I had been thinking about inspiration, and some of the amazing people who have inspired me during my own somewhat adventurous life. In fact, I was making a list, and not just because making lists happens to be one of my most cherished and enjoyed activities (though it totally is), but because I thought it might be fun post in itself. But then it hit me, that rather than just making a little Academy Award speech thanking all the people who have made my awesome life possible, I thought it might be even more interesting to reach out to some of those people and see who it was that inspired them. That way, we all get a double dose of inspiration. You’re welcome.
All of the people listed below are pretty amazing. Though their chosen occupations are diverse, they are all something I very much admire: entrepreneurs. Rather than finding a stable job that was “good enough”, they have all chosen to create their own opportunities. They didn’t settle for the status quo that was presented to them, instead they forged ahead into the sometimes scary business of forging an extraordinary life. And then, even though that dedication no doubt takes a great deal of time and energy, they still took the time to answer my email and share a little bit about their experience. I’m humbled and honored!
This was the question I asked: We all have peers whose work we respect and admire. Tell us about something inspiring that person has accomplished, and how it has affected your own work.
Before I put them on the hot seat, I should probably answer the question myself. There have been quite a few people who have interceded at critical moments in my life, either by encouraging me to make an extraordinary choice or just by setting a good example. But one of the first people to really demonstrate the meaning of entrepreneurship was my brother-in-law, Scott Lobenberg. When he and my sister were a young couple, he had a few odd jobs and business ventures, including one painting the stripes in parking lots in Albuquerque. [Gratuitous shout out to my peeps in Albuquerque!] But Scott is the definition of a mover and a shaker, and before long had the idea of holding a job fair to help connect employers with prospective employees. It didn’t take Scott long to see the potential in the business model, which he quickly developed and then grew into a multi-million dollar nationwide business.
Looking back, what impresses me most about Scott is that he didn’t wait around being afraid that he wasn’t “ready”, or worrying that he wasn’t doing things the way “everyone” said you were “supposed” to do them. He had an idea, he saw an opportunity, and he made it happen. He built something amazing out of nothing. (This concept is also why I am so respectful of artists, a few of whom you’ll see below.) Scott made the choice to do something, and he followed through even though I’m sure it wasn’t always easy. That he was able to find the people he needed to help him along the way, and that the universe rewarded his hard work with incredible success, is testament to the power of that initial choice.
I want to make choices like that. I want to make things happen. Scott is a great example of how it can, actually, work out better than your wildest dreams.
Read on to see who our panel of entrepreneurs gave the shout out to. You’ll probably want to follow the links to find out more about these amazing people. After you’re done reading, it will be your turn! Leave a comment and tell us about who has inspired you. Spread the love!
Corbett Barr encourages us to aim higher at Think Traffic and Expert Enough
Someone I respect and admire and look to for inspiration is Scott Dinsmore of Live Your Legend. He has built an incredible community by providing inspiration, hope and connections to people looking to change the world by doing work they love.
Julie Holmes is coaching people towards a more fulfilling and satisfying life
Not only has Zach Stahlecker been my best friend for over 20 years, but also he has been a huge inspiration for me in my business. He is creative and innovative, with an incredible work ethic. He has been my consultant in both my business and my life. Zach built an extremely successful massage business from the ground up, Sacramento Massage Studio, and recently launched Stay Don’t Go, a Web design, Business Marketing, and Consulting Company. I wouldn’t have been able to build my business with such ease without Zach’s advice and input, and I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without him in my life. Everyone should have a friend like Zach.
Colin Wright is an author, entrepreneur, full-time traveler, and founder of Exile Lifestyle
They aren’t my peers, exactly, but my parents have done something that has greatly impacted everything I do. By putting their all into parenting and raising me and my siblings the best way they knew how, I’ve always felt that I’ve had a safety net in case anything should go sideways, and I’ve seen what a truly wonderful relationship looks like: two things that have helped me build solid connections with others while also pursuing my dreams.
Sean Ogle values location independence at Location 180 and plays golf at Breaking Eighty
If it weren’t for the things he taught me about entrepreneurship and doing business online, I have no doubt I wouldn’t be here writing this today.
Liza Macawili is a make-up artist in LA
[Liza’s hands are red after working the Walking Dead booth at Comic-Con turning people into zombies. Yes, I wish I’d been there too.]
