I grew up as the son of an American Diplomat. For most of my early life we moved every two years. Kuala Lumpur, Warsaw, Jakarta, Seoul, Manila. It's a life I won't wish on anyone nor would I exchange it for another. I stutter—worse as a kid than I do now. Growing up I learned to watch as a way of understanding what the rules are. I've taken the coping process for a handicap, and turned it in a profession.

In 1975 I moved to New York City with the goal of working for the American Urbanist William H. Whyte. I joined Project for Public Spaces, the not-for-profit organization he had just started. I offered to work for three months without a salary to prove my worth. That summer I stood six feet four inches tall and weighed 168 pounds. Like so many smart misfits that head to New York City to find a place, it took me a while to find mine. Yes I did eventually get a salary, but I had lean times.

If you'd asked me back then if I'd end up as an expert in: QSR Drive-thrus, lip stick, and troubled shopping malls, much less the author of books that sell millions of copies all over the world, or the CEO of Envirosell, a global Research and Consulting firm, I would asked you what insane asylum you'd escaped from. Life often picks us up and takes us to unexpected places. You've now landed on one of mine. Thanks for coming.

Paco Underhll