The 23 Most Inspiring People Alive (for me)

Read Time: 16 minutes

Introducing the 23 most inspiring people alive (for me). Why is this important? For one glaring reason: We’re living in the most amazing time in human history – and yet everyday I see people who don’t know it and don’t feel it. We have modern plumbing, healthcare, abundant food, rapid travel, access to anything you’d ever want to know and learn available for FREE online. In many ways, we have the ability to do just about anything we’d want to – and yet, something holds us back.

Too many people go to work wishing they didn’t have to. They wake up tired and spend their day tired. And when we hear news like that at Powtoon, our hearts bleed. Which is why – we’ve decided to do something about it.

Powtoon’s 30 Days of Inspiration – The 23 most inspiring people alive

We’ve just launched “30 Days of Inspiration” to inspire you to live with more awesomeness. So you focus more on your opportunities than what worries you. To feel more of the abundance around you, instead of limitation. To start living your dream life – today – instead of waiting for something to happen way off in the distant future. For me, nothing is more inspiring that learning from real people who manifest their dreams. From inspiring people who have found ways of turning obstacles into opportunities. Who’ve figured out ways to be resourceful when they lack resources (H/T #13 below). Who focused more on persistence and dedication than excuses and reasons why something won’t work. I’ve learned from the 23 inspiring people below that there’s awesome abundance all around us – when you focus on it.

Of course – I could probably list hundreds if not thousands of more people who are inspiring as all hell to me and to you. Like my Mom. Like my first business mentor John. Like my 3 daughters. Like Roy. Like Ilya. Like every single person who works at Powtoon, who inspire me on a daily basis. So please don’t think of this list as complete.

Which is why I need YOUR help. Because we could turn this list into something epic – when you add the person who inspires YOU the most. After you go through the list below – please comment below who inspires YOU. Together, we’ll inspire hearts and minds to turn their exciting dreams into an even more exciting reality. Ready? Let’s go:


The 23 Most Inspiring People Alive (for me)

The inspiring people on this list are in no particular order. They’re a mix of visionary entrepreneurs, servant leaders, authors, comedians, artists, writers, scientists and people who overcame overwhelming obstacles to create an extraordinary life, all on their own terms. Important: I made this list as a RESOURCE for you to learn more about each of these inspiring people. So make sure to bookmark this page and share it with anyone you know who would LOVE some inspiration from you.

We’ve been getting thousands of people to attend our webinars recently. And one of the main questions Nirel and I are always getting asked is how do we have so much energy? The truth is that your energy comes from what you focus on. If you focus on what you’re worried about – your energy will be worry-based. If your focus is on gratitude and opportunity – your energy will be…pretty awesome. And if it’s one thing I learned from these 23 inspiring people is how masterful they are in the science of FOCUS.

Which is our #1 goal for you during these 30 days of inspiration. To FOCUS on what you most WANT. So at the end of this post, I have a thrilling surprise waiting for you. It’s an awesome tool, right inside of Powtoon to help you achieve your goals and get what you most want in your life.


1. Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis -

Engineer, physician, best selling author, and brilliant entrepreneur. He’s best known for founding the XPRIZE Foundation (which has given millions of dollars to improve the health of our oceans) and Singular University (whose mission is to educate leaders to apply exponential technologies to address the biggest challenges we face today). Aside from his many groundbreaking achievements, there’s one thing that Peter Diamandis does that inspires me the most: his “Case for Optimism” that we’re living in the best time in human history – and it’s only getting better.

Enjoy his uber-inspiring talk, viewed over 1M times on TED’s website how “Abundance is our future”:

2. Liz Murray

Liz Murray -

When Liz became homeless at the age of 15, it was just after her mother died of HIV and her father moved into a homeless shelter. In such a painful situation, most people would only be able to see their immediate circumstances. But Liz would seek a better reality for herself, despite her intense limitations. So she attended a local high school and graduated in just two years. She was then awarded a New York Times scholarship for needy students and was accepted into Harvard University, eventually earning her doctorate in clinical psychology. She has since written a New York Times best-selling memoir,Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard” which was also a made-for-TV movie. Liz inspires me because she didn’t let her circumstances dictate her future. Instead, she chose her own destiny and manifested it, despite overwhelming obstacles.


3. Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic -

Nick Vujicic was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of all four limbs. His videos on YouTube have inspired millions and millions of people with his message to love life and live without limits. He was tormented to such an extent that at the age of 10 he attempted suicide. After years of feeling alone and worthless, he had an epiphany one day while reading an article.

He read about a disabled man who refused to let physical limitations dictate his life. At that moment, Nick says, he realized he had the ability to take control of his life. Instead of looking at everything he lacked, he decided to look at everything he could have. Now a famous author and international speaker, Nick inspires the world everyday to live a life without limits. His message is brilliantly sobering and electric.


4. Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss -

He wrote the book that redefined wealth and freedom. He embodies the ability to learn and master…anything. In his most recent project, the Tim Ferriss Podcast, he’s interviewed Billionaires, 3-Star Generals, Hollywood Producers, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His name is synonymous with creating whatever you want in your life. And yes, we’ve even quoted him in our own Powtoon Slack group. Tim Ferriss inspires me because he shows us how just about anything is possible when you have the right focus. Check out his genius awesome podcast and make sure to listen to it at least once a week.


5. Sergei Brin

Sergei Brin -

Aside from creating one of the most revolutionary companies in human history with Larry Page…hmm. I think a lot of Powtoon was inspired by Google. We have (a lot of) fun at work. We have tons of food in the cupboards (we haven’t yet hired a full-time chef!). Yes, we have the genius Google Docs, Gmail, Google Search and a TON of amazing innovations that affect our work and life everyday thanks to Sergei and Larry.

What inspires me the most is the CHARACTER they infused into Google and the rest of modern corporate culture. Google put slides, nap pods, solar powered frisbee parks, massage rooms, unlimited free food and happiness into the modern workplace. Thanks for being so awesome.


6. Richard Branson

Richard Branson -

Not sure how someone runs 400+ companies. Even more perplexing is how Richard Branson seems to be having the time of his life running them. If you follow interviews, he’s been like that from Day 1 when he started Virgin from scratch back in the early 70’s. He’s been called the definition of success. It’s not because of his net worth, but because of his happy as a kid attitude. I’m not inspired by Richard Branson’s billions – I’m inspired by his joy. Oh, and he’s launching personal space travel.


7. Brendon Burchard

Brendon Burchard -

If you’re not following Brendon you’re missing out. Just watching him will give you new doses of energy. In the past 2 years, he turned his 10K Facebook group into 5M+ members. He’s written 3 New York Times best selling books and Larry King calls him one of the worlds’ top trainers. He started from scratch after surviving a horrible car crash. As he saw the end near, he realized we’d all be asked 3 questions at the end of our lives. Did we live? Did we love fully? And did we make a difference, did we matter?

With those 3 questions he left his corporate job and claimed a path to become a speaker, author, coach, and trainer to inspire others with his message to live, love and matter. Brendon deeply struggled when he first started out. In his words, “When I first started out, I did what most authors did – I went broke.” But his mission to inspire drove him to become the legend that he is. He now runs a multiple 8 figure business that inspires tens of millions of people on a weekly basis. Here’s a quote he recently put on his Facebook page: “Curiosity is the filament for a life burning with vibrancy and joy“. Check out his new book, The Motivation Manifesto. We love you Brendon.


8. Jessica Cox

Jessica Cox -

Born without arms, she used her legs and her unbelievable spirit of awesomeness to become the first licensed armless pilot. She’s also the first armless black belt in the American Taekwondo Association. Refusing to use prosthetic arms Jessica: drives a car, types on a keyboard, pumps her own gas and puts on contact lenses. She also Scuba dives and has a Psychology degree from the University of Arizona. She inspires people across 20 countries by sharing her message of inspiration on stages. Jessica – we love you.


