Being Global in Time and Space – Ambassador Frank Wisner

Being global – the ability to think beyond current horizons of time and space – is a natural quality of the best entrepreneurs. It helps them achieve maximal outcomes. Being global is a core value of ours, something I was reminded of when I recently hosted Ambassador Frank Wisner at my home in Cambridge.

Half a century separates Ambassador Wisner and me, but we have developed a unique friendship over the past decade, one of mutual respect centered around being global. I admire how he looks both into the past and toward the future, and the fluency with which he addresses complex situations across national borders. In doing so, he can easily traverse the fabrics of time and space to understand the present more clearly. Watching him in his element reminded me how much of his perspicacity draws from his decades of experience across eras and the dozens of countries in which he has lived and worked. (Indeed, Amb. Wisner joined the foreign service 60 years ago and went on to become America’s ambassador to India, Egypt, the Philippines, and Zambia.)

The facility with which he thinks about the future is also why he is also an investor in our firm. He is a man of people and ideas, which are global – transcendent across both time and space – and fundamental building blocks of the best companies.

Being global and entrepreneurial success

Being global in mindset is a critical driver of entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneurs who are global seem far less likely to get stuck in local maxima, celebrating success instead of seeking greater heights (or conversely, local minima where it is unclear if there is a path to any greater success). These entrepreneurs are not fazed by short-term successes or failures; they are instead able to continue a pursuit of the global maximum. In fact, such entrepreneurs are never confined to the immediate present. They seek beyond the horizons in front of them, the horizons that seemingly limit them until they don’t. If you read biographies of Richard Branson, Phil Knight, Steve Schwarzman, Jeff Bezos, etc you will notice this globality present in the way they think and operate.

Why does being global in time matter?

Every great entrepreneur is trying to forge the future. Understanding historical perspective enables wisdom on how various ideas have converged to bring us to the present dislocation and opportunity; conversely, being able to look into the future and find relation to the past enables an entrepreneur to make the path ahead more well-defined.

While it may seem that entrepreneurship is a modern phenomenon, the concept of striking off on your own is millennia old. Some variation of the situation one faces today has likely been seen in the past and it is equally likely that the future one attempts to build will recycle something seen in the past.

For example, if you are building an agricultural technology company, you would benefit from understanding how the dependencies between countries and commodities have evolved over time, and how commodity pricing has changed as well. Even something as simple as appreciating that we live in a market peak is difficult for someone who is not able to look further back than his or her entrepreneurial career. These insights completely change the trajectory of company-building.

Why does being global in space matter?

Entrepreneurs gain perspective on how to improve by being aware of best practices from other cultures, countries, and companies. Being connected to people and ideas across borders also creates accretive opportunities one may not have envisioned. You don’t know what you don’t know, and an entrepreneur needs to know.

For example, China is a global superpower with a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurs, one that is more advanced than is the US in certain areas. Being aware of best practices from China could enable an American entrepreneur to have an advantage in the home market or perhaps predict which trend may be coming next. Similarly, knowing that a Japanese conglomerate may need your product in their market may accelerate commercial traction for an early stage company.


We try to be very global in our thinking and working with Ambassador Wisner as a Global Advisor is one way for us to consciously invest in doing so. I have found it to be very helpful to me as an entrepreneur and when helping our entrepreneurs on their respective chess boards. It is liberating to drop the confines of the world around you and start thinking about where else you can take the company. I encourage all entrepreneurs to see if they can adopt a more global mindset!