The A-LIST: Clayton Elliott of Widism

GIFTED ENTREPRENEUR’S A-LIST

NAME: Clayton Elliott

COMPANY: Widism®

FAVOURITE QUOTES:

“The biggest mistake people make in life is not making a living doing what they most enjoy.” ~ Malcolm Forbes

“A mind that has been stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

WHAT DO YOU DO?

We’re in the business of empowering young people to build purpose-driven businesses and live fulfilling, experience-rich, unconventional lives and that redefine the meaning of success.

I help young people / quarter-lifers / Gen Y / Millennials / develop and hone interpersonal skills like courage, resilience, and divergent thinking so they can have more freedom, fulfillment, and success.

WHY DO YOU DO?

Ever since I was a small kid, I knew my purpose was to help heal the world and make it a better place. Now that may sound grandiose, but I don’t believe there’s anything else in the world worth giving myself to over the course of my life. I’m only 29, but I’ve already seen and done more than most people will see and do in their entire lives. The main lesson I’ve gleaned from my life experiences to date is that a life lived for only myself and my personal gain is hardly a life worth living.

The world needs healing, and I’m a staunch advocate that people are either part of the problem or the solution. I believe my purpose during my limited time on this Earth is to use my gifts to help empower and train others so that they can create solutions that help to heal humanity and continue to have a positive impact long after I’m dead and gone.

Saving the planet and preserving life for the generations to come is far more work than I could do on my own, so my goal is to create a small (eventually large) army of passionate, purpose-driven entrepreneur who will appies their skills and strengths to create sustainable solutions for the world and future generations.

My purpose is to leave this world better than it was when I came into it.

My purpose is to activate and empower others so that they can discover, hone, and apply their gifts and positively impact humanity.

Beliefs:

 I believe that conscious, confident, courageous people can collaborate and work collectively to transform the world for the better. I believe that big-hearted entrepreneurs of the 21st century and beyond have what it takes to intentionally evolve humanity to a level of prosperity and harmony that we’ve never known in our entire history. I believe that in every problem lies many possible solutions, and that all it takes is the ingenuity of passionate, conscious, enterprising changemakers of all types to bring those solutions into existence.

 Core Values:

 There are many things I value in life, and I’m always seeking better ways to communicate what I stand for. This list is

  1. Be Curious – there is no better way to come at life than with a beginners mind hungry to seek, learn, and understand. I owe who I am, what I know, and what I’m capable of to my unbounded, unrelenting sense of curiosity and wonder.
  2. Master Entelechy – being able to turn dreams and ideas into reality is our divinity as humans and a skillset worth striving to master.
  3. Develop Resilience – life will kick us down, but it will only keep us down if we let it.  Learning how to get up and dust myself off after each wipeout is what has kept me going through the toughest times in my life and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
  4. Be a Humble Student of Life – traditional schooling is great for some, but not all.  The truth is I learned way more during my lifelong enrollment in the School of Life than I ever did in grade school, high school, and college combined. Where school tried to teach me the A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s, it did a very poor job at teaching me about myself, my purpose, my emotions, and my place in the world.
  5. Learn to Travel & Travel to Learn – I am who I am today thanks to the sum of my life experiences. And it was my experiences in the University of Travel that taught me about myself and others and transformed me forever in the most profound way.
  6. Practice Empathy & Compassion – it’s easy to judge. It’s not as easy to walk in the shoes of the other. This value in one that has helped me practice letting go of judgment, and has helped me be a better person. It’s also one that I believe must be cultivated if humanity is to evolve beyond where we’re currently stuck at.
  7. Advocate Freedom & Independence – Life is short. And there is no greater tragedy than being trapped in mind-made prisons. Freedom and independence to me is being able to go where I want, when I want, with whom I want, and to not worry about whether I’ll be able to feed myself and pay my bills. I want this independence and freedom for everyone, but know that it will only be granted to those brave enough to pursue it, and persevere until they achieve it.
  8. Enroll in Lifelong Experimental & Experiential Learning – this is the oldest and most effective way to learn – learning by doing, making mistakes, adjusting and redoing. The beauty of this type of learning is that it doesn’t have to stop while you’re in school and can continue for the remainder of your life.
  9. Pursue the Convergence of Your Pleasures, Passions, and Purpose – there is a beautiful “sweet spot” where what you love overlaps with what you’re great at (your gift) and insects with what make a difference and is able to make you a profit. It is this “sweet spot” that everyone should spend time developing and pursuing.
  10. Embrace Unconventionality, Non-Conformity, & Creative Disruption of the Status Quo – the most dangerous phrase people toss around far too often is “Well, that’s just the way it is.” Nothing meaningful that made the world a better place ever came from people who embrace this disempowering perspective. Solutions to the biggest challenges we face as a species will come from those who creatively question and challenge the conventional, conformist, status quo of the times and offer new, innovative, disruptive, even controversial ideas.

