Most entrepreneurs have a business leader they look up to. Someone they learn from and emulate their business practices after. Or it could be a business leader with a product that is heads above the rest. No matter the reason, having a business owner to look up to is a common practice. Just as athletes have professionals to look up to, entrepreneurs have the same. Below we have asked entrepreneurs to reveal the leader they most look up to as far as business goes.
Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs to reveal the business leader they most look up to.
Richard Branson – Virgin Group
The business leader I look up to most has to be Richard Branson. His rebellious attitude and “Screw It Let's Do It” mind set has been a big inspiration for me as I am building my company. I have religiously gobbled up the information in his books and follow him on social media. His attitude of doing business his way is one I have taken on and it has allowed my business to grow in unique and different directions and also allowed me to have fun doing it. We are not where we want to be yet, but we are getting there and reading about his early struggles and sometimes futile challenges, especially the one with Coke, has inspired me to do things differently and to push forward when others are saying go the opposite direction. We were an international company from day one by developing a partnership with an Australian company and have done business in Brazil, Australia and entering Turkey later this year. I credit Richard Branson for helping me get my business where it is today and will follow his motto of “Screw It Let's Do It” to move us forward in the future.
Thanks to Les Adkins, Orange SMS Consulting
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Steve Jobs – Apple
As a result of starting my own business, I have come to better understand the challenges other business leaders experienced in prepping their companies for success. I have personally looked up to Steve Jobs as being one of the most innovative business leaders of our time – a brilliant man who inspired me to work harder, listen even more closely to what my customers want- and to also think outside the box. The innovations Apple has and is currently undertaking in technology, retail and Internet services represent Jobs' keen understanding of what ‘could be.' He was truly a marketing genius and an entrepreneur who had an uncanny ability to think ahead in terms of what customers might want – even when they could not articulate the needs specifically. To be this visionary, passionate and successful was, and still is, remarkable.
Thanks to Jay O'Brien, BP Logix
Paul Orfalea – Kinko's
I have been blessed to have worked with many great business minds including Bill Gates at Microsoft and Dan Palumbo at Kodak. But Paul Orfalea at Kinko’s was the one who really altered my professional and personal life. First, he believes in sharing the wealth—that successful businesses have more people, at every level, contributing to the health and growth of the organization. At Kinko’s, there was no class structure, but a system of partnership and everyone mattered. Everyone contributed. At every level, employees had a stake in the company and a chance to share in the profit pool. That gave us all a sense of ownership and responsibility. We were as likely to get good input from an employee who had been there one year as we were from a manager who had been there 20 years. That was extremely important for our culture and our success. Secondly, Paul is an advocate of experimenting and bringing ideas to the table. He was aggressive in investment, and he was aggressive in trying new things. Not all of them worked, obviously. But a lot of them did which made us a market leader. For example, Kinko’s had the first nationwide videoconferencing network. But perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from Paul was, “Do the right thing.” There is no clear definition, but it’s a guiding principal and an incredibly powerful mindset when you’re faced with a difficult decision. And when you are building a fresh organization, you need a moral compass more than you need a policy. And that’s worked for me all these years.
Thanks to Bernard Perrine, HipLogiq
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I respect Tony Hsieh of Zappos because he has always believed in employees as the key business driver. His keen sense of “opportunity” takes many forms and he knows when to strike. Jeff Bezos of Amazon has done an amazing job where he has had to deal with so many moving parts and so many people questioning what his next move should be. He stays the course, level headed, and forges ahead and is willing to take the short term heat for what he believes will be the long term gain. Richard Branson allows staff to be entrepreneurial which in the end benefits the Virgin brand. Giving employees the ability to have their say and the opportunity to create new ideas, even at the expense of making mistakes fosters a good culture in his brands.
Thanks to Frank Klein, Asian Box
Jeff Pulver – 140 Characters Conference
We look up to Jeff Pulver, who is the quirky mastermind behind the 140 Characters Conferences (or 140Conf) and, as one of the pioneers of voice over IP communications, was a co-founder of Vonage. He's an Internet entrepreneur, and since our own company is Internet-based, it's natural that we get a lot of inspiration from Pulver and his work ethic. What we like the most about Pulver is that he preaches the importance of following your passions and not tying yourself down to things you have to do, but things you want to do. In addition, as exemplified by the mission of the 140Conf, Pulver goes out of his way to bring people together, to give people the opportunity to share their interests, principles and find common ground; the business world we live in really needs more people like him to lead the way.
