Financial Data
Updated 24 Sep 2020

15 Talks from powerful influencers to motivate you

15 Leaders in their field share invaluable lessons that they learnt through their tumultuous careers, and how you can benefit from listening to their experience, advice and inspirational moments. 

Nicole Crampton , 31 August 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

To remain competitive, majority of successful entrepreneurs recommend continuous learning. In the traditional sense, this might mean reading a mountain of books. But you can also be inspired, motivated and learn a few things from leaders as they speak about hard lessons learnt and business insights gained.

You can benefit from these 15 successful thought leaders, as they share a lifetime of experience and insights with you, and how you can use that to speed up your impact and achievement.

Here are some mistakes, missteps and understandings from 15 exceptional people and how they use these life lessons to navigate to where they are today:

1. Richard Branson: Why funders backing out could be a good thing

Richard Branson has inspired and motivated the world with his leaps across industries and infectious energy for entrepreneurship. Richard Branson shares his experience of when he started Virgin Airways on a whim and his funders were not prepared to share the risk. Branson had to scramble to pay the funders back. But he did, and Virgin went on to be a formidable force in the airline industry.

Why you should watch it

In the video, Branson shares his top advice for entrepreneurs, what the hardest part about running Virgin has been for him and how he overcame his funders backing out.

To find out the origin of Virgin Airways and learn some more lessons watch the video:

Related: 3 Influencers that might keep construction CEOs awake at night in 2017

2. Arianna Huffington: Recognise that the choices you make will lead you to greatness

 “The philosopher Plotinus described three different sources of knowledge: opinion, science, and illumination. In the internet age, we are drowning in opinion and we are drowning in data, which is another form of science, but we are desperate for wisdom.”

Part of wisdom she says is recognising that there is a purpose to our lives that may not be immediately obvious as our lives unfold. These events, particularly heartbreaks, often only make sense when we look back, not as we are experiencing them.

Why you should watch it

Had Arianna Huffington married the first man she fell in love with, she never would have moved to New York, launched the Huffington Post, got her books published, and become the powerful influencer she is today. Even though at the time it was a heartbreak, it eventually was the catalyst that made her into who she is today.

For more insights from Arianna Huffington watch the following video:

3. Jeff Bezos: Do something you’re very passionate about

Jeff -Bezos

“Don’t chase the hot passion of the day,” he advises. He says that the internet in 1999 became a lot like the gold rush. People who had passion and careers in one thing were suddenly in internet or gold mining. “They quit being a doctors and started panning for gold. And that almost never works.”

Why you should watch it

Jeff Bezos explains why you need to be clear with yourself so you can follow your true passion and not just this year’s trend. A way to do this advises Bezos is to project yourself forward to 80 and look back on your life and try to minimise the number of regrets you have. 

To learn more from Jeff Bezos, watch the video:

4. Neil Gaiman: How having no real plan can lead to the greatest of successes

“Imagine your goal is a mountain, a distant mountain. I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain, I’d be alright. And when I was truly not sure what to do I could stop and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain,” he advises. He turned down editorial jobs, even though they paid more and were decent solid positions because he knew that if he chose them he would be walking away from his ultimate goal.

Why you should watch it

Neil Gaiman talks about all the lessons he wishes he knew starting out, a few things he now realises he probably did know, and the best piece of advice he ever got which he completely failed to follow.

He’ll enlighten you about the very real challenges of success, the advice from Stephen King he didn’t follow and how he learnt this lesson: “Nothing I did, when the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as a bitter experience,” watch the following video:

5. Larry Smith: You will fail to have a great career… unless

“If you settle for "interesting," your friends and family will be gathered in the cemetery, and inscribed on your tombstone it will say, here lies a distinguished engineer, who invented Velcro. But what that tombstone should have said was, here lies the last Nobel Laureate in Physics, who formulated the Grand Unified Field Theory and demonstrated the practicality of warp drive.”

