Inspiration

26 Entrepreneurs Reveal The Leaders They Look Up To

In our societies and business, there’re leaders who have demonstrated exceptionalities personalities and traits.

Some of them alive and who continue to do great things while others we only read about them.

We asked entrepreneurs and business owners their inspirational leaders and here’s what they had to say;

#1- Martin Luther King Jr.

Photo Credit: Blake Taylor

When you mention the greatest leaders of all time, you have to mention Martin Luther King Jr. Great leaders are selfless, honest, and not afraid to take risks, even when the odds are stacked against them. Martin Luther King Jr. embodied all of these traits and more, and ended up paying the ultimate price to stand up for what he believed in. When we talk about great leaders, even the most fearless of leaders would have considered abandoning their pursuits if they knew the end result would most likely be their demise. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this, yet continued to lead his people in the name of civil rights. Great leaders have a lasting impact on the world long after they are gone, and I think everyone can agree that MLK Jr. and his work for civil rights will continue to have a positive impact long into the future.

Thanks to Blake Taylor, Synergy Business Brokers!


#2- Mahatma Gandhi

Photo Credit: Tricia Lewis

Of all the great leaders we have seen in the past, Mahatma Gandhi stands out to me the most. It takes a great leader to make change happen, but an even greater leader to make chat change happen peacefully. Gandhi didn’t singlehandedly gain India’s independence, but when we look at great leaders, none of them ever accomplish their feats alone. Gandhi’s redeeming trait was his ability to unite people for a common cause, without the need to intimidate or strike fear into his followers. This trait is one of the most important qualities a leader can have, as it leads to a mutual respect, and is a much stronger bond than those who have gained followers out of fear. Mahatma Gandhi was a real leader, and rightfully one of the most respected leaders in history.

Thanks to Tricia Lewis, HackEDU!


#3- Sarah Blakely

Photo Credit: Janelle Lara

Sarah Blakely because she is an incredible example of what it means to value family, generosity, and business. She has built her company to incredible heights and became the youngest female billionaire, all while publicly giving away millions of dollars to charity and raising her 4 children. This is inspiring to me as a young CEO, Mom, and first-generation American who wants to give back to the world.

Thanks to Janelle Lara, The Part-Time CEO®!


#4-Darren Hardy

Photo Credit: Richa Pathak

I look up to Darren Hardy, his books, his daily tips, and techniques that kept me motivated when I see no hope in business because of this pandemic. I have started following his instructions to make a better routine with a better mindset, which actually inspire me to try even harder in a tough time. He shares some of his learning experience which was very interesting such as our daily routine should be planned and aligned with our goal weather it is sort-term goals or long term. I have been engaged with a lot of his articles and videos to see how creative he could get when it comes to enhancing our productivity and suggest some good advice.

Thanks to Richa Pathak, SEM Updates – The next-gen digital marketing!


#5- Winston Churchill

Photo Credit: David Vranicar

I’ve always been a fan of Winston Churchill, British prime minister back in the 1940s and again in the 1950s. He led his country through one of, if not the most, darkest times in its history. He was successful due to his blunt honesty. He was relentlessly stubborn and refused to give in, even when things were going poorly. This is where he found his triumph. As a business leader, I take great courage from his ability to face immense difficulty, hunker down, and beat the odds.

Thanks to David Vranicar, FBS Fortified and Ballistic Security!


#6- Bob Iger

Photo Credit: Michael James Nuells

He`s an absolutely brilliant, inspiring, and legendary business leader who`s contributed so much to the worlds of entertainment, business, and humanitarianism! I`ve had the pleasure of meeting him in person multiple times while under my contract with Disney, and he was always so motivating and enlightening. He`s inspired me to continue my career in entertainment, always remember to give back through humanitarian efforts, and to be brave enough to push boundaries in life! He`s unique, has enjoyed an illustrious life, and I only hope to one day have similar heights of success both personally & professionally.

