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
While in law school, I had a dream: I was in a war zone and a soldier put a gun to my head and asked, “Why should you live?” My answer was, “My family.” Family reflects the beauty and wonder I want to see in the world at large. In my definition, family includes loved ones beyond blood relatives.
My life changed when I was five years old and my sister was born. At five I’d just started kindergarten and found it overwhelming. I wasn’t sure what to make of the world and didn’t feel like I fit in. Having my sister at home made a big difference. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring. I’d literally run home to be with her and take care of her. She was the best present my parents ever gave me. We’re still really close – but our closeness takes work. Families and relationships take work.
When we’re knocked down into that dark place of feeling alone against the world, it helps to have people who pull us through and remind us who we really are. My parents do that for me. Knowing I can draw on the strength of that relationship feels like a net underneath me. I think of this as inter-generational wisdom. I inherited this kind of wisdom from my parents and as a mother I’m conscious about passing it on to my children.
I’ve always been sensitive and empathic. I was devastated by everything kids on the playground said to me. My sixth grade teacher said, “Cynthia, you really need to learn how to grow tougher skin.” That was the first time anyone had said anything like that to me and it was absolutely true. Now, part of my job as a lawyer in the entertainment industry is to not take things personally – I need to get deals done by seeing them for what they are. It’s a continual process of owning my own stuff versus taking on what belongs to someone else.
The flip side is that my power point is emotional wisdom. I understand feelings and have never been afraid to step in when someone’s having a bad moment. My friends and family know I’ll be there for them. If I can’t physically be there, then I’m there holding a space in spirit.
Being there for people – whether I’m doing it for someone else or someone’s doing it for me – provides an interconnected support system. That’s what carries us through. We are each other’s guardian angels.
– Cynthia Litman