ASAE Annual Meeting

Inspiring Change by Embracing Innovation

By Association Adviser staff • August 25, 2022

Make friends with failure. That was the message from Marcus Whitney, venture capital investor, entrepreneur, author, speaker, content creator and one of Nashville’s hometown influencers, to attendees at the 2022 ASAE Annual Meeting, September 20-23 in Nashville, Tennessee.

As the founding partner of Jumpstart Health Investors and Jumpstart Nova, the first Black health care venture fund in America, Marcus is also co-founder and minority owner of Major League Soccer team, Nashville Soccer Club. Marcus shared that few leaders get the chance to reflect on our stories – how we get where we are today and what we had to do to get there.

He referenced Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and the fear many of us have of the death and rebirth that is a part of every story worth telling. What most people miss is that right after that failure comes the breakthrough to success.

Marcus also shared three ideas that people should look for in their own stories to inspire those around them through storytelling:

  1. Pray for constraints and clarity. As a college dropout and young father, Marcus learned computer programming and coding as a way to support his family. He thought outside the box because he had to – like many of us. The only inexhaustible resource each of us has is our creativity.
  2. Cast a dream beyond your comfort. We often edit ourselves or minimize our goals to something we feel is more manageable. In reality, the way to achieve is a big, audacious goal, much like the one a group of local fans had to bring a professional soccer team to Nashville. As the chairman and a co-founder of the club, Marcus also had to dream big and take on challenges before he felt ready to reach his goal.
  3. Be courageous and classy. It’s important for all of us to understand our power and the access we have, and then what we can do with it to impact society in positive ways. Marcus realized he’d been put in a position to use his influence to call people up – not out – toward systemic change in the health care system after the death of George Floyd. He said we often know what is right before it’s popular, and while it can be uncomfortable to take that step out alone, that’s also no reason to do it.