9. Vishen Lakhiani

Vishen Lakhiani -

For anyone who thinks running a business could never be a spiritual pursuit – please study Vishen. He started the multiple 8-figure empire Mindvalley from scratch with a single vision: to empower people to live extraordinary lives. Vishen founded Mindvalley Academy that has dozens of personal growth courses that have impacted over 3+ million students. From courses on happiness to energy management to wealth to meditation, Mindvalley Academy is an oasis to unleash your potential.

They have apps like ‘omharmonics‘, a mastermind called “Evercoach” and an award-winning office with statues of superwoman, colorful bean bags, pool tables and a life-size honeycomb with the quote, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”. Vishen even created, what I think might be the coolest name of anything on earth – Awesomeness Fest.


10. Amy Schumer

Amy Schumer - www.powtoon.

Nothing gains attention like genius humor. So why not use your humor to fight a crucial cause? Amy uses her humor to fight rape culture in America. As she points out, the statistics of girls being raped in college is atrocious. Amy made a hilarious parody of “Friday Night Lights” that mocks the vacuous male culture in America. She’s been featured in Time, Salon, Variety & won Glamour’s “Trailblazer of the Year” award. Forget speeches, protests and rallies to support your cause – use humor.


11. James Franco

James Franco -

He’s a published poet, has a PhD from Yale, teaches film at NYU and USC, debuted in Broadway and is an Academy Award nominee. James Franco inspires because he doesn’t stop and isn’t afraid to go into new territory. He’s not expecting his poetry to be a best seller – but he published it. And just because he’s an actor doesn’t mean he can’t pursue a PhD and teach. So don’t limit your ability to be an artist – the world is your canvas.


12. Oprah

Oprah -

Despite how most people view Oprah, she has not led an easy life. She was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother. She was raped at the age of 9, because pregnant 14 and lost her son while still in infancy. But Oprah would make history in her heroic transformation to eventually become one of the most powerful women on earth.

She is a multi-billionaire and is regarded as the “Queen of Media“. Oprah has done so much in her career it’s dizzying. But the most inspiring thing she’s done is showing you that your circumstances don’t dictate your life, only your desire does.


13. Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins -

Tony Robbins is profound. My first glimpse was when I saw Tony help Jim overcome suicide. Jim was a multi-millionaire investor who had lost everything in a short time span in 2002, including the entire investment of one of his closest friends. Jim’s last minute hope was attending a Tony Robbins event. Watch this video for yourself and see how Tony used a brilliant process to save Jim’s life.

What’s profound is how Tony has helped – in person – millions of people over his 30+ year career. Maybe you’ve seen him on TV or heard that he’s advised Green Day, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melissa Etheridge, Paul Tudor Jones, 3 US Presidents, owns an island on Fiji and runs 12+ companies. For me, what inspires me most about Tony Robbins is his deep mastery of the human spirit. And in the words of award-winning psychotherapist Cloe Madanes, Tony’s “unswerving faith in the goodness of people”.


14. Vince Gillian

Vince Gillian -

What I love most about Breaking Bad – created by Vince Gillian – is how it talks about the least talked about of topics: a modern man’s struggle to find himself. Vince created the fascinating anti-hero Walter White, who in the course of the show transformed from “Mr. Chips” into Scarface. Upon being diagnosed with Cancer, Walter ‘breaks bad‘ to both pay for his own cancer treatment and provide for his family in the event of his death. What inspires me about Vince is how deep of a character’s journey he created. Breaking Bad entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest rated show of all time.


15. John Lasseter

John Lasseter -

He pioneered full length computer-animated films, is a multiple academy award-winner and has so much fun running the multi-billion dollar empire Pixar that he doesn’t feel like he works at all. He has 1,000+ Hawaiian shirts that he wears to work everyday, in his office filled with thousands of toys. Steve Jobs called him the “heart and soul” of Pixar.

John is uber-inspiring for being so successful at doing something he loves so much. He’s so inspiring for describing his life’s work with these words: “We make the kind of movies we like to watch. I love to laugh. I love to be amazed by how beautiful it is. But I also love to be moved to tears. There’s lots of heart in our films.”


16. Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil -

Forbes crowned him the “Ultimate thinking machine”. Ray Kurzweil is an inventor, futurist, computer scientist, founder of Singularity University, author, and director of engineering at Google. The reason Ray inspires me is because of the following story. A few years ago I was speaking at an event on the topic of personal growth.