I admire Eric J. Allen, the makeup artist on so many levels. I am lucky to be able to call him mentor and peer. When I met Eric, I was one of the many makeup artists around the nation for a well known beauty brand. He was one of the global educators. Eric had a grace and sophistication I hadn’t been exposed to. He approached his work like an artist, his model being his canvas. His movements and speech were so fluid. He was also formerly a ballet dancer so unknowingly we had that common bond. At that point in my life I had just retired from dance and although I had done makeup for years, I didn’t work with many other artists. I felt very raw, but eager. I was actually intimidated by him, and the rest of the team. But when the company opened up auditions for the Artistic Team, I was asked to audition, and I felt like Eric was one of my biggest cheerleaders. I could see him in the back nodding his head in approval during my presentations. I made the team and it elevated and changed the course of my career.
I love that Eric does not boast about his accomplishments like many of us makeup artists do. It’s almost become a necessity with social networking, but Eric manages to just hint of things he’s doing here and there. He works with several celebrities and beauty brands and his work has been in magazines like Italian Vogue, art books, and advertisements. He keeps to himself and he’s does not gossip yet he’s warm and friendly to everyone around him. I was trying to get a hold of him for his approval for this project and he was working with a music artist for The Tonight Show! Good things always seem to come to him because he is just so talented and knowledgeable and easy going.
He has influenced my career by showing me I don’t have to run with the “in crowd” to have a successful, thriving career. Through his work, I’ve learned to pull back when needed. Earlier in my career I would pile on the makeup like a drag queen. He has taught me when it’s appropriate to pile it on and when it’s okay to be a minimalist. That was very hard for me. I always want lashes and gloss and sparkle. But he has shown me it’s about the art more than about a formula. I’m fortunate that he calls me on occasion when he needs someone to cover for him or when he needs to put a team together for a show. Some of my most fulfilling jobs have come from jobs he passed on to me. One of my most proud moments was when I was asked to serve as a makeup judge for The North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA). When I opened the program, I saw his name among the judges. What an awesome moment to be a peer of someone I admire so much. After 11 years of working under his guidance, and alongside him, I’m still learning!
David Scheve’s latest short film, Hard Knock Rock: Sufferin’ Till You’re Straight, is currently playing the festival circuit
Tina Packer and Dennis Krausnick are two of the co-founders of Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox MA, and two of the most respected teachers, scholars and practitioners of Shakespeare’s work in the world today. They are committed to impacting both their own community and society at large through not only performance, but through hands on participation, making Shakespeare a tool for change. From the very beginnings of the company, Tina was convinced that giving a child the chance to inhabit Shakespeare’s enormous humanity has the power to show them how enormous and important they are themselves. In the 35 years since, their work in schools and with troubled youth programs is testament to the veracity of this theory; simply put, they change lives.
Tina’s and Dennis’ empathy and humanity drive their mission far beyond the tiny Shakes & Co. campus to the far reaches of the globe through the artists, like myself, who seek out Shakespeare & Co. I came to the company disillusioned with my career. They gave me the gift of their vision, where theatre has a far larger role to play in society than just entertainment or a downtown economic multiplier. I began to see myself as a vibrant thread in a far larger human fabric than I’d ever imagined. I see my work as an actor now as no longer constrained by the theatre or entertainment industry, or the roles I play, but as an instrument of change and a platform for truth and humanity. Thank you Dennis and Tina.
Susan Shain has the lowdown on travel and seasonal adventure jobs at Travel Junkette
I admire the work of Jenny Blake, who is a hustler that always has the needs of others in mind. I love how she’s fused all of her interests — mind, body, and business — into one brand whose purpose is to help people live awesome lives. She’s a wonderful example of how a successful business can also make the world a shinier place. She’s made me realize that I, too, can use my passions to help others — and I hope my site will someday inspire people as much as hers. And (like me), she’s an ENFJ, so what’s not to love?
Susie Tallman is a Children’s Recording Artist with 8 CD’s and a DVD
I am inspired every day. With three incredible kids how could I not be. But, I started making children’s music well before my children were born. I always wanted to be a singer and wanted to try to bring music to children’s every day lives, their nightly routines, their car rides and their dance parties in their living rooms with their families. However, I didn’t quit my day job at Interscope Records working with famous artists (I was one of the founding employees so it was especially tough to quit) until I was driving to a concert with the amazing singer Maria McKee, of whom I was a big fan. Maria remembered I had mentioned moving to Paris and becoming a singer the previous year and asked me about my progress. She basically called me out and said if I hadn’t done it by now I must not really want to. Voila. I moved, sang and created a children’s record label. I have been fortunate enough to reach thousands of families through lullabies and children’s songs. I try to make music that connects the generations, bridging the gap between child, parent and grandparent presenting traditional songs with a twist. I have so much fun recording and I hope it shows through my music.
