Yesterday was a grey November day in Seattle. I spent a chunk of the day in the downtown financial district, attending an angel network meeting. Several companies I’d coached last week were pitching investment opportunities to a group of women angel investors. I wanted to see how the founders had evolved their presentations in response to the coaching.
Foundations and Blue Sky Thinking
After the meeting I was reminded of some of the things I love about Seattle: its funky skyline, the mountains, the harbor views and reminders of the city’s maritime past. Here are two simple examples. The harbor and ferry view was taken from the 17th floor of the Norton Building; the shot of the brick building was taken moments later from the 6th floor of a nearby parking garage. (Although not captured by the iPhone, yesterday featured sun breaks, a Seattle concept that implies glimpses of blue sky and hints of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day.)
What charmed me about the brick building, with its oversize pulleys and block-and-tackle mechanisms, is the visual metaphor about “heavy lifting.” This might serve as a cautionary tale about society’s assumptions about permanence, and what works.
Even these seemingly sturdy brick buildings are built on landfill close to the water’s edge. Worse yet, this is a known earthquake zone with significant seismic risk; the aged masonry would be highly vulnerable to collapse in a bad quake.
As a society we invest in things we think will have enduring value, yet time passes, and tastes or requirements change. Or we find we have built on unstable foundations, as the case here.
Glimpsing these scenes just moments after leaving the starry-eyed pitches by three entrepreneurs, I was reminded about the factors that go into a person or a society’s choices about where to invest and why. And the wisdom that comes with 20/20 hindsight.
If only foresight were that clear.