5 Leaders Who Inspire Everyone

By Carmine Gallo

Great leaders inspire. They inspire everyone in their personal and professional lives, including customers, colleagues and employees. Here are five men who stand apart, and what we can learn from each of them.

Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group
leadership training
Richard Branson turned a small student magazine into one of the largest and most diverse conglomerates in the world. His Virgin empire now extends to airplanes, soft drinks, music, mobile phones, and more (some 350 companies in all!). After launching his magazine, Branson started a small record mail-order business and opened a music shop in London. His record label, Virgin Records, signed an artist who would become a bestselling hit maker at the time, Mike Oldfield. Virgin also introduced the Sex Pistols and Culture Club to the world.

Branson went on to launch Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Mobile, as well as many other businesses. But he’s best known for the outlandish lengths he’ll go to for self-promotion (for instance, dressing up in a wedding dress for the launch of Virgin Brides) and as an adventurer. He has made several attempts at flying a hot air balloon around the world and now has plans to take citizens into space.

Whether you’re flying, drinking or being entertained, Virgin’s got you covered. Branson is one of the world’s most inspiring entrepreneurs because, as Inc. Magazine once wrote, “He’s game for anything… in fact, everything.” Branson’s motto is to have fun. If a particular business enterprise doesn’t bring him enjoyment, he’s out of it. But it’s more than his fun, gregarious personality that inspires those around him.

Branson is well known for encouraging fresh ideas. He even keeps a notebook in his pocket to write them down in case he’s away from his office — which he usually is. Branson is always interested in learning new things and he encourages others to do the same.

Quote: “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger
leadership training
Before Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger won the hearts of voters in the 2004 gubernatorial election in California, few could have predicted that the former six-time Mr. Olympia and action movie star would end up running the fifth largest economy in the world. Except for Arnold.

Growing up in Thal, Austria, Arnold had a clear vision for his future: He would become the greatest bodybuilder of all time and conquer the American movie industry just like his boyhood idol Reg Park, another bodybuilder turned actor, had. Arnold went on to star in a string of action movies like Total Recall and the Terminator franchise. Terminator 3 made him the highest-paid actor of all time, with a reported $25-million payday.

Arnold’s life story is well known, but few realize just how much he inspires those around him. I covered the first 100 days of the Schwarzenegger administration for CBS in California. His energy, enthusiasm and confidence are contagious not only among his staffers, but also among the press who assemble daily outside his office.

A senior communications staffer once told me “Arnold makes me a better person.” That’s the point, isn’t it? To make people around you feel better about themselves. Arnold pushes his staff to continuously improve their lives. One man once told me he’s never exercised or consumed as much trail mix in his life! Arnold’s passion for life and for achievement are both quite infectious.

Quote: “For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not to simply exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.”

Trump was inspiring many well before The Apprentice…

Donald Trump, Real estate mogul
leadership training
Before David Letterman made Donald Trump famous for his combover, Trump had amassed an ever-increasing number of properties as CEO of the Trump Organization. He also has a penchant for naming the buildings after himself. Starting with Trump Tower, he developed Trump World Tower, Trump Place Apartment, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Casino and Resorts.

In 1990, a recession left Trump in a bind, unable to meet loan payments. He was brought to the brink of personal bankruptcy, but after a series of restructures and some property sales, Trump was able to salvage his empire. He’s now worth an estimated $2.5 billion — although Trump himself places his personal net worth closer to $5 billion.

In 2004, Trump became executive producer of the popular NBC television show, The Apprentice. As of its fourth season, the show’s ratings had lowered somewhat, but it continued to be a solid bedrock for the network’s Thursday night line-up.

Donald Trump didn’t need the success of The Apprentice on NBC to become wealthy or well-known to the public; the project simply added more to an already massive bank account. The billionaire real estate developer knows a few things about inspiring others and being inspired himself. Trump once said, “As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big!”.

Trump does what he loves, and he hires people who love buildings and dealmaking as much as he does. Having more money than the people who work for him has little to do with his ability to inspire. Trump inspires because he brings out the best in people. He educates as he orders. Even on his television show, he doesn’t say, “You’re fired,” without offering advice on the nature of business. Trump also values and nurtures relationships. He may be tough on his enemies, but he’s true to his friends.

Quote: “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.”

Phil Knight, Founder, Nike
leadership training
Phil Knight first developed his plan to create and market superior athletic shoes as a student in Stanford’s MBA program. But it took hard work to transform his concepts into the empire it has become. At the age of 26, he began peddling running shoes from the back of his Plymouth at track meets.

In 1972, Nike sold $3 million worth of shoes, then went on to double its profits every year thereafter for the next decade. In 1984, Nike signed and promoted Michael Jordan, turning the basketball legend into a hero and Nike into a company that transcended simple sneakers. Nike struck gold again by signing and promoting then-U.S. Amateur golf leader Tiger Woods to a five-year, $40 million contract.

Knight can certainly enjoy his fortune, now estimated at more than $5 billion. But according to those who work for him, Knight is always moving, always thinking ahead. He once said the worst thing that could imagine happening would be to have one of his grandkids ask him, “What’s a Nike?”.

It is also the relentless pursuit of innovation that drives Knight and those around him. Knight tells colleagues that he rarely has time to reflect on the past, because every six months is a new lifetime and he’s always thinking about how to stay two steps ahead of the game.

Quote: “The trouble in America is not that we are making too many mistakes, but that we are making too few.”

Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple

leadership training
As cofounder of Apple in 1976, Steve Jobs helped to bring computers to the masses with the launch of the Apple II and the Macintosh. After a power struggle in 1985, Jobs left Apple. He returned in 1997, and has since been credited with reviving the company and spearheading new innovations like the enormously successful iPod.

Jobs has two titles. In addition to his role at Apple, Jobs also cofounded Pixar, a movie animation studio that’s produced such gems as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Finding Nemo. Jobs is allegedly worth over $1 billion. Not bad for a guy who dropped out of college after one semester.

A famous story recounts how Jobs first offered the position of Apple CEO to John Sculley in 1983. Sculley was working for Pepsi at the time. Jobs turned to him and asked, “Do you want to sell sugared water all your life or do you want to change the world?”. Jobs has a vision. A big, bold vision that he shares with customers, colleagues and, most of all, the people who work for him. We all want to follow people who paint a vision of a future so bright you need shades. That’s where Jobs succeeds.

Quote: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
inspire yourself to succeed
You don’t have to be on the fast track to billionaire status to learn something from each of these men. If there’s one common theme to their success stories, it’s this: They have a passion for what they do. Whether it’s building businesses, building buildings or building bodies, these men were first motivated by improving the world and improving themselves.

Carmine Gallo is a business presentation coach and author of 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators.

Link this article to your favorite Social Network! Thanks!
  • blogmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • Fark
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • Simpy

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post Post to Digg Digg This Post Post to StumbleUpon Stumble This Post

One Response to “5 Leaders Who Inspire Everyone”

  1. Thanks for the info. Lots of notes to review from your informative post.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv Enabled

Twitter links powered by Tweet This v1.6.1, a WordPress plugin for Twitter.