There is a vast world of knowledge, experience, stories and wisdom out there. Should we choose to access it, we can be inspired, think new thoughts, be better informed and hopefully, understand life a little bit more.
Steve Jobs said that a new idea is nothing more, than a combination of old elements and our ability to make new combinations from them, which depends on our ability to see the relationships between them. Therefore, what makes some people more creative than others, is their ability to spot the connections. The more dots we have, the better chance we have, of connecting them.
But a word of warning, role models, guru's and other people's experiences are not there to replace our ability to think for ourselves, or to give us an 'off the shelf' solution - that's an inside job.
I develop 'crushes' on people all of the time, some are passing, but some stand the test of time. Those that survive, are not the latest fad's, but much deeper than that. They resonate somewhere within my soul, they help to change me in some way - "simple, timeless, human truths" as Bill Bernbach would say.
Below, is my personal library of inspiration - my 'crushes', that endure, no matter what the latest fad is.
Enjoy, Nik x
Below you will find a hugely diverse list of authors (both fiction and non-fiction), comedians, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, artists and spiritual teachers, but they all have one thing in common, they inspire me to question, to think deeper, to learn, to change and to grow.
I hope they do you too x
Mitch Albom is an internationally renowned and best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician.
His books have collectively sold more than 40 million copies worldwide; have been published in 49 territories and in 47 languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.
But more to the point, Mitch Albom writes books that are simply life savers. I first discovered Mitch when his book 'the 5 people you meet in heaven' was recommended to me following the loss of my father.
I was inconsolable and had no idea how to start putting a life together without him, but somehow reading this book gave me hope, a new perspective and provided some much needed comfort.
Mitch Albom is a dream of a story teller, he sees the world so beautifully, he is one of the few people I have found who can take you to heaven and bring you back again with love, intrigue and a profound sense of having learnt something really worthwhile.
Please just read him.
Paulo Coelho is a world renowned Brazilian author who has published numerous books all of which tell rich, poignant stories, always with deep spiritual meanings and lessons at the heart of them.
He had a difficult time growing up and much of his material is fuelled by his reflections and learnings that he took from many of his varied experiences, including his time in a mental asylum.
Paulo's books demand a depth of thought and reflection in ourselves, that we so often miss in our world of busyness, materialism and individualism. He makes spiritual concepts so accessible that sometimes you are not even aware that you are being spiritually educated - his ability to take seemingly impossible challenges and incomprehensible suffering and allow you to navigate your way through them is breath taking.
And he is a wonderful story teller, his writing hooks you from the very first word and leaves you hoping that there are many more to come.
Paulo also writes a weekly blog that you can sign up to receive, even so I find myself returning to his books time and time again as they are so rich in lessons, that one reading is never quite enough.
Dr Kathryn Mannix has spent her medical career working with people who have incurable, advanced illnesses. Starting in cancer care and changing career to become a pioneer of the new discipline of palliative medicine, she has worked as a palliative care consultant in teams in hospices, hospitals and in patients’ own homes, optimising quality of life even as death is approaching.
She is passionate about public education, and having qualified as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist in 1993, she started the UK’s (possibly the world’s) first CBT clinic exclusively for palliative care patients, and devised ‘CBT First Aid’ training to enable palliative care colleagues to add new skills to their repertoire for helping patients.
She is the author of the best selling book 'With the end in mind - how to live and die well' and a personal role model of mine for her pioneering work in this area.
Without mortality and thinking about death, we cannot embrace life to it's fullest. Kathryn's work is a fundamental building block to enable us to have this conversation and ultimately, empower us all, to live more meaningful and authentic lives.
Her video for BBC ideas on 'dying is not as bad as you think' was a turning point in our society, for bringing this subject out into the open.
BBC ideas video:
Dave Trott is a creative director, copywriter, and author.
Dave studied at the Pratt Institute in New York City, majoring in advertising before going on to found the advertising agencies Gold Greenlees Trott, Bainsfair Sharkey Trott and Walsh Trott Chick Smith,
In 2004 he was given the D&AD President's Award for lifetime achievement in advertising.
He has a number of amazing books on the subject of creativity and is one of the most engaging and amusing speakers I have heard on this subject.
His core philosophy includes: energy over talent, function over form, principles versus formulae, corkscrew versus straight line thinking, two negatives make a positive (take two problems to form a solution), strategy is sacrifice - reduction, reduction, reduction, competition breeds success and break the rules, to name but a few.
