Transcript for Lorrie Meyercord

Gino Borges:

I know you’re a big fan of the arts and that’s a large part of the reason why I invited you in, but I think you have a very unique angle on the topic.

Lorrie is coming to us as a good friend in the impact investing space. She’s been featured in The New York Times on a couple occasions back in 2016 and 2018, and they essentially are centered around this idea of connecting impact investing to supporting artistic aesthetic entrepreneurship, and we look forward to not only going into Lorrie’s outward impact investing life, but also her journey inside, and how she’s made the journey to who she is today. And where she is, how she is looking at all the different angles of what it actually means to have a relationship with resources, money stewardship, and to be in service to the world.

Lorrie Meyercord:

One of the big draws is that few people talk about the connection between impact investing and actually supporting artists. It’s often talked about as a non-profit phenomenon. I have found a way to make that transition from non-profit. It may not be a high-yielding experience, but in general, it’s a way of supporting arts in a much different way.

Gino Borges:

Maybe you can touch on how you came to that point in your life on how you’ve transitioned into saying “I want to do more with my resources and in particular I want to support artists in this particular way.”

Lorrie Meyercord:

It started out as a joke. I had hired Jed Emerson to be a consultant. My brother Jack manages my money, and the two of us were pretty new to this space.We hired Jed to give us the landscape and help connect us to people that might be aligned. As we sat together in a strategy meeting, Jed asked, “what are your top values?”

I majored in art and my first career was in the arts as a graphic designer and art director. I’ve always loved the Arts. So naturally, I would love to invest in the arts if that was possible. We all got a chuckle out of it, but it’s turned out to not be a joke at all. It’s so possible and has been really rewarding to see that it’s a viable. As we’ve gotten into it, it’s just amplified the inspiration around it because we need creativity in order to face some of the issues we’re facing today.

The arts kind of expanded, in my mind, to the creative economy, and how to really support creativity. And, not necessarily just where I started in a Liberal Arts course. That too, but a wider range now.

Gino Borges:

Can you be specific of where you are moving resources into and what kind of instrument it is? What’s the shape of that type of investment?

Lorrie Meyercord:

There’s a group called Upstart Co-Lab led by Laura Callahan. She was one of the first people three years ago that I connected with. That situation was a non-profit set up with a three-year grant to basically explore this exact topic. How can we invest in the arts and creativity? One of the first deals she brought to me was the deal featured in the article around Art Space. That’s more of a real estate-play: creating housing for artists and their families, but also a community aspect where each apartment building is required to have, as part of the model, community classes and events. I really love it, but that was more of a real estate angle. It was through Calvert, so it was investing in a fund it covered.

Other examples are OneDome which is right in San Francisco and Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. Both of those are more like immersive art experiences where you’re buying a ticket to go experience it. They’re able to create revenue off of ticket sales, merchandise, food and beverage. They both had great success from the start. Now, Meow Wolf is 10 years old; that’s shown incredible success over the years. They’re now about to expand to Denver, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, about to really explode.Those are just some examples of different ways it can look.

The latest one is here in Kauai. There’s an old guava manufacturing facility that myself and two other people have gone in together. It’s been sitting vacant for years. It’s just like a ghosted building, but it’s on stunningly beautiful land, 40 acres. And, we leased another 40. It’ll be a combination of farming and a restaurant where I’ll be leading the art. We’ll do a sculpture garden, we’ll have resident artists, and we will eventually do classes for the community and the kids. It’s a big project, but that would be another example of how I’m investing in the arts, but not with an intention to just give away my money. It’s still an investment and smart, but it’s supporting creativity.

Gino Borges:

I’m just curious on the extent to which this is creating critical mass. Have you had others that have reached out to you about what you are doing?

