GAP 32 | Virtuous Innovation

 

If you’re looking for inspiration and practical insights into finding your purpose and making a positive impact, you don’t want to miss this enlightening episode! In this conversation, Shelton Mercer III, an award-winning Fortune 100 entrepreneur, innovation pioneer, philanthropist, and speaker, talks about his work with Virtuous Innovation. Shelton is the Founder and Chairman of the Mercer Advisory Group and Mercer Innovation, and the creator of MIOS (Mercer Innovation Outcomes System). He shares his journey from corporate life to a purpose-driven career and the creation of Virtuous Innovation. Discover the importance of purpose, connecting with others during adversity, and believing in oneself. Learn how Shelton has united corporate, capital, and venture-backed startups, innovators, and researchers from around the world to address significant global challenges. Tune in for more!

Listen to the podcast here

 

Virtuous Innovation: Bringing Minds Together To Create A Better World With Visionary Innovator, Shelton Mercer III

Welcome to the show. We are in season three. Our theme is carrying the light. I attended something called HobNob in Downtown Indianapolis. I saw this guy get onto the elevator. I’m like, “This dude has some light in him.” We ended up meeting later in the meeting as oftentimes happens when people’s energy synchronize. I said, “I got this show,” and we started talking. I am so excited to have you learn, understand, and get inside the heart and mind of this guest.

Our guest is an award-winning Fortune 100 entrepreneur, innovation, pioneer, philanthropist, and speaker. His name is Shelton Mercer. He has founded, led, and exited venture-backed companies in tech, media, impact, and sports, as well as entertainment. In addition to Virtuous Innovation, which is one of his companies, Shelton is the Founder and Chairman of the Mercer Advisory Group and Mercer Innovation.

He is also the creator of MIOS, the Mercer Innovation Outcomes System, which merges innovation, invention, incubation, collaboration, and commercialization. MIOS has propelled entrepreneurial X enterprise ecosystems to new heights by creating and empowering multiple innovation districts, hubs, and ecosystems worldwide. He is bringing the light to all sorts of communities, states, and counties. It’s time to talk to the one and only, Shelton Mercer III. Shelton, welcome to the show.

It is so good to see you.

Thank you so much. I appreciate you being here. Let’s jump right into this thing called attitude. You have an expansive outreach to a lot of different people. When you think of attitude, I’d love to know how you define attitude. What is the type of attitude you look for in the people that you ultimately employ or help? Who is your original attitude coach?

Attitude is a state of being. I use a life motto, which is to live on purpose. Whether it’s some of those pieces you read off of the bio around innovation and inspiration, for me, it’s about purpose. It’s knowing who you are. It’s learning and embracing what your values and ethos are, and then living that out. My life is all about purpose. Early on, I was taught by my dad who was my original attitude coach and has been in my life since I came out of the womb. I share his name as the third. I saw that guy get up and go to work for 12 to 14 hours to make sure he could send my sisters and me to good schools and put us in a good home. I saw him sacrifice, give, and serve the community and his family.

Live on purpose. Share on X

When we go about purpose, he has a purpose. That was to raise three amazing children and provide a legacy. As I go into everything I do, whether it’s in building companies or traveling the world and trying to empower communities, it’s all about this is part of the purpose. Everything that I’m doing is connected to not just my destiny, but the air that I breathe and the beats of the heart. I had a great mentor as well, Carson Pugh, who said to me, “If you would turn that motto into a true lifestyle, your life will be amazing. In everything you do, do it on purpose.”

What is your motto and what is your purpose?

That live on purpose has become something that I’ve embraced. For me, it’s about uniting the various disparate ways of the world. What we’re doing with Virtuous Innovation is an example. We are uniting corporate, capital, and venture-backed Silicon Valley startups, innovators, and researchers from universities all over the world to solve big problems.

I see my purpose as I have some great ideas that I’ve pushed into the universe. Now I live my days finding ways to unite partners that can collaborate so we can tackle the things that are in our society, whether it is helping to create the next generation of innovators who are launching companies or helping communities figure out ways to solve problems that affect us in our everyday lives. All of those things come together. We live as conveners, collaborators, and connectors for the new ways that we can solve some of the challenges we have in our world.