Children have always been an inspiration to me, but now that I’m a mom other moms and teachers are an every day inspiration, too. One of my best girlfriends is the most incredible teacher and role model to her phenomenal daughter named Sofia. Sofia has cerebral palsy and has the most amazing attitude about life you have ever seen for anyone, let alone a four year old. Sofia’s mom has incorporated songs and phrases into her daily exercises that help encourage her to work hard and maintain a positive attitude. The love, patience and gratitude between mother and daughter is awe-inspiring and contagious, they truly make the world a better place.
Julie Reyburn is an award-winning cabaret artist
In March of 2012 the day before I went into labor with my son Jude, Mark Janas thought he had a bells palsy…his face was drooping and it wasn’t getting any better….we had just finished a rehearsal for the MAC awards and we went for coffee…he was thinking of going to the emergency room and I totally agreed with him…so he did. The doctors found a tangle of nerves in the base of his skull and recommended surgery right away. Mark and I were keeping in touch via text because I had gone into early labor and was contracting as he was being admitted into the hospital. The whole time his texts were full of humor and we were trying to “up” one another to see who was in more pain… My son Jude was born in the early morning hours before Mark’s surgery so I sent him a picture of Jude looking at me a few moments after birth….Mark told me that if I could go through birth, he could go through brain surgery….Mark is my older brother..we are forever linked…I’m sure of it..my daughter Layla was born on his birthday.
Mark’s whole attitude about the surgery, before, during and after was to view it with humor and adventure. You just never know what life is going to throw at you he likes to say. Luckily his surgeon was a jazz musician and understood how important it was for Mark to be able to maintain his piano playing. Post surgery went well and I finally got to visit him in the hospital a few weeks after I gave birth. I gotta tell you he was a new man. Mark had a new lease on life and it was like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. His playing was astounding..it was like a channel had been opened and the musical flood gates came through. Two weeks ago, Mark had facial surgery to correct the nerve damage in his face. From how he described it, the procedure was pretty extensive….but there he was two days later, celebrating with us at a church function, showing his scars and playing piano.
I realize this may be a bit more of a story than a quick two sentence post but it’s important to mention the chain of events. Mark turned a health crisis into a life changing event by embracing it and trusting that all would be okay. He embraced the good and benefited from it.
Mark has channeled his creativity into an amazing thing called Salon which he hosts every week with his partner and producer, Tanya Moberly. The Salon is a reflection of everything that makes up Mark Janas: Guts, Determination, Love and Acceptance. It’s on display every Sunday at Etcetera Etcetera Restaurant and we artists are grateful to them both for providing a safe haven for us to practice and embrace these lessons.
Mark is my brother, my musical partner, and my friend. He inspires me on and off stage and we are all the better for his presence in the world.
T.J. Jazz is a jazz vocalist, tap dancer, and producer living in Spain
One thing I miss about the US is that strong culture of sharing between peers or even mentors that’s quite rare here in Spain. Half of the peers I’ve worked with in the past are currently bi-coastal in the US, working on big shows, T.V. or have started families. It’s encouraging to see that it is possible to reach those goals. The other half are at the same point as myself, a decent resume behind and working and sacrificing to take it to the next level of artistic freedom, independence and with some luck maybe recognition. I think the inspiration is reciprical. It’s inspiring for me, not just to see their successes, but to know, share and understand the struggle to obtain those successes; we learn from each others struggles and are able to share that experience to encourage and inspire when the success seems farther away.
The people who are most inspiring – are peers artistically but grand mentors as far as experience and knowledge. People who have shared their love and knowledge or that despite being told that “it’s too difficult”, “you’re not good enough”, “that’s never been done, it’s too risky”, “that’s too weird”, etc, yet have paved their own unique, strong, influential and inspiring paths. September Williams (Film Maker/Bio Ethics), Roxane Butterfly (Hoofer/Choreographer), Adrienne Hawkins (Choreographer), Giacomo Gates (Jazz Vocalist), Rubén Sanchez (Tapper/Entrepreneur). Many people choose to share rage, envy, fear and sadness. I’ve learned a lot about the person I don’t want to be. And I suppose the ultimate cliché would be my mother – not because she was an amazing single mom, but because Lyme Disease has had her in bed for four years, yet she continues dreaming, reaching for goals and sharing a love of life with everyone. A reminder of how fortunate I am to be able to reach for my own goals.
Photo credit: Biniam Ghezai
A big thanks to these awesome folks for taking the time to participate. I hope you will too, gentle (and not-so-gentle) readers. Take a moment to leave a comment below to tell us about the people who have inspired you. Every message makes this a more vibrant and useful community, so don’t miss out.
And if you were inspired, be sure to spread the love even more by sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter. Thank you!