Thanks to David Miri, Awardable.com
Peter Shankman – HARO
I look up to Peter Shankman. I have seen him speak live at events and I was captivated by the way he motivates his audience. He's an affable man in general, not just a one-dimensional business leader, and because of that, you sometimes get the feeling that you've been buddies with him for years. One of the biggest reasons why I look up to Shankman, however, is that as an entrepreneur and investor he found a unique way to be successful and also benefit multiple parties at the same time: he brought us the incredible publicity resource known as Help a Reporter (HARO). Every single morning, afternoon and evening, his service sends out reporter queries from all sorts of media outlets from around the country, which has granted our company countless opportunities to get in touch with representatives of tons of reputable media groups. To this day, we've been featured in hundreds of different blogs, articles, radio shows and more. Our business probably wouldn't be the same as it is today without the help of Shankman's HARO.
Thanks to Ian Aronovich, GovernmentAuctions
Tony Hsieh – Zappos
My current “CEO Hero” is Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, who embodies everything a great leader should be. I shook his hand once – and he REALLY looked me in the eyes. Hsieh built Zappos from the ground up and sold it to Amazon for $1.2 billion. He's absolutely brilliant! Behind that brilliance lie his principles, driving Zappos’ culture; proof that success means “walking the walk”. Hsieh models transparency, encourages growth, consistenty does the right thing, and focuses on customer happiness. Zappos is transparent on a personal and a professional level. Daily briefings, call statistics – even company meetings are publicly accessible – nothing masked. Even Hsieh’s condo is accessible for tours. Are you willing to open up your home to anyone who asks for a free tour? Everyone has an opportunity to grow at Zappos. What does that have to do with selling shoes online? It’s simple: helping people achieve their dreams makes them happy – and happy employees offer better service. Zappos’ customers aren’t pressured to get off the phone – no time limits and no scripts. Zappos’ call center employees represent its marketing arm. Every unscripted conversation helps cultivate customer loyalty. Some employees write personal thank you notes after a call – forming deeper emotional connection with customers. Leaders cannot expect their teams to deliver exceptional customer service if they fail to understand happiness. Hsieh believes Zappos’ mission is to deliver happiness – for its customers and employees alike.
Thanks to Scott Weiss, Speakeasy, Inc.
Steve Jobs – Apple
Among many great leaders Steve Jobs stands out by setting the bar how to come back from failure. It would seem for a genius with big ego the public discussion to his being ousted at Apple could have been too devastating. However, in an unparalleled example Steve Jobs overcame, developed new concepts to take his work farther, and even won back what he had lost: Apple Inc. Being the leader he was, he did not stop there and lead Apple to even greater successes. Today, this example of leadership is more relevant than ever because constant changes in the times we live in create easier conditions for failure. The enormity of Jobs’ comeback gives hope to the notion that the toughest among us can come back to a fraction of his success. Sweetest about Jobs outstanding inspiration is that his dream of achievement wasn’t about money, it was about ”doing something wonderful”. With that statement Jobs gave all of us permission to dream of working on “something wonderful” and possibly changing the world. His famous sayings inspired me to write a “true and really” motivational book, which “doesn't feel so self-helpish like many similar books do.”
Thanks to Gisela Hausmann, Educ-Easy Books
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Richard Branson – Virgin Group
Richard Branson. His showmanship and ability to create exciting publicity stunts really attracts me to him as an entrepreneur. Also, his efforts to push his brand into such major categories, going from music, to air travel, to cell phones, to banks, to space travel, to deep sea discovery is truly a testament to the power of great branding.
Thanks to Daniel Saynt, Socialyte
Marv Miletsky- My Father
This will sound cliche', but I'm going to say my dad (it's no more cliche' than saying Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, so I'm sticking with it!). Running a business is about relating to people, discovering the value and getting other people to believe in that value. And then, of course, delivering on that promise. As a consummate salesperson, I watched my father help build what was once a small electrical supply company into one of the largest in their industry, and some of my proudest moments are when I meet people he's worked with who tell me how much they respect my dad, and how much he's done for them and their business over the years. I've tried to build my own company using the lessons he's taught me.
Thanks to Jay Miletsky, MyPod Studios