GAP 32 | Virtuous Innovation
Virtuous Innovation: We live as conveners, collaborators, and connectors for the new ways that we can solve some of the challenges we have in our world.

 

Let me take it this way. The person who’s tuning in to this may go, “That’s great. I have no idea what my purpose is. I don’t know how to find my purpose.” Can you talk a little bit about how maybe you found yours? What advice could you give to somebody who’s sitting there going, “This sounds awesome, but I don’t know how to find my purpose.” What are steps 1, 2, and 3? If you’re somebody who doesn’t know your purpose, what would you tell them to do?

I like telling stories because stories give us more color than tips and techniques, and we can get to those. Some years ago, I started my career in a big enterprise corporation. I was working for a large corporation. I was a young guy. They handed me a corporate card and said, “Go conquer the world.” I’m working with some of the biggest companies in the world. At that time, I was working with GE. At Lucent Technologies, I was working on these massive, multi-continent, hundreds of thousands of people impacted by these tens of millions of dollars being spent.

I’m young. I got a brand new family. I’m not even 30 years old. The company that I was working for, Lucent, fell into some hard times around stock issues. They were looking for people to move on. I was getting burnt out already at a young age working on this GE project. There were 600 sites and 130,000 people around the world. All day, I’m on the phone. I’m traveling on a plane. I’m missing my family. I’m just doing the thing. I realized that I was doing all of this for something that was chasing after some bit of riches. The company was worth $30 billion and I was nowhere near that.

At the age of 30, I decided to leave corporate. It was a tough decision. My family sometimes looked at me like, “What are you doing?” My last day in corporate was August 31st, 2001. I had many clients that were in this financial district in New York. We all know what happened on 9/11 eleven days later. That shifted my focus. It made me realize that everything I do has to be about how to define things besides chasing a corporate dream and trying to climb a corporate ladder.

While I have mad respect for many of my colleagues who are running corporations. We collaborate together. I decided that I was going to do things that were more fulfilling and had more of a purpose to them than just that bottom line of reaching a great Wall Street report. Sometimes, it’s those moments that shake us. Certainly, I was moved. I had friends who were lost in the towers in the tragedy. I had colleagues that were affected. We all lived through that time.

What I decided to do was take a year off of work, be with my family, learn how to be a dad, and learn how to be involved in the day-to-day life and not travel the world every week. It shifted my perspective that everything I was going to do from there would be something that I would own and that I would be able to steward as a person that was giving back to the world. It’s not always about the tips and techniques. Sometimes, it’s about paying attention to the moments that shake our lives. It can help us realize that there’s a different course we can take.

GAP 32 | Virtuous Innovation
Virtuous Innovation: Sometimes, it’s about paying attention to the moments that shake our lives. It can help us realize that there’s a different course we can take.

 

I like that. When you think about the adversity that you faced, which I wouldn’t call a reckoning but an awakening, you say, “Something needs to change.” There are a lot of people out there right now unhappy with work, unhappy with their position in life. They may be unhappy with how they view things. How do you deal with adversity when it comes your way? What advice could you give those people that are unsettled? They maybe don’t have the financial means to take a year off. There are a lot of people that feel stuck. I’d like you to speak about adversity and speak about being stuck.

We’ve all come through one of the most historically disruptive periods of time through the pandemic. Pandemics have a way of shifting the entire future for us. While we all went through the last few years in different ways, I have a lot of folks connected to me whose lives have been changed, whether through illness or through loss of lifestyle and life income.

What I always say to folks is that you don’t have to do these whole flowery tulips running through the garden. You can ignore it. One of the things that happens when adversity comes is we follow a model. That is we stop and feel what we’re going through. It is so important to not become inhuman when we go through adversity.

It’s important to not become inhuman when we go through adversity. Share on X

A lot of times, you’ll read these great authors. I’ve got some great inspiration. They’ll tell you the tips and techniques. You can put your mind in a certain space, certainly preparing your mind daily and your body by exercise, good living, and taking time to have good thoughts in your mind. There is a point when adversity comes and you have to face it. You have to deal with it. You have to say, “I am so insignificant when it comes to the world.” What I mean by that is we live in a vast universe. My problems seem huge except when I look at them in the scope of the universe.

