Who Do You Look Up To?

Sometimes kids have it right. They cut on the television and watch LeBron James dunk or Kobe Bryant hit a game winner.  Maybe they watch the Apprentice and see Donald Trump.  The next thing you know, they are out practicing basketball or reading a real estate book.  Maybe they are reading The Wall Street Journal trying to be like Warren Buffet.

We all have people we look up to and pattern ourselves after.  If you're picking stocks, it could be Warren Buffet. Sports? Maybe it's Jerry Jones. Music? Maybe it's Jay-Z.



I look up to Russell Simmons; he’s an amazing business man and has been a trend setter in business and it’s amazing to watch so many people follow in his footsteps. He is sharp and focused. He does yoga, is a vegan, and meditates. Not something that I would expect from a successful business person.

Thanks to Kimberly Gauthier!



The difference between those who genuinely care and those who use the less fortunate as “ops” (photo or otherwise) is perhaps best illustrated by the following encounter. It took place between Mother Teresa and a reporter. She was tending to the lepers in the Shanti Nagar (“Town of Peace”) colony. A reporter was shadowing her, looking for great shots. At one point, as she reached down to comfort a man infected with the disease, his skin disfigured by sores, she overheard the reporter’s distaste for the scene. “Ugh,” he said under his breath. I wouldn’t touch that man with a ten-foot pole!”

“Neither would I,” was Mother Teresa’s rejoinder, as she leaned over the man to comfort him and laid her hands on his head. Her life inspires us all.

Thanks to Marlene Caroselli!


I look up to my good friend and mentor, CEO of SimpleGeo & former CEO of, Mr. Jay Adelson. Being in the tech business is tough. It’s competitive and sometimes cut-throat. He is the guy who brings it all down to earth and focuses on the fundamentals of business, not the drama.

In a land of huge ego’s, he has always been willing to listen and share his time with us. As a fellow Detroiter, we’re very fortunate to have him as a friend.


Thanks to Chris Sonjeow!


At the risk of sounding like the easy answer, I look up to my father Mike, also an entrepreneur and small business owner, because he’s both the person who tried most to deter me from going into business for myself, as he was the first person in line to offer me his best business advice once he saw I wouldn’t give up. He knew first-hand the challenges of being an entrepreneur, yet he remained modest about his own success. Taking risks was never encouraged in my household, and he refused to ever tell me, “Sure, I’m confident you can do it, and it’ll be easy,” which pushed me even harder, as I had to find that confidence and drive on my own. So while he was the example that showed me it could be done, he was also like my toughest client – providing that challenge and opposition I needed to build confidence in myself as a business person, and recognize my own value.

Thanks to Dana Leavy!



My mentors are people that are real. They aren’t afraid to speak their own truth, be themselves and offer assistance to other entreprenuers as well as the community. Mike Michalowicz of the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur offers great information and resources that directly affect my business. I also appreciate his sense of humor. His belief that one does not have to have all the credentials and education but rather, have desire, passion and the will to do what drives them. His weekly videos and content have benefited me in many ways. Mike even returns telephone calls himself. That’s impressive.

Thanks to Julie Gallegos!


I am inspired by Blake Mycoskie and his “One for One” business model at Toms Shoes. Blake had a vision and proved naysayers WRONG! Many people said it would never work! Now, not only has it worked, the Toms Shoes business model has spawned an entire Social Entrepreneurship Movement!

Inspired by Blake and his success, I have decided to launch my own social enterprise!

Thanks to Lindsay Martin!


It seems cliché but for me it’s Oprah Winfrey, but not for the reasons you might think. Not because of what she has built, the money she has, her contributions, etc. For me, it’s because of what she has overcome, all the struggle she has been through in her life and the journey – where she came from and how far she got. To me, she is the perfect example of why none of us has the right to say we can’t do it or we weren’t born in the right environment, etc. If Oprah Winfrey can do it – none of us have any excuses either.

Thanks to Diane Conklin!



Yes, you can’t deny there’s Oprah, Martha Stewart and a many great others but my vision can not escape one lady who is less saught in the media but probably just as successful as the other ladies mentioned and that would be Sheila Johnson. Sheila Johnson is an owner of the WNBA Washington Mystic, NBA Washington Wizards, the NHL Washington men’s team,a business woman, a philantrophist and a volunteer. She shows a balance of community servanthood and business prosperity and does it all without media chaos, frequency and havoc. She is not media hungry nor is she cocky per se. She does everything she loves and is gracious when she does receive a little “shine” (spotlight).

