Maintaining a work-life balance is a tricky art. Still, Warren Chan has mastered weaving together passion, impact, legacy, familial support, and self-care in his work, which he furnishes with meaningful goals.
In a world overshadowed by corporate giants, Warren breathes life into small businesses, weaving together lessons from his family's legacy to help them thrive by fostering growth while preserving heritage in an ever-changing marketplace.
Warren redefines the dynamics of corporate success, asserting that mental health and a work-life balance are not only beneficial but essential for empowering effective leadership.
A Balancing Act
An individual's personal and professional lives interconnect to form a cycle of yin and yang, ideally in an equilibrium. Warren Chan, Director of Anacapa Partners, practices a peaceful co-existence of mind and soul by integrating passion, impact, legacy, familial support, and self-care in his professional life. This way, he weaves a tapestry of seamless unity, where his life's personal and professional threads intertwine to tell a holistic story—all while making an external impact through investing. By nurturing alignment within himself, Warren embraces a more profound role in the lives of others.
“I think, in terms of what we choose to do as our vocation, it's really important to do what we enjoy. And I love what I am. I love what I do. So as a result of that, it doesn't really feel like work.”
Anacapa Partners is a private equity fund with the strategic focus of providing capital and visibility to search fund entrepreneurs and assisting them through all steps of their leadership journey. This particular investment vehicle resonated with Warren because mentorship, learning, and mutual gain are at its heart.
Warren credits his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for his friendships, relationships, technical skills and, most importantly, his love for learning and tinkering. MIT instilled in him the drive to break things apart, understand their structure, and experiment with new ways to improve himself and his work. He looks for this same curiosity in his searchers and aims to fuel their journeys with passionate learning. On the other hand, Columbia Business School trained him in the harder skills of evaluating businesses and business models. Warren sees investing in search funds as an impactful force that can improve individuals and companies, setting a ripple effect of positive influence in motion.
Gratitude and Curiosity
The driving force behind Warren’s and his family’s work is their Christian faith and gratitude. His purpose is to give back and keep the valves of opportunity open to allow the flow of affirmative impact.
“In terms of why we do things, I think we would sum it up as—we do it to serve God. It's a form of showing our gratitude for everything we've been given. So we want to share that gratitude with others.”
Working for the betterment of others lays out a foundation of fulfillment in your personal life, knowing you’ve responsibly passed on the support you’ve received. Accordingly, being an impactful part of the process, working in a team, and contributing to an end goal are all reasons why Warren enjoys investing.
Warren and his family approach their work by being intensely curious and sharing their learning path with other people to improve their journeys. He believes in being a helpful mentor to the searchers he funds and acknowledges that he has his own cohort of personal and professional mentors in his life.
Mentoring and Intergenerational Businesses
The practice of passing on trade secrets and best practices from one generation to another within a family business is a thinning one. As corporations become grander and more global, family-run SMEs' support networks and mentorship resources become rare. A skilled craft becomes a profit-driven practice, and a business's values weaken. But Warren is confident in applying the intergenerational apprenticeship model within the search fund space, having received mentorship from his own family members.
“I view my relationship with many of my family members in a similar vein as I view my relationship with other forms of mentors. So it's just an extended roster of mentors that I have at my disposal. And I think many of them bring a very long-term oriented mindset, just given multi-generational involvement with family business.”
Several of Warren’s relatives run companies implementing similar management and operating structures as Warren's successful searcher CEOs, giving him access to parallel lines of thought and execution. Warren’s family is large and runs different types of businesses, but he has noticed that the underlying legacy in their business practices is ultimately helping those around them.
Search funds can bring the family back into business with an attractive model of time investment, training, and mentorship. Participants in the process may not be true family members, but they can provide similar levels of attention and advice. And what could be a more salient practice than equipping leaders of the future with tried and tested business mindsets?
Big investments return high gains. Warren believes there’s a correlation between a high-quality search process and a high-quality CEO. A searcher CEO who takes over a small business can save it from shutting down and continue its legacy. Not only that, Warren agrees that the mentor-mentee collaboration can be a powerful one, “pairing young, smart, ambitious, hungry entrepreneurs” with “older, more experienced, wealthy individuals.”
“This model of mentor-mentee type relationship is a really powerful combination for many small businesses who really don't have the pre-existing governance structures or advisors that we bring to the next stage of growth with searcher CEOs at the helm. And so that's why you see the returns that we've generated.”
The searcher’s journey is just as important as the business’s, and investors shape the paths that lead these entrepreneurs and companies to their success. Once again, balance comes into the picture as faith buttresses calculated strategy. But what about the mentoring capacities of leaders like Warren?
Self-Care in Leadership
In addition to investing in search funds, Warren also invests in himself. As a key figure at the center of a project, losing your own gravity makes it difficult for others to orbit around you and believe in your management.
“All of these commonsense things like living a good life and caring for employees, they might not have shorter term benefits that you can see, but over the long run, I really do think they build a healthier business."
It's easy to focus on the numbers and forget about real life when you're motivated. But it's crucial to remember that mental health and equanimity are crucial components of a leader's character. Warren acknowledges the importance of self-care while supporting his searchers and expects it of his CEOs too. Reflecting on his investment practice over the years, he states that he’s moved to a more concentrated fund to more fully serve the lower number of searchers he’s working with.
Searchers must also set limits for themselves. Warren notes that one of the reasons entrepreneurs stay within the U.S. despite buying potential in international markets is to utilize the American economy while staying within the funding capacities and time constraints of their search process. Cultural differences also have to be taken into account. As an industry agnostic investor, however, Warren gives his searchers full freedom on what kind of business they want to buy and lead. Hopefully, with time, the benefits of a global network are maximized.
Stability, derived from balance, sets the stage for impactful innovation and dynamic growth. Warren Chan, Director of Anacapa Partners, allows his work and relationships to support each other from their respective sides of the spectrum, just as there is always some yin within yang and vice-versa. Driven by gratitude and steeped in curiosity, Warren strives to positively influence the world beyond his life but makes sure his own needs are also met. He’s confident in the search fund model’s ability to make businesses more selfless, and by investing in himself by doing what he loves, he’s creating a harmonious impact on his financial investments.
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