5 questions for Nnenna Lynch

03/14/21

In our ongoing series "Five Questions for...", where we talk to those that are making Return on Rent come to life, we sat down with Nnenna Lynch.

Nnenna is a senior advisor and investor in Stake. A former professional marathon runner (we found this article in the New York Times where she gives excellent advice on setting personal goals that yours truly can probably take to heart), mayorial senior policy adviser, Rhodes Scholar, real estate investor, Goldman Sachs alum, Villanova trustee and 5x NCAA champ, and now founder of Xylem Projects. We are incredibly fortunate to have her counsel on growing Return on Rent.

We haven't talked about your professional running! So, here is my chance: what lessons from that incredible experience still inform you daily today?

This may surprise you but what I learned from my career as a professional runner is the importance of community. We can't be our best as individuals without support, encouragement and help - something I learned the hard way. I was self-reliant to a fault because I wasn't good at leaning on other people and my mental model for successful strong people was someone who didn't need others. Now, I'm not only comfortable asking for help but enjoy getting input.

Tell us about your current company, Xylem.

Xylem Projects is a mission-driven company focused on creating environments that help tenants and communities thrive. I was inspired to start Xylem because I think there's much more we can do as developers and owners to facilitate economic and social mobility while making sound investments.

You have been an influential policy adviser to the city of New York for Mayor Bloomberg, what is your advice to the current mayoral candidates on New York City's recovery?

My advice to any Mayoral candidate is that you have to balance vision with a rigorous focus on the nuts and bolts of running a large, complex institution. Being Mayor is a political job but as Mayor you are also CEO of an organization that millions of people rely on. It also helps if you don't need sleep!

We haven't talked about your professional running! So, here is my chance: what lessons from that incredible experience still inform you daily today?

I grew up in rental housing in NYC and was a renter for about a decade of my early adult life. What struck me was how the relationship between landlords and tenants was purely transactional and based on a zero-sum philosophy.

We haven't talked about your professional running! So, here is my chance: what lessons from that incredible experience still inform you daily today?

I love to travel so it's quite likely I would have used it to take a trip but hopefully I would have been sensible enough to invest it in NYC real estate!