SMBA Alumni Week: Cristi Zuk (SMBA ’12)

Alumni week has been an exciting time for SMBA 15’ because of the exposure to the different guest speakers that have been part of this prestigious program. Listening to each speaker talk about their individual career paths gave the current class an idea of where things could go granted their hard work, dedication, perseverance and networking all fall into place.

Day 1 of SMBA all we had in common with our peers was sports. As the year has passed, friendships that will last a lifetime have been built as we slowly, but surely discovered other interests and passions that we had in common with one another. With two very different experiences, but similar interests in the field of sports psychology, Sebastian Hafner (SMBA 15’)and Caroline Bartolome (SMBA 15’) reflect upon the Alumni Week presentation by Cristi Zuk (SMBA 12’).

One of the guest speakers Cohort X was fortunate enough to interact with was Cristi Zuk (SMBA 12’). Cristi is currently working as a Manager for Digital and Social Media at Wasserman Media Group. Having always lived an active lifestyle, Cristi spent the early part of her life as an elite soccer player and she attributes her competitive nature largely for shaping her into the person she is today. Unlike her fellow alumni that spoke about their current positions and how their career path unfolded Cristi shared with us how goal setting has impacted her life, and how it can be used as a valuable tool for us moving forward.

Cristi talked about the importance of not only setting clear goals for our future, but the significance of writing them down. Goal setting not only helps establish a plan to accomplish these goals in the future but acts as a way of holding ourselves accountable for them. While goal setting seems self-explanatory to some people, it is often the key to finding out what things we actually care about and expressing what really drives us to work hard every day. It also helps create a clear agenda on how to accomplish their goals. Goals are not limited to career aspirations but can also help us set and achieve personal and health related goals.

A reflection by Sebastian: As a former college tennis player, I was introduced to goal setting at a very early age. I know how useful it can be in the different areas of your life. Sometimes it is difficult to keep track of what the most important things in your life are and other times you are just too busy to micromanage through daily responsibilities. In short, you begin to forget what your long-term goals actually are. Having your goals written down will help you stay on track. Research has shown that at least 5/6 of our brain is in the non-conscious mind and therefore it is important to create habits that will help you stay on track to achieving your goals.

Another point that stuck out from Cristi’s exciting presentation was the power of positive thinking. Again, many people underestimate the power of thoughts; however, “We become what we think about most”. Thinking of your individual goals in positive terms and in mental pictures helps you stay on track and helps you overcome any obstacle that may come up along the way. At the end of her presentation, Cristi emphasized the importance of attainable and realistic goal setting. Goal setting should not be frustrating or upsetting but rather a tool that helps encourage and motivate us.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway” – Earl Nightingale

A reflection by Caroline: I attribute the person I have become today to the mentors that I have had over my lifetime, each one taking a chance on me and providing me with not only opportunities to grow, but sound advice that would stick with me over the years. While I never reached an elite level of competition like Sebastian, goal setting has always been a part of my life from an early age. As the youngest and the only girl in my family, I typically kept to myself and would journal my thoughts, which included my hopes and dreams. I continued this trend through high school, setting weekly goals for new track PR’s and ultimately setting my sights on what I hoped to accomplish upon graduation.

During my undergrad, I discovered the field of Sports Psychology, which I ended up pursuing as a minor emphasis. My inner sports science geek couldn’t help but smile when Cristi presented our class with the Lululemon model that she uses to set her goals. As she covered the importance of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed) goals, it reminded me of the model I learned about in my sports psych classes, and have adopted as my goals have become more complex than a simple journal entry. As I sat and listened to Cristi talk about the profound impact practicing goal setting exercises has had on her life, I couldn’t help but think that even if it’s almost the end of the year, it was exactly what we needed to hear to mentally prepare for our last round of classes.

If you want to learn more about Cristi Zuk and what she is doing in her daily life, feel free to check out her website:

Thank you for a very insightful presentation Cristi. We wish you the best of luck for your future endeavors and we were happy to learn from you.