Your personal development is one of the key ingredients in becoming a successful entrepreneur. This exceeds developing your skill set. Learning to listen to your own voice, staying true to yourself, and believing in yourself are all essential for you to be able to realize your dreams.
Every entrepreneur struggles with feelings of self-doubt and lack of motivation sometimes. Whenever I find myself doubting my capabilities, I just listen to some of the wise words these following people have to say.
Here are 10 inspirational thought leaders and entrepreneurs that will help you to stay motivated, energized and inspired. In business, and in life.
No motivational speaker top 10 would be complete without Richard Branson. This billionaire entrepreneur shows that you don’t necessarily need experience to start building your dreams. He dropped out of school at 16 and learned everything by just doing.
He failed, lots of times. But his persistence kept him going. He says he owes much of his success to “thinking like a toddler”. Like a toddler, he sees “opportunities where adults often see obstacles”.
“I didn’t have any experience, but instead of feeling embarrassed and discouraged, I embraced my inner child and leaped into the unknown. Like a toddler, I had to learn on the spot, by doing”.
Amy Cuddy is a social psychologist, author and lecturer. She is well known for her research on power and nonverbal behavior. Not per se a motivational speaker, but I still find her talks extremely inspiring and useful.
Her research hypothesizes that you can influence your mind and emotions by changing your body posture. Standing in a posture of confidence, affects your mood and your chances of success, even when you don’t feel confident at all.
I came to know her through her inspirational TED Talk about how your body language shapes who you are.
What I like about Kyle Cease, is that he combines transformational talks with pure comedy. Humor is an important aspect in any motivational speaker’s performance, but Kyle knows how to do it professionally. He actually started out as a comedian. His profound words and dry sense of humor makes you want to cry and laugh at the same time.
One of my favorite parts of his talks is “The Dangers of Closing Your Heart”. It’s not (only) about romance, as the title may indicate, but it’s about everything creative and entrepreneurial.
Marketing guru Seth Godin specializes in how to spread ideas. According to forbes.com he is a “demigod of the Web, a best-selling author, highly sought-after lecturer, successful entrepreneur, respected pundit and high-profile blogger. He is uniquely respected for his understanding of the Internet”. His books The Icarus Deception and All Marketers Are Liars should be required reading for new entrepreneurs.
He teaches companies to rethink their marketing strategy. He argues that holding on to old ideas of marketing such as the TV-industrial complex or mass marketing, makes companies fail to reach the new customer, who is trained to ignore most messages.
It’s not about reaching the masses, it’s about finding the true believers. They will in turn spread the idea to their friends.
“It turns out that it’s tribes, not money, not factories, that can change our world. Not because you force them…, but because they want to connect… Find something worth changing, and then assemble tribes to spread the idea, and it becomes a movement”.
“Your dreams matter. Your soul is telling you exactly what you should be doing. The question is whether or not you’re listening.”
Mel Robbins, tv host, life coach and creator of The 5 Second Rule, says that there’s just “one thing standing in between you and the life you have always wanted – and that’s YOU”. But, you can push yourself past your doubts, fears and hesitations.
You have to “stop screwing yourself over” and force yourself to get what you want. Get out of your head, past your feelings, move out of your comfort zone. She explains how to do this and more in this TEDx Talk.
Tim Ferris, the author of the best-selling book “The 4-Hour Workweek” is a “productivity guru”. His “4-Hour Workweek” book explains how to reach self-improvement by defining your aspirations, managing time, creating automatic income, and escape the 9-5 job.
He says that if you want to learn to do something new, all you need to ask is one simple question “What’s the worst that could happen?”. Most people are afraid to learn something new because of childhood experiences. They think they don’t have a talent for something or miss the required skill set.
But, when you become friends with your fear, Tim says you can learn anything.
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, focuses on trying to keep women in the workforce. There’s a significant smaller percentage of women than men that reach the top of their professions. She gives advice to women that do want to reach that top.
That is to “sit at the table, make your partner a real partner, and don’t leave before you leave”. She says that, on contrary to men, women systematically underestimate themselves, and attribute their success to external factors rather than to their own strength.
Women should reach for the same opportunities men do, they should believe in themselves, stand up for themselves (also in their relationship at home), and stay 100% present in the workforce as long as they can.
Simon Sinek teaches leaders and companies how to inspire people. He has a vision to build a world where people are truly fulfilled with the work they do, with their relationships with others and themselves. He inspires people to do the things that inspire them.
He focuses on asking why you do what you do. Not how, or what you do, but why you do it.
He also says that one of the biggest problems of our times is that young people (“Millennials”) are used to, and desire, instant gratification. What they need to learn, according to Simon, is that everything worthy like joy, love, job satisfaction or a skill set, takes time to develop.
John C. Parkin
Not so much a speaker as he is a writer, John C. Parkin belongs in this list regardless. He wrote the international bestselling book “Fuck It”. A Western approach to the Eastern philosophy of letting go, this book changed my life. It helped me to get out of my head and into chasing my dreams for real.
Don’t worry if you’re not into Eastern philosophy (yet), his extremely dry sense of humor makes the book accessible to anyone.
“No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now”.
Although no longer with us, the recordings of this highly respected speaker are still widely available. A writer, philosopher and traveler, Alan Watts was one of the first to bring Eastern wisdom to the West.
One of my favorite speeches, which is now made into a remix featuring uplifting tunes from Above & Beyond, is called “Living Small Moments”. Instant motivation guaranteed.