When you confront it, you need to connect with folks. How do you connect with people who care about you? The first thing that I do when I go through a rough time back in the day is I used to go through isolation. We used to do this thing. I’m the captain and commander of my life. I know what’s going on. There’s an ego thing. When you’re a young rising leader, you don’t want to let them see you sweat.

I’ve learned that connection. When you are going through it, the people who care about you, love you, and know you, tell them, “I am dealing with something that has knocked me off my feet.” Watch how they respond because the people who care about you will respond to your adversity. They’ll say, “Let me get in there with you. I may not be able to experience the same thing, but let me grab arms with you and connect with you.”

We go through it together as a journey. We confront it. After we’ve continued to stop, look at it, and connect, we got to confront what we’re dealing with. That’s how we come up with the journey to get through it. I would say to folks, “Lose the ego and lose the pride, but connect with people who care about you.” A lot of times, we are isolated in our own adversity. When we do the connection with people who care, it provides that extra level of love, acceptance, and warmth that we need to help us fix our minds to get a plan together and get through what we’re dealing with.

Lose the ego and lose the pride, but connect with people who care about you. Share on X

Thanks so much for sharing with us that story about leaving that corporate world, which I’m sure a lot of people are going through, and having the self-belief to fulfill your purpose. One of our ten attitude boosters in the book that we talk about when we’re doing keynote speeches is this thing called Believe In You. I’d love to know. Where did you get the self-belief to do it? What’s your concept of self-belief? How do you think you could help people believe in themselves? What does that mean? Is there a trick? Is there a formula for truly believing in yourself?

What I was alluding to earlier is purpose defines everything. Often, we’re raised to be these folks who go after things. While I am very grateful that I learned how to accept who I am early, I still came up in a generation probably similar to you where it’s like, “You got to find a career path, go to college, and do well. Get good grades, get a good job, and then chase after whatever you can do.” Some of the beauty about even what you’ve been doing in your world of inspiring people and creating commerce takes something beyond this whole, “I’m going to be a thing, a label, or a title.”

I use an image on one of my social media to a couple of platforms. It’s a young boy sitting on top of a roof with the cityscape, which is Los Angeles in the background, with a Superman cape on. It’s a red blanket and a little costume. People always remark and say, “Why do you have that image on your social?” I say, “When I was a kid, I always wanted to fly. A few times, I almost broke some bones thinking I could try to be Superman.”

That fictitious hero worship thing is not something that I would prescribe for people, but it is an aspiration. That aspiration for me is one day, I want to be able to fly. I’ve got Superman paraphernalia. I’ve watched every movie. I’ve got T-shirts and belt buckles. I used that image to remind me of that little boy who said, “If I could fly, then I could see the world and change the world.” I never was able to fly in human form, but I have been all over the world. I have been in boardrooms in these global corporations down on the street levels of places like Haiti, Central America, and other places where people have the most desperate situations you can imagine.

What I would say to folks is this. Don’t chase after being a thing. Don’t chase after a title. It’s about finding out who you are fully and completely and what motivates you to be your highest and best self. That sounds really lofty, so we say, “How do you take some techniques to do that?” Start doing stuff. When I was in high school and college, I was a carpet salesman at one time. I was a lifeguard at another time. I was a door-to-door salesperson at one point in my life. I’ve had a diversity of experiences that have helped me see the world.

Volunteer for a purpose in your backyard, something that you care about so that you can get some real-world chops on what it means to give back. All those things have shaped me so that I can determine what I want to do and how I want to do it. In those early days of discovery, I was seeing the world, flying around, being that little boy in the cape, and saying, “The world is here for me to explore. Let me find out what’s there and then pinpoint the ways I can have the most impact.”

I love it and I’m going to keep with that theme as we finish this interview and as we’ve done with many spectacular people. I hope you’ll play and have some fun with me. I know you’re truly doing some unbelievable things on the real estate development side of things and on the corporate development side of things. If people want to look you up, follow you, and get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to get around you or to see what you’re doing on social?

