Embracing a leadership role is no easy task. Sure, you can start a company and take on the role of CEO, but that doesn't necessarily make you a leader.
A leader inspires their team to be their best selves. And they approach business and management with a clear commitment to service.
They aim to serve their customers. Their employees. Their peers.
When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I knew there was no guide or clear set of steps and rules to follow. But I knew I could learn from the best.
This is why it’s so important for leaders to read widely and find the experts who are right for them. Fortunately, I found a group of strong leaders who taught me plenty about myself and showed me what kind of leader I wanted to be.
Here are eight leaders who helped shape my leadership style:
1. Tony Robbins
Who He Is
Tony Robbins is one of the most accomplished businesspeople in the world. In the beginning of his career, he rose to prominence as a motivational speaker and a seminar leader.
Over a couple of decades, he wrote several best selling books and found success as an investor and philanthropist.
He's best known as an authority on leadership psychology and a life and business strategist. His speeches and published works are full of insightful advice on how to lead.
Management is focusing on getting someone to get a result. Leadership is producing a standard in someone that when you’re gone, they will live by to produce higher level results consistently.
Many of his clients are high profile entertainers and athletes, including Green Day, Pitbull, Serena Williams, and the Golden State Warriors.
His brand provides his training systems that cover a variety of topics, including:
- Wealth management
- Career management
- Health and wellness
He also oversees Tony Robbins Results Coaching, a life coaching service that helps people define their purpose, achieve personal goals, build healthy relationships, and develop leadership skills.
My Biggest Takeaway – Setting and Achieving Goals
I read a lot of his books and used several programs. They've helped me immensely with improving my emotional intelligence.
But one of the most impactful takeaways is his approach to goal setting. His core principles of the rapid planning method (RPM) has been the most impactful concept from him that helps me set goals and manage my time. RPM also stands for results oriented, purpose driven, and a massive action plan.
You ask yourself three important questions to start:
- What do I really want? This should be a specific measurable result.
- What's my purpose? This carries an emotional quality that makes your goal a must.
- What's my massive action plan? Brainstorm ideas of actions you need to take.
Keep these answers in mind as you capture all the musts you have to complete. Then, start chunking – categorize the goals you have in mind into related groups. These categories should be common areas of life, like health, meaning, relationships, time, finances, career, etc.
After you chunked your goals, create RPM blocks. Simply write the results you want a middle column on a piece of paper. Then, on the right, list your reasons under the "purpose" column. On the left, create a sequence of actions you need to do based on priority.
This system has been vital in many areas of my life, including my personal and professional life.
2. Gino Wickman
Who He Is
At just 21 years old, Gino Wickman took over his family’s business, a sales training company, and ran it for several years before selling it. He was also one of the original ten members of the Detroit Chapter of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.
After retiring from this family business, he followed his entrepreneurial spirit and created the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). He also wrote several books that have shaped my approach to business, including:
- Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business
- Get A Grip: How to Get Everything You Want from Your Entrepreneurial Business
- What the Heck Is EOS?: A Complete Guide for Employees in Companies Running on EOS
- How to Be a Great Boss
My Biggest Takeaway – Finding Vision and Alignment
EOS has radically changed the way I approach business operations. It helped me learn the value of documenting short and long term goals for my business and aligning our leadership team and employees with those goals.
One of the most valuable EOS tools we used is the company vision portion of the EOS model. The Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) document gets all levels of our staff on the same page so the whole company is rowing in the same direction.
3. Tim Ferriss
Who He Is
Tim Ferriss started his own sports supplements company in 2001 that demanded 80 hours of his time every week, a common experience for entrepreneurs.
But he wanted to change this idea of business owners burning out all the time. This is what inspired him to write one of the important business books of all time – The Four Hour Workweek.
Aside from being an entrepreneur, he also became a prominent angel investor and advisor for many huge startups, including Evernote, Shopify, and DailyBurn.
Currently, he’s running one of the most popular podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show, where he interviews experts on all kinds of topics, like personal development, fitness, metaphysics, business management, and more.
My Biggest Takeaway – Experimenting and Optimizing
Ferriss earns all sorts of accolades from big publications, including Fortune's "40 Under 40" and Fast Company‘s “Most Innovative Business People.” These praises are well earned because he challenges the status quo and makes efficiency a top priority.
He focuses on optimizing everything he does in life. His expertise in optimization helps you learn how to get the essence out of everything.
I also appreciate his experimental mentality. His dedication to monitoring and analyzing everything he does is not just inspiring. It’s necessary in today’s world.
After learning from each experiment, he simply takes action on what’s most important – an important rule that many leaders often forget.
4. Kim Scott
Who She Is
Kim Scott has done a ton of amazing work in her career. She was the cofounder and CEO of Juice Software and lead business development at Delta Three and Capital Thinking.
She also acted as a senior policy advisor at the FCC, started a diamond cutting factory, managed at Google, and worked for Apple, where she developed a class on optimal management.
On top of all of this, she authored three novels and a leadership book that delivers a fresh new take on being a great boss while maintaining a human, positive connection with your team.
Her book, Radical Candor, teaches leaders how to challenge their teams while building personal, human relationships with the team.
