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18 Kick-A$$ People Who Will Change Your Life

Starting my own business was a work in progress for some time. I spent several years stuck in analysis paralysis and many more years questioning if living my dream job, could ever be a possibility (it is!). So as I am approaching month two of my fabulous adventure, I wanted all of you to know all of the fabulous people behind my success. Each one of them kept me motivated towards my goal, inspired me, and taught me to dream big (in no particular order).

Jenny Blake

Jenny Blake has been the number one influence on my path to entrepreneurship, hands down. I stumbled upon Jenny quite randomly and late in the game, to be honest, but as soon as I found Life After College, I haven’t looked back! Jenny’s focus is to help people wake up, live big and love the journey – and she means it! Impressed and inspired by her blog, I signed-up for her flagship course Make Sh*t Happen and for the first time, Jenny showed me with tangible results, that my dream was possible. I was lucky enough to have her as my own life coach to lead me through the most transformational time in my life leading me to where I am today. Her blog covers topics across all aspects of life and her positivity is contagious.

Barbara Stanny

Barbara Stanny has been in my life longer than anyone else on this list and she continues to drive me towards success each and every day. We met while she was promoting her bestselling book, Secrets of Six-Figure Woman, and she was kind enough to take a frustrated corporate worker with potential, under her wing. She mentored me through many ups and downs and helped me shape my view on money and independence. Since working together, Barbara’s success has sky-rocketed even higher and she is inspiring women everywhere with her Sacred Success program.

Pam Slim

I am such a nerd for Pam Slim, I’m not sure where to even begin. I am a long-time reader of her blog and avid fan of her book, Escape from Cubicle Nation. But more than that, she continually provides me (and millions of others) with real-life examples of how you can escape the corporate world, be successful, and do it ethically. Before I found Pam, I didn’t realize that leaving the corporate world was even possible. She made me feel unstuck for the first time. Since finding her many years ago, I continue to find motivation and useful tips about how to be an entrepreneur with a smile.

Laurie Ruettimann

Laurie was one of the first bloggers I started following – she was addition number one to my RSS feeder (yes, that long ago). Laurie’s blogging career has taken many twists and turns – I joined her journey when she was blogging over at Punk Rock HR (when it was hers) and have continued to follow her to where she is today over at The Cynical Girl. Her sarcasm, bluntness and straight-shooting hooked me immediately. Not to mention that she was the first HR person I “met” that had a brain and that I shared similar insights with. She taught me that you have to be uniquely who you are, no matter what and that you can be so much more than “just” a blogger.

Matt Cheuvront

Matt left his day job to launch his own branding (and so much more) firm – Proof. I stumbled upon him through a website and brand he designed and booked it for a year or so later, all the while following him via his blog at Life Without Pants. Not only is he a creative genius, but he also has an engaging writing style that inspires you to be a better YOU, each and every day. Add in a dose of Saved by the Bell references, and what more could you ask for?

J. Money

I am obsessed with J. Money’s site, Budgets Are Sexy – and being that it’s about personal finance and money, that should speak volumes about his site! He was forced out of his corporate job and channeled all of his energy into doing his own thing, and made it wildly successful. J. Money was the first person I stumbled upon that was fully transparent about his business, and provided me with the realization that you can build a successful business, starting from scratch. His posts provide value, conversation, remove the taboo about talking about money, and always have me cracking up. He continually reminds me that you don’t have to be perfect with your money, but that you can create a generous income online. He’s recently officially started a blog consulting venture with his friend Nate over at Nate and Jay to teach others first hand, what made them successful online.

Ginger Winters

I’m not really sure where to start when I talk about Ginger over at Ramble Ramble. She is my friend first, and blogger second. I watched from the sidelines when she launched her blog and have been by her while her blog has continued to grow and morph into the space it is today. She is considered a “mommy blogger” (and no, I do not have kids), but she is so much more than that. She shares her everyday struggles and joy with her life, and provides behind the scene peeks at being the wife of an artist, being a working mom, and a frustrated writer. Offline, Ginger has been my cheerleader and supporter throughout everything – I literally could not have done it without her. Online, Ginger always helps you find your own perspective through her life experiences.