The biggest thing for us is Virtuous Innovation, which I started as a talk. We’ve got a full website and a public benefit corporation that we launched during the pandemic. That talk was for me to bring my worlds together. You mentioned the corporate and real estate side around innovation centers. We’ve helped create over ten innovation districts and centers around the world with millions of square feet, hundreds of acres, tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in venture capital for the companies who have come through our innovation ecosystem. That work still continues. I’ve built my own companies as well, which we’re proud of.

They can find me in Virtuous Innovation. I’m on every social. My name, you can put it in the little Google machine and you’ll find Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all that. We are very proud of what we’ve been able to push forward. We always want to connect with new people because I’m always looking for who are the next generation of virtuous innovators in the world.

My wonderful producer got on that site. For those of you who are watching us, which we are on Spotify and video on YouTube, you will see some of the beautiful work that Shelton has done. The point of this show is to help people bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be and help bridge the gap from who they are to who they want to become. One of the exercises that we do with our guests is this thing called Knowledge through the Decades. We want to walk through your life with you and ask you at each decade what was the attitude lesson you learned. Many times, as we walk our esteemed guests through, we find our audience walking right through with you. If it’s okay, are you up to playing? Can I ask you some questions?

Let’s do it. I’m ready.

You probably don’t remember being born, but when you think about either the birth of your kids or coming into this world as a baby, what do you feel the attitude lesson is in birth?

Thankfully, my mother reminds me that I was born on a snowy day in March every year on my birthday. What I do remember is joy. Every year, without fail, the minute that I was born, my mother sends me a text or calls me and says, “On this day, X amount of years ago on a snowy day in March, you came into the world.” That has shaped me. My relationship with my kids is my number one relationship. Noelle and TJ are my greatest startups, I tell everybody. Seeing them come into the world helps me share the joy of what it means to have children enter into the world and be blessed by their lives.

GAP 32 | Virtuous Innovation
Virtuous Innovation: My children are my greatest startups.

 

My children are my greatest startups. Let’s make sure that we put that in the meme for this. That is so beautiful and cool. I want you to tell us about when you turned ten. Tell us when the great Shelton turns ten. I’d love to know if you remember. That puts you right around 3rd or 4th grade. I’d love to know what your attitude lesson was at ten. Was it from school? Was it from the playground? Were you bullied? Were you in trouble? Who taught you an attitude lesson at ten and what was it? 

Here’s the fun part. I was in fifth grade. I was an overachiever. I was that kid. However, here’s a great story. When you and I met, we were both in that six-feet-and-over realm. I was short growing up. I was a little guy. I wanted to play basketball, and I was pretty good. We played and I could beat everybody, but I didn’t have the height. The coach would always be reluctant to put me in the game because I was this little guy. Every time I could, I’d try to score all the points I could.

The biggest lesson I learned is that I probably got my first taste of what it meant to disrespect someone in authority and have them show me grace. I was in fifth grade. I had a teacher. Ms. Harris gave a lot of homework. I hated homework. She would discipline us at times. I wrote something in my journal. We had a little journal. It was an insult to her. I called her name. It wasn’t a profane name, but I was angry with her. I wrote, “Ms. Harris is a bum,” or something. I forgot that she was checking the journals that night. I left it at my desk. All my work was there, but that note was there.

I couldn’t understand the next day why I couldn’t find my journal. She called me to her desk and said, “I want you to read this to the entire class.” It caused a ruckus, but she was so gracious to me. She taught me the power of second chances because I then became a class leader. I’m sitting here with you, so something worked out. 

That’s awesome. The attitude of grace is certainly not practiced, certainly not honed, and certainly not front and center for a lot of people in today’s world. Thank you for bringing that to our attention. That’s a beautiful message. Let’s go to 20. You’re out of high school. Maybe you graduated from high school at 16. Maybe you’re out of college at 20. Talk to me about where you were at 20 and what was your attitude lesson at 20.

At 20, I was a college dropout. I had gone through a situation where I would sit on top of the world. I had high marks, high grades, high test scores, high hopes, and everything. I partied my way out of a scholarship at the University of Maryland. What I like to do a lot of times is to say all the stuff that we’ve accomplished is a window dressing to all the stuff behind it. It takes a lot to get a presentation together.