Thanks to Michael James Nuells


#7- Phil Jackson

Photo Credit: Jack Wang

I mentioned being a sports fan in the intro, because the leader I look up to the most is Phil Jackson, former mentor of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. His stint with the Bulls was more meaningful for me. I picked Phil Jackson because he knew how to mold his players into winners and champions. He knew how to push them to the right direction. Most importantly, he was able to turn a superstar player like Michael Jordan to work as a team player and have more trust in his comrades. To me, a leader first and foremost is an effective mentor who can steer his people to further progress. It is more a shared success and disappointment, which is the best approach in my opinion.

Thanks to Jack Wang, Amazing Beauty Hair!


#8-President Donald Trump

Photo Credit: Rick Maningas

Love him or hate him. This is not a political statement. The leader that I look up to is the toughest leader of the free world, President Donald Trump. Right or wrong, love him or hate him, what leader do you know that does his job, gets the results that he has, keeps and grows the support of his followers. All the while one political party is 100% against him, the Main Stream Media is against him, and a group of legal and illegal citizens of America is against him. For over three and a half years his opposition has tried everything in their power and then some to take him down, remove him, and yet, he is still in the Oval Office.

Thanks to Rick Maningas, Best Choice House Buyers LLC!


#9- Charlie Munger

Photo Credit: Ozgur Taskaya

I am a huge fan of Charlie Munger, who is the Vice Chairman of the famed holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Charlie Munger is a master of mental models and he attributes his success to how he effectively uses them. I definitely recommend listeining to his speeches and reading his pieces so that you will learn how to think, how to analyze difficult situations and how to make wise decisions. I follow his principle rigorously: I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up.

Thanks to Ozgur Taskaya, Fenomio!


#10- Neil Patel and Jon Morrow

Photo Credit: Janice Wald

Patel and Morrow have devoted their lives to helping bloggers and marketers. Both men have podcasts and blogs that guide bloggers and marketers toward online success. Patel even has a helpful YouTube Channel. Patel can be seen everywhere. For instance, he has tens of thousands of followers on both Instagram and Twitter. Patel is innovative. For example, he demonstrates how using Instagram Photo Carousels results in widespread success on Instagram. As a trendsetter, Patel leads the way. Instagram marketers started using Photo Carousels and started using Patel’s other tips since they are so effective. Neil Patel was even honored by President Obama. Despite all this success, Patel is a humble person. I know since I listen to his podcast. Similarly, Jon Morrow has had a career that improves the lives of others. Jon Morrow was able to achieve success as a blogger, blogging mentor, and podcaster despite being a paraplegic. Just within the last month, Morrow had a medical crisis that almost cost him his life. Despite his physical hardships, he rebounds to help bloggers each time he has an obstacle. Both men as gurus, teachers, and mentors have been inspirations to me.

Thanks to Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging!


#11- Steve Jobs

Photo Credit: Osama Khabab

As an entrepreneur, I have always been inspired by the journey of Steve Jobs. There are many things that I have been able to learn after reading about his life. Now this may sound cliché, but the way he was able to stay true to his vision in remarkable. Despite the hardships, the failures, the setbacks, nothing could stop him or make him lose sight of his goal. There have been many creators before and after him, and all of them have been successful at what they do. The story of Steve Jobs and the way he was able to always see failure as an opportunity to learn has been an inspiration, at least for me over the course of my life and my career.

Thanks to Osama Khabab, MotionCue!


#12- Angela Merkel

Photo Credit: Ljubica Cvetkovska

The leader I most admire is Angela Merkel. I think succeeding in the men’s world is especially difficult for women who’re traditionally seen as weaker, more gentle gender. Angela Merkel is a true example of a strong and independent woman who can carry the whole state at her shoulders and never blink twice. She’s a true example of stability, integrity, and dedication when the times are rough, and I think we need more positive role models.

Thanks to Ljubica Cvetkovska, DealsOnCannabis!


#13- Dave Gerhardt

Photo Credit: Kasia Kowalska

As I’m a marketer, it likely won’t come as a surprise that one of the top leaders I look up to is Dave Gerhardt (a former Drift Marketing VP, currently CMO at Privy). Here’s why: – He shares his knowledge actively and regularly on LinkedIn. He has a no-BS attitude, and always says what he thinks without trying to sweet-talk everyone. The insights he shares are ALWAYS actionable. I never regret reading his posts, as I always find something new or something that forces me to revisit my opinions. Not to mention, he stands behind Drift’s spectacular success (during his tenure, the company grew from $0 to eight-figures in revenue). He became not just a Drift personality – but also a brand himself.