Someone came up to me afterwards and started explaining how bad the economy is and how “things are only getting worse“. I asked if he studied any futurists (by the way, that’s a great question to ask to get someone’s attention)? He took a moment and didn’t know how to respond. I suggested that instead of looking at the economy as it is, look at where it’s headed. And to study Ray Kurzweil (as well as a few others mentioned on this list). It’s inspiring to meet someone who studies the future and to predict where it’s going. Not necessarily to know what will happen, but rather to open your mind to exciting new possibilities.


17. J.K Rowling

J.K Rowling -

J.K Rowling conceived the idea of Harry Potter during a train ride in 1990. By the time she finished writing it seven years later, her mother died, she divorced and lived in near poverty. And her book was rejected by 12 publishers. What is so remarkably inspiring about Rowlings’ story is that despite living in near poverty and despite being rejected 12 times – she persisted with her dream to tell the world a story about the magical life of Harry Potter.

She is now a billionaire, the first author to become one. Her fantastically original story is now a household name with blockbuster movies, theme parks, and even a wildly popular fan-based podcast called MuggleCast. In her most painful moments living just above poverty, Rowling might not have been able to see the empire she’d soon create. But she did see her story and it moved her. Despite the many difficult circumstances she faced at the time – she channeled her pain to create an even better story.


18. Tony Horton

Tony Horton -

You’ve seen him on TV and you’ve most likely heard of his creation, P90X. What you haven’t heard is how Tony Horton got started – and it’s very cool and super inspiring. Tony moved to California to become an actor. And like most actors – he was struggling. Barely able to pay for rent or food, he always made sure to go to the gym and started to learn about health and fitness. Eventually he got a job as a runner at 20th Century Fox to pay the bills.

Tony kept on working out, and his boss Harlan Goodman noticed. Harlan said how good he looked and asked if Tony would train him personally to be more fit. People in the studio went up to Tony and said how Harlan is looking better – can you train me as well? Eventually, Tony became the personal trainer for many Hollywood Celebrities, later meeting the CEO of BeachBody Carl Daikeler, where they came up with the idea of a fitness training program. Tony is hilarious, a genius and kept pursuing his dream when it didn’t look like he’d ever achieve it. Watch Tony tell you his own story (with a ton of humor) – it’ll inspire you.


19. Dr. Dan Siegel

Dr. Dan Siegel -

Dr. Dan Siegel received his degree in medicine from Harvard, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, is a New York Times best-selling author of 13 books and has helped millions of people understand how to use our brains to live more meaningful, healthier, and more enjoyable lives.

He’s innovated the field of “Interpersonal Neurobiology” which helps us interact with one another with more consciousness and compassion, by having a clearer picture of how our own brains operate in relationships. His work is brilliant, accessible, empowering, and absolutely inspiring. Learn more here:


20. Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg -

Time Magazine ran a cover article on Facebook’s inspiring COO whose title read, “Don’t hate her because she’s successful. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and her mission to reboot feminism”. From running the operations for one of earth’s most impactful companies to authoring her own best-selling book to traveling around the world spreading her message Time said, “It’s probably not an overstatement to say Sandberg is embarking on the most ambitious mission to reboot feminism and reframe discussions of gender since the launch of Ms. magazine in 1971.”

Sandberg’s mission and message alone is exciting and empowering. But what inspires me most about Sheryl is how intimately she shared with the world her mourning of the death of her beloved husband, Dave Goldberg. With her millions of Facebook followers, she shared her heart and soul on the beautiful relationship she cherished and now mourns. It’s one thing to spread a message of global connectivity and it’s another to live it and breathe it. Thank you Sheryl for inspiring us with your vulnerability and humanity. PS – Here are the 7 powerful books she most wants women to read.


21. Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell -

Malcolm Gladwell inspired me to fall in love with English all over again. His storytelling is brilliantly insightful, gripping, poignant, and pure fun. At any given week, most of his books are all on the list of the New York Times bestseller list – and of course they should be. From showing us how small but specific tipping points can cause global epidemics to formulating how success is determined by your miraculous surroundings and specific number of hours of dedication (10,000).