Dreams:

 I dream of a world where people help each other because it’s normal to do so, and abnormal not to. I dream of a world where transnational corporations (and all their shareholders) would gladly choose to lose/forgo earning millions/billions because it will be better for the sustainability of the planet and ALL its inhabitants. I dream of a world where humans are not merely claimed to be equal, but are treated as such to every corner of the world. I dream of a world where flawed human behaviours like oppression, corruption, violence, exploitation, and tyranny are bred out of us and studied by future generations so that they never become as common as they are today. I dream of a world where borders between countries are abolished and all governments and people of the world realize that our only hope is through acceptance and communal effort. I dream of a world where ALL businesses and entrepreneurs consider ALL stakeholders when conducting their operations. I dream of a world where the strong support and build up the weak until they can stand on their feet themselves and no longer rely on charity to survive. These are all dreams, and we’re a far ways from them being the norm, but I know I’m not the only person to have these dreams. I’m excited that many share in my dreams, and are devoting their one and only life to strive to find solutions so that we can one day live in a world where all my above dreams and even more are the norm and the status quo

 

Problems I want to Solve

  • Mass mediocrity in youth – The Gen Y and Millennial generations have the most opportunity to do good than any previous generation, yet so many are growing up to become carbon copies of their parents. These generations will be the one to have the greatest impact on the future, be it positive or negative.
  • Social injustice and economic slaverypoverty and crime begets poverty and crime. Human beings’ nature is to adapt to and assimilate with the environments they spend the most time in, especially during their formative years. I work with a non-profit here in Toronto called The PACT Urban Peace Program that delivers LifePlan Mentor-Coaching and LifeSkills Development Programs to at-risk youth and high-risk young offenders. The powers at the top embrace an archaic, punitive justice model and would rather build jails to stack and pack humans and treat the symptoms of crime as opposed to invest the time and energy to fix the problems at the source. PACT’s research shows that intergenerational violence and poverty are the major contributing factors to the cycle of crime and recidivism that we see all over the world.
  • Environmental degradation and species extinction – ever since my curiosity first sparked, I’ve been a total nut for animals and ecosystems. I’m in a perpetual state of awe and admiration for the immense and uncontested beauty that nature creates. But at a very young age I realized that we humans were having a devastating impact on the life systems that all species (INCLUDING US) rely on to exist. This broke my heart, and I always vowed to do something that would help save the one earth we’re lucky enough to call home. I see all life as precious and important to preserve if we want to maintain equilibrium of the life systems that govern Earth, but I’m preferable to apex predators since they are the most important animals in almost every ecosystem on Earth.

