Jack Canfield Jack Canfield author. speaker. motivator.

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 Arianna Huffington political powerhouse. media mogul. author.

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 Seth Godin author. speaker. linchpin.

Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]

 
Krishna Kaur Krishna Kaur yogi. philanthropist. dynamic teacher.

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 Norman Lear producer. philanthropist. tv legend.

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 Leilani Münter race car driver. activist. carbon free girl.

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]

 
Kevin Bales Kevin Bales Freedom Fighter. Philanthropist. Game Changer.

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 Sophie Chiche mom. big dreamer. lady in red.

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]

 
Mastin Kipp Mastin Kipp Writer. Entrepreneur. Daily Lover.

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 Liz Phair singer. musician. crier.

Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]

 
Desmond Tutu Desmond Tutu archbishop. author. peaceful leader.

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 Zainab Salbi author. ceo. humanitarian.

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]

 
Sean Stephenson Sean Stephenson speaker. psychotherapist. life embracer.

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 Kia Miller yogi. meditator. teacher.

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 Simon Mainwaring creator. writer. idea geek.

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 Shannon Bindler Strategist. Writer. Life Coach.

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]

 
Mathieu Bitton Mathieu Bitton Designer. Art Director. Passionate Creator.

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]

 
Jorge Perez Jorge Perez Agent. Producer. Photography Enthusiast.

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

 

ideas

Ebony Utley Ebony Utley knowledge seeker. perspective shifter. obsessive googler.

Ebony Utley, PhD, is an expert in popular culture, race, and romantic relationships. She's a public speaker, a professor, and the author of Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta's God. [www.theutleyexperience.com]

Nothing brings me more satisfaction than having a new thought about an old concept. I’ve dedicated my life to creating and sharing ideas, through teaching, speaking, editing, writing, and helping people see their everyday lives in different ways.

I have my father to thank for my passion. He’s an artist. When I was little, he’d hoist me up onto his tall drafting chair and ask me what I thought about his latest piece of abstract art. It was never enough to say that I did or didn’t like it. He always made me explain why. He encouraged me to make connections that extended beyond superficial interpretations.

Because my father was constantly introducing me to unfamiliar concepts, I’m still incredibly curious. Whenever I encounter a new idea, I immediately Google it (even when it’s inappropriate for me to whip out my cell phone!). I’ve abruptly ended conversations with friends by saying, “I’m having ideas, I’ve got to go.” I pull over in my car or on my bike to audio-record a note. I keep a log of quotables on my phone and add to it when I hear someone say something unusually witty or insightful. When I’m doing a reading for my book and someone asks a question, through our conversation I’m exposed to even more curious concepts. I’ve learned that I never know when or where my next idea will manifest.

As a cultural critic, it’s my job to introduce people to nuanced interpretations of familiar concepts. I do that by writing about subjects that aren’t supposed to go together, like rap and religion or love and hip hop or Christianity and sex. My most coveted compliment is “I’d never thought about that in that way until I read your work.”

I want to encourage the thinkers out there who don’t paint, draw, dance, sculpt, or sing to offer perspectives on those wondrous creations. Interpretation is an art, too. Our society needs artistic creators and cultural critics.

One of life’s most important lessons is learning to accept the things you cannot change. You can do this by simply changing the way you look at things. Read. Pay attention to the world around you. Be open-minded. Ignite your inner critic. A new world of ideas will introduce itself to you.

– Ebony Utley

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