20 People Who Inspire Me

As I built and created this website, it has been an amazing reflection opportunity for me. Almost like a diary, it allows me to examine my life, my passions, my dreams, my learnings….  It forces me to reflect, learn and adjust course. However, I am not doing it alone. I have an awesome guide and mentor in this process (Jim Fellows). He continues to push me to think about how I can, not only share more, but be a resource/mentor/coach for others.

This got me thinking about people in my life that I take inspiration from.  Who do I turn to when I need a lift?  Who’s posts do I “like” immediately?  Who’s insights force me to dig deeper into my beliefs? Who do I admire for their boldness?

While I am sure that I could create a never ending list, here are my (current) top 20 inspirators.  Some are friends, some coworkers, some public figures that I can only hope to meet some day but they all have 1 thing in common… They push themselves out of their comfort zones daily, live life BIG and are constantly learning.

I’d say they are pretty good role models.  Check them out, follow them and prepared to be inspired.

Now….who inspires YOU?!

  • Angela Lawsonhttp://angelanoelauthor.com/ – Angela is a former coworker and while she’s currently an analyst at The Fed, she’s also an amazing writer.  I love that she follows her passion and shares her talent! (and insights!)
  • Shirley EngelmeierInclusion Inc – Shirley was our pastor and now is a fierce small business owner who is a champion of inclusion. She has redefined herself multiple times in her career and her energy, warms and brilliance always shines through!  Her TedTalk is so amazing you want to shout “Amen!”.
  • Cecilia Stanton AdamsStantonAdams LLC – Cecilia and I took a human designed course together but before that I attended one of her diversity workshops and was blown away. I have to admit I was a little starstruck when I learned she’d be in my cohort.
  • Margaret MurphyBold Orange – Margaret and I met when I was in transition and networking. Turns out her best friend was my freshman roommate. We also share a birthday horoscope and she recently left a VERY successful career to launch a new company. Their purpose blows me away …..
  • Michael Thomas SunnarborgLife Coach, Author, Storyteller – Michael and I worked together in India and have become each others cheer leaders as we have moved through career transitions. He writes for Huffington Post, leads a career transition Meet Up group (White Box Club) and is high energy, fun and adventurous.
  • Kristin ShaneKristinshane.com  -Kristin and I worked together in Toronto and she always had a million things going beside work and her family (cake decorating, triathlons, etc). Through it all she talked with deep admiration about how her father started his own business. Well, guess what, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Kristin is the cofounder of Fly Feet Running and is living her dream.
  • Chandra Fischer – Chandra was our neighbor in India, then moved to MN, then to Austin TX, then to Duluth MN….all the while studying to be a midwife, homeschooling her kids and digging deep into social justice and white privilege.  Her insights and posts on Facebook blow my mind, make me think and remind me that people are capable of immense bravery when their share their authentic selves.
  • Greg Lew – Greg is a former coworker/friend of Tom’s (my husband). He’s a naturally gifted story teller, a motorcycle ‘pan head’ and friend to all.  He’s lived a nontraditional life and savors (& shares) every moment of it.  I love reading his Facebook posts, they remind me that looks can be deceiving and to never judge a book by its cover.
  • April Dinwoodie – I have only had the good fortunate to speak with April once on the phone. She was formerly the Executive Director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute and is currently doing a podcast called Born in June, Raised in April.  “Part of my personal mission is to address how differences of race, class, and culture impact adoption and foster care systematically and individually” – enough said….
  • Jamie Millard – Not only is Pollen my favorite online newsletter in our community but Jamie is such a personal inspiration. She’s approachable, authentic and I wish I had been more like her at her age. She’s not afraid to confront systemic injustices, hold stories gently and inspire those around her to be creative and bold.
  • Anne M H Hunter – I met Anne as we were both trying to transition from for profit to non profit careers.  Her journey has landed her in a very different space. She created HunterSage and its been so fun to see her company succeed.  She’s taken all her marketing, strategy and visionary expertise and using to help the nonprofit sector. Go Anne!!
  • Dr Amelia Franck Meyer – Amelia is the other TedTalk speaker that I have on my list. I’m constantly floored when she answers her phone, gives me advice and invests in my work.  I met her when I volunteered at her 10 for 10 Kids Summit and have been closely tracking the work she does through Alia. She is wicked smart, passionate and completely dedicated to changing the foster care system – top to bottom.  She makes me want to be a better person.
  • Jane Barrash – Jane is a friend that has been doing some amazing work with the North Polars Basketball team, using mindfulness and leadership techniques she’s helped them move from worst to 1st.  Her program is call Athleadership and she looking to expand its impact. If you want to learn more and/or get involved, come to the Tie Die Party this Sunday!  I promise you’ll learn something and will be in awe of these athletes.
  • Cy Wakeman – One day, I’ll be as honest, insightful and inspirational as Cy.  She’s on my bucket list of people to meet and I LOVE her no nonsense approach to living your best live at work.  As she says “ditch the drama”.  The new mantra at our office has become “Stay in Joy or Leave in Peace but … don’t Stay in Hate”.  My goal is that everyone that is on our team is happy.  Life’s too short not to be happy at work!  Check her out … Reality Based Leadership.
  • Jim Hoar – Jim was my trainer when I was 21, just out of college and starting my career at Target. I have learned SO much from him over the last 29 years.  He shares his insights and learnings via a blog on LinkedIn and there is always Truth, support and a push to exam ourselves and our motives more deeply.  Thank god for Jim!
  • Craig Helmstetter – Craig is a friend, neighbor and brilliant research scientist. He recently left Wilder Research (he ran the Compass Program) to help American Public Media start up a Research Lab.  His team has done some really cool socioeconomical demographic research on MN and most recently created some online addiction with their new interactive analysis of all 435 seats up for reelection in November. (The Representing US project).  He’s humble, kind, smart and sings a mean “Come Sail Away”.
  • West Stringfellow – “Sharing everything I know” is West’s motto. I worked with him (VERY briefly) at Target and have to admit I was intimidated.  He casually used the “f” word in front of large groups, was relentless in his pursuit of innovation for Target and unapologetic about bringing new talent, new ideas, new models and new structures to Target. Now he’s using this energy to literally make the world a more informed place.  His team has posted (for free!) an innovation framework, an in-depth analysis of the last election and curated insights from thousands of the worlds leading technology experts.
  • Maggie Knoke – Maggie and I worked peripherally over the years.  We reconnected as I was leaving Target and she was asking herself “what’s next?”.  Well, her “what’s next” is pretty damn amazing.  She’s taken her lived experiences, both at home and at work, and is using them to help businesses prosper through FrameWork Consulting. She graduated from WomenVenture, is an angel investor, coaches, encourages and supports other high energy leaders in their dreams.  I love her approach to life and willingness to step off the ledge into the unknown.
  • Elwin Loomis – Again, I didn’t get to work with Elwin as long as I would have liked however, in that short time, he honored me with a Rebel Medallion.  What’s that?!  It is a secret coin that was formed to support people who were challenging the status quo, pushing against corporate bureaucracy and bringing bold ideas to the work place. This coin meant more to me than any award I could have gotten at Target and when I left, I was sure to pass it on.
  • Jim Fellows – Jim is one of my husbands longest friends, partial namesake and godfather to Jimmy, supporter of all things Loudamericans and my personal brand manager. He helped me conceive of, launch and run this site. He gives me unfiltered feedback and supports me to do and be better. He challenges me to look at all sides of an issue and be vigilant about who I am and what I stand for.  He’s an author, singer, guitarist, father and friend. Thanks Jim for making this all possible!