“…we live in an age where there are people who are making a difference, and who inspire us to do the same.”
There is no shortage of inspiration out there. Not only do we have some real homespun heroes who have come from South Africa and taken the world by storm, but some bright beacons of inspiration from all over the globe. These are people who can teach us all a thing or two about grit and determination, about not giving up and about following your dreams. There are some truly amazing people doing some truly amazing things. From CEOs to life coaches and inspirational speakers, entrepreneurs, musicians, comedians, statesmen and everything in between, we live in an age where there are people who are making a difference, and who inspire us to do the same.
We have decided to shortlist a few who stand out to us
- Ariana Huffington
Best known as founder of the Huffington Post, one of the most widely read and well respected news and lifestyle blogs on the internet today, Ariana Huffington has inspired an entire generation who are forging their way in the world today. From mothers and leaders, to entrepreneurs and politicians, she has motivated people across the globe to create daily habits that improve our general sense of well-being and therefore our ability to be our best.
To this end, she created Thrive Global, a platform that promotes this idea of well-being in order to increase productivity and success. Thrive Global provides trainings, seminars, e-courses, coaching and ongoing support based on the latest scientific findings to improve people’s health and increase productivity for both companies and individuals around the world. One of her primary messages is that of self care. If we don’t look after ourselves how can we possibly achieve greatness?
- Elon Musk
Elon Musk is quoted as having said “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” It is because of this ethos that he is a bright shining light across the globe when it comes to inspiring people: born in South Africa, one of three kids, he was brought up by a working single mother in a home where pennies were constantly being counted. He was bullied at school and apart from his brother and sister did not have many friends.
Despite all these challenges, he has gone on to be one of the front runners in the race to create sustainable solutions to a planet that is in rapid decline. More than this though, he has created a multibillion dollar empire from scratch, having come from very modest beginnings. He was not limited by any of his life experiences; in fact, he has shot himself into another orbit in spite of any limitations he has faced.
- Vusi Thembekwayo
According to his website, Vusi Thembekwayo “is many things. From a maverick, a leadership genius, a petrol head, a family man, a self-made millionaire to a dragon.” But first and foremost his is a disruptor. By the age of 17 he was considered one of the best public motivational speakers on the African continent, and by 25 held a financial managerial position in a multibillion rand listed company. A university drop out, Vusi took the thing he did best, public speaking, and turned it into an asset.
His gift for the gab and his connections from the public speaking circuit were all he needed to create what was to become his first business, a global recruitment agency. From here, despite a few road blocks along the way, Vusi has gone on to achieve huge personal and professional success. The culmination of this is the creation of MyGrowthFund, which, according to SAEntrepreneur.co.za “hopes to have created 300 sustainable black businesses by finding and caring for high-growth African-American entrepreneurs through funding, incubation and development platforms plus business development.” Whether he is providing hands on help or words of wisdom and motivation, Vusi is an inspiration to any budding business brains out there.
- Nic Haralambous
South African born entrepreneur Nic Haralambous is an inspiration to anyone who has faced, or is daunted by, the pitfalls of starting your own business. He started his first business when he was 16, and it was not a huge success. Today, he is the owner of a very successful fashion retail brand that with outlets across the country.
But, this is no fairy tale. After 15 years and ten failed business attempts, he finally struck gold. On the tail of his business success, Nic embarked on writing his story so that he could share it with and inspire others. His motivation behind writing the book is simple: “I wrote the book because no one talks about failure and I wanted to start a conversation about changing the way we see failure.” Nic’s message is a simple one: Do. Fail. Learn. Repeat. In an interview he once said “ “hard” is part of life and “difficult” is part of life” but he has shown that despite hard and difficult times, failure is indeed part of success and it is the space where lessons are learnt and growth occurs.
- Whitney Wolfe Herd
Whitney Wolfe Herd has taken the modern dating world by storm with her app Bumble. Not only has it proved to be a hugely successful dating platform in its own right, but it is also the first dating app where women are in charge. Having been involved in creating the Tinder app and then later in a sexual harassment suit with the company, she went on to create her own app that puts women first and empowers them to take control and make the first move. The app has proved to be very successful, with over 35 million users worldwide.
But the driving power behind it was not financial. Whitney Wolfe Herd wanted to create a platform where women would not be subjected to any form of misogyny or harassment. She wants to create a world where women are empowered and the playing fields levelled.
- Sergei Brin
Sergei Brin has not only changed the way we treat and access information thanks to Google, but he has also redefined the work place as we know it. What was once considered fantastical and whimsy is now the gold standard for the work place environment. The idea of sleep pods, adult playgrounds, beautiful art installations and curated workspaces was so farfetched and quite frankly “out there” that no one would ever have imagined that multinational corporations would want to emulate it.
But Google changed the mould with some very creative and out-the-box ideas about ideas what the workplace should look and feel like. The idea that happiness at work leads to improved productivity and boosts creativity is not a new one, but the extent to which Brin has implemented this at Google is unprecedented and has set the trend for companies worldwide.
Thanks to these trail blazers new paths are being created, new ways of doing things and operating in an ever changing world. We live in an age of such rapid change, evolving technologies and growth that more and more we need people who ground, inspire and drive us to be more, to be better and to contribute in a positive and enlightened manner. Let us hope that this generation of inspirers will pass the baton to the next create further generations of brilliance.