Evil HR Lady aka Suzanne Lucas

I have been a long-time fan and follower of Evil HR Lady – she provides fantastically funny advice about Human Resources. She was the first HR blogger that I found that interacted with her audience and provided no-nonsense guidance, with a friendly smile (she’s not evil at all, really). I don’t always agree with her advice, but she has helped me bring my HR game to another level – questioning what is right in any given situation, or changing my opinions about a topic. She continues to provide advice and guidance at an even larger scale, blogging over at CBS News.

Stuart at 1.00 FTE

Stuart over at 1.00 FTE could very well be the funniest person I know, honestly. He creates cartoons about the workplace, mostly focusing in HR-related issues. He has saved my sanity many times throughout my career and has continually helped me find some humor in otherwise annoying situations. Add to that his talent, and he is one of my favorites of all time. Seeing an artist be so successful and reach so many people was inspiring – add to that, that he interacts with his audience and is so committed to his product, I was hooked.

Corbett Barr

Corbett Barr has several successful websites under his belt, but I found him through Think Traffic. I was thinking about starting my blog and one of my friends sent along one of his postings – I was hooked. His updates add enormous value, particularly when just starting out. I learned so much from the few insanely useful blog posts that I read, that I signed up for his How to Start a Blog That Matters course and haven’t looked back. Corbett has built his success with a lot of hard work, but he’s also happy to share everything he’s learned along the way to help others be just as successful. He keeps me moving forward, no matter what.

Brian Levin 

Brian has inspired me from afar for many years (he is my cousin). He is a wildly successful entrepreneur that has done more in his life to date, than many will do in a lifetime: everything from creating and selling tech companies to his current venture of love over at Perky Jerky (amazing snack food – great for late night writing). He tackles everything that crosses his path at 110% – it’s a bit exhausting hearing about it, he is relentless. But he has taught me that if you want something, you have to go for it not matter what stumbling blocks get in your way. Never give up if you believe in something – great lesson.

Michelle Harwood

Michelle has owner her online business Bumper Cards and Tykecoon or over 10 years now! I’ve known Michelle most of my life and was so excited about her new venture when she started it. It took me about nine years to get the courage, but when I asked if she’d share some of her secrets of success with me, she did so without holding anything back. She is one of the first people I’ve known personally, who left a great career to expand her creativity and make a living online. Now I visit her site for creative inspiration or when I need a fabulous invitation. Either way, she continues to create her own career path, to meet the needs of her family and her creativity muse.

Alexis Grant

I found Alexis – the traveling writer, through a mutual friend’s blog and then snapped up one of her products to learn more about social media. Alexis is a fantastic writer and her blog and products are not only useful, but also make you feel good when you read them. She is so transparent and shares everything so openly, it is a refreshing change of pace which I love and has inspired me to be more vulnerable with my own posts. She just launched a few new products: How to Create a Freakin’ Fabulous Social Media Strategy and How I Surpassed My Day Job Income in Just 6 Months of Self-Employment: Your Transition to Freedom.

Dr. Jackie Black

Dr. Jackie was my instructor to become a coach. I was blown away by her in the first 10 minutes. She is articulate, to the point, and one of the most insightful coaches I have ever talked to. I started following her relationship blog a few days after speaking with her, and I am continually awed by how much she just, “gets it.” As my teacher, she continues to guide me when I work with a client – I hear her saying “sidebar” and “I’m wondering” to help keep me on track.

Seth Godin

I was very late to the Seth Godin party – in fact, I think I went out of my way to avoid him back in my publishing days (I’m not really sure why though). That being said, I am so glad that I “rediscovered” him several months ago. His daily posts are so freaking insightful and so timely. It’s like he has tapped in to exactly what is on my mind at that precise moment. He is himself, fully, without regard or apologies to others – love it. He also says what other people are thinking – something to continually aspire to.

Sean Ogle

I started following Sean Ogle at Location 180 before I even knew what being location independent actually meant. His story has inspired me – letting me know that it is possible to create your own path and experiences, regardless of where you are in the world. Each post tells you how to make it happen – each one brings you closer to living outside of the cubicle walls – love it.