Why you should watch it

Larry Smith discusses all the excuses people tell themselves to not follow their passion. How you could decide to settle for an easier life goal and convince yourselves that actually this was your real passion all along. To find out all of the excuses people come up with to avoid going after their passion watch the video:

Related: 6 Influencers that will make or break your southern Africa expansion

6. Bill Gates: To those who much is given, much is expected

Bill -Gates

Bill Gates tells the audience, “Humanities greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.” How can you make an impact, make a difference in this world with the time you spend? Even if it’s just a few hours a week donating your time, make sure that you give back.

Why you should watch it

Bill Gates tells a story of the time he went to the World Economic Forum and he was sitting on a global health panel that was discussing ways to save millions of lives. It was the most boring panel he’d ever been on. He says: “what made that experience especially striking was that I had just come from an event where we were introducing version 13 of some piece of software and we had people jumping and shouting with excitement.” He poses the question: If I can generate excitement for software, why can’t we generate excitement for saving lives?

To learn more insights and lessons from Bill Gates, watch the video:

7. Drew Dudley: Are you an everyday leader?

Drew Dudley shares how we’ve all turned leadership into this giant, saving the world type of action, when actually you can be a leader every single day. “We take moments where we truly are a leader and we don't let ourselves take credit for it, or feel good about it,” he explains.

Why you should watch it

Dudley tells a story of how a women came up to him and told him how in one moment he changed her life.

“Here's the kicker: I don't remember that. I have no recollection of that moment. I've searched my memory banks, because it’s funny and I should remember doing it and I don't. That was such an eye-opening, transformative moment for me, to think that maybe the biggest impact I'd ever had on anyone's life, a moment that had a woman walk up to a stranger four years later and say, "You've been an important person in my life," was a moment that I didn't even remember.

To hear the whole story and learn about how you are an everyday leader, watch the video: 

8. JK Rowling: The hard lessons of failure and potent experience of empathy

Learn how to use failure to make the biggest breakthrough in your life. Starting a business is a personal as well as professional journey. You need to have passion for what you want to do before you ever start doing it. You will encounter many failures along the way, but failure isn’t always a bad thing.

“By every usual standard I was the biggest failure I knew. However, failure meant stripping away of the inessential. I stop pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I felt I truly belonged.”

Why you should watch it

JK Rowling imparts the lessons she’s learnt in her life, how she found herself in a place that both herself and her parents had always feared, how she felt liberated from that fear and how “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Learn the lesson of how imagination and empathy can be the tools of your success from this video:

9. Sheryl Sandberg: Get on board the rocket ship

Sheryl -Sandberg

“A good leader recognises that most people won’t feel confident challenging authority, so it falls upon authority to encourage them to question,” says Sheryl Sandberg. 

When she first started at Google (the rocket ship) she had a team of four people, and it was really important to her to interview everyone who would be on her team. When the team reached 100 people she realised that interviews were taking a long time. “So one day in a meeting with my direct reports I said ‘maybe I should stop interviewing’, fully expecting them to jump in and say ‘oh no, your interviews are a critical part of the process’. They applauded, and then they fell all over themselves explaining that I was the bottleneck of all time.” 

“When you’re the leader it’s hard to get good and honest feedback no matter how many times you ask for it. One trick I’ve discovered is to try to speak really opening about the things I’m bad at, because that gives people permission to agree with me, which is a lot easier than pointing it out in the first place,” she explains. 

Why you should watch it

Sheryl Sandberg shares the challenges she faced at both Google and Facebook as a business leader and as a woman in business. To hear more lessons like the one above, watch the video:

Related: 10 Secrets of the world’s richest business leader worth emulating

10. Max Gouchan: Partner with people who have the skills your business needs

Gouchan starts by saying that all start-ups have three main challenges:

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of money
  • Lack of time.

He overcame these through bringing people on board, and saying yes to every opportunity that came his way.

Why you should watch it

“In my case I lacked engineering knowledge, and that gave me two choices either go back to studying then work five – 10 years in the oil and gas industry or I could find someone who already had the knowledge. Since I’m impatient, I chose option two.”

