I’m a big believer that creating anything of any value begins with quality consumption. If you have any hope of making anything worthwhile, it begins to learning from those who are already out there making things.
Now there are some who believe that true originality and true creation can have no inspiration, that you have to look into the void and be the “Steve Jobs” character who doesn’t need anything from anyone to make something amazing. Annoyingly, there are some for whom this happens, but for the most of us, we are going to have to work at it. We have to look at the work of those who intimidate the hell out of us and learn whatever we can from them.
With this in mind, I wanted to share a few of those who I’ve met or who I follow on the web that scare me into action and inspire me to put myself out there and have helped me to do better:
Mitch Joel – As someone with little marketing background who now works in a marketing-heavy role, digging in deep to understand this world was a priority. Combine that with a passion for everything digital and you will quickly find your way to Mitch Joel. Mitch posts several times a week on his blog, has a weekly podcast, writes a monthly column for the Montreal Gazette, wrote one of the earliest (and in my opinion, one of the best) books on Social Media. Oh, and he is one of the owners of a major digital marketing agency with over 100 employees. What astounds me about Mitch is not only the sheer quantity of content that he puts out into the world, but the quality of it.
Follow Mitch on Twitter
Brett Terpstra – I’m not entirely convinced that Brett is a human, so it may not be right including him on this list. The man is a mad genius programmer extraordinaire who is just unreasonably generous with his time and prolific with his contributions to geek culture. This post is written in his nvALT text editor; the markdown formatting was created using several of his Markdown Service Tools (one that he wrote in a frigging day based on a comment I made on someone else’s blog. WTF?). My life is far easier and far more efficient due to things that Brett has created and continues to create daily.
Follow Brett on Twitter
Gini Dietrich – I could go on about my undying love for Gini for hours, but I’d rather tell you just how much she scares the crap out of me. Before I’ve usually woken up1, she’s taken a super long bike ride and written a killer post over on her Spin Sucks blog. To describe her as generous with her time would be an understatement, especially when you consider just how much of it she has permitted me to waste. In addition to a massive blog following she also owns the PR Agency, Arment Dietrich and is in the process of launching an online community for PR professionals. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s also writing a book with Geoff Livingston.
Follow Gini on Twitter
AJ Leon and Melissa Leon – I’m cheating here, but it would be impossible to mention one without the other. While AJ tends to be at the front and center of a lot of their content, I think he’d agree that it would have been impossible to help a school in Tanzania, to take a road trip across North America to talk with entrepreneurs, to help launch one of the largest Shakespeare sites on the planet while also helping to create a new model for philanthropy in Kenya and Ethopia without Melissa. Their work and their approach to the work they do both inspire the hell out of me while scaring me to death. The fact that the are also fun to drink with doesn’t hurt either…
Christopher S. Penn – I dare you to head over to Chris’ Awaken Your Superhero blog, read any one post and not have your head spinning with ideas (and actionable ones to boot). Beyond blogging, Chris co-hosts the excellent Marketing Over Coffee podcast, is the Director of Strategy at WhatCounts and recently authored and self-published his first book (which is an excellent starting place for those like me who work in marketing yet don’t have a marketing background). Chris has this intensity and intelligence about him that demands that you do better. And his willingness to share the results of his efforts, such as his plan for marketing his book, offer insights that few are willing to share these days.
Follow Chris on Twitter
While there are tons of people who inspire me daily, here are the five that frighten the hell out of me with what they do.
What about you? Let me know who is scaring the hell out of you in the comments below.
And keep in mind, she’s an hour behind me here in NYC. ↩