Episode #52: investing in Change

GuestS: Michael Lee, David Kepron, and Garnet Heraman

On this week's episode, host Shawn Nason explores innovation and disruption through the lens of the investment world. Though sinking major money into the next big thing is never a sure bet, investing in innovation requires looking beyond the immediate return on investment to focus on creating a better world. Episode guests include Michael Lee, senior vice president of strategy and marketing at Innovation Minds; David Kepron, founder and owner of NXTLVL Experience Design; and Garnet Heraman, co-founder and managing partner of Aperture VC.

About Shawn Nason

shawn@mofi.co | ShawnNason.com | @manonfiresocial

Shawn Nason, founder and CEO of MOFI, best-selling author, and former Walt Disney Imagineer, lives his life with a commitment to create radical relationships with everyone he meets. Armed with the gift of discernment, he has the uncanny ability to walk alongside people and organizations as they struggle to connect with their deepest passions and engage their most debilitating demons. He challenges the world around him to be fully present, get real, and lead with empathy.

Prior to launching MOFI, Shawn was the chief experience & transformation officer for Healthways and served as the chief innovation officer for Xavier University. He also spent six years at The Walt Disney Company in various capacities within Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Cruise Line. He’s an in-demand speaker and coach, the author of two books, Kiss Your Dragons: Radical Relationships, Bold Heartsets, & Changing the World (2021) and The Power of YES! in Innovation (2017), and the host of The Combustion Chronicles podcast.

About michael lee

Senior Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at Innovation Minds

Transformational Coach, Filmmaker and Author

Creator of the Innotivity Institute

About david kepron

Founder & Owner of NXTLVL Experience Design

Former VP of Global Design Strategies for Marriott International

About garnet heraman

Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Aperture VC

Innovation Speaker with 25 Years Experience at the Intersection of Brands, Innovation and Technology

About mofi

A human-obsessed boutique design ready to rethink your Experience Ecosystem™.

hello@mofi.co | mofi.co@mofisocial

Organizations who can’t grow get left behind. And, getting left behind isn’t good for anyone. But growth is hard. Why? Because it involves humans and humans tend to complicate things. That’s where we come in.

Consider us your full-court-press game plan for growth. We engage, humanize, and redesign your interactions with the people and processes that make up your Experience Ecosystem.


Customer & Employee Experience—Increase your revenue and market share by aligning, equipping, and empowering the people in your Experience Ecosystem to create game-changing experiences.

Consumer-Centered Innovation—Move at the speed of your customers by harnessing the mindsets and processes of human-centered design to dream up, test, and launch fresh ideas into your business model.

Organizational Transformation—Position your organization for long-term sustainability by shifting the mindsets and heartsets of the people who represent your brand in the world.

Episode Takeaways

  • The most important innovation anyone's ever going to make is innovating themself, and no other innovation is possible without making this happen first.
  • It's important to understand the difference between invention and innovation. The invention can be owned. The innovation, however, is the result of the invention that somehow shifts people's thinking.
  • People get stuck from fully activating their potential when they think they're going to be the same person forever. People need to shift away from their own picture of who they are and let themselves be whoever they need to be to achieve their full potential.
  • Many of the challenges in creating innovative approaches to design or bringing products to market happen because the metrics used to judge their value are completely outmoded.
  • The way to deliver goods and services and experiences to people must change. The forces pushing these experienced-based markets forward are going to become increasingly more relevant to consumers because their expectations are changing about what they want.
  • It's important to give consumers a sense of empowerment and control in order to involve them in co-creating experiences with a brand.
  • When evaluating innovative ideas, use a multi-layered matrix that looks at marketplace tech themes that are more horizontal than vertical and looking at founder's (or founding team's) heartsets and mindsets.
  • In the coming years, there will be the same kinds of technology breakthroughs that have happened in the last decade, but more people of color will be leading the charge.
  • One of the big changes on the horizon, as more people of color engage in the technology innovation ecosystem, is the shift to build more around relationships and community experiences, which will create trust that allows more people to participate in the innovation.

Overheard on the Podcast

Quotes from Michael Lee

"I have a position that the most important innovation anyone's ever going to make is innovating themself, and no other innovation is possible without that one."
"The biggest addiction that all humans have is our addiction to our self."
"How can you free yourself from your own picture of who you are and let yourself be whoever you need to be to achieve what you want to get done?"

Overheard on the Podcast

Quotes from David Kepron

"People have to give up things that are based in a deep tradition of formalized thinking that is very fixed in its mindset."
"I think a lot of the challenges we have in terms of creating innovative approaches to design or design solutions or bringing products to market aren't because these things aren't smart or even aren't relevant, but the mechanisms or the metrics by which we judge their value are completely outmoded."
"We're really experiencing revolution or rather, we're experiencing evolution at a revolutionary pace. That's the defining feature that we live in now, is that the speed of this evolution is at an exponential rate but the challenge, of course, is that we are ill-adapt at moving that quickly."

Overheard on the Podcast

Quotes from Garnet Heraman

"Not only are there differences in the way that folks of color go about building companies, and creating innovation... but there are differences in the way that folks of color who are writing the check look at that proposition. You're going to see the same kinds of technology breakthroughs that you've seen in the last 10 years, but it will fly in the face of this argument about pipeline. You're going to see a preponderance of folks of color, leading the charge, as founders or creators of technology, who are making these big breakthroughs."
"One of the big changes that we see coming is that the way that folks of color engage in the technology innovation ecosystem is going to change because it has to be built around relationships, community experiences. And that's what's going to create this trust that allows more and more people to participate in the innovation."
"I think one of the things that folks of color have missed... is relationship capital. It's not enough for corporations to invest in the fund to put up financial capital, we need to put up relationship capital, human capital, and put that in collision with the folks of color who are leading these companies into the future. And then let's see what happens. That's where the magic happens."


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