Friday, March 26, 2010

sustainability and the family business, not bubbles and flipping

Liane Hansen interviewed Jay Adelson of last weekend on NPR. This transcript of the last part of the interview kind of blew me away. sustainability... vocation... that's what I want more people thinking about!

HANSEN: There's a story that I read about your parents who owned a store.

Mr. ADELSON: That's right.

HANSEN: And to a certain extent your fiscal philosophy came from them. Can you tell us about that?

Mr. ADELSON: That's - yes, sure. My parents, Sheldon and Elaine, when I grew up, first they were schoolteachers initially, and then my father inherited a small electric supply business in Detroit, and at the time was a very small and struggling business. But his goals were to build sustainability. You know, this idea of the family business is something that can stay afloat, make the family, you know, secure, feed the kids so to speak, and really it should be about creating that kind of sustainable model.

Now, the problem with venture investing and the problem with a lot of the start-ups is that is not the intent when they're built. They're intent to flip, they're intent to create millions, they're intent to these giant exist. And what I found is that if you can focus on those elements of sustainability, I think that the irony is, I think you end up with the bigger exit anyway.

Now, what those governing principles are towards sustainability, I mean, I could spend all day talking about that.

HANSEN: But you managed to kind of miss the dot-com bust because of your fiscal model and your fiscal philosophy.

Mr. ADELSON: There is some truth to that. I could be wealthier but the truth is, my passions for what I do have driven my choices and vocation. My passions for having an impact on the world, for seeing whether or not my efforts can have a more long-term impact - the way I look at it is I have the rest of my life to kind of build something, you know, that makes me wealthy.

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