Causes I care most about

  • Empowering people to live to their full potential
  • Decriminalizing / legalizing drugs so that we can redirect limited resources to real crime issues
  • Saving our oceans and all the wonderful life that inhabits them
  • Preserving biodiversity and ecosystems
  • Sustainability and the conscious use of science and technology to minimize the impact us people are having on the planet
  • Empowering the most hopeless people in society to transform their lives and believe in their innate greatness
  • Clean energy
  • Economic reform
  • Restorative justice

Who I want to be a hero to:

  • Gen Y’s, Millennials, and the younger generations that will be taking over when the old timers are gone. They’ll be the ones writing policy, making laws, running businesses, working in businesses, and consuming and are the ones that are going to have the biggest opportunity to contribute to the shift that is happening.
  • At-risk youth caught in a cycle of recidivism and crime with no hope for a better future.

 Who I want to be a mentor / teacher to

  • Aspiring changemakers and budding social entrepreneurs
  • At risk youth
  • Ex-drug dealers to help them apply their innate entrepreneurialism in more constructive ways

What breaks my heart?

  • Insecurity and fear-based living
  • Cyclical Poverty and economic disparity
  • Injustice in all its ugly shapes and forms
  • People killing and hating other people
  • People at the top abusing and exploiting people at the bottom
  • People with every resource they could ever need and no desire to do good with it. Greedy misers who would rather die with millions or billions in their bank accounts rather than put it to use helping empower others less fortunate than themselves.
  • Sheeple (people who prefer the perceived safety of the heard rather than standing out)
  • When people like Kim Kardashian are “celebrities” and get the most Google searches and are considered “cool” by the masses, and things like social entrepreneurship are still only embraced by the fringes.

What fills my heart?

  • Generosity
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Passionate, empowered people who commit their lives and their gifts to making the world a better place in whatever way they can
  • Troublemakers who creatively question and challenge convention and the status quo
  • Transformational festivals (Burning Man, OM, Boom, etc.)
  • People stepping outside their comfort zones, especially when they’re terrified and do it anyways

What makes me happy?

  • New experiences
  • Scuba diving
  • Teaching others
  • Traveling
  • Making a difference
  • Quality time with good people
  • Revelry
  • Living my purpose and expressing my gifts 

HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR GIFT?

I would describe my gift as an ability inspire, motivate, activate, educate, and empower people to live a purpose driven life and do purpose-driven work. My strengths are charisma, conviction, enthusiasm, and business and marketing acumen. People have told me that my energy is infectious and that I can positively affect peoples’ moods through a brief conversation.

I help people shift their beliefs from “I can’t” to “I can!” and help them discover and develop the tools, trainings, and tenacity needed to do meaningful work.

HOW DO YOU GIFT IT FORWARD?

Our goal with Widism® is to integrate social and environmental good into every single business venture we deliver.

Our coaching and training will empower those aspiring to make a difference in their communities and on the planet and will provide them with the personal and professional tools and techniques so they can do just that. And for every client we serve, we sponsor an at-risk youth / high-risk young offender in the PACT Urban Peace Program here in Toronto. We call this social-purpose model the Get-Give™ model (inspired by TOM’s Shoes) where paying clients not only get transformational coaching and training, but by simply investing in themselves, they’re also giving at at-risk youth an opportunity to transform their lives for the better.

We’re in the process of developing experiential education coaching and training retreats that we call WIDExperiences™.  These retreats will blend personal and professional development workshops with hands-on conservation programs delivered at exotic locations in collaboration with local NGO service providers. These WIDExperiences™ will be transformational for clients, and will help provide much needed funding for these conservation programs to help save endangered species.

The curriculum we’re developing will help our clients make a difference a make a healthy living doing so. In the past, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations were distinct and were run in very different ways. We plan on teaching aspiring changemakers committed to making a difference exactly how they can apply their gifts and talents to make profit by making an impact.

 

HOW DID YOU START ON YOUR GIFTED JOURNEY?

