As a venture capitalist, I am frequently surrounded by exceptionally high-performing and inspiring people. Until recently, I had never stopped to think about the impact of that.
It had been an extraordinarily challenging, and physically and emotionally exhausting week. However, I had committed to going to an event in Vail, Colorado called Project Funway, to support the Education Foundation of Eagle County (EFEC) - an amazing organization that fills the gap between what the school system can provide and what the children of Eagle County most need. I was so exhausted, I could barely keep my eyes open, yet I somehow managed to muster the strength to attend the event.
As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by a room full of inspiring people. I saw Kim Langmaid, the Founder of Walking Mountains, who managed to convince Oscar Tang to donate millions of dollars’ worth of land to support her organization; and Beth Slifer and Elaine Kelton, dynamic businesswomen who played important roles in making Vail the world-renowned destination it is today. Beth and Elaine are inspiring examples of women who effectively combine feminine beauty, style, and poise with fierce confidence and strength. I watched them artfully work the crowd out of the corner of my eye.
Then, I saw Amy Coyer, an accomplished entrepreneur. Like me, Amy is happiest when she can be active and outdoors—skiing, hiking, and biking. Amy waved me down to tell me the sad news that we may be unable to ski together this season because of her recent injury. As a testament to her greatness, Amy used humor and her we-can-do-it attitude to deliver the news in a way that left me oddly inspired. My energy level started to rise.
Then, the show began. I attended the event because my mother, whose creativity and commitment to excellence have inspired me throughout my life, had designed an entry for the event. My mother, a metalsmith and jewelry artist, had spent the last year designing an incredibly creative dress with a bodice of copper, flowers made of tin cans, and a skirt made of copper wire, peacock feathers, and other interesting adornments. It was so inspiring to see the creativity of her design, and her excitement and focus when preparing for the event.
There were dozens of wildly inventive designs: an elephant of carpet padding, a ball gown of plastic tarp and pine cones, and a prom dress from receipts from the designers’ adventures over the last year.
The winning dress was designed by philanthropist, Vail Citizen of the Year winner, mother, and grandmother, Doe Browning. Doe crafted a dress made entirely of hot glue. I can’t even imagine how much time she spent making this dress. She modeled her own design, waltzing down the runway with unbelievable grace. It was spectacular.
All of this creativity was channeled in support of EFEC’s mission to support education, and the intellectual and emotional needs of students with school-based enrichment programs, mental health services, and teacher talent retention.
The event completely re-energized me. I woke up the next day bright-eyed after only six hours of sleep with a mind full of ideas about how to overcome the challenges I had faced the week before. I now have a renewed appreciation for my incredibly inspiring mother, the entrepreneurs with whom I am privileged to work, and the community in which I am blessed to live.
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