Lorrie Meyercord:

I’ve had some people reach out and want me to speak on a panel. It hasn’t worked out yet for me to attend since I live in Kauai and have two young kids. It can be difficult. One was in Portugal and the other one was in Colombia. I would love to, but that’s kind of what I’m hoping for next–to come together with other like-minded investors at the Hundred Percent network event in Big Sur. There seemed to be some interest there. That’s what I’m trying to build now. I have felt a little bit on my own as an investor collaborating with entrepreneurs, but now I’m trying to find those other investors to team up with.

Gino Borges:

You make a connection that some of the issues we’re dealing with now would benefit by being approached artistically and aesthetically. Can you give us a sense of what you’re seeing out there? There’s all these traditional categories–climate change, human rights, and so forth, and they often get reduced down into only using one part of the brain. A large part of the brain and the communal experience about being alive in the world just is not a part of the vantage point. Just curious on what you’ve seen as a result of this. How are the aesthetic communities that you’re supporting addressing this in ways that the traditional paradigms, the traditional thought process, has been unable to access until this point in time?

Lorrie Meyercord:

That’s a great question. I don’t know if I can speak to exact changes. It’s part of the trust within myself that those changes are seen when we are deeply listening to that creative life force within us. My experience and my own life and my belief is that these artistic perspectives and experiences help us get in touch with that wisdom within ourselves. We are often stuck on one side of the brain where more may be missing and not hearing.

I just went to San Francisco and got to go to OneDome. I was blown away by the level of diversity going through there. There was every single race and age group represented. You had grandparents with little kids. You had two teenage kids. You had everything represented – the joy and the playfulness and the spark of creativity and inspiration. I can see it in their eyes. I don’t know how that’s going to translate in their community. But I just trust that, that is essential for what we’re facing.

 Gino Borges:

I say the same thing about our work in terms of community resiliency at OpenPath. The best outcomes we have are largely invisible, and it’s a very visceral sense of knowing that it’s less attached with traditional metrics with which the space really loves to consolidate phenomena into little pockets. Yet, we know intuitively from our own families and life experiences that often the best parts of life, joy, and fulfillment are largely beyond linguistic categories and socialized metrics, but really sort of an inward trusting faithful moment.

Where did you begin this journey? I know that you have a past that involves alternative medicine. I only say the term alternative. It’s not alternative to me. It’s mainstream to me, but it’s alternative to most. Perhaps share with our audience a bit on how your relationship to money evolved and a little bit about your background on how you came to this point.

Lorrie Meyercord:

It was kind of funny because I grew up in New Jersey in a suburb of Manhattan. I was surrounded by finance–my dad, brother, sister, uncle, and cousins. I always had a little bit of judgment. I was the youngest, flower child kid. I moved to California, was an art major, Italian major, and ended up in Chinese medicine school.

Then, it just turned out that my ex-husband was the first employee of GoPro. We were on that journey together from the very beginning. I had my acupuncture practice and two small kids. We were in debt from student loans and put our whole wedding on a credit card. So my relationship with money had been, like I said, having a lot of judgment around it. Being the starving artist, youngest sister in the family…and then GoPro turned out to be a success. All of a sudden we had this impending IPO, and my ex-husband didn’t have any interest in the investing side of it. He said, “I don’t have the time or the interest. I’ll leave this up to you.”

I called my brother Jack, who had his own hedge fund in Asian markets, and was having an existential moment. We had just started to collaborate when he said he’s coming out to this conference called SoCap. “Why don’t you just come with me because you’re in San Francisco?” So, I went with him and it was a very aha! moment. This is what I could do, but we still hadn’t had the IPO so I didn’t have actually any money to invest. However, I was already sold. Once the IPO happened, we started to explore. You’re basically locked out for six months – so we were exploring things, but again, my ex-husband wasn’t totally comfortable. He’d been working his ass off for 10 years and was like, “it sounds great and all that.” He was coming from that place of “make sure I don’t screw up,” which I understand. Then, just as fate would have it, our marriage ended.

