Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]
Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]
By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]
Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]
Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]
Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]
Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]
Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]
Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]
Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]
Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]
Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com
There’s almost nothing in this world I’m not interested in. I like learning about things. I like playing games. I like understanding structures and organizations. But what I’ve always been most excited about are people. I like to talk to people. I like to understand other people’s lives and needs and desires, and I like to share my experiences.
There’s something about life that feels so strange and beautiful. I’m obsessed with what it means that we’re alive and we’re here. I have a compulsion to understand, but I find that I can’t understand only by looking inside myself. I understand through other people’s experiences.
There are a number of things I thought I’d be good at in my life, and there were a number of paths that seemed plausible and would have probably brought me a lot of success. I gave up a lot of other options in my life to pursue a path that’s most connected to people.
In my early adult life I was attracted to the entertainment industry and worked for a wonderful non-profit in New York which connected me to arts and writing programs for children. I mostly worked on and off Broadway and in the movie business, in big commercial entertainment, and I loved it. I loved telling big stories, I loved the business of show, the culture of commercial theatre and Hollywood. It was exciting to me both creatively and from a business perspective.
But even though I felt fulfilled on a pretty big level, there was a huge ingredient missing for me. That ingredient was meaning. I was helping to tell big stories in a professional way, but the stories weren’t personally meaningful to me. So I gave all of that up and founded Story Pirates, which is a mix of the mind-sets of a local, community-serving non-profit and a big, globalized media business. Starting Story Pirates felt like an opportunity to get everything I want out of life.
The work we’re doing now changes people’s lives in a real and tangible way. It’s about individual people and individual stories, and it’s full of the ingredient I was missing.
– Benjamin Salka