Thanks to Kasia Kowalska, Contentki.com!


#14-Oprah Winfrey

Photo Credit: Deborah Sweeney

I’m always inspired by Oprah Winfrey. She transcends all business models. While Oprah has created an incredible brand for herself and is true to her voice, she doesn’t claim to be the only one behind her brand’s success. On countless occasions, Oprah has introduced her marketing team and makes it known that all of the hard work put into her brand is truly a team effort and that she is not the only master behind her success. It’s an incredibly admirable quality that I believe all business owners should adopt into their daily practices.

Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!


#15- Barbara Sher

Photo Credit: Tex Dworkin

Barbara Sher, who passed away of natural causes on May 10, 2020, is one of my heroes. Her ahead-of-her time teachings around professional and personal development are reflected in my company’s core values AND product offering. Barbara discovered that there is a tremendous benefit to 1-sharing your dreams with strangers (so you can be truly vulnerable) and 2-the hurdles you perceive as in the way of you achieving your dreams (which activates the problem solver in them). This may sound simple but it’s been a life-changing lesson for me. She also taught me that doing what you love is not only possible, but achievable, and that what you love doing often involves what you’re gifted at. She believed everyone has at least one thing they’re gifted at, and that people owe it to the world to do what they are gifted at. She wasn’t mushy in her delivery. She was a down to earth and relatable woman, and I hope my work getting diverse strangers brainstorming to help people achieve their entrepreneurial dreams is making her proud.

Thanks to Tex Dworkin, Raddle!


#16- Lloyd and Mary Anderson

Photo Credit: Mike Morales

Lloyd and Mary are the founders of the co-op we now know as REI. I look up to them because they were able to turn their passion into a business that helped others share in the benefit of purchasing high-quality outdoor gear at a reasonable price. By embracing globalization and making group purchases, they were able to increase quality and lower costs at the same time. This allowed more people to afford to do outdoor recreational activities.

Thanks to Mike Morales, Leeds Bikes!


#17- Warren Buffet – the prominent investor

Being an entrepreneur, I have always admired the leadership, and Warren Buffett has inspired me a lot with his leadership skills. Buffett is known as the most significant investor of all time. He built the second largest company in the United States, all with the highest possible ethics and integrity standards. Those who invested in his company became rich very soon. One amazing thing about Buffett’s success is that he never worked as the CEO of his company but always thinks like a leader and thinks what is best for Berkshire Hathaway (his company). He is known as a transformational leader. He had a vision for his business to be successful, and with his leadership, he turned that vision into reality. He inspired his people to have the same ideology and strive towards it and so was able to grow his business.

Thanks to Aqsa Tabassam, Scribando!


#18- Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

Andrew Schrage

Cuban’s background story is inspiring; he grew up in modest circumstances in Pittsburgh, got fired from his first career-track job, and then built on modest success after modest success to become a legitimate tech titan. Like Buffett, he’s a self-made man. And, like Buffett, he’s a committed philanthropist — someone who clearly understands that there’s more to life than amassing as much money as possible.

Thanks to Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers!


#19- Bill Gates

Photo Credit: Brian Mac Mahon

I think that Bill Gates is a true leader and not just in the startup world. He recently left Microsoft to invest all of his time along with his wife, Melinda, in their foundation. He spent billions of dollars to fight polio, malaria, ebola and now the coronavirus. While he spoke many times about the next global pandemic, most of the world chose to ignore his warnings. A person like him, one of the richest people in the world, can either do nothing with his fortune, do bad or do good with it. However, Bill Gates has chosen to fully dedicate his life to improve other people’s and that is worth admiring!

Thanks to Brian Mac Mahon, Expert DOJO!