I’ve always considered myself a generous person. I grew up with very little, but would gladly give people close to me the shirt off my back if they needed it. I think it was because many of the people I grew up with were from the lowest echelons in life that I developed a sense of empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. I knew their stories, and I knew how tough it was for them to even get out of bed in the morning let alone overachieve. At about 20 years old I knew I had to do something that made a difference but was totally clueless as to what exactly that would be. I went to school from 21-24 and learned absolutely nothing about social entrepreneurship. I was told by my strategic management teacher that “the business of business is business” and my corporate finance teacher told me to “follow the money if I wanted to be happy.” I realized that their worldview was conditioned by their upbringing during a time when convention was everything. I discovered pretty quickly that “conventional business” was not something I had any interest in participating in and if I was going to be in business for myself, the only way I could do so and sleep at night would be if what I was doing made a real difference in the lives of those I served, and in some way, resonated out into the ether of the world.

Around my 24th birthday I started watching dozens of documentaries that really opened my eyes and widened my understanding of the challenges that we faced as a collective species. In the simplest sense, they showed me that the relentless pursuit for profits over the well-being of people and planet would eventually lead to the self-destruction and demise of humanity. It wouldn’t be a matter of “If?” just a matter of “When?”

Eventually I came to realize that it was a crisis of corrupt values, of immorality and of compromised ethics. To put it shortly, it was a crisis of consciousness that was, and still is, the root cause of all human suffering.

My gift is experiential education-based, delivered through coaching, training, speaking, and interactive workshops designed to help big-hearted entrepreneurs create purpose-driven businesses that make a difference in the word, but those are just vehicles to help raise the collective consciousness of the planet.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THE 21 YEAR OLD VERSION OF YOURSELF?

What advice would I give myself?

  • Fail fast, fail often, and fail forward. There is nothing wrong with failure, so long as you’re learning from it. School will try to make you believe that failing is bad and to be avoided at all cost. If you won’t die or be permanently set back forever, than it’s manageable and worth the risk, and will toughen your skin
  • Take lots of risks and embrace uncertainty. It’s never as bad as you imagine
  • Seek teachers, mentors, coaches, and other thought leaders – DON’T TRY AND DO IT ALL ON YOUR OWN!!! You are not as smart as you think and you need experienced people to tell you when you’re off course and help redirect you back on course.
  • Don’t spend money frivolously. This ties into getting good mentors. What I thought was a good investment at the time turned out to be a waste of resources that could’ve been better applied. And don’t waste so much money partying. Drugs, alcohol, and smokes are expensive habits for a young person and can keep you broke your whole life if you let them.
  • Learn how to market and sell before actually creating something. Get paid before you produce something. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s how all wise business people do it.
  • Let go of always trying to look good and avoiding looking bad. Learn how to effectively manage pride and ego and be humble. There’s nothing wrong with humility and plenty right with it.
  • Pick your friends wisely. You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

What would I do differently?

  • Wouldn’t have spent so much time partying and damaging my mind and body
  • Would’ve spent more time surrounding myself with people smarter than myself. I was always the smartest person in my circles, and as Richard Tirendi said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
  • I would’ve traveled more when I was young. And not resort vacation kind of travel. I would’ve pursued more meaningful travel that facilitated personal growth and taught me about myself and the world.
  • I would’ve developed better working habits. They’re much harder to develop later in life
  • I would’ve practiced delayed-gratification more. I got to use to compulsively seeking immediate gratification and it became a hard habit to break.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE THINKING OF BECOMING A GIFTED ENTREPRENEUR?

If you’re just starting out, one of the first things you can do to help you on your gifted entrepreneur journey is to find your “tribe.” Find those that believe in you and your crazy ideas but are also willing to tell you hard truths and spend as much time as possible with them. Limit the amount of time and energy you give to those who diminish or negate your mission in life. Even close friends and family who are stuck in an “employee mindset” may backhandedly downplay what you’re striving for. “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it” so choose the company you keep wisely. Kind of related to that point is you need to remember you cannot do it entirely alone. Anything that’s worth doing is not easy and will require multiple types of intelligences to accomplish. There’s a saying “If it’s not your genius it’s not your job” and this could not be truer to the gifted entrepreneur. Get super-clear on what you’re great at and what you love doing and figure out how to delegate the rest.

