Returning, Reset, Rethink, Remember


I left Montana on January 8 on a journey that will take me years to fully digest.  Because we have the Mansfield Center at the U of M, Diane Smith and I spent three weeks in Myanmar (Burma).  It was my first trip to Asia.

Myanmar has been isolated for almost 50 years under rule by a military government that allowed a private sector economy to continue.  A typhoon hit the country in 2010 and a people already living in very poor conditions were now displaced and in desperate need.

Over the last 3 years, the country has opened up to tourists in certain areas in an effort to pump some cash into the economy.  The infrastructure is in terrible condition, roads, limited sewer and no public water system.  You take your life in your hands to walk on the sidewalks that suddenly drop off 10 feet into an open pit or cross the street where traffic is unregulated. Bathroom facilities are…..well…..different.

Liz Marchi

Turning 60, January 25, 2014 in Bagan, Myanmar Temples built in 1000.

About 10% of the country has cell phones.  The presence of communication and technology is accelerating the pace of change in Burma exponentially.  Diane and I met up with the son in law of a Whitefish friend in Yangon who has just moved to Burma to build their cell phone network out.

I spent my 60th birthday in Began. From Yangon, we spent a few days in Thailand where demonstrations are disrupting traffic and impacting the local economy.  From Bangkok we traveled to Grenada where my daughter is enrolled at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine.

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Long necked women, weaving in Inlay Lake. Brass rings are attached beginning at about age 7 to women who are believed to be the daughters of the Dragon. Beliefs are powerful.

My daughter has had a long journey to get into Vet School.  I am inspired by her and my other daughters who are facing their life journeys with curiosity, passion, intelligence and courage.  Nothing resets your gratitude meter like living or visiting a foreign country.  As my friend Diane says, we ALL won the lottery when we were born in the USA.  Remember that.

Our flight home was cancelled Tuesday due to snow so we had a day in NYC.  I got lucky and got tickets to Book of Mormon last night.  It’s really great.   The freedom to stage a satire on religion and race is priceless.

I ran into my friend Faye Warren Hanson from Missoula in the line to the ladies room at the theatre.  She is in New York for Fashion Week.  Best to her son who is showing a collection this week.  I am sitting at JFK, the sun is shining, I am warm, and the facilities are world class.  New York has never looked cleaner or seemed to function so smoothly.

I am reset and more passionate than ever about our opportunities in Montana for entrepreneurship. We must think global and act local.  Much of the world is very hungry just for the opportunity that we have every day.  We must embrace the very best we can be.  I am returning with a greater sense of appreciation for all we have and for the freedom to create and innovate.

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Sunset in Mandalay.

Liz Marchi


Liz Marchi lives on a ranch in Polson, Montana  with her husband Jon. She is the Fund Coordinator for the Frontier Angel Fund and spends a lot of time thinking and learning about entrepreneurs, the economy and Montana’s unique place in the world. She has three daughters and a stepson and daughter and a grandchild.  She graduated from Hollins College and is entering the final quarter of life…unless we go into overtime.