Take a Picture

Take a Picture

June 12, 2012

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to New Jersey to visit my dad’s first cousin.  It was a bit sentimental for all of us – for one thing, my brother, Shawn, brought his two kids, Maya and Noah, and we all spent an afternoon on the beach in Atlantic City.  It was the first time that Maya and Noah had seen the ocean and their unabashed joy was profound!

My brothers and me on the beach in Atlantic City, 1980

Shawn later told me that my dad put his arm around him and, with a tear in his eye, said, “That was you, 30 years ago, on this very same beach.”  Sure enough, he wasn’t kidding.  Shawn found a picture of us (Shawn, our brother, Eric, and me), 30 years ago, on that very same beach… same spot and all. It was a bit eerie.

My son, Ian, and his cousins, Maya and Noah, on the same beach in 2012

The other sort of interesting historical point is that I was in 4th grade and was nine years old; about the same age my own son, Ian, is now.  Wow.  Things do come back around don’t they?  I was struck by how far we had all come and caught myself playing back the reel of our lives.  It was great fun!

Another blog that I follow is called A VC by startup investor, Fred Wilson.  Fred had a terrific post last week entitled, “Sixteen Years Ago.”  He opened the post with,

1996 was the year that my career took off, the year that NYC’s startup community took off, and the year that the commercial internet took off. It was a big year and an inflection point in my life.”

He went on to say that that was the year he started his firm and talked about the people who were in his life at the time.  Then, he shared a photo of himself with several of those individuals, all of whom went on – and continue to – do great things in the startup community and entrepreneurial ecosystem.  I suspect that he feels very sentimental about that photo and looks back wistfully at how far he and his buddies have come, both personally and professionally.

In a similar, but different vein, take a look at an image on the internet of Shanghai in 1980.    In sharp contrast, take a look at the city photographed from approximately the same vantage point in 2010.

 In just 30 years’ time (about the same amount of time it took for my family to make it back to that spot in Atlantic City), the largest city in China experienced explosive growth.  Where the notion of a skyscraper did not even exist, the skyline is now full.

Shanghai, c. 2010

These photos certainly tell a story of growth and transformation. I wonder who possessed the vision to bring this modern Shanghai to fruition?

You might be wondering, “So, what’s the point?”  Times change.  Progress is made.  In 10… 20… 30 years when you look back what do you hope to have accomplished?  What do you want your landscape to look like?  What is your vision for the future?  Who do you hope to be doing business with at that time?  Might you be having Coffee with them tomorrow morning? What does your picture look like now?  What does your mental picture look like 30 years from now?  Whether you whip out your pocket sized digital camera or simply take a really close, very observant look around you, photograph the people who you are interacting with at this point in your career, at this point in your life.  Be aware of your surroundings.  You just never know how those same individuals will impact, change and help to shape your life into the future.  It’ll be fun for you to look back and catch a glimpse of your own achievements.

In my next post, I will talk about writing things down to build on this notion of archiving… and action!