Secondly, spend time practicing self-reflection and introspection. Self-awareness is crucial if you’re going to blaze your own trail and make a big difference sharing your gift with the world. Any amount of time you can give to self-exploration before committing to an endeavour will benefit you later on. Get really comfortable with fear, discomfort, uncertainty, and doubt. Understanding and dealing with your emotions in a healthy way will help you throughout the course of your life, both personally and professionally.

This is some advice I would not only give to aspiring gifted entrepreneurs, but also to my young self alike – GET MENTORS, COACHES, AND ANYONE ELSE WHO CAN HELP YOU HASH OUT YOUR IDEA INTO A VIABLE BUSINESS MODEL AND AN ACTIONABLE PLAN!!! This is just as important as the last two points (if not more important) for the would-be gifted entrepreneur. Invest time (and money if you have it) into finding committed mentors and coaches and you will save time and money in the short and long run.

To those who are already successful entrepreneurs, but are interested in injecting “social” and “purpose” into their business, all you need to do is look at your business model (using Alexander Osterwalder’s one-page Business Model Canvas) and think of how you can make a positive impact by innovating even just a section of your business model. For a company to be “social” and make a difference it is not entirely necessary for every aspect of the business model to be social. It could be in how you hire and retain and staff, where or how you make products, or how they’re distributed.  It could be where you procure raw materials, or it could solely focus on who you serve and impact the end product/service has on the customer. Businesses don’t have to throw out their old models for something entirely new, but they can innovate and evolve their old models to make room for a new paradigm of “profit.” Entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to redefine the conventional version of “success” and introduce into the mainstream a purpose-driven model for adding value to the world… And still make enough money to provide the lifestyle they desire.

WHO ARE THE ARCHANGELS IN YOUR LIFE?

Growing up, I didn’t look up to too many people.  I had a rough life, and spent most of it with drug dealers, delinquents, and criminals across the spectrum. I had no mentors, and had too much pride to look up to people. Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter was the only person I idolized at all.

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but I got to a point in life where I realized I wasn’t going anywhere and that I needed to make a big shift if I was going to create the life of my dreams.

Now, at 29 years old, the list of people I admire, respect, look up to and hold as role models would be too long to list here. Here’s a few people I think the world of:

  • Chris Guillebeau – founder of The Art of Non-conformity and the one of first guys to show me that building a lifestyle friendly-business was possible
  • Seth Godin – I marvel at his mind and his unconventional wisdom. He’s smart and not only calls a spade a spade, but he also introduces alternatives for some of the dysfunctional beliefs in business today.
  • Giovanni Marsico – I personally resonate with his “Why” and feel he and I are very much alike in many ways. He’s a marketing whiz and is using his gifts to help others activate their gifts so they can serve others. His Archangel Academy for Gifted Entrepreneurs is a social-business I stand behind.
  • Rob Stewart – the creator of the Sharkwater and Revolution documentaries and is raising the awareness of climate change the health of the planet
  • David Lockett – my mentor and the founder and president of The PACT Urban Peace Program. He’s a social entrepreneur himself, and he’s been a stand for me and my gifted journey and has helped me a great deal over the past 3 years.
  • Dr. Scott Sherman – the founder of The Transformative Action Institute and speaker at The StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation. I first had the pleasure of listening to him speak at SB, and was blown away by his energy, story, and commitment to catalyzing social change. After experiencing his talk at two institutes, I can say that I would like to be as impactful on others I’ll serve as he was on me.
  • Tim Ferriss (author of the 4-Hour Work Week and other “4-Hour” books) and Chris Guillebeau (author of The Art of Non-conformity, and 100$ Startup) who were the first guys to show me that building a lifestyle friendly-business was more than possible.. It was plausible with hard work and determination.

The list goes on. These guys are the ones that come to mind first.

CONTACT INFO/CALL TO ACTION

And stay tuned for the book I’m co-authoring on Courage. If you want more of it in your life, this is a must-read book!

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