While I’m very grateful we’ve done very well, I’ve got challenges. We went through it and I was embarrassed. I was looking around like, “What do I do?” I was able to turn that into getting a job at the University of Pennsylvania. On the way to finishing my degree, I got whisked away to Silicon Valley and started this journey. That is some of the stuff that you are showing your audience that we’ve been able to accomplish. Failure at the age of 20 will shake you up quickly.

That’s very interesting. I love it. There’s a lot to be learned from failure. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t living. We’re big believers. No matter who’s tuning in to this, if you are feeling like a failure, know that every person that’s on this show has achieved and has bridged the gap from who they are to who they wanted to become, which is what sounds like happened when you were twenty, we’ve all failed. A failure is an event. It’s not a person as the great Les Brown said. If you’re tuning in to that, make sure you grab onto that. Let’s go to 30. Tell me where you were at 30. What was going on in your life? What was your attitude lesson at 30?

I alluded to it earlier. When I was 30, it would’ve been 2001, and that was 9/11. I had left corporate and had two little children. My daughter was about 2 and my son was 1. Turning 30 was a pivotal point in my life. I had left a corporate career. I’m a dad and a husband in a family. I was working in the faith community and leaned into being a pastor at that time. That period of my life around 30 was cathartic. I then took on some philanthropic work. It’s when I got into that purpose-driven life of how you can do well and do good at the same time.

By 30 years old, I felt like I lived 2 or 3 decades in business when really it was only 1. The life lessons and the global travels were translated into, “How can I make a difference in the community around me and then in the world at large?” When you turn 30, people no longer ask you what you want to be when you grow up. They ask you, “What are you doing?” I had to make a quick ability to say, “I’ve done some things already that I’m very proud of. Now, I’m going to translate them to the new place where I can have even greater pride.” I’m doing things that not just make a lot of money for a big corporation but also provide a bridge to the purpose pathway that I was building in my life.

That is so good. I wish I would’ve said this, but it was time for you to stop doing well and start doing good. It’s the difference between doing well and doing good. That is so huge when you can move into that part of your life. As I read your biography, the philanthropic generosities that you have been a part of are outstanding and numerous. If we get to the end of your life, maybe we’ll come back and talk about what was the most meaningful one of those philanthropic events that you’ve had. Congratulations to you. That was another golden nugget from you on that. That was great. How about turning 40? Talk to me about turning 40. What was the attitude lesson then?

It’s the big four-oh. Forty was pivotal. You mentioned the philanthropic stuff. 9/11 happened in 2001. The Haiti earthquake happened in 2010. On my 40th birthday, a little after that, I invited an entire city out to help me package meals for Haiti. I joined a global philanthropic hunger relief agency that was servicing 70 countries around the world. That theme of doing well and doing good was there, but it was also when I was able to lean into selling my first company. It’s seeing the fruits of the labor when you build something from the ground up and somebody says, “I want to offer you some money to buy that thing that you bought.” I sold a sports trading company and a media strategy company as well.

Do well and do good. You can do those simultaneously. Seeing the fruits of the labor of taking a chance to leave corporate and start a journey of both philanthropy and entrepreneurship and seeing that intertwining together to produce some fruit was something that drove me in my next decade. There are more decades there. Although I’m trying to hold on to youth for my dear life, there is another decade there.

Do well and do good. You can do those simultaneously. Share on X

Let’s go there then. Let’s go to 50 because I know you aren’t 60, right?

Hell no. I’m a hair over 50.

Tell me about that. Did you have a party at 50? Where were you at 50? What’s your attitude lesson? What’s your attitude lesson of the present? What’s your attitude lesson at 50?

Here is the good thing about me. My milestone birthday seemed to coincide with global events. I turned 50 in 2021. We’re talking about the middle of the pandemic. It certainly wasn’t the height of it, but the world was still struggling when I turned 50. I’m on the East Coast and the West Coast. We were still shut down. In Indiana, folks are living life. I’ve spent a lot of time out in Indy. We were still dealing with it, so I celebrated my 50th birthday by doing some Zoom stuff with family and friends.