 

Chris Guillebeau

It seems as though every post that mentions those who have inspired, have included Chris Guillebeau. I wish I could break the mold, but he has truly been one of the main inspirations along my journey. He is just so freaking cool. And smart. And… ok, I’ll stop, but I think you get my point. When I was struggling to find just one thing that I should do with my life, Chris taught me that you don’t need to do only one thing. He has taken his skills and applied them to many different industries, products and realms. He breaks all “expert’s advice” by not limiting his audience by a small defined micro-niche, and instead created his own world of non-conformists. Who doesn’t love that?

Jennifer Benz

Jennifer heads up Benz Communications – an employee communications firm in the Bay Area. I can’t remember exactly how I found her, only that when I did, I was an immediate fan. Employee communications is a super niche field within HR/Communications that I had been in since 2004, when I launched a few of those departments. Jennifer’s business was so exciting to me – she took something that is near and dear to me, and created a full-time consulting business out of it; it has grown so big, she has several employees. Her success and ability to take something and grow it to such a high level, is inspiring – and on some level, I felt as though we were “connected” as peers in a very small industry. Her passion for communicating with employees properly, intelligently and creatively, reminded me why I continued to fight so hard for consistent voice, branding, applicable communications, and so on.

A big thank you to everyone on this list – you have truly helped me get to where I am today, and I am eternally grateful. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

 

23 comments

J. Money - June 18, 2012 Reply

Thanks friend!  So proud of you for going for it!  Lots of smart (and sexy) people here if I do say so myself 😉  Keep going!

melissalywc - June 18, 2012 Reply

Thanks J. Money – definitely lots of great people and so glad you’re on my list (aka – I found you!). 

Alexis Grant - June 18, 2012 Reply

Thanks for this, Melissa! Led me to your blog 🙂

melissalywc - June 18, 2012 Reply

Thanks for swinging by and finding me! You’ve been a huge support and motivator.

Ginger - June 19, 2012 Reply

Thank you friend for the lovely words (I’m blushing!). I’m glad to offer you whatever support I can–you know I’m here cheering you on!

melissalywc - June 19, 2012 Reply

Thanks for being in my corner (and putting up with all of my crazy ideas!). 🙂

Matt Cheuvront - June 21, 2012 Reply

Thanks so much for including me with so many outstanding people I very much respect and look up to. I’m happy to have had an impact, big or small, on your life – and hope we can connect more in the future! Cheers!

melissalywc - June 21, 2012 Reply

Matt – Thank you, you absolutely have had an impact (both in what’s possible creatively and through your blog). Can’t wait for what’s next and hope we can work together in the future!

Purple Panda - June 21, 2012 Reply

I would add Jonathan Mead. 🙂 I love that there’s a blog called J Money?? I need to learn personal finance so it would be really helpful… and Ashley Ambirge (The Middle Finger Project) once called me J Money on twitter.. I think that’s funny! 

melissalywc - June 21, 2012 Reply

I do follow both of them, and they are great suggestions! And about JMoney (his blog is called BudgetsAreSexy), the best thing is you don’t have to know anything about personal finance to enjoy and learn – it’s an every money guide… def check it out! 🙂 

Laurie Ruettimann - June 22, 2012 Reply

This is nice and a fabulous list. Thanks.

melissalywc - June 22, 2012 Reply

Thanks Laurie! And thank you for always being YOU online. Love it!

Barbara Stanny - June 22, 2012 Reply

Wowsah, Melissa…I’m so impressed with what you’ve done. I love your site. And am beyond honored and totally excited to be included in this list!! How wonderful of you to acknowledge all those who’ve supported your journey. And what a journey it’s been. All I can say is: you’ve definitely come a long way, baby! And this is only the beginning. Congrats and love, Barbara

melissalywc - June 23, 2012 Reply

Barbara – Thank you for the kind words! I literally couldn’t have even imagined all of this without your guidance and support. 🙂 Thank you for everything!

jennyblake - June 23, 2012 Reply

Melissa! I am BEYOND honored to make this list among greats, but to be called the number one influence? WOW! I am blown away and humbled. You are a gift to the world, and certainly to my own coaching practice. It’s people like you who give me the energy, fire and passion to keep going on my own journey to career fulfillment. Thank you for such a wonderful mention, and for being such an integral part of the LAC and MSH community!  

melissalywc - June 23, 2012 Reply

Jenny – thank YOU so much for your kind words and helping me get to where I am. I’ve told you a hundred times (so now here’s 101), I couldn’t have done it without you!

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