The Story Exchange, Shirley Moulton, The ACADEMi of LifeYour Name: Shirley Moulton

Business Name: The ACADEMi of Life, a curator of conversational events for inspirational learning

Type of Business: Social Enterprise

Business Location: New York, NY, United States

Twitter   @AcademiofLife

Reason for starting
The great thinker and Rhodes Scholar E. F. Schumacher believed that all through school and university we are given guidance about life and knowledge and generally this guidance has little relevance to the things that we care about or the way we conduct our lives—the way life is really lived. The ACADEMi of Life (TAoL) was created to fulfill Schumacher’s observation. After 22 years in business, I sold my information technology firm, Universal Solutions Inc., and found myself in a position where my entire identity and goals had to change. I realized that I had spent my entire life until that point focused on improving my body and mind, but I had spent little or no time tending to my inner self, my spirit and my soul. I wanted to provide the place for people to discuss the things they care about and the things that matter most in life that we were never taught in school. TAoL is a place of inspirational learning offering a fascinating look at human nature through discussions of life’s large questions around family, love, work, money and living (e.g. how to know yourself, how to make love last, and how to be a better friend). What we’re offering is something new, simple and easy to digest. It’s a form of practical wisdom that you can apply to your life and immediately make a difference.

How do you define success?
Happiness is the key to success; and the key to happiness is self-mastery. It’s simple really. Success is NOT something to be pursued. It cannot be measured in money or “stuff.” It comes from a life lived with purpose and meaning.

Biggest Success
From a personal standpoint my biggest success is helping to raise my grand nephew, Joseph. The ability to watch him thrive socially and emotionally, and the knowledge that I have had an impact on his life create an unrivaled feeling. Professionally, I have had several successes. I was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist 3 years in a row. I ran an IT company for 23 years and provided jobs for my employees, so they in turn were able to raise their families. People enjoyed coming to work everyday and I enjoyed watching their children grow. Now, at The Academi of Life I have built a strong customer loyal base, and developed a stellar roster of inspirational, intriguing speakers. Additionally, I was able to attract nearly 1000 attendees at one of our speaking events.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
TAoL’s biggest challenge is scale. We currently need to raise $545,000 to hire talented resources and to implement a stellar Sales, Marketing and PR campaign to build awareness and to grow the business. We plan to raise these funds by offering Lifetime memberships in our Founders Circle. The Founders Circle consists of visionaries who will have lifetime membership in TAoL for a onetime fee at an unrivaled value. People who invest in TAoL are investing not for the promise of financial reward, but for the social rewards of supporting important work. No work could be more important than investing in the personal development of a human being. raised $20 million in the past 2 years from investors who simply enjoy the social benefits of investing in creative projects and expect no financial rewards.

Who is your most important role model?
I don’t have role models. However, a person that I wish to exemplify is Warren Buffet. I admire his ability to truly find the right balance between heart and mind. His billionaire status was achieved by doing something he was passionate about, something he loved. The money was incidental proven by the fact that he lived a relatively humble life and donated the majority of his money to various charities. He understood that a successful life was not solely defined by how much money you made.