Radical Candor builds trust and opens the door for the kind of communication that helps you achieve the results you’re aiming for. And it directly addresses the fears that people express to me when asking questions about the management dilemmas they face. It turns out that when people trust you and believe you care about them, they are much more likely to 1) accept and act on your praise and criticism; 2) tell you what they really think about what you are doing well and, more importantly, not doing so well; 3) engage in the same behavior with [their peers] …; 4) embrace their role on the team; and 5) focus on getting results.
– Kim Scott
My Biggest Takeaway – Being Human
This book has reshaped how I communicate with my team. The basis of putting radical candor in action is to "care personally and challenge directly."
In our culture at Bluleadz, we strive to foster a human, comfortable environment where we care for each other like family. But that doesn’t mean we don’t push our employees to be their best.
When we push employees to achieve their goals with a caring attitude, our team members respect one another. This approach helps us improve communication and learn how to foster two way feedback on all levels.
5. Dave Ramsey
Who He Is
In the 1980s, Dave Ramsey built a successful rental real estate portfolio, but he ended up filing for bankruptcy. After he recovered, he started teaching couples how to manage their finances.
He expanded his knowledge by attending seminars and workshops and eventually started a syndicated radio program.
Aside from his successful radio program, The Dave Ramsey Show, he’s also known as an author. His books cover topics like personal finance and business leadership.
His most popular books include:
- The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
- Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide To Money
- EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches
My Biggest Takeaway – Creating Unity
I learned a lot from Ramsey. The book that stands out the most to me is EntreLeadership.
It’s cut and dry and centers on the how important it is to avoid micromanagement. It helps you learn how to find the right team members and give them opportunities to step up to the occasion.
One of the most powerful principles that stick out to me is building unity. He lists five enemies of unity to avoid:
- Poor communication
- Lack of shared purpose
- Unresolved disagreements
- Sanctioned incompetence
When your team is divided, your business will struggle to grow. This is why I make unity a priority for our culture.
6. Simon Sinek
Who He Is
Simon Sinek started his career in big name ad agencies, before launching his own business. He also wrote five books that became big successes.
His TED talk from 2009 was a big hit too, earning nearly 42 million views. He introduced the Golden Circle, which places the why behind everything you do. The outer circle of three rings is what you do, the second circle is how you do it, and the center of it all is the why – your purpose.
My Biggest Takeaway – Refining My Purpose
I found Sinek at the perfect time.
It’s hard to not feel short sighted sometimes when you’re growing a business. The day to day is very busy, but the hectic schedule is common for keeping your business alive.
For Bluleadz, we started with internet marketing, then found inbound. During this rapid transformation and growth period, I went through blind for some of the time, just focusing on satisfying clients to pay bills and grow profit.
But I realized that I needed to check in with myself, get my head out of the sand.
Some entrepreneurs begin with a purpose and others, like me, discover the purpose in time.
My why actually caught up with me. I was able to build a viable business, then figured out over time what that true purpose was. This is when I offset some of my responsibilities to dig deep and refine my why over time.
7. Michael Michalowicz
Who He Is
Another amazing author, Michael Michalowicz has written five amazing business books. He started several companies earlier in his career and established himself as a prominent expert in the world of business and entrepreneurship.
His books include:
- The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur
- Profit First: A Simple System to Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine
- The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field
- Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself
My Biggest Takeaway – Building Systems for Sustainability
When you're trying to grow your business, you need a system in place to maintain that progress. And profit is a necessity for sustainable growth.
Working on your business is about building systems. Period. An entrepreneur is someone who finds the solutions to opportunities and problems and then builds systems to consistently deliver those solutions through other people or things.
– Michael Michalowicz
He taught me the important of being proactive with business profitability. Once you have your system built for profit, you're ready to fuel consistent business growth.
There are four core methods he introduced in Profit First include:
- Use Smaller Plates – Use multiple "small" accounts to manage money that's intended for specific purposes.
- Eat Vegetables First – Take your profit first, then put away money for the owner's pay, then taxes, and finally expenses.
- Remove Temptation – Make it hard to access your funds and profit so you aren't tempted to use it.
- Use A Rhythm – Establish a schedule to manage the books twice a month, so you understand your cashflow.
This system is great for staying in the know with your profits in a simple, manageable way.
8. Gary Vaynerchuk
Who He Is
Keynote speaker. Best selling author. Entrepreneur. Internet personality.
Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee, truly does it all. He started as a wine critic who used online video to help grow his family's wine business.
Fast forward to today: he is best known for running his companies VaynerMedia and VaynerX and for being an avid vlogger and social media guru for digital marketing.
I was always attracted to his hustle mentality. In most of his messaging, he encourages his followers to refine their personal and professional lives to only do what they love. He preaches about authenticity and putting the customer first.
Your number-one job is to tell your story to the consumer wherever they are, and preferably at the moment they are deciding to make a purchase.
– Gary Vaynerchuk
My Biggest Takeaway – Adding Value First
His focus on delivering value to the customer first aligns perfectly with the inbound methodology, which is the future of business. Inbound organizations are built on building helpful, human relationships with your audience, even before they're ready to buy.
Gary Vee best sums this customer-focused approach up in his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The jabs you need to focus most of your time on is content that is aimed at engaging and eliciting emotional responses from your audience. Then, follow up with the right hook – content that aims to sell (such as bottom of the funnel content).
Each one of these inspirational leaders continue to motivate me and guide my leadership style. Every day, they're helping me become the leader I want to be.