A truly inspirational, engaging, highly informative role model, who will inspire you to action in some way.
Jordan Peterson is a Canadian media personality, clinical psychologist, author, and professor emeritus at the University of Toronto.
His latest book 'The 12 rules of life - an antidote to chaos' is a best seller having sold over 5 million copies world wide. The book is hard hitting, well researched and hugely informative, offering advice on how best to deal with life.
Jordan Peterson is perhaps one of the most articulate, intelligent and evidenced based people I have read and listened to, to date. His voice is not without controversy but he never fails to ignite a thought nor add to your knowledge.
His understanding of data, behaviour, society and the nuances we are surrounded with in life are second to none.
Jordan is a deeply religious man and this comes through in much of his work. One of my favourite discussions is the one between Jordan and Stephen Friar, famously atheist in his approach to life and yet the two are absolute role models in how to have respectful debates with such seemingly opposing views. This conversation can be heard on you tube, the link is below:
If you would like to know more, hear more or read more from Jordan Peterson the link to his website is:
Wayne Dyer was an American self-help and spiritual growth author and motivational speaker. He wrote 40 books of which 21 were best sellers.
Wayne was a deeply spiritual person and also a wonderful story teller. He believed that we were all in a position to live a meaningful, intentional and reverent life. Much of his teachings were based on philosophies of ancient wisdom and biblical foundations.
Wayne Dwyer is often quoted but perhaps one of his most famous was:
" change the way you look at things and the things you are looking at change."
Wayne gave 100's of talks all of which are on you tube. He speaks with humility, passion and deep knowledge and is perhaps one of the most inspiring story tellers I have ever heard.
If you would like to read more about Wayne or listen to his talks, his website is below:
The Do Lectures is an encouragement network for people who 'do'. The calibre of talks, workshops, retreats and reading tips, is quite simply, one of the best I have found.
"The idea is a simple one. That people who Do things, can inspire the rest of us to go and Do amazing things too." David Hieatt
They are also an engaged and supportive team, who see you and hear you.
We urge you to sign up to their newsletter, watch their talks and attend an event if you can!
Sir Ken Robinson is a British author, speaker and international advisor, on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He was Director of the Arts in Schools Project and Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick, and is now Professor Emeritus at the same institution
The embodiment of the prestigious TED Conference and its commitment to spreading new ideas, Sir Ken Robinson is the most watched speaker in TED’s history. His 2006 talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” has been viewed online over 40 million times and seen by an estimated 350 million people in 160 countries.
Sir Ken Robinson works with governments, education systems, international agencies, global corporations and some of the world’s leading cultural organisations, to unlock the creative energy of people and organisations.
In Sir Ken's words, his mission is " to transform the culture of education and organisations with a richer conception of human creativity and intelligence."
From my perspective, he is a wonderfully engaging speaker, with content that resonates deep inside your soul.
At the heart of us all is creativity, in some form or another. I love the way Sir Ken talks about creating the climate, to enable us all to flourish, as opposed to a command and control culture, which only enables us to wither.
Whatever your interests, job or ambitions, listening to Sir Ken cannot fail to enrich your views and knowledge.
"Ideas, inspiration and practical tools to help make the messy business of being human just a little bit easier" Katie Elliot
I'm not sure we have much more to add to that! An inspirational and humble role model - we discovered Katie through the Do Lectures and can highly recommend the talk she gave there and the inspiring work she does.
Do lectures talk:
Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian and storyteller. She uses comedy, to tell truths - often uncomfortable, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes hilarious.
Her tenth solo show was Nanette and it re-defined comedy. Hannah stood on stage, completely took off her armour and brought in a new age of raw, unfiltered truth, we are all so desperate for in our lives.
She is perhaps, one of the most highly intelligent, intuitive, courageous people, I have ever had the honour to listen to.
She will make you laugh, cry, feel anger, feel happiness, but above all - she will bring you alive, in a true reality.
Please do watch her amazing show Nanette (on netflix), and watch out for her new tour 'Douglas'.
The world needs more Hannah Gadsby's, thats for sure.
Johann Hari is the New York Times best selling author of 'Stolen Focus', 'Lost Connections - why you are depressed and how to find hope' and 'Chasing the scream'.
His messages are quite simply, revolutionary. His books are a game changers, when it comes to understanding depression, addiction, life, meaning, hope and so much more.
Perhaps, for the first time ever, we are starting to get some clarity on why, so many of us, are living with depression, addiction and losing our ability to focus and think for ourselves and what we can do to find light at the end of the tunnel.