Thanks to Sherell Edwards!


I know in our world of celebrity obsession, I should look up to someone famous but I truly look up to my dad! He was a very successful company man for over 40 years, so not an entrepreneur but his moxie.

Thanks to Christy Cook!



I look up to Mark Cuban. I know that most people don’t but he is dynamic. He doesn’t apologize for how he is and gets things done. I also run my own company, OUTFOX Prevention and look up to the starters of Nuskin (Roney and Tillotson Families).

Thanks to Benjamin Lee!



I look up to Sheila Johnson, the first black female billionaire for several reasons. I admire how she built a TV empire (entertainment network BET) from scratch with her husband, with no legacy wealth and while raising a family. And while her and her former husband shared many joint accomplishments, she also was widely recognized for her individual accomplishments. Working closely with my husband on HLB and to raise our 2 young boys, I know just how important it is to balance joint and individual pursuits, and the challenges of setting down the entrepreneurial path with fixed finances. Mrs. Johnson holds several leadership positions with the WNBA’’s Washington Mystics. In both the sports and wine industries, men dominate in terms of ownership, so I draw inspiration from her ability to forge ahead in a male-dominated arena. Also, Johnson is involved with several philanthropic efforts, and from day one I have remained dedicated to giving back as a company cornerstone. These are just some of the parallels that fuel my connection to and admiration for Sheila Johnson.

Thanks to Selena Cuffe!



I look up to my mother. She took the initiative to start her own businesses and it was going well until she fell ill and passed away. She taught me that I have to pave my own way and not sit and wait until people give me a job because they might never do that. With that said you have to love what you do or will be doing. My mother did. She loved bringing her country to the rest of the world. That is something I am trying to emulate: bringing personalised (personalized US spelling) poetry back to the masses in a romantic and elegant way.

Thanks to Mihad Ali!



Without a shadow of a doubt – Oprah. Oprah encompasses the true entrepreneur, yet above all, she is innately a remarkable, resilient and kind human being. Her inner and outer beauty spills over into her acute business presence which is evident in her mark within the business realm today. I admire her on all levels and although I am certain millions of others do also, Oprah epitomizes strength, coming from such humble beginnings, to create the lifelong legacy she has and continues to influence people from, world leaders to ordinary people like myself – that is the reason I look up to her most.

Thanks to Julie Sweet!



Warren Buffett for his shrewdness and skillfulness in determining potential businesses worth investing in and succeeding in it over the years. Making him, until recently, the third richest man on the face of the earth.

Thanks to Victor Kwegyir!



I personally look up to my current boss Adam Kruse, the owner and broker of the Hermann London Group. He started his own business at the age of 20 and continued to push the limits of what he is capable of. After doing business in sales and marketing, he founded The Hermann London Real Estate Group. Considering that I am only 20 years old, he has inspired me to reach for my dreams of what I hope to do after I graduate with my 2 degrees from Saint Louis University in International Business and Marketing. I hope to one day start my own Marketing Firm, and watching Adam conduct his business has taught me that with dedication and passion I can reach my goal one day.

Thanks to Ashley Reaka!



As a man of real estate myself, I look up to Samuel Zell, Founder of Equity Group Investments and a self proclaimed “professional opportunist.” This guy is a no-holds, innovative investor, just as I aim to be. At 65 and a net worth of $4.5 billion, he’s still not ready to slow down— that, to me, defines ambition. Another businessman I admire: P. Diddy. He’s been around for about two decades, adapting and reinventing himself as needed to survive the music game. Today he stands as a master marketer and one of the most respected figures in the entrepreneurial world. He’s someone I look up to in terms of having the right mindset, as well as a knack for creativity.

Thanks to Ankit Duggal!



I look up to Russell Simmons. I grew up with hip hop music and I like how he has paved the way for many entrepreneurs. I have a copy of his book “Super Rich”.


Thanks to Derrick Hayes!

Hear this entrepreneur’s story @


I look up to Lance Armstrong, seven time consecutive winner of the Tour de France. A world-record he achieved after surviving brain, lung and testicular cancer. He is also the founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a non-profit cancer research organization. Lance Armstrong’s determination in the face of adversity and his ability to turn tragedy into triumph make him a champion of life and proves that he lives up to his motto, “Live Strong”.

Thanks to David Kirkland!


Image: Master isolated images /

Gresham Harkless Jr.

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