The Packard second act

We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium recently. It was an awe inspiring experience.

As we were walking out, I realized that the aquarium was made possible thanks to the generosity and involvement of David and Lucile Packard (from “Hewlett Packard” or HP). Both David and Lucile were personally involved in designing many of the exhibits.

That led to three reflections.

First, it got me thinking about the power of a great second act. After building HP, David and Lucile went on to create their foundation aiming to improve the lives of children, enable creative pursuit of science, advance reproductive health, and conserve and restore earth’s natural systems.

They made a lot of progress on these goals when they were alive. And, thanks to phenomenal investments like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, their legacy lives on.

Second, it was lovely to see their partnership shine through. In an age where gender equality was far from the norm, they clearly made it a point to ensure Lucile Packard’s contributions were highlighted. The Stanford Children’s hospital they funded still bears her name.

Finally, it reminded me of an idea Twitter cofounder Biz Stone shared about wealth. He said wealth, like power, amplifies who you are. If you are a jerk, wealth will make a bigger jerk out of you. And, if you are a charitable person of good character, wealth will amplify that too.

As I read about the Packard story, that learning rung true.