies.
TW: How about a fun fact?
RS: I got to play in a Winter Classic-like hockey game with Red Wing Alumni during my time with Chrysler. The rink was at Comerica Park. I got to skate with Joey Kocur and John Ogrodnick and our team won!
TW: Finish the sentence: When I go to The Well...
RS: I want to meet people that I can connect with socially.