Learn how to learn, take risks, fall in love with the process and then repeat: that was the lesson Rodney Williams wanted his audience to learn at his presentation Lessons Learned on Wednesday evening.
Williams, a WVU alumnus, is the CEO and co-founder of LISNR, a company that transmits data over sound. His presentation was a part of Diversity Week and the David C. Hardesty Festival of Ideas.
Williams was born deaf and could not speak until he was 5 years old. He was raised in Baltimore, Maryland.
Williams said while he was a student at WVU, he had a lot of fun.
“I was the kid your mom warned you about,” he said.
Despite having a little too much fun, Williams managed to graduate in four years with two degrees. After college, Williams went on to work for Procter & Gamble, a consumer goods corporation.
His first assignment while working there was not what he expected it to be; he was advertising for Pampers. However, he used it as an opportunity.
“Where everyone else saw an obstacle, I saw a future,” Williams said.
While working at Procter & Gamble was comfortable, Williams wanted more, so he asked his boss for two weeks off of work, so he could go pitch an idea he had for a data-over-sound company.
That is where the highly successful company LISNR gained the attention of investors. Williams’ company LISNR uses high frequencies of sound to transmit data between devices. This technology can be used for anything from scanning a ticket to opening car doors. Last year, it secured Ticketmaster as a customer.
Williams’ latest project is an app called SoLo Funds that allows strangers to loan money to other strangers. He created it to change his community. The app has a default rate of less than 6 percent.
During his presentation, Williams spoke about adapting to situations and developing as a person.
“Every next level of your life demands a different you,” Williams said.
Williams’ success story resonated with many in the audience, including Cornell Brown III. Brown is a finance student with a minor in entrepreneurship from Baltimore, Maryland. Brown said he could see himself at the beginning of Williams’ journey.
“I’ve listened to a lot of speakers,” Brown said. “He was the one that connected with me the most.”
The overall message of Williams’ presentation was to be true to yourself.
“I challenge you to go out and find who you want to be," he said. "Regardless if you never do, that’s what makes you special."