You were chilling.

You realize that you’ve got to live in the world that you’re in. We still celebrated. It was still very memorable. For me, it was to be able to anchor that and say, “I know at 50, we are in a pandemic. I know at 40, I was dealing with a global catastrophe. At 30, I was dealing with my own life changes.” I love these mileposts that you talk about because they help me think about them. I go back to 20 and I was an abject failure. At 10, I was a miscreant and a problem. It helps you with that retrospective to see where you’ve come from.

All of them are important because they make me who I am as a man and a person. I wouldn’t change a bit of it. There are things you always want to start over, but the end result is I’m a proud dad of two amazing humans. I’ve got some awesome, brilliant people who work with us to help us push this uniting of various sectors that are solving problems in the world. I’m very grateful for it.

That’s good. I love it and have written that down. You have to live in the world that you are in. Many times, we always say, “There’s the world and there’s your world. If you ever want to change the world, you got to change your world with your attitude.” We have a few more minutes left. You can answer either one of these questions. What do you feel is the collaboration that you’ve created that has made the most impact? Tell us about that or that story. If you want to, depending on time, tell us about the hardest time in your life when attitude played a role in pushing you through to the next side.

You have to live in the world that you are in. Share on X

We’ve spent some time talking about the challenges. I want people to know life is a challenge. Where I am now is the most incredible place I’ve been in the history of my life. There’s a quote that has inspired me even around launching Virtuous Innovation. It’s something that with the work that you’re doing, you can say, “I know that this is my highest and best work to date.”

Virtuous is about the worlds that I’ve been able to impact in corporate, venture-backed startups, tech and innovation, academia, policy, and entertainment. I am bringing them all together under one roof and one umbrella in a very purposeful and meaningful way. We have collaborations with corporations like Ford, Salesforce, and others that are powering solutions for small business owners.

In Indy and your backyard there, we’ve got the 16 Tech Innovation District, which is not Indiana University, Eli Lilly, Purdue, Notre Dame, Rolls Royce, Cummins, and all those. We’ve got 40 small business owners in a marketplace that are working every day open to the public. Bakers, butchers, barbers, and banks are all in that place.

It is the intentional building of innovation that has life to it. The innovation that you can feel is something that I’m doing. It makes me get up every day with new ideas and new vigor to make sure that we can change and shift the world that people are living in. We work with them to shift their reality as it stands. Whether we’re working with Fortune 100 CEOs and C-Suites, brand-new college students who are starting a career and a job, or a 10-year family-owned business that’s trying to get to their next level, all that stuff empowers me and excites me about what we’re building.

Virtuous Innovation is about all that we’re doing. We’re pushing some media stuff into the pooling world next year with some insights and storytelling around people who are changing the world. We are looking for virtuous innovators. If you think you’re a virtuous innovator, come and look us up and be in touch. The places and spaces we build are incredible. We’re about connecting. We’re about collaborating. We’re about people. We’re about uniting and making sure that collectively, we can solve some of the things that are facing us as challenges in the world.

GAP 32 | Virtuous Innovation
Virtuous Innovation: We’re about connecting. We’re about collaborating. We’re about people. We’re about uniting and making sure that collectively, we can solve some of the things that are facing us as challenges in the world.

 

I love it. Our big push is we are bringing back Global Attitude Awareness Day. It’s a global call for everybody for one day to take a pledge about attitude and 1) Move their body and exercise, which is an attitude booster, 2) Reach out and thank a person who has affected your attitude and your life in a positive manner, and 3) Donate or volunteer on that day.

We have attitude ambassadors in every state or we’re recruiting them. We’re so aligned in this. When you said that, I was like, “We’re doing the same thing but you’re doing it on a much bigger scale.” When I look at 16 Tech Innovation District, this is the culmination of what this man does. You’ve been awesome. You’ve given us some great nuggets to take to help those people bridge the gap in their lives.

