Community//

“People who chase a buck will be chasing it their whole lives and rarely, if ever, find peace” with Michael Poutre and Chaya Weiner

People who chase a buck will be chasing it their whole lives and rarely, if ever, find peace. People who follow their hearts don’t watch the clock. My passion is building and running things, and creating opportunities for those brave enough to follow their dreams, provided those dreams have a solid business plan. I had the […]

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People who chase a buck will be chasing it their whole lives and rarely, if ever, find peace. People who follow their hearts don’t watch the clock. My passion is building and running things, and creating opportunities for those brave enough to follow their dreams, provided those dreams have a solid business plan.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Poutre. Michael is currently a Managing Partner of Terraform Capital. Prior to founding Terraform Capital, Michael Poutre has been CEO of three publicly traded companies and managed the Blue and White Fund, which was the first actively managed Israeli-based mutual fund in the US.


Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Necessity — to answer in a single word. I finished undergrad in ’93, in the middle of a recession. There was no work to be found except working for my father selling life insurance in rural Vermont. Having gone to school in SoCal, it felt like a retreat to be back in the rural farmlands where I grew up.

When I realized I had a knack for numbers and was good at sales, I decided that I was going to be a stock broker for a major firm and would only do it in NYC or Beverly Hills (“BH”) — the two best places for upward mobility in America. Since I had my fill of winters — and loved SoCal from my school days — BH was the logical choice.

By the time I was in my early 20’s, I was a top rookie for Smith Barney. A few years later I opened my own firm in Beverly Hills, and the rest… well… here we are.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

The first and largest challenge I encountered when starting Terraform Capital was my health. We intended to launch the fund this past January, but I developed an acute case of diverticulitis that all but killed me. I was in and out of the hospital for the first half of the year, having 5 surgeries and all the rehab and downtime that comes with it.

Disappearing for seven months meant that our deal pipeline was cold and our LPs were worried about me. Fortunately, I have a strong partner and a supremely talented team around me. Now we are seeing the best deal flow in years with our LPs as excited as us!

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

The old adage “all roads lead us to where we are now” comes to mind. That may seem like a punt, but I can’t help thinking of all the tough lessons I’ve learned over the years that made me good at this. I can tell you that I am not afraid to make mistakes, but I am terrified of making the same mistake twice. I am extremely persistent and believe that there is always a way around “no.” These traits have helped me find happiness and success.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Stress will kill you. Make time to decompress so you can be better for yourself and everyone around you.
  2. Focus on the steak not the peas. When mission critical times are at hand, focus on the task at hand; everything else is noise.
  3. When people choose to work for you, they have made a choice to spend time away from their families and dedicate precious energies towards your goals and dreams — respect that.
  4. Live life to the fullest. Have the courage and passion to chase your dreams. A life well lived will leave you with a few scars… don’t be afraid of it. Chasing your dreams will inspire those around you to chase theirs.
  5. Practice tolerance and use it as a tool to make you and your organization stronger. Surround yourself with people who think differently than you… they will challenge you to be able to articulate and defend your positions. People with strong opinions that differ from yours will be the first ones to cue you in on changes in your environment that require your attention. “Yes” people will serve only to stay aboard the sinking ship while telling you what a great job you are doing.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Its kind of funny that you ask me this… I happen to be part of the “sleepless elite,” in that I have never needed more than 4 hours of sleep per night. Really, though, the key to not burning out is to make sure ones’ career path is more of a matter of the heart than it is the wallet.

People who chase a buck will be chasing it their whole lives and rarely, if ever, find peace. People who follow their hearts don’t watch the clock. My passion is building and running things, and creating opportunities for those brave enough to follow their dreams, provided those dreams have a solid business plan.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have been humbled and blessed to have some incredible mentors along my journey, but the success of Terraform Capital that we are currently enjoying could not be possible without my business partner, Ryan Fabian. He is a savant at what he does, and his skills are very much in demand. He stood by patiently and waited for me to get better for most of the year, turning away some amazing opportunities to fulfill his commitment to me in becoming my partner. He faced some tough decisions and bet both his and his family’s future on our partnership. We simply would not be here without him.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

In 2017 I was accepted and enrolled at Pepperdine University for a PhD in Philosophy, and due to personal and professional commitments, I had to pause my studies. Finishing my PhD is very important to me. My father used to tell me that if we weren’t getting sharper, we were getting duller. So I always try to stay sharp and get outside my comfort zone to learn new things.

On a personal level, one day I would like to revive my former production company that focused on filming veteran stories for their family legacies. Relaunching this service as a charity so that no veteran would have to pay to record their stories and have it passed onto future generations is high on my list.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

This question has been on my mind most of the year, as during my second surgery I took a trip to the “other side.” I went away and while I was there, was given the choice to stay there or come back… I chose to return. So, with this in my back pocket, you can bet I have been thinking of my legacy.

My number one goal would be to be known for being a good father, and beyond that, I would hope people could say that I took what talents I was blessed with and simply tried to make things better, or the best I could.

Bono’s legacy to the world is awe inspiring music… which is an amazing thing to be known for. I don’t know how happy I would be if my legacy was to be known for making good deals, unless those deals involved enhancing the lives of others.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be?

The author Michael Creighton once opined that life boils down to two things… relationships and experiences. When I was growing up, these two things were hand in hand. In today’s world, things are very impersonal, which makes things colder between people. I would love to be part of a movement that while embracing our wonderful new technologies, brings people together in a manner not seen since the advent of the internet. A movement that encouraged people to unplug and get to know their neighbors would go a long way to easing some of the tensions we hear about everyday in the news.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can hear about the latest investments and news from Terraform Capital by following us on Linkedin and reach out to us with questions anytime by emailing [email protected].

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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