People often look for ways to recharge, get out of their comfort zones or make a difference in the world. To do that, they need inspiration, whether they find it by exercising, reading a motivational book or paying it forward in the community.
And this need isn't unique to one's personal life. Corporate leaders and entrepreneurs want to motivate their employees, as well as themselves, to enjoy what they do while reaching for the brass ring in their professional lives.
To find out what inspires four business leaders I admire, I asked about what drives them to do better. Here's what they said:
Finding Ideas in Crowded Spaces
Andrew Sherman is a successful partner in a Washington D.C. law firm. He just released his 30th book, The Crisis of Disengagement. There are very few people I know who work harder than Andrew. So what inspires him?
“In business, my creative juices start flowing whenever I travel to visit clients. New worlds, feet on the street and the energy of vibrant cities remind me that opportunity is everywhere if we look for it. Some of my greatest revelations have come from some very crowded spaces. I don't mind a walk in the woods, but I am really energized after a walk on K Street in D.C."
Takeaway: Inspiration can be found almost anywhere. Step away from your desk, put down your smartphone, and open up your mind.
Books, Books and More Books
Whitney Johnson was recognized as one of the world's most influential management thinkers in 2014, when she was named as one of Fortune's 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter. She is best known for her work on driving corporate innovation through personal disruption, and wrote a book about the subject called Disrupt Yourself. When asked what inspires her, Whitney responded:
“Books, books and more books. For example, I just finished listening to The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Nickerson about the great migration of blacks from the South to the North. It was a huge paradigm shift. I am currently listening to The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis about Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky and the development of behavioral economics. There is so much to learn from them. Of course, I love doing podcast interviews too. They are hugely inspiring for me."
Takeaway: Inspiration can come from other people. Be open to new ideas, fresh perspectives, and opinions that may be different than your own.
Bryan Kramer, whom Forbes.com refers to as "a sort of Zen master to digital marketers," is the author of two books, Shareology and Human to Human #H2H. Bryan reaches for a book when he wants to be inspired.
“One of my favorite resources for inspiration is a book titled Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving With Grace. It's written by Gordon McKenzie, the original creative director for Hallmark. In the book, he breaks down how to take a company and turn it into an atmosphere where anyone can inspire and create change."
Takeaway: Creating an atmosphere that inspires others can start with understanding who you are as a leader. Here's a quick quiz to determine your leadership style, as well as some guides, podcasts and videos around how different leadership personas can make the most of opportunities ahead—making more room for inspiration.
Using Exercise to Drive Your Eureka Moments
Molly Koernke leads a marketing team focused on growing the small and medium business segment at Insight, a Fortune 500 company. Given that business owners don't usually buy products or services from brands they distrust or dislike, Molly spends a lot of time and energy building trust.
"Exercise drives my 'eureka' moments. Whenever I drag myself out of bed and make it to my 6 a.m. tennis class, I not only get my best ideas but also I feel energized the rest of the day. I try to take five minutes after the class to sit down and relax with a piece a paper as great ideas always come to mind.
"For example, I had been struggling with an attribution problem for one of my digital campaigns for quite some time. Just what I needed came to mind as I rehydrated after my class. I think the combination of waking up early and getting physical exercise without the distractions that can come from daily life allow me to think more clearly about getting around the obstacles in front of my team and me."
Takeaway: It's really hard to find inspiration while sitting in the middle of your comfort zone. Lose the distractions, get outdoors and get physical. That's when you may start to see business in a whole new light.
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