Peter Drucker on planting the future

Pomona College Claremont

One of my favourite places in Southern California is Claremont. It's a leafy green university town east of Los Angeles.

Peter Drucker spent much of his career teaching at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California. He tells this story of how they were built.

Back in the 1920s, James Blaisdell, the president of Pomona College (the parent of the Claremont Colleges) realized that the region and its college population would grow fast and that he would need a great deal of money for expansion.

Blaisdell started by founding new local businesses and running them for a couple of years until they broke even. Then he called in an outstanding new graduate and gave him one of these businesses and $100,000 (a great deal of money in those days). He told the graduate, “It’s yours. You build it, but if it’s successful, don’t repay us—remember us.”

Drucker explains that’s why Pomona and the whole Claremont group are so well endowed today. A college president built a long-term constituency. The fruits didn’t come in for twenty years, but they came in a thousand fold. Movements understand this principle and invest in growing leaders who will multiply themselves in the future.

Drucker had saying about this: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today."

What are you going to do this week that will yield fruit a thousand times over in twenty years time?

"Managing the Nonprofit Organization" (Peter F. Drucker)