Launch St. Louis welcomes Travis Sheridan to Gateway to the Future. posted 09/16/15

By Erin Willmann

600_434905412Travis Sheridan is a born hustler. Though he’s been everything from a bank manager to a stand-up comedian, he has always inspired hustling (also known as innovative thinking). Travis moved to St. Louis from the California coast and is currently the executive director of the Venture Café in St. Louis, a place where serendipitous collisions happen between brilliant minds and entrepreneurial energy.

Tell us about you in 140 characters or less.
I view life through the lens of innovation and love. To me, innovation is a process to improve the human condition. There’s work to do.

What traits do you think are most important in a leader?
There are two important traits that I lean on most: 1) the ability to manage conflict and 2) understanding political dynamics. As a leader, a person must know how to effectively use conflict to move the mission forward. Too often people see conflict avoidance as a hallmark of success; however, very little gets accomplished when everyone simply agrees. Furthermore, knowing that everything is political allows a leader know what can be maximized and leveraged. Both traits require a high level of maturity and stamina. I’d add that both are all about relationships. A leader must manage relationships.

Bonus Trait: The ability to understand and use metaphor effectively.

As a leader in the community, what do you look for in young people that you might associate with and/or hire?
I look for a willingness to learn, push, fail and learn some more. I really like people (of any age) who are willing to take risks and manage failure. Most importantly, I like to associate with people who can articulate the impact of what they do (success or failure). If you can communicate impact, you can soar past people who just make noise. You’ll also be better equipped to hold people accountable.

What inspires you to do that work that you do?

Bricks. I seriously have a thing for bricks. When I look around the community I see stacks and stack of bricks that create a beautiful topography for STL. I also see the people of STL as bricks. They create structure, require care and attention and can be assembled to build something new. We are a community of bricks – made from the earth, hardened by heat, and stronger together.

What is the most useful piece of advice or wisdom you’ve ever received?

Set a personal (moral compass, regularly check it’s bearings and follow it.

gateway to the future st. louis

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