The Alchemist

Peter Trevisani

PETE T. IS RESTLESS. Which may explain his migration from football to investment banking, to Meow Wolf investing, to owning New Mexico’s soccer franchise. Life for him is a participant sport: he joins his team, stays long enough to accomplish his goals, and moves on. He loves his teammates, he loves the audience and the fans. He loves to mix them all up, to have them meet each other. He is an alchemist, a natural immersive. I spied him the other night on the Santa Fe Sky Railway to Lamy. He came over to say hello while ordering drinks. He joined us and became instantly engaged in our conversation. Then he left as quickly as he appeared. But not entirely – he came back to retrieve his phone. I suspect he leaves something of himself in every field he plays on.

What do you consider your cardinal virtues?

I think that for me, it’s maintaining an open-mindedness. Everybody is on this planet for a reason, everybody has something to contribute. What I really want to be doing is leaving parts of my day for experimenting, where I’m crushing my routine so that I can stay open-minded. The best experiences of my life have come out of that mindset.

You were a college athlete, were successful in finance, and now you work with Meow Wolf and New Mexico United soccer.

I set out to do exactly what I wanted to do. Why did I want those things? I probably need a couch for that discussion.

You can lie down now.

Ha! Not to be flippant, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about that. I had a vision for myself with certain goals, such as playing football at the highest level or doing the same in finance. Finance was the NFL of business, and that’s where I wanted to compete. I wanted to be good at it all.

Was it about making money?

I wanted to make money, but I didn’t want my job to be about money. I wanted the money to be a residual. I wanted to be recognized. I thought money was an equation of success, and it was an easy pillar to hold on to. Early on, I was at Lehman Brothers. When I left, I left a lot of money on the table, and everyone thought I was crazy.

But it isn’t for everybody; I saw a lot of really unhappy 40-year-olds. A lot of people who had probably exchanged a decade or two of their life for a paycheck, for prestige; they went from riding the wave to being dragged by the wave. And as fun as it is to ride the wave, it’s no fun to get dragged by it.

The story we tell ourselves is, I’m gonna pretend I really love it for five years, and I will make a ton of money, and then I’m gonna get out of here and I’m gonna do that thing that I wanna go do. Well, guess what happens after five years? You’re at the top, and the money is still coming in. It doesn’t feel so easy to leave. And all of a sudden, you get to the point where you’re like, Oh my God, now I’m not 32, I’m 42, or I’m 52.

Thornburg was different.

Yes. I remember sitting at a Starbucks in New York City when Garrett Thornburg called: Hey, what if you came and started the institutional business at Thornburg? I just sat there, and I’m thinking, Great, I’ll get to start something, but I was also panicking ’cause I had no idea what he was talking about! But it hooked me, and I didn’t care – I would figure it out.

So I moved to New Mexico in 1999, and Thornburg gave me a New York City job from Santa Fe, so I get to work just like I did in New York. But when I’m done with work, I’m in the mountains.

What makes a success?

Look, some coffee shops make it and some don’t. They serve coffee. Some are a little better than others, right? But the ones that make it are passion projects. They bring something to the community, and people feel it even if they don’t know it. When people believe in each other, I think that it creates a circle of positive energy that can have an exponential impact. I think start-ups have that when they’re done right.

Like Meow Wolf?

I met Vince and some of the other founders and got engaged in their story. I invested a little bit in Meow Wolf, but then I went to Vince and said, Hey, I’d love to get more involved. And so for a solid six months, every single day, I’d work on Meow Wolf’s growth with their finance team, helping them with the project that ended up becoming Area 15 and Omega Mart in Las Vegas.

And New Mexico United?

I never would have gone forward with New Mexico United if I hadn’t had my experience at Meow Wolf. I grew up in a sports environment, and my grandfather had a sports bar inside the Boston Garden. After spending time with Meow Wolf, I thought, We could do a soccer team differently than the way every other soccer team has been done. We could have a soccer team that really blends art and sport. This could be more than just a place where we kick a ball and win a game, this could be a platform to bring people together.

What do you like about New Mexico?

There’s a word for it, I’m sure there is, and I just don’t have the vocabulary.

I like the slower pace, but it doesn’t mean you don’t accomplish. A lot gets accomplished, and I just think time slows down here. You get to live longer, even if the amount of hours you’re on the planet is the same.


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Photo Mary Moon