The TIGER 21 Chair Spotlight introduces you to the remarkable people that make up the TIGER 21 community. This week, meet Joel Treisman, TIGER 21 New York City Chair.
What made you decide to become a TIGER 21 Chair?
Simply put: I felt my skills, training, education, family and life experience, desire to learn, and my passion to help others all converged in Venn Diagram-like overlapping circles with TIGER 21 in the center. I come from a family of multi-generational wealth. I have years of experience working as a professional facilitator and individual/organizational coach. I have studied entrepreneurship, private wealth management, philanthropy, and nonprofit organizations. Plus, the opportunity to work with a “tribe” of Group Chairs with similar passions and interests made it even more appealing.
Provide three reasons why someone should want to be a TIGER 21 Member.
You want the benefit of a monthly meeting with a “personal board of directors” filled with peers who will shine a bright light on your blind spots, point out the dangerous and unintended consequences of your decisions, and hold you accountable to the goals and vision you share. You know - or suspect - you don’t have all the answers and are open to participating in authentic and sometimes difficult conversations with true peers on a monthly basis.
You want to move from success to significance and meaning. Having achieved success in your business and professional life, you have set your sights higher and want to make a greater impact and attain ongoing, life-long satisfaction, and dedication to a clear purpose and vision.
You appreciate special access - to people, ideas, investment opportunities, conversations, and experiences – that you simply cannot create on your own or in other organizations.
What is your best piece of advice you have heard during a meeting?
The wisdom and life experience gathered around the table during each of our meetings is - quite literally - priceless. Nowhere else will you find a gathering of smart, successful, emotionally-intelligent entrepreneurs and investors who are willing to take a day out of their month to help one another. No holds barred. No topic off-limits. Being vulnerable, being open to feedback, and offering the benefit of their perspective without ulterior motives. We talk about the importance of “carefrontation” in the meetings. We hold Members’ feet to the fire. That said, what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. I think the best advice I hear over and over again is to recognize your own strengths and continue to leverage your “unfair advantage” in your work, your investing, and your life. Said another way, “only do what only you can do.”
Was there a decision that changed your life?
Almost twenty years ago, I decided to leave the world of management and corporate strategy consulting to pursue training with the Hudson Institute of Coaching and a career as an individual and organizational coach. Before I made this decision, I attended their four-day workshop known today as “Life Forward.” It was an inspiring and meaningful experience, and I recommend it to everyone.
What lesson did you learn the hard way that you would like to share to help others?
Here’s a lesson for “rising generation” inheritors: If your parents and grandparents have not prepared you, have not educated you, have not mentored you, or have not given you the foundation of knowledge and confidence to handle your own and/or your family’s wealth down the road, you need to be your own advocate and take responsibility for your own education.
What is the biggest risk you took that paid off?
I am interpreting “paid off” in a larger sense – not financial results, but results measured in learning and meaning. Over 20 years ago, I quit my job and devoted myself 80 hours a week for a year to co-founding a non-profit effort to raise funds and awareness for grass-roots economic development in Third World countries and the poorest parts of the U.S. The camaraderie and passion of everyone working on this effort was truly inspiring. We called the event Bike-Aid ’86. We organized a five-route cross-country bike-a-thon for the summer of 1986. I was a fundraising coordinator and – at the last minute – became the replacement Route Leader for the LA to NY route. That summer, at age 25, I led a group of a dozen bicyclists ages 18 to 55 through the literal and figurative ups and downs of the 9-week, 3,500-mile journey starting at Santa Monica Pier and concluding with a total of about 100 riders from all routes at the United Nations plaza in NYC. Amazingly, we had no cell-phones and no GPS devices. Bike-Aid was a true start-up and bootstrap organization. Every day was an adventure with unexpected problems and challenges, but also incredible kindness, generosity, and beauty. We raised about $120,000 that year, and Bike-Aid continued for many years, raising millions of dollars over time. I had no idea how taking this risk would pay off down the road. And I have never looked back and second-guessed my decision to take the risk.
Last book you read
I recently re-read Jim Grubman’s book, “Strangers in Paradise: How Families Adapt to Wealth Across Generations.” Jim and his frequent collaborator, Dennis Jaffe, have become friends. In my TIGER 21 groups, we have adopted much of the terminology and thinking in Jim’s book. For instance, we often talk of the challenging family dynamics that develop between the wealth-creating “immigrants to the land of wealth” (TIGER 21 Members) and their offspring, who (born and/or raised with wealth) are “natives in the land of wealth.” Neither is better nor worse, but they each have their own blind spots and “learning edges.”
It’s hard to pick one. One that you’d be hard-pressed to find in print now but is forever etched in my memory is Gordon Mackenzie’s “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace.” Gordon was a unique and hilarious writer and presenter. In his book, he tells the story of his own experiences working at Hallmark Cards for thirty years. He explores the importance of creativity, empowerment, and humor in finding fulfillment in one’s work, even in the most complex work environments.
While not the one that made me the most money, my favorite investment was the shares I bought through the employee stock purchase plan at my first job after college. I worked with a startup educational software publisher called the Learning Company. I was a utility player – hiring sales reps, doing sales forecasting, writing package copy, etc. When the company went public, it was exciting to see that I played a material role in their success.
Favorite Place you have travelled
It may be a tie between the Backroads bicycling trip through the hills and villages of Provence, France and the amazing TIGER 21 trip to Havana, Cuba.
I will re-interpret this question and tell you my favorite meal(s), which are any and all meals at the long table in the rustic dining room of my family’s “Great Camp” deep in the Adirondack Mountains. There is nothing better than enjoying good food, conversation, and laughter with a dozen or more family members and friends. The views of a pristine mountain lake and sounds of the loons calling improve the taste of everything we eat.
Five words to describe yourself
curious, energetic, extroverted, passionate, optimistic
I am a true technophile. I have loved reading and watching science fiction (yes, Star Trek) since I was a kid. I love new technologies and the capabilities they offer for improving our individual and collective lives. I am an avid photographer. If I had to pick one favorite innovation at this moment, I would say the vast improvement in the quality of digital photography (even though my iPhone is essentially grafted to my hand, I do choose to use actual cameras to shoot most of my photos).