Jack and I looked at each other and I’m like “well, I guess this makes things efficient” in terms of what we want to do investment-wise, and I sold my portion. That really kicked off my journey to have just full freedom and put all of my resources to work.

It was a pretty surreal experience of going from being in one place with money to then all of a sudden in the finance world. I’m right back where I grew up, but this time I’m really feeling connected that I can do it. You’ve talked about stewardship before and it was just clear to me that for some reason the universe wanted me to steward this money. It wasn’t what I thought ever in my life. A lot of the GoPro years were difficult and trying times. I was just ready to throw in the towel, but it just ended up the way it did. Now, it’s been a transition into the absolute privilege and honor to be able to direct this energy capital towards things that I love and things that I feel will support humanity and the planet.

Gino Borges:

Have you noticed any connections between acupuncture and your journey on impact investing?

Lorrie Meyercord:

When I had my acupuncture practice, there was a voice that would literally say to me “this is inefficient,” and it would drive me nuts. There’s only so many ways you can have an acupuncture practice, even if you have a hundred patients in a day. I kept inquiring “what is this voice,” and then, years later I’m in impact investing. “Oh my God, this is I think what it was leading me towards,” because this is obviously way more global whereas treating one person isn’t as powerful. But all of a sudden, I saw this opportunity to move life force energy towards areas that need nourishment.

In Chinese medicine you’re basically looking for areas of stagnation, areas of deficiency. You’re trying to open up areas of stagnation and nourish series of deficiency. We’re still trying to do that right now.

There’s the people and the animals that are experiencing inefficiency, not they themselves, but given the resources available. Then there’s the areas where it may be stagnant – there’s like a constriction and a holding. Looking at that landscape, I picked up impact investing with that same acupuncture-lens of looking for patterns and looking for balance, which has been fun.

Gino Borges:

I love that, just to keep that metaphor alive – would the needle of acupuncture be the equivalent of what impact investing is?… where it’s putting a little pressure on where it’s stuck, to open up the energy in a particular space? Rather than the Earthly body that we walk around with, you’re essentially looking at community bodies and looking for stuck energy. And essentially the impact investing becomes the needle point where you find – that term – the therapeutic pulse, where all of a sudden there’s that little throbbing going on and you’ve hit it. And, the beauty is watching the throbbing just diminish slowly as a result. When you’re funding these aesthetic communities there was probably an immense amount of stuck blood in some cases, right?

Lorrie Meyercord:

I love that term that comes with acupuncture as well. Essentially, as a result of the bodies of those communities, you start to feel more alive because we’re sending energy to more notes within them and you trust what needs to self-organize and reorient.

Essentially, the cosmological order does its dance with you as long as we’re constantly in a sense of creating flow for both, not only the body that we’re in via acupuncture, but more of a how it’s working within the sphere of money and communities as well. It just builds on that idea that we are all connected. The five elements in the body, they all need each other. But, they have to be in harmony. If one isn’t, it affects the whole system, and eventually that same element. It’s looking at the globe as this living organism and really recognizing where things are needing support and what type. The interesting thing about a needle is you can communicate to the body at the same point different messages with the needle. There can be a sedating aspect. Some points in general are more sedating and some are more tonifying, but it’s really this dance with the body of listening and then supporting it with what it’s saying it needs.

So, it feels like the same thing with the body of the world. It’s great to come to those moments of complete disorientation like “I do not know what I’m doing,” where all of a sudden shadow emotions start to come in, whether it’s fear anxiety and so forth.

Gino Borges:

Can you touch on your latest burn or the latest confusion, something that you currently started confronting on your journey with impact right now?

Lorrie Meyercord:

There’d be a couple spaces for this one. I’m talking about the guava facility. This is a big thing to take on, super exciting, but fear as well. Being in the Hawaiian Islands, being from the mainland originally, it’s important to be aware and to be sensitive to the history of these islands and the energy and the wisdom that the indigenous people have to offer. That is something I’m really trying to be mindful of and know that things will probably be construed or projected upon me incorrectly. It’s sensitive and it brings up fears for me. That would be one.

