"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, November 18, 2013

80. Jordan Berman

Pennington, New Jersey · Industrial and Labor Relations


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

I rocked the cradle in 2001 by marrying a Hotelie ’97, Elizabeth Schepp. We have two rambunctious boys (Dean, 9 and Nate, 6) and live right outside Princeton, NJ (there’s a Wegmans…enough said). I’m a former cable TV marketing guy (Showtime, MTV), turned producer, turned entrepreneur, who returned to my ILR roots by launching a start-up, ofc “the office engagement network” (www.ofc.tv). ofc is an interactive video channel and production studio enabling Fortune 1000 companies to engage employees otherwise watching cat videos during their coffee break. In an era when nobody reads and everybody watches, ofc makes HR sexy via amazing workplace video.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

My favorite class was a collective bargaining course taught by Professor Harry Katz, now Dean of the ILR School. The class culminated in a high stakes negotiation pitting teams representing labor and management. I teamed-up with my pals, Rob Friedman and Pete DeBellis. We deployed some crazy psychological tactics to throw our competition off-balance. In addition to wearing ridiculous matching outfits, we found a dead mouse and placed it inside a matchbox that was left in our opponent’s mail cubby. The mouse was accompanied by a note, “When the Katz is away, the mice will die!” A classic moment.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

My favorite Cornell memory is when my band, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, played at The Nines on Slope Day. I played drums, backing-up my bandmates including Alon Barzilay on keyboards, Pat Hunt on guitar, and Eric Semo on bass. All of our closest buddies came to the performance, likely enhanced by the fact that everyone was buzzed from a day on the slope. The Nines is a somewhat mythic place for me, given I ate there with my dad the first time I ever visited Cornell while still in high school. Best damn deep dish I ever had.

How has your time at Cornell influenced you since you graduated?

My time at Cornell has influenced me in many ways since graduation. I left with a high degree of confidence that I could hustle and keep up with just about anybody, given the concentration of achievers at Cornell and ILR. In fact, an early career lesson was realizing I might have to sometimes downshift my intensity when operating in a more bureaucratic environment. So, Cornell has always been a reminder to pursue great things with great people, even though the world so often rewards mediocrity.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?
The most meaningful activity for me was involvement in the Cornell Tradition and its Student Advisory Council. It provided a great framework around work, service and academics. In fact, I spent 3 of my 4 years holding a part-time job selling shoes at Fontana’s in Collegetown. To this day, I consider Steve Fontana like family. His entrepreneurial spirit and passion have really stuck with me all these years. With that said, winning the intramural softball championship senior year with my buddy, Neil Glass, was a kick-ass moment and I still have that sweat-stained t-shirt to prove it!