My 100-Year Plan: What’s Built to Last?
I love working in venture capital. It’s an honor and a privilege to support entrepreneurs and teams reimagining the future. Sometimes these companies create lasting value through a product or service offered, or through the creation of jobs and community. In the best (and most magical) cases, it’s both. I also meet founders who are on a race to the top and more short-term in their thinking, oftentimes an unfortunate bi-product of an industry that can reward short-term value (i.e. a prestigious funding headline and quick exit). Whatever the motivation, I find the most inspiration in those building with a much longer horizon in sight.
This past summer I joined Breakout for a tour of downtown Los Angeles with community-minded leaders, stopping by RVCC Intersect for coffee with founder Chris Adams. Chris spoke of his affection for the early days of downtown Los Angeles and the 100-year development plan resulting in the city we know today. He closed with a question and challenge: “What’s built to last?” In the case of downtown L.A., there was a blueprint for a city, buildings, and common place where people would gather, live, and continue building upon 100 years later. This concept of innovating with 100 years of value in mind resonated, especially on the heels of countless discussions with entrepreneurs around long-term value creation.
2017 happened to carry special significance for me, marking 100 years since my grandparents came to the United States from their hometown of Ocampo, Mexico. Born in 1890 and 1895 respectively, my grandfather and grandmother lived in a very different world than I do today. In 1917 they packed their bags, grabbed their loved ones, and fled the Mexican Revolution by train, traveling over 1,100 miles to the small, dusty town of Clovis, New Mexico. My grandfather was a laborer and accepted an offer to help build the southwestern railroad with the promise of land, citizenship, and a meager income to support his growing family. They would go on to raise ten children in their small adobe home (my father the youngest born in 1934), resulting in hundreds of descendants who are now scientists, lawyers, judges, doctors, teachers, artists, and even venture capitalists.
I wonder if my grandparents ever thought about the year 2017 or what would come of their move to the U.S. There were many near-term motivations to make the journey, namely safety, security, and opportunity for their young family. Little did they know the tremendous impact they would have on the hundreds of people — myself included — who represent the fruits of their labor starting with that slow and dusty train ride 100 years ago.
Here I am a century later drafting this thing called a blog on my laptop 37,022 feet in the sky (on the post-Christmas SFO-BNA flight to our new home). 2017 was the year my husband and I packed our bags and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. I can’t help but reflect on the motivations behind grand moves and seemingly big decisions, both short and long-term. What motivates us to act?
I find myself at the start of my very own 100-year plan, armed with 100 years of trails blazed by those who came before me. Looking ahead to 2018, I’ve decided to break ground in Nashville with the mantra of ‘built to last’. I can pursue this a number of ways — whether I continue building communities of values-aligned people pushing boundaries in the name of progress, or in the creation of tech that will transform the way future generations live.
Whatever form this all takes, I know I won’t stop building. After all, I do come from a long line of builders.