The other is my brother and I are starting a new fund together – a big risk and exciting all at the same time. Seeing a need for a fund in the public equities market that we don’t feel exists, wanting to create it. But, at the same time with the markets being the way they are right now, unstable, it’s really daunting.

Again, I find myself just trying to listen to that voice that is guiding us, and continue on. But, it’s daunting to take these things on not knowing. You need collaborators and players but starting before they appear. But, it’s beginning to appear already. The collaborators and players are out there, but what I’m noticing is that step forward that I have to take first, and then they come. So with the Kauai project and with Jack, I feel I’m walking kind of blindly.

Gino Borges:

What do you use during those moments where, I guess is equivalent of the fog of impact, when people serve the catalyst role and essentially set in motion the energy for some form of materialization?

Lorrie Meyercord:

You’re balanced. You’re centering. When you find yourself in these situations to hold faith, to be true to yourself, and to be able to really sort of honor the intentionality. I have a deep meditation practice. I have a specific meditation. I do The Sacred Heart meditation where I kind of journey inside and it becomes like a visual journey. Maybe since I’m an artist, I end up getting wisdom in the form of images. I literally bring questions in there and sit with them. That’s always my most powerful place for guidance. Also, just listening to my body when things are feeling tight, feeling constricted, just having the tools. I support my body whether it’s yoga, acupuncture, meditation, and journaling, just trying to take everything in. For me, impact investing has been one of the ultimate personal growth vehicles. A lot of money – it’s really overwhelming and shakes relationships. Then, learn to put it to work. It’s just providing ample opportunity to bring things in and sit with them and come back to the truth, that’s abundance. That is probably one of my biggest challenges in this space is to get out of a place of urgency if I find myself in that. It’s so easy with everything happening in the world of global warming to feel so urgent. But, in my experience that’s usually my ego talking to me. So when I feel that physiology come back to this place of trusting abundance, there’s nothing to screw up. It’s all going to be perfect no matter what happens, even if it fails. I just try to live my life constantly coming back to abundance.

Gino Borges:

I periodically keep coming back to this idea that impact investing is largely still a cerebral and miserable journey for most. You have demonstrated to me where it’s a more of an embodied approach. It’s a vehicle for social transformation, and I’m curious – how do we share the potentiality of the body wisdom, the other side of the brain, alternative realities? How do we get that out there, besides demonstrating it ourselves? I know that we are in the community together called Toniic which has a culture within it that I think is attracted to these principles that you’re referring to. What we’re talking about here really is this path work where there are opportunities to confront things, to go inside. Part of what draws me into the space is the potential to look at my whole person. It encompasses not only the head but the heart. And you, you’re also talking about the ethereal body around you. You’re in touch with the Earth.

How do we get this message out? I can only speak personally, but it’s where I feel the most joy in my existence and I always feel the most joy there. It feels like a diet with the most protein, the most fat, and it’s not a very high carb sugary way of living. Whereas I feel like if I’m in my head, it feels like all sugar. It’s just ups and downs, ups and downs, ups and downs all the way.

How do we get that word out there about more of a holistic way of approaching our relationship with resources and stewardship?

Lorrie Meyercord:

Life is always giving us these opportunities, right? In fact, investing with your money is just one. Your question leads me back to the arts.

Think of experiences you have with the arts: when you go to a concert, you go to see a really moving film, or you read that poem that just knocks you right? These are the most efficient ways into the heart. I find that is why I love the arts. It can reach people beyond you. We get these emails to sign up for a retreat that would be about impact investing and personal growth. Who wouldn’t absolutely delete that email? We would be impacted though by a powerful movie, or a moving song.

