WAT’s Proust Questionnaire: Cristina DeVito’s Mudderella – Helping Women Own Their Strong

Cristina Devito’s message is: “Own Your Strong,” and she has devised a fun and challenging way for women to achieve that goal – by tackling a muddy, grueling obstacle course designed to increase strength, self-confidence, and team work. Cristina is CEO of Mudderella, an organization that will arrange athletic events in various locations around the country, the inaugural one scheduled for Saturday, September 21, 2013 in Tamiment, Pennsylvania in the Poconos. Although Mudderella was created specifically with women in mind, men ARE allowed (and encouraged) to participate.

Cristina studied mechanical engineering at Dartmouth, then worked as an investment banking analyst before launching Mudderella and designing the first obstacle course for women.

As part of helping women to remain strong, Mudderella supports Futures Without Violence, a national nonprofit to prevent domestic violence by standing with survivors and developing innovative programs. Cristina and her organization hope to raise awareness and funds.

Cristina took time out from physical obstacles to face an intellectual one: WAT’s Proust Questionnaire written by Jason Veduccio. (For more information go to the Mudderella website.)

What was your ideal job before the current situation?
My ideal job and career has always been one where I am constantly learning and growing. Life is an adventure, and creating new, positive experiences for people – like we are doing with Mudderella – is part of that adventure.

What job did you hate?
There was never a job that I hated, because I always felt like I learned something from each experience. Each opportunity prepared me for the next and led me to where I am today.

What people inspired you to follow this path?
My parents. They are the definition of motivation, integrity and guts.

When you were sixteen, whom did you want to be when you grew up?
There was never one person I wanted to be. I always had strong women mentors who found a way to have both a successful career and a healthy family life.

How old would you be if age didn’t matter?
Old enough to know better, and young enough to do it anyway.

How many people in your life would you call a close friend?
I am blessed with close friends from different stages of my life. I have friends who I grew up with who know me incredibly well and keep me in check. I have close friends from college and grad school who are special because we shared such unique experiences together. And I have close friends from my first jobs who were there to keep me laughing even at 2am when my computer crashed (it happens).

Who would get you excited to attend a meeting if you knew they would be there?
There are so many amazing entrepreneurs in this city that it is hard to choose just one. It would be great to get them all in one place!

Mudderella Logo Mint + PurpleWhat was the tipping point in getting you into your current professional position?
A lot of it comes down to luck and timing – like anything in life. I have always been lucky to have incredible mentors throughout my career who were willing to invest in me and encourage me to own my “strong”. One in particular was terrific at being completely honest and straightforward with me and providing feedback that was actionable. His biggest piece of advice was to beg for forgiveness instead of asking for permission. It is this bias to action that is most critical for my team and me in building a new brand and delivering on our promises.

What is the single most important thing to do to be successful?
Be honest with yourself and with others, and don’t let fear get the better of you.

What is the most over-rated thing about being successful?
An office. I much prefer to be in the mix and close to my team.

What could you use right now if someone would invent it for you?
A few more hours in the day!

What should young people know as they leave school?
Be bold. Don’t wait for something to come your way – get out there and make it happen, whether it is in life or in your career.

What do you do most when together with your family?
We laugh a lot, and we do a lot of cooking (and eating).

What do you love to do with your free time lately that you rather not admit?
Free time is precious, so I try to use it wisely. I like to spend time with my friends, exploring the city, and I try to get out on my road bike as much as possible.

What personal or professional goals do you have for yourself for two years from now?
I am so excited to see Mudderella grow. My and my team’s goal is to bring this experience to thousands of women, and to encourage women to Own Your Strong.

What does your most commonly eaten lunch consist of?
I love the peanut avocado rolls from the sushi place across the street.

Own Your StrongWho is your favorite fashion designer for business clothes?
These days business clothes are casual, so I wear a lot of Hudson jeans.

What do you need to get through the day that you would least like to sacrifice right now?
Starbucks coffee. I tried to quit and it didn’t go well.

What do you need to get through the day that you would most like to sacrifice right now?
Snack breaks.

If all of humanity was to stop what they were doing and focus on working together on just one thing through to its completion, what is it we should we all be doing in your opinion?
Our partnership with Futures Without Violence is a really important one to us at Mudderella. Futures Without Violence works toward a violence-free tomorrow where everyone can feel safe, supported and valued. So many individuals are impacted by domestic violence and abuse every day and are faced with overcoming very real obstacles. Mudderella hopes to do our part in driving awareness for this important cause and contributing to a future free of violence.