What Inspires Greatness – Secrets of 6 Top Influential Business Leaders

What inspires others, most often inspires you…

Thanks to this running series on LinkedIn called “What inspires me” and I couldn’t help but feel the adrenaline surge.

The Life Lessons And Inspirations From 6 Great People!Thanks to these influencers, I’ve begun to realize that there are many more things – apart from fame, money, and recognition – that can ignite the fire in the belly.

Here are some influencers and those quirky things they find inspiration from:

1. Flirting with the “unsafe”

Steven J. Thomson, CEO at Johns Hopkins Medicine International, was approached by one of his leaders at JHMI  and was asked to create a path for entry into Singapore’s emerging biotech sector.

For Steven, it was ‘off-the-wall’ and unchartered.

Today Steven leads Johns Hopkins Medicine International, which is dedicated to pioneer global collaborative healthcare around the world. The Singapore assignment didn’t quite work out for Steven but the organization now employs more than 200 people from 55 countries.

Lesson: There is leadership potential in each one of us. Either wait for a moving 8-ton truck to mow you down or create opportunities that can change your life. Always take on and execute more work than you think you are capable of.

2. That One Question

Gina Bianchini – founder & CEO at MightyBell – whittles it all down one single question:

“What are you most excited about right now?”

The inspiration junkie that she is, asking this one question to people brings out the best in them.

People usually have their chests pumped up, nerves tighten with excitement, stomach grumbles in anticipation, and you might even get to actually see a rush of adrenaline.

Then they would speak animatedly about their new projects, that book they read, this post they bookmarked, an event they attended, and give you more than you bargained for.

Lesson: Manage people by asking questions; not by preaching. Borrow Gina’s question: What’s exciting to them right now?

3. You can’t do that

Naomi Simson – Founder of RedBalloon – pushes herself into an insane “action mode” when you tell her that she “can’t do” something.

Naomi’s father once told her:

Just in case your university education does not get you a job – let me send you on a touch-typing course, at least you will have that to fall back on

In response, Naomi used that to fuel her relentless pursuit to create a business that works. She became a marketing consultant and then the owner of RedBalloon. She leads a team of around 60 people and yet…

She still faces the “You can’t” question. There are “them” to prove to.

So be it.

Lesson: Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something”

4. The Mouse That Started It All

For Walt Disney, a mouse started it all. It now serves as an inspiration for Jon Steinberg – President and Chief Operating Officer at Buzzfeed.com .

Walt Disney had some Big, Hairy, Audacious dreams. He was a testament to imagination, execution, and achieving the impossible. So, the hanging picture of the mouse on the wall and the fact that Walt Disney could do it all does let Jon know that achieving goals with web-based tools and software is much easier – everything else being the same.

Lesson: Dream big. Achieve that. Dream bigger. Achieve that too. Repeat.

5. Be Slow and Get You’re a%$ Kicked

Linda Coles is a speaker, author of Start with Hello and Lean Marketing With Social Media in 7 Days, trainer, and founder of The Say Hello Project.

Apart from her husband, other influencers, and all those things that usually inspire, she is skewed towards activity. It’s this “activity” that helps companies grow – people get recruited, companies market and promote themselves, sales come through funnels, and relationships are forged.

Finally, she believes: “It’s not the small that get eaten, it’s the slow that get beaten

Lesson: Take action. Don’t just sit there and wonder why things don’t happen to you. I don’t care if “take action” is clichéd.

6. Make big choices. Achieve Big. You’ll be dead Soon.

Steve Blank is a retired serial entrepreneur, educator, and author of The Startup owners Manual.

In a post on LinkedIn, he quotes Steve Jobs:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important

Mr.Blank feels sad when entrepreneurs lose nerve. When you lose the confidence in your own idea, doubt your execution, and leadership prowess, all hell breaks loose.

Lessons: don’t get into business if you need security, comfort, and stability. Losing once or twice in the startup game is a given – it’s a way of life.

What’s your source of inspiration?



Ashwin Satyanarayana Head ShotAshwin Satyanarayana
Ashwin is the founder of Fetchprofits – an end-to-end digital marketing consulting firm. He is a marketing enthusiast, technology evangelist, and a die-hard traveler. He also freaks out about cars and home made chicken.