I try to inspire my employees. I’m not a muse and I don’t give great locker room speeches. But what I am really good at is leveling with people. I call them on their BS equally as quickly as I am giving them a hear-felt compliment when the situation calls for it. And so far, I’ve built an amazing team with talented and devoted people who are full of passion. One of my goals, as I continue on my career is that I become a source of inspiration and motivation to the people around me. I have some of the most amazing mentors – at some point, I’ll have to do a blog post about them. But I also read a lot about change agents – people who make amazing contributions and force the rest of us to leave our proverbial caves. These are the people who changed me for the better. These people made me.

1. My Father: This might be a bit cliche, but my father is one of the biggest influencers in my life. He is patient, kind, and can always see the good in people and the good in every situations. He is an eternal optimist who focuses on the positive which fuels his every moment of existence. He rarely dwells on the past and never holds grudges. He is the definition of being grounded. My father taught me how to be a realist.

2 My Mother: My mother is protective, quiet, thoughtful and highly resilient. She can see the good and the bad in people and has an innate knack for reading people and their intentions; she is rarely wrong about people’s motives. Conversely, she believes in going for what you believe in and supporting the people she loves to achieve their dreams. My mother taught me how to be a dreamer.

3. Andrew Carnegie: Steel magnate, business tycoon, original “captain of industry”. In 1864, Carnegie invested $40K in oil during the civil war. While most people were pulling out and waiting to see what was going to happen with the South, he continued investing. A year later that $40K yielded over $1MM in returns. He taught me the power of investing in your hunches.

4. Jack Welch: Youngest GE CEO ever, responsible for growing GE by 4,000% in value during his tenure as CEO. Welch is considered one of the most prolific recruiters and talent developers. Every year he would fire the bottom 1% of his employees and reward the the top 20%. He showed us that talent acquisition and retainment was not over-rated. Welch had taught me how to recruit and keep the best employees.

5. Malcolm Gladwell: Journalist, best-selling author and speaker. As a celebrated author of 4 of the most amazing books I’ve read. He has a unique sense of thinking about common issues and the resolutions you ought to reach once you think more critically. Gladwell has taught me to be an outside-of the-box thinker. To get past the knee-jerk (often obvious) answers to questions and think more abstractly and critically.

6. Martin Luther King: One of the most influential Civil Rights leaders in the world, clergyman, activist, philosopher. MLK raised his words not his voice. He was a true believer of non-violent movements. However, his influence over me was more from his philosophical teachings about the idea of “the veil” in which he accurately described the plight of his cohorts by re-introducing the notion of “the other”. This taught me that when you change the lens through which you see the world, you empower yourself.

7. Steve Jobs: Co-founder, former chairman and CEO of apple, largely responsible for the evolution of the personal computer, inventor, innovator, investor. To me, Jobs was known for two things – his incessant attention to detail and commanding the attention of every situation he was in. His attention to detail was uncanny. He demanded perfection. Like-wise when he was in a meeting, the narrative was driven by him even if he was being pitched. Jobs taught me that the nuts-and-bolts of a project is the essence of a project.

8. Warren Buffet: Business magnate, investor, philanthropist, risk taker. When Buffet was 20, in 1950 he made the equivalent of $100K (adjusted for inflation). His most recent and notable investment was speculating that the Euro was going to increase in value and boy was he right – despite what the “experts” were predicting. What I learned from Buffet was taking calculating risks is the most important component of doing business.

Find the people you admire and think if they have influenced you and why.