Nothing gets me more worked up in a passionate frenzy about life than than hearing about people who have taken the leap to go it on their own, to make their own happiness. They are passionate, driven, inspired by the possibilities and tired of the status quo. I consider myself one of those people now, although it took several years to recognize it and then act on it. Along the way, however, I discovered fantastic sources of inspiration and advice. Here is my list of the people who shook the way I saw the world, and opened my eyes to new possibilities.
Richard Branson: To many Sir Richard Branson is recognized only as one of the most creative and wealthy individuals on the planet, but that would not be doing much justice to his influence. He is a leader, innovator, and an example that being a creative type doesn't mean you cannot excel in business. He also takes time to share his wisdom regularly on Entrepreneur.com, which is so appreciated. I read his stories about the early days of Virgin with awe, realizing everyone has to start somewhere. His determination to persevere, his optimism and positivity, and for never forgetting the importance of human connections make him an amazing role model.
Tim Ferriss: If you don't know the name, you surely have heard the title of his best-seller "The Four-Hour Work Week". I must admit, I was sucked in by the title but was so thrilled that the book actually had substance. Tim's take on life: working for mini-retirements throughout your life rather than saving up for the big one at the end, establishing valid ways to create and maintain revenue streams and his mantra of experimenting with life were eyeopening to say the least. This book really got the bug in my ear about entrepreneurship and I found his concepts rolled around my head constantly - what he had to say really stuck with me. What I love about Tim is that he is a no-nonsense guy - if he has something to say, he says it. He backs up what he says, isn't afraid to try new things, doesn't waste time on activities without purpose (which most of us do to distract ourselves from a life where we are not fulfilled), and HE SHARES his insight too! He is always up to something new so he is great to follow.
Martha Stewart: Sometimes Martha is described as the lady who slyly took homemaking to a new level and sold it back, repackaged, to modern women in an era where women were making waves in the boardroom. To me, she took the things I naturally loved to do, used her marketing background, passion and prowess for business to create a new genre of empowered women: those who felt entertaining, hors d'oeuvres making, ironing, and crafting were not a sign of weakness or a throw back to the 1800's. She embraced feminism in a multidimensional way that showed being a strong woman didn't have to mean abandoning traditionally woman-oriented activities for putting on a man's suit - that we really could do it all. I love that!
Heather Schuck: I don't even know how I discovered Heather, but her genuine nature and caring demeanour struck a chord with me immediately. I followed along with her posts about her business, Glamajama, but I also saw that there was so much more to Heather than her business. She had a message and she was dedicated to making others see that there is a way to build your own happiness, to find passion in what you do and make it work for you. I love her enthusiasm and her honest, open dialogue. The tipping point for me was the release of her Working Mom Manifesto (click to read FREE chapters - I recommend it). I read it with such a voraciousness that I knew I had to do something, to make a change in my life. That was only a few months ago but it feels like a lifetime ago now, as I can't imagine going back to the life I was living. I feel so full of purpose everyday and I continue thank Heather for her candor and courage to share her story.
So there you have it; the list of the most influential public figures that have made a difference in how I see life and most importantly, what I am deciding to do with it. Do you have inspiring role models? If so, please share - I'd love to hear who they are! You can also share on Facebook or on Twitter. Thanks for reading!
PS - I wanted to provide a link to another blog post by Kelsey Ramsden. She wrote a post about taking you love about your mentors and going the step further to make a list of the qualities so you can foster these qualities in yourself. Check it out! http://kelseyramsden.ca/one-leg-at-a-time/