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
My curiosity has always burned brightly. But learning what my curiosity leads me to – that’s what makes my life meaningful. In the 1970s, while reading T.H. White’s Once and Future King, I ran across a memorable passage. Because I was at a crossroads, it taught me something profound.
In that book, Merlin the magician and Wart, the youngster who will eventually become King Arthur, are talking. To cheer the boy up, Merlin says, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”
At the time I stumbled upon this, I’d received a cancer diagnosis, and was convinced I would die young. Instead, cancer brought about my rebirth. It forced me to come clean. To turn away from the phony life I’d been leading. I had to decide what to make of myself.
This was my first shaky step toward writing. But what sort of writer? A poet? A novelist? I soon found that my innate curiosity, coupled with a thirst for learning, were the ideal research tools for nonfiction. Not only that, but my tendency to fall in love with obscure topics (such as what women did in ancient Greece), and look at them in fresh new ways, did much to strengthen my writing and make it saleable.
Four decades later, I look back on that crossroads and smile in disbelief. Through my books, I’ve gotten to explore the world. Time-travel to ancient lands and research rapture still infuses me with love for my work.
That rapture infects others, too. Instead of dismissing learning as dull, writers new to the game become inspired to go deeper, down to where the juice and the joy of writing lie hidden. Then they too will motivate yet another generation to learn.
Explore More Meaning
bird-girl searcher. poetic papa. avery-catcher.
William Henderson lives outside Boston with his children. He blogs about love and other unexplainable forces, tweets about books and parenting, and rarely reads directions. He still wanders in cemeteries, and often gets lost. [www.hendersonhouseofcards.com]
social/spiritual activist. forest preserver. bridge builder.
Jes Richardson is a social/spiritual activist whose issues change protesting the Vietnam War, working with Cesar Chavez's Farm Workers, building a bridge of hearts to Iran but who always comes from a place of love. [www.BridgeofHearts.org]