When I went to New York for the launch of Upstart Co-Lab 2.0, Yo-Yo Ma was there telling us about the Bach Series he’s working on. The Bach suites are, he says, the best a cellist could bring. If he plays the Bach suites, it is the most complex. It pulls from his emotions in ways that are most challenging. So he’s giving you the best of him. He came up with this idea to go around the world to different cities, play the Bach suites, and then encourage a dialogue. Previous to attending, they will have collaborated with people, and the topics that as a community they need to face, hearing diverse perspectives. He’s done five and continuing for the next two years. He’s using his art right to crack people’s hearts wide open, lay the groundwork, and then have this incredible dialogue.

He went to Flint Michigan and they were like, “we don’t want to talk about water actually.” He asks “what doyou want to talk about?” Then, up to Montreal, where they want to talk about AI – it is so fascinating to hear the diverse issues that meant something to different people. But what I loved is he’s using his art to really spark that connection and that full creative self.

Gino Borges:

So you mentioned cracking your heart open. It shook up your relations a little bit when all of a sudden you came into material abundance. Can you touch on a little bit about how you navigated that? Because long-held relationships obviously got colored a little bit and shaped as a result of this awareness around the material abundance that came to you and that is now being stewarded by you. I know this is an issue that is an opportunity, a gifted challenge.

So I’d like to hear a little bit more about how that shaped you and how you navigated those relationships that were in flux.

Lorrie Meyercord:

The biggest one was my marriage. I say it was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. I could see what the intoxication of success and the money were doing, but there was really nothing I could do to stop that from happening. It finally just became apparent that it wasn’t a match to be married anymore.

It’s been an amazing journey to see what can actually be possible when you’re free to play out your life, and there’s no judgment there. It was nice to let him go do him and play that out. We have an incredible friendship now and a beautiful co-parenting arrangement. That’s been four years of navigating, but that’s probably the biggest one–where I watched money have a very hypnotic intoxicating hold on him. That was one relationship I say change.

I’m sure other people go through this too, but you have all this material abundance and there’s this feeling of “I need to give it all away.” I need to help this person and that person… and then sitting with where is that coming from within me? What’s the intention behind it for me? What am I really trying to get from buying this person something they need? I’ve just had so many opportunities to practice that one. As you see someone struggling and you think “I can help,” but is that really what is going to be the highest good for that person’s spiritual growth to just solve it, or fix it? It doesn’t mean you don’t help in certain instances. That part of us that wants to “fix” once you get resources can be really amplified and tested. That’s been a big journey of just listening to what is really going to be the highest good here.

Gino Borges:

Hypnotic attachment to abundance – you mentioned it as a symptom, but I’m just curious on how you were able to navigate. You saw the hypnotic power of it, and obviously a train wreck in slow motion. But besides the divorce as a way of separating, also free to play out your life without judgment. “He can be him. You can be you.”

It can be hypnotic to also be the person that receives all of the incoming needs of the world that can make you feel like, “I’m front and center.” I’d like to get a little sense of how you navigate that. You mentioned “I go inward” but I’m a little bit more interested in managing the ego or softening the ego during those moments. You said for instance yourself, “is this the highest and best use for this particular person?” That obviously puts us in a position of assessing whether we think it is even as opposed to really asking that person. I see this on numerous occasions, in philanthropy, in charity work, where you can see they were predisposed to think that we know what’s best for others. I’m just wondering how you started to navigate that.

I love what you’re doing with the arts. It seems like you are supporting the conditions for the artists to be artists. How are you creating conditions for Lorrie to be Lorrie?… Sort of the equivalent of investing in yourself.

Lorrie Meyercord:

I would say creating more alone time to be creative myself and say “no” to things in this space. It’s so tempting to always be going to conferences and trips. I think one of my biggest practices has been saying “no” to a lot of things, staying grounded, staying home with my kids, painting, and doing the things I know nourish me. But again, the ego is so slippery, right? The ego will come in and be like “you need to be doing more.” There’s so much stuff you could be helping with. Again, it’s like being in dialogue with it. What’s this about here? Where’s this coming from?