#20- Michelle Obama

Photo Credit: Delphine Cordié

Michelle Obama is by far the most inspirational leader I’ve been looking up to, and for many years now. And yes, I say leader, because even if she spent 8 years of her life in the very ambiguous role of First Lady of the United States, she rallied masses and teams behind her, and managed to massively impact communities, women, and how people eat in the US! She inspires me because she has always made the best out of a situation, even the ones she didn’t really like – she said numerous times that she hated politics! She did so by following her true purpose and heart, and always looking to make an impact – small or big. She makes me believe that, whatever life throws at me, if I follow my purpose and my heart, and try my best … then everything will be fine, and that I will have some impact on this world. In troubled tines, this give me the strength to relentlessly move forward.

Thanks to Delphine Cordié, DCC Coaching!


#21- Jason Fried

Photo Credit: Adam Hempenstall

One of the few people I look up to in my industry is Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp. Not only did he manage to (co)found a superb company and product, he also built an amazing company culture and one of the best blogs in the business. His entire way of thinking, creating content and using his position to teach others how to run businesses online is what fascinates me. He taught me that once you have a successful business, you should use the extra time you earned for yourself to build your brand and create meaningful content.

Thanks to Adam Hempenstall, Better Proposals!


#22- Gary Vaynerchuk

Photo Credit: Amit Raj

At a young age, he was really a business-minded person. Through his hard work, he’s now the CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency and the chairman of VaynerX. I admire him for his ideas around business topics and I am getting inspired from what he has now achieved from his humble beginnings. He had started as a child selling flowers out of his neighbor’s backyard for him to be able to operate a lemonade stand franchise. From there, he ventured out to different businesses and helped his family’s wine business. He’s a living proof that hard work indeed really pays off!

Thanks to Amit Raj, Amit Digital Marketing!


#23- Jack Ma

Photo Credit: Albert Lee

The man I always turn to for inspiration during times of difficulties is Jack Ma of Alibaba fame. Jack suffered a ton of failures and rejection in his early life but he never gave up pursuing his dreams. As a small business owner myself, the road to entrepreneurship has been humbling to say the least. Whenever the going gets tough, what always picks me up is a quote from Jack – if you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.

Thanks to Albert Lee, Home Living Lab!


#24- Jack Welsh

Photo Credit: Tim Denman

I resonate with Jack Welsh, who made a name for himself by leading his team at GE for over 20 years. When I need advice, I often reread his classic book Winning, which is a practical guide on how to lead and manage people, with real-life experience. He believed that people are the biggest asset of any company and that a business is only as strong as the team that keeps it running. He believed with all his heart that you could win if you build the best team and get the right people in the right places. I admire his talent-centric management style and think that his principles can work for today’s CEO as well as they worked for him.

Thanks to Tim Denman, ServGrow!


#25- Walt Disney

Photo Credit: Joel Miller

A couple years ago I read a biography on Walt Disney. He was truly a fascinating man. He built an empire from literally nothing but a vision for what entertainment could be like. He never settled for good enough. He was able to dream new ideas and then take the risks needed to see that happen. His ability to put himself in the shoes of his customer allowed him to push towards results no one thought were possible. Reading about his way of looking at the world has give me the desire to always look for ways to ‘plus’, in other words, to improve the status quo!

Thanks to Joel Miller, The Sky Floor!


#26- Michael Jordan

Photo Credit:Mike Charles

After recently finishing the extraordinary 10 party ESPN documentary “The Last Dance”  I was reminded what an inspirational leader NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan was during his championship runs with the Chicago Bulls. Business leaders can apply a number of leadership skills that Jordan used to lead his team. First and foremost is that to achieve the highest level of success it requires a 110% commitment to your cause and a continuous drive towards self-improvement. Jordan’s commitment to self-improvement motivated his teammates to commit to doing the same. Second, is to focus on a team-first mentality over a “me-first” mentality. While Jordan was obviously the most important person on those teams, he recognized his teammate’s skills and incorporated their roles beautifully into the team. And finally, never be satisfied. Jordan could have easily stopped at one championship, but he continued to feed off of his inner-drive that propelled him to win six NBA Championships during the 90s. Business owners and entrepreneurs can use this same mindset that Michael Jordan used to lead his team to win championships to help propel their own organizations forward.

Thanks to Mike Charles, Unified Pest Control!


What leader do you look up to and why? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community.

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This is a post from a CEO Blog Nation writer. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.

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