We always like to give you an opportunity to act as if you’re king, president, or whatever you want to be. There are people out there that come to this show that are tuning in and looking for what I always call a message of hope, a message of direction, or however you want to do it. You can get on your keynote soapbox if you want. We got about 2 or 3 minutes. Simply talk directly to that person who’s walking on the beach who feels defeated, sitting in their car crying because their spouse left, or whoever it may be. There’s somebody that in the next two minutes, I hope you can deliver a message that will change their life. I hate to put you on the spot, but I know you got it. Go ahead and give us your message of hope and direction.

I like water. I like swimming. I like lakes. I like oceans and all. I like boats a lot. One of the things that we found is there is a reason why big boats like ocean liners and aircraft carriers don’t dock in the same place as small boats, whether it’s a sailboat or even a small yacht. There is also a reason why they don’t follow the same waterways. While you may be able to get in front of a big boat, if you’re behind a large boat, the wake that it leaves causes more disturbance in the water than the boat itself.

You’ve seen some of the videos or maybe you’ve seen them in your life where you get a big boat coming through a place where there are smaller boats. It takes a while, but then after a few moments, those boats are thrown up with waves, tossed over, and capsized. Often, it’s because they are trying to follow behind a larger, big, hairy thing that they feel like they should be chasing.

The reality is that if you chase after things that are out there, that are unknown, that you feel like are shiny, and that people are telling you you’re supposed to chase, you often get caught up in the wake. There’s a reason why planes don’t take off right in a row. If a plane takes off too close to the one in front of it, it will get caught in its turbulence wake and fall out of the sky.

The point is this. In order for you not to get caught in the wake of the boats, you’ve got to build your own boat, get in your own stream, and figure your path away together. Do not chase after something that somebody tells you you should chase after. Do not look for glory or fame because you could get sucked up into a wake, tossed about, and capsized. When you have your own ability to get in your vessel, blaze your trail, carve your path, and get to the destination that you’re looking for. We want everybody to live on purpose. We want everybody to be exemplifying virtuous living and virtuous ways of connection. My hope is that you stay out of the wakes of big, old, hairy boats that you don’t need to be chasing anyway.

I love it. That is Shelton Mercer of Virtuous Innovation. You can look him up. You can see the great things he’s doing. If you think you’re a virtuous innovator, feel free to reach out to him. Tell him that you’ve read the episode about him on the show. Shelton, I’m so grateful to you. Thank you for your time. God bless you very much. God bless your family. I look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

 

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About Shelton Mercer III

GAP 32 | Virtuous InnovationFOUNDER | INNOVATION PIONEER | ADVISOR | PHILANTHROPIST

Award winning, Fortune 100-bred entrepreneur, innovation pioneer, philanthropist and speaker Shelton Mercer has founded, led and exited venture-backed companies in tech, media, impact, sports and entertainment. In addition to Virtuous Innovation™ — Shelton is Founder and Chairman of The Mercer Advisory Group and Mercer Innovation and creator of miOS™ — Mercer Innovation Outcomes System, which merges invention, incubation, collaboration and commercialization.

miOS has propelled entrepreneurial x enterprise ecosystems to new heights by co-creating/powering multiple innovation districts, hubs and ecosystems worldwide. These include multi award-winning Pennovation Works & Center — the 23-acre innovation hub of the University of Pennsylvania and 16 Tech Innovation District — a 50-acre live/work/play campus in Indianapolis, IN.

Shelton is CoFounder and former President of Blockchain-integrated media and entertainment technology company Audigent (Inc 5000) and CoFounder & former CEO of Mashable Award winner, celebrity social impact engine TwitCHANGE.

Mercer is a sought after director and advisor in the corporate and startup sectors. His companies have conceived, led and advised global initiatives and generated billions in revenue with dozens of Fortune 500 corporations, brands, governments, institutions and organizations including Disney, Amazon, GE, Comcast NBCUniversal, eBay, Microsoft, Conde Nast, Warner and Universal Music Groups, Roc Nation, KPMG, J&J, Salesforce, Lilly, Hersheys, UN Foundation and United Way.

Shelton’s passion for people and the planet has compelled him to mobilize millions to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for crisis relief (Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti earthquake, Japan Tsunami) and causes (poverty, hunger, clean water and housing, education, employment/wealth gaps). He serves on multiple philanthropic boards, has led aid missions worldwide and impacted 50+ countries and dozens of U.S. cities.

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