He managed to find and partner with an engineer with two masters degrees by saying yes to an invite and a chance meeting. To find out how he solved the other two challenges, watch the video: 

11. Ellen DeGeneres: Why it’s important to lose everything 

There are countless stories of when successful entrepreneurs started out and made a few mistakes, which cost them their business, their wealth and in some cases even their place to live. Ellen DeGeneres tells you why this rite of passage is so vital to growth. 

“It was so important for me to lose everything because I found out that the most important thing is to be true to yourself, ultimately that’s what’s gotten me to this place. I don’t live in fear, I’m free, I have no secrets, and I know I’ll always be ok because, no matter what, I know who I am.” 

Why you should watch it

DeGeneres’ life hasn’t always been smiles and laughs. For a long time before she discovered stand-up she was lost, trying all sorts of careers. Then she became famous, she made a name for herself. But after she came out, no one would have anything to do with her.

Listen to her life story, all the mountains she’s climbed and how she overcame them all to reach the happiness and freedom in her life now, in this video: 

12. Daniel Pink: His case for rethinking how we run our businesses

“If you want people to perform better, you reward them. Right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show. Incentivise them. That's how business works. But you've got an incentive designed to sharpen thinking and accelerate creativity, and it does just the opposite. It dulls thinking and blocks creativity,” explains Pink. 

“What's interesting about this is that it's not an aberration. This has been replicated over and over again for nearly 40 years.” 

Why you should watch it

Pink offers scientific evidence in his case on how financial incentives dull thinking and block creativity. The science of human motivation reveals there is a mismatch between what can be empirically proven and what businesses keeps implementing.

He reveals that the reward and punishment approach doesn’t work on employees that need to perform cognitive functions and often can cause them harm by narrowing their focus to exclude creative options.

To see the pile of evidence for yourself and learn how you should be motivating your cognitive thinkers watch the video:

Related: RocoMamas founder Brian Altriche’s on fabulous failures and visualising success

13. Jim Carey: You can fail at what you don’t love, so do what you love

Your dream is never too big to ask for, so ask.“So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it. And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order.” 

Why you should watch it

Jim Carey tells the story of how his father could have been a great comedian, but because he didn’t believe it was possible. His dad made the conservative choice. He chose the safe job instead and became an accountant. But when Carey was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and his family had to do whatever they could to survive.

Discover more lessons from the legendary Jim Carey, with a few laughs thrown in, in this video:

14. Elizabeth Gilbert: Conquer the anxiety of creative genius

“Maybe the creative process doesn't have to be quite so full of anguish if you never happened to believe, in the first place, that the most extraordinary aspects of your being came from you. But maybe if you just believed that they were on loan to you from some unimaginable source for some exquisite portion of your life to be passed along when you're finished, with somebody else. And, you know, if we think about it this way, it starts to change everything.” Discover Elizabeth Gilbert’s coping mechanisms for ensuring she doesn’t put too much pressure on herself.

Why you should watch it

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the creative process and how artists have all been crushed under the weight of anxiety to continuously perform, and to top their previous successes. She proposes we return to the Ancient Greek and Roman way of seeing things. Consider that creative inspiration doesn’t just come from within, but is also an outside force enhancing your natural abilities, taking away the anxiety of having to outperform yourself.

To find out what she learnt and stories that support her theory, from American poet Ruth Stone and musician Tom Waits, watch the video: 

15. Steve Jobs: Everything you learn is important

Despite what Steve Jobs’ journey looked like from the side-lines, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Ensure you do what you love so you can weather the bricks that will come hurdling at you.  

“Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick, don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love, your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Why you should watch it

The first story is about how he discover an interest that he didn’t know would impact his success until many years later. Before Jobs dropped out of college, he started sitting in on classes that interested him. One class happened to be calligraphy, he found it interesting although at the time he didn’t think it would ever be useful.

Cut to the first Mac, so the reason consumers have access to hundreds of fonts is because one day at the end of his college career Jobs decided to sit in on a calligraphy class. 

For the second and third story, along with more lessons, watch the video:

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Nicole Crampton

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