Wow, how time flies! It seems like just yesterday that we decided to leave our jobs and start MEI. In the two years since, we have invested over $300M in more than 150 projects across 17 states. We have formed what we believe is the best team in all of clean energy (hard to believe we have 18 people now), and have worked with amazing partners in all areas of the business. To celebrate this milestone and our joint success to date, we threw ourselves a party. No party is complete without some party favors! And don’t worry, we printed some extras. Shoot us a note if you’d like some MEI bday swag, and we’ll send you one while supplies last!
For those that could safely attend, we had a get together consisting of the usual dinner and drinks, some high quality banter about everything from infrastructure policy to ‘Tomorrowland’, and we started the night out with some (virtual) guest speakers. We were fortunate enough to have three of the brightest minds in the industry speak to us about their careers, professional development, their current roles and the market as a whole. Below are some takeaways from those conversations.
- The transition from ‘doer’ to ‘creator'. Everyone in their career must start out as a doer and it takes time and hard work to transition to a creator. In some ways, everyone at MEI is a doer. There should be no job too small at any start-up or early-stage company. The advice from the speakers was to design your career path with the goal of eventually transitioning from a doer to a creator.
- Hire the best athletes, then figure out how to use them. This advice was music to our ears and this is the reason why we often hire outside of the energy industry. In a similar vein, the speaker also noted that just because you can do the job, doesn’t mean you should. Using a March Madness example, just because the small forward is capable of bringing the ball up the floor, doesn’t mean he or she should - leave it to the most equipped!
- Risk is always a system issue. Thinking of risk in a vacuum, is well, risky! This is especially true in a heavily regulated and constantly-evolving industry like clean energy. It starts as high-level as climate policy and rings just as true at the project level. The best solution to mitigating any risk is to over-communicate and preach transparency.
- The importance of downside protection. Every investment should be reviewed through the lens of downside protection first and foremost. We should constantly be thinking about: How do we get our capital back? What is the worst case, black swan scenario and what do the economics look like if that is to happen? How can we better protect the downside?
This half-virtual, half-in-person event was a blast and a great learning experience. Hopefully next year, we can throw a bigger party, in-person and invite our partners to join.