AUGUSTA — The founder of Idexx Laboratories, Inc. told attendees at the annual Mainebiz Momentum Convention to look to take exponential steps and find ways for their businesses to affect as many people’s lives as possible.

“We all want to have an impact in the world, and why not have as big of an impact as you can?” said David Shaw to a full room of attendees Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center.

During his keynote address, Shaw described how he discovered business is a great way to help the world, despite originally having no interest in business when growing up.

Shaw founded the Westbrook-based biotechnology company in 1984 in Portland and has been involved since then in a variety of technological businesses and public-service and environmental groups.

Most recently, Shaw and the other executive committee members of the Sargasso Sea Alliance, an ocean conservation partnership among the government of Bermuda, scientists, conservation groups and private donors, were honored this year by the International SeaKeepers Society with the annual SeaKeeper Award for their work to protect the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic Ocean.

“Success is a choice,” Shaw told attendees. “Why choose anything but great?”

He highlighted one of his mentors, E. Robert Kinney, a Maine native who started a seafood canning business in Bar Harbor and later became the CEO of General Mills, during the speech. Shaw used Kinney, who died in May of this year at the age of 96, as an example of someone who started with little money but used innovative thinking to rise to the top of his field.

Shaw, who is married to actress Glenn Close, ran into challenges of his own recently. He told attendees that he was diagnosed two years ago with viral encephalitis, an infection of the brain, after scuba diving in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.

The illness robbed him of many cognitive functions, but he has recovered and said the experience taught him that it’s possible to retrain your brain to think big.

“It’s a challenge to think big when the thing you do your thinking with is not working,” he said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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