As a sufferer of depression and a fellow human being, I highly recommend all of his books, a superb story teller and an exceptional researcher.
This is what Mark says about Mark:
"I am the NYTimes bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, a blogger, and internet entrepreneur. I write about big ideas and give life advice that doesn’t suck. Some people say I’m an idiot. Other people say I saved their life. Read and decide for yourself."
For me, Mark is a modern day, completely accessible philosopher.
His ability to talk in a language that you can understand, his logical approach to explaining deep and profound insights on life, his sharp intellect and wit, his deep research and evidence to back up findings and his ability to present new and exciting perspectives, is brilliant.
I'm hooked, thats for sure.
Frederick Laloux wrote a book on management, then self-published it with no PR and pretty much changed the world!
The management philosophy 'Teal' was born.
His book 'Reinventing Organisations has sold more than 400,000 copies and speaks to our hearts - about a more soulful and conscious way to run organisations, as communities not machines.
There are not enough words to explain the connection this book and Fredericks ideas, made with people, desperately searching for a more meaningful way to be.
You just need to read it!
What can we say - a revolution in her own right. The need for human connection is needed now more than ever.
Human connection first, purpose next, then a community and structure, capable of delivering these principles, will sustain us all in our brave and unpredictable world.
Brene's research and approach to leadership is nothing short of a revolution. We call it 'showing up and owing up', Brene calls it 'dare to lead' amongst other things.
An organisations lifeblood is their culture. A good culture requires an environment of safety, courage and vulnerability. Although these are hard skills, Brene believes they are teachable.
At the heart of daring to lead, there are 4 key components:
1. Rumbling with vulnerability
2. Living into our values
3. Braving trust
4. Learning to rise
5. Dare to lead
Brene has started to change the narrative and behaviours which have forced so many people to 'armour up', to protect themselves, live with shame and ultimately, unfulfilled potential.
I believe her work is critical to enable us all to be whole and live far richer and engaged lives.
Brene has a number of bestselling books, all linked together by her work on human connection, shame and vulnerability:
Braving the wildernesss
The gifts of imperfection
Dare to lead
And here's the TED talk that Brene gave which started the vulnerability revolution:
Simon is an unshakable optimist who believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.
Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Simon teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. With a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single day feeling inspired, feel safe at work, and feel fulfilled at the end of the day, Simon is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them.
Simon is the author of multiple best selling books including Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together is Better, and Find Your Why. His new book, The Infinite Game, will be released in June 2019.
I love his amazing style of telling stories, that really get to the heart of the matter.
Here is his Youtube talk on the 5 lessons to remember - it's my favourite!
James Victore is an author, artist and designer to brave clients.
As a creative thought leader James is a sought after speaker known for his timely wisdom and impassioned views about creativity and it’s place in the world.
He teaches how to illuminate your individual gifts in order to find clarity and purpose. His work is represented in the permanent collections of museums worldwide.
I read his new book 'Feck Perfuction in less than a day - it is nothing short of genius.
Creativity is a vastly under-estimated skill, that all organisations will need to find a way to unleash, if they are to stand any chance of survival, as we move forwards in an unknown and unpredictable future.
Another inspirational person for us. Dan's work on people, motivation and purpose is ground breaking.
Believe it or not, it's not just about the money. Autonomy, purpose and mastery plays the most significant role in people's motivation.
It is really so surprising to learn that we all want to actually make a difference in the world and leave a legacy?
As Larry Fink, CEO of Black Rock, a multinational investment management corporation has commented "Purpose unifies management, employees, and communities. It drives ethical behaviour and creates an essential check on actions that go against the best interests of stakeholders. Purpose guides culture, provides a framework for consistent decision-making, and, ultimately, helps sustain long-term financial returns for the shareholders of your company."
The old ways of doing business are just that old - motivation and employee engagement is key to running a sustainable and successful organisation in today's world. Dan's work is critical to understanding how this can be achieved.
A definite yes for Dan from me.
This organisation is truly helping to shape the future - with insightful, evidence based information on doing business differently - better, stronger and bolder.
They publish cutting edge research and work with truly inspirational organisations. Their articles share a wealth of knowledge, critical for navigating our brave new world.
The fourth industrial revolution is about so much more than technology. It’s a human, ethical and morale revolution too. The world is changing, it needs to, it has to.
Corporate rebels are leading the way in terms of re-defining consulting and producing far more rounded, fit for purpose methods and approaches, based on real life experiences and evidence.
A top role model for me.