Gladwell made us rethink how influential our .02 second thoughts are as we blink them. He retold the epic tale of David and Goliath to reveal hidden, subtle and wondrously relevant meaning. His written word is enlightening, entertaining and empowering. I’ve read some of his books multiple times…for the sheer enjoyment of it. He told the story of Ketchup vs. Mustard. He revealed the theory of plane crashes and how to cure graffiti. Like all geniuses, you can agree or disagree with his theories, but by now, you simply can’t ignore him. And for me, why on earth would you want to? Thank you Malcolm for showing us the magic of language, learning and the beautiful power of telling stories.


22. Dan Ariely

Dan Ariely -

Dan Ariely has done live tests (with real humans) to see if high priced fake medicine out-performs low priced fake medicine. And why things that are FREE can make us less selfish. And hundreds of insanely creative tests in what he’s coined, “Behavioral Economics”. If you haven’t read Dan’s books, go wild and you’ll soon be one of the smartest people in any given room. Dan Ariely has turned economics into one big psychological experiment that’s super fun to learn about.

The New York Times called his work “revolutionary“. Nobel Laureates in Economics said his book is “wildly original” and “ingenious“. Dan Ariely is a professor at Duke, co-founder of BEworks, is a multiple New York Times best-selling author and his TED talks have been seen over 10 million times. Humorous geniuses are the best kind – thank you Dan for making us learn while we laugh our heads off.


23. Elon Musk

Elon Musk -

Elon Musk founded SpaceX, co-founded PayPal and Tesla, and is the chairman of SolarCity. He’s revolutionizing space travel, automobiles, and how we consume energy (including his Tesla battery line). Elon Musk is showing the world how entrepreneurs are the ones who lead real change in the world. I’m inspired by Elon’s thrilling leadership in a wild range of companies. Space, solar energy, automobiles and online payments? Is it really possible to effect positive change in such a diverse range of causes? Thanks to Elon it’s an obvious yes.

So let him inspire YOU to say YES to all your dreams. After studying these brilliantly inspiring people, they all have ONE thing in common. They each harnessed their innate power of FOCUS by having inspiring goals. And it makes total sense. That to achieve your goals, you need to know what they are. Which is why I have something exciting to reveal to you now: The Blue Sky dynamic vision board.

Introducing The “Blue Sky” Dynamic Vision Board

The main goal of our #30daysofinspiration is for YOU to achieve YOUR goals. And the most powerful way to do that is by creating your own “Blue Sky” right now. We created the “Blue Sky” as a dynamic vision board for you to easily “see” your goals so they become easier for you to achieve. Create yours right now by simply doing 3 steps:

1. Log into your Powtoon Account (or get yours for FREE here)

2. Go to:

3. Choose “More Templates” and click “Inspiration” to see the Blue Sky template.

Find the Bly Sky template under Powtoon’s Inspirational template folder

Then, just fill in your content and images so you see YOUR goals right in front of your eyes. With the Blue Sky template, you can now get inspired to achieve YOUR goals, anytime you need. Just look at how excited the Powtoon tribe is with our new “Blue Sky” template to achieve their goals:

PowToon Blue Sky -

So if it’s ONE thing that YOU take away from these 23 inspiring people – let it be for YOU to do what most inspires YOU…now. The best way we know is to create it first as a “Blue Sky” for yourself.

Most Inspiring People – Who Most Inspired You In Your Life?

Let me know who is ONE person who inspires YOU in your life? Comment below and let’s inspire the entire Powtoon tribe to achieve their inspiring goals in their lives. Rock and roll.

You’re awesome!


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Ari Sherbill

VP Business Development @Powtoon. Ari's known as the "High Energy Guy" who currently advises Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood Studios and over 5,000 executives and business owners every month how to increase their leads, engagement and sales with Powtoon. He's spoken on stage with MGM, the Sands Hotel, 3M and Oracle. NASA referred to his strategies as "fresh and intriguing". Learn how to grow your sales and impact by following me on twitter: @AriSherbill
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