We were talking about going to Tel Aviv – I would love to go to Tel Aviv. I know you’re going to have an incredible time, but when I check-in with myself, there isn’t space there. It feels like more of a clinging or fear of missing out. So that’s what I look for.

Sometimes I get invited to something. It’s like “boom”… this really open spacious feeling. I think,  “okay.” Then, there are other feelings I get that are obvious red flags.

Gino Borges:

I love that idea of connecting to whether you feel spaciousness or constriction.

You mentioned how some people are starting to form around the arts and supporting artists.

Where do you see in particular the angle that you have invested in with supporting aesthetic communities? What do you see that space looking like five to ten years from now? Or hope that it looks like?

 Lorrie Meyercord:

The first thing that pops to mind is the idea of getting artists in the room. It isn’t just about supporting their entrepreneurial endeavor, but this idea of appreciating that an artist spends their life connecting very deeply to that creative life force that is moving through them, and I believe, holds the most wisdom. That’s their practice, to continually open up and reach their edges and push through, to be a vessel in a conduit for that energy to come through.

If enough people value that and maybe recognize that that isn’t their practice, they have different strengths, they have different skills, but they want that in the room.

There will be this recruitment of, valuing and a real desire for those people to be present on boards, to be facilitating off-site for various companies. There will be this bridge between the artists, being this thing over there that you then go enjoy their finished product to really be seen as a powerful collaborator. Artist perspective–that’s needed.

Gino Borges:

I was talking to a good friend of mine that has been on many boards, venture boards in particular. There’s always the founders, the venture firm, and then they have to have one independent, a very old person. You have to have an Elder in the room. Everyone is still bent to the same metrics, the same way of seeing the world, but it’s an elder that’s able to keep the calm. I’ve always suggested that every board should have a trickster on it. Just like the king and queen used to always have a joker as part of the courts, we need a trickster to always be rubbing up against the edge of uncomfortability and just showing people the other side, or the opportunity cost, of going one way versus another.

It’s a very difficult thing to get buy-in on when you have a particular goal. I struggled early in my 20s, mostly just trying to rage against the machine. I didn’t know where to turn with my energy. Wherever I would go with this energy, I felt was constantly being reduced and commodified. It’s interesting that we createbusiness communities and artistic communities. The irony is that both of these communities would benefit tremendously by being on the same dance floor together; they can help each other out so much.

On the other hand, I have quite a few artist friends; none of which would I think to even put in charge of a candy store, knowing how they operate. So, wouldn’t it be nice if both of these groups could get together? The equivalent of when the East meets the West – the beauty of culture meeting.

Why not meet up with people that are channeling different energy? We have one body that’s channeling optimization efficiency strategy and are great at it, too! They’ll fly all across the country. They hold meetings and they’re talking about the dance. The other side is talking “flow” and aren’t attached to outcome, wanting to play with color, potentiality, freedom and body. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if we got everybody in the room?

Thank you for being out in front doing that because I think my 20s would have been much different if I too would have had the moment to play in both worlds. That’s who I am. I’m at my best when I’m migrating between the East and the West rather than being stuck. It’s in migration where my power emerges.

All the talk more recently surrounds having a gender lens, but no one is talking about the artist lens. It would be great to bring this perspective into the business side of thing and have not just an elder on the board, but also artists to bring in a diverse concepts.

Gino Borges:

Do you have anything to share that came up that either I didn’t ask you for or that percolated as a result of what came up?

Lorrie Meyercord:

I appreciate that question of how do we use impact investing as vehicle for personal growth, and how do we get that out there. I’m sure there’s tons of people who share that perspective, and I would love to encourage anyone who resonates with that to reach out. I’m not sure how we’d all gather and build that movement, but I would love to be a part of it because I do think it’s starting to take shape.

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