HI, MY NAME IS… Justin Gray.
I’VE LIVED IN ARIZONA FOR 44 YEARS AND I LOVE IT… in spite of a lot of things but primarily because at its heart, Arizona is an outlaw state, and that spirit is incredibly important for maintaining innovation. Plus, anyone who chooses to live in 120-plus degree heat is a survivor.
A TYPICAL DAY IN MY LIFE INCLUDES… an incredible amount of variance. I’ve never wanted to wake up and have my day look like the previous. I’ve gravitated toward entrepreneurship to ensure that’s always the case. And then I had kids just to put a topper on it.
MY FAMILY IS… the reason I take risks and how I define legacy.
ONE THING I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IS… cars. Nothing is as simple or has such a profound impact on my mood as going for a drive at 100-plus mph.
MY FAVORITE MOVIE I COULD NEVER GET TIRED OF WATCHING AND WHY IS… “Once Upon a Time in America.” I absolutely love Sergio Leone and I’d consider this his best work by far. In what was originally a six-hour movie, the most common release clocks in at four-plus and is what I’d consider to be the ultimate commentary on America, especially with its highly contested ending of dream or nightmare.
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, I WANTED TO BE… a writer. Then I found out the pay was not great.
THE SONG I WOULD SING AT KARAOKE NIGHT IS… probably one of life’s great mysteries, as I don’t think this would ever happen.
THE ONE PERSON WHO MOTIVATES ME IS… in truth there are many, but the standout will always be my grandfather. He’s always been the pinnacle of both hard work and upward mobility for his family that I gauge myself against.
THE LAST THING THAT MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD WAS… the years-long running text thread I have with my core group of friends that is populated with everyone’s attempt to constantly ‘one up’ one another with movie lines, song links, and video clips.
THE PERFECT DAY IS… any day I can start something and see real progress toward it in the same day.
MY FAVORITE LOCAL NONPROFIT IS… StartupAZ, but in reality, I spend most of my charitable time focused on actual people that I’ve identified that I can help. I like StartupAZ as they have a very similar and tangible mission, but there’s nothing better than mentoring and advising folks who I see something special in.
MY LIFE IS… incredibly blessed. Every day I wake up and think about the fact that I could be repairing a roof in 120-plus degree heat – and that’s a great context point I never want to lose.
THE BEST GIFT I’VE EVER RECEIVED WAS… and it’s going to sound cheesy, but my son and daughter truly are a gift to my wife and me. Kids are magic as they give you the ability to see everything again for the first time.
MY DREAM VACATION WOULD BE… anything that looks like my 40th birthday. My wife chartered a yacht, filled it with my best friends (one of them who’s a ship captain and actually captained the ship) and we spent two weeks island hopping in the Caribbean around the Virgin Islands. We know the people down there (St. Thomas is my favorite place on earth) so we essentially had friends in every port but spent our time discovering places we had never seen before that were absolutely beautiful – all while surrounded by the people I truly love.
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED IS… “never ask someone else to do something you’re not willing to,” that one is courtesy of my father.