40 over 40 introduces Cliff Sharples

Date September 24, 2013

Cliff SharplesWe are honored to introduce you to Cliff Sharples, our newest member of the 40 over 40 gang.

Cari Johnson, VP of Marketing at Cheezburger has this to say about Cliff:
“If I were to write a book about Cliff, it would be called ‘The Deluxe Guide on How to Create, Amplify, & Share a Wealth of Joy for All Who Surround Him While Being Really, Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Looking.’ Anyone who has had the privilege of knowing Cliff is abundantly clear on how much he enriches the lives of those he touches. Amplification is a key word for Cliff as he consistently creates personal and professional growth. His ideas are bolder, his solutions are better, his colors are brighter, and his sense of humor is bigger. He undoubtedly is a very bright light.”

He has the kind of life most of us dream about, both in the office, where he was most recently the COO of digital entertainment giant Cheezburger and a pioneering internet consultant, and out of it. The father of five (well, 10, actually, if you count the birds and dogs) is an entrepreneur and tech wizard who founded or co-founded an impressive roster of internet companies, including Garden.com, Shop.org, IronGrid and Kinetix Living. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon and the Kellogg School at Northwestern, Cliff’s latest undertaking will most certainly utilize that education, along with a grab-bag of skills – patience, ingenuity and open-mindedness, to name a few – gleaned from life experiences.

We were able to catch Cliff as he made the final preparations needed to embark on what might prove to be his biggest challenge, as well as his greatest adventure, when he and his entire (human) crew – wife and partner, Lisa (also an esteemed 40 Over 40 profilee – check her out!), daughter, Yve, and four sons: Wescott, Otto, Jones and Tuck – embark on the year-long “Project Equator”.

This “family gap year” was conceived by Cliff and Lisa during a family ski vacation in 2012 and will take the Sharples clan around the globe, where they will focus on connecting with “world cultures, environment, volunteerism, craft, art and spirituality,” according to the website they established to document the journey. In Europe, the family will explore the roots of western culture in Italy, Greece and Spain; in Africa, they will hike the Atlas Mountains, fish in Zanzibar, and trek with a nomadic Maasai family; on their Pacific leg, the Sharples’ will immerse themselves in the wonder of Australia, French Polynesia, Easter Island and Chile. And of particular interest to the whole family are China, where Yve was born, and Vietnam, birthplace of twins Tuck and Jones.

The experience adopting his brothers in Vietnam, where the family lived for almost 6 months to bring home Tuck and Jones, as well as their journey to Africa has become the impetus for oldest son Wescott’s Eagle Scout project. Bagamoyo, Tanzania is home to Baobab House, a school, community center and orphanage, and a place sorely in need of early-reading books for its library. Wescott hopes to collect 1,000 books for preschool- through third grade-level readers, which will be shipped to Baobab House by the folks at Mercer Island’s Island Books and a little help from the Marines! (To help Wescott reach his goal, send an email for more information to info@mercerislandbooks.com with WESCOTT EAGLE PROJECT in the subject line or call (206) 232-6920. You can just give them a dollar amount to purchase books on your behalf or pick them out yourself. Read more about Wescott’s project here. Do it now, before you forget. Seriously!.

But back to Cliff (who is, you know, over 40 and a dynamic Dynamo Dynomite if ever there was one). Before shoving off for international global adventure, he gave us some quick insight into what makes him tick.

How did you earn your first dollar?
Picking up metal leads out of the carpet at an electronic circuit board manufacturer.

What do you appreciate about being over 40?
Well, it beats the alternative, right?! The reality is that is keeps getting better with every decade as you learn how to apply more and more balance to everything you do and experience.

What or who inspired you to get where you are today?
There have been a lot of people along the way. My father was an inventor and entrepreneur, instilling that spirit in me; both of my brothers are entrepreneurs; and most importantly, my trail-blazing wife, Lisa, serves as a lifelong inspiration.

What advice do you have for the under-40 crowd?
Be present!

What are you passionate about?
Family, outdoors, travel, technology, innovation, new ideas.

How do you balance work and life?
I’ve learned when to put down the phone, close the laptop and try my best to be present wherever I am.

What book is on your nightstand?
The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV, Howard C. Cutler

What is in your playlist?
Charlie Brown / Coldplay
Outro / M83
The Ocean / Led Zeppelin
Sunset / The XX

What other career would you like to try?
It’s a cliché, but definitely a rock singer. Who else influences and inspires so many people?

What person would you like to meet – living or dead?
(Virgin Airlines founder) Sir Richard Branson or (tech entrepreneur) Elon Musk – seriously cool guys who have no bounds to their vision.

What super-power do you want?
Flying. There are so many places I want to see and experience, and it would make it all a lot more efficient!

Favorite movie?
It’s a toss-up between Star Wars and Aliens.

Guilty pleasure?
Fran’s dark chocolate salted caramels. (Sidenote: Yum)

What is your favorite quote?
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” [Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken]

On another note, we would like to respectfully request you take a look at an uplifting 4 min video from Swim Across America national organization find the 25th anniversary video here.
Regarding Swim Across America, Rob Eleveld, CEO of Optify, Rob Eleveld sponsorship page is here. His team is at $20,000 right now, shooting for the Seattle Team record of $22k from 2011. We are supporting this event in honor of our friend and colleague, Amber Dunn, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this spring. We miss you Amber!!

Thank you to our unwavering network!
Gina

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