Talking Proust: Ross Petras

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Jeff Gilden

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“In the 1880s, long before he claimed his status as one of the greatest authors of all time, teenage  Marcel Proust (July 10, 1871–November 18, 1922) filled out an English-language questionnaire given to him by his friend Antoinette, the daughter of France’s then-president, as part of her “confession album” — a Victorian version of today’s popular personality tests, designed to reveal the answerer’s tastes, aspirations, and sensibility in a series of simple questions. Proust’s original manuscript, titled ‘by Marcel Proust himself,’ wasn’t discovered until 1924, two years after his death. Decades later, the French television host Bernard Pivot, whose work inspired James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio, saw in the questionnaire an excellent lubricant for his interviews and began administering it to his guests in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1993, Vanity Fair resurrected the tradition and started publishing various public figures’ answers to the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of each issue.”  –  Brain Pickings


Ross Petras, President and Executive Search Practice Head, sat down with Biotech Partners’ creative team to share his own answers to Proust’s famous questionnaire.  

What do you like most about your job? I love that we impact change and create opportunities for great people to make great things happen.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Complete and total control of my own time and a life full of fun!

What is your most marked characteristic? Physically — my large chin. Characteristically speaking — being able to take one on the chin.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My three beautiful, fun, intelligent kids. They make life worth living.

What is your greatest fear? Being forgotten.

What historical figure do you most identify with? Robin Williams. He was a bit eccentric, but people loved that about him.

Which living person do you most admire? My grandmother — 104 years old and still kicking ass.

Who are your heroes in real life? Steve Jobs because he dented the universe.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My time management.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Insensitivity toward others because they are different from you.

What is your favorite journey? The one yet taken.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Whenever someone mistakes their  characteristics for virtues.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse? F*<k that.

What is your greatest regret? Not selling out sooner.

What is your current state of mind? Driven.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I’d like us to have less technology and more “people” time.

What is your most treasured possession? My personal “stuff” file has some neat things from my past that I treasure.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Losing someone’s trust.

Where would you like to live? Where I do now — eventually the beach and the slopes, but here is good for now.

What is your favorite occupation? I’ve always admired singers and athletes.

What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability to respect others and find the beauty in everything/everyone.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? See above.

What are your favorite names? Kristen, Halen, Kiley, and Christopher.

What is your motto? When given the choice, choose awesome.



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