19 Artists and Influencers Who Will Inspire an Inevitable Great Year Out of You
It’s 2020. New year, new us; everything we didn’t do in 2019, we’re going to do now. However, we may need some help harnessing the mic-drop worthy amount of energy that will negate mundanity. There are a lot of people out there kicking life in the teeth that we can look to for inspiration; most of their stories, we don’t even know. The ones we do know are on the screens of our televisions, computers, and phones daily. These 19 artists and influencers and their stories will inspire an inevitable great year out of us.
Cover Photo: Leon Bennett (Getty Images)
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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the self-declared “hardest worker in the room.” He’s the guy who gets up at 4 a.m. and goes to the gym. His personal gym (the Iron Paradise) follows him around the world while he pursues his film career and other entrepreneur endeavors. He often tells the story of how he didn’t make it as a football player and was cut from the team with $7 in his pocket (his production company is actually called Seven Bucks Productions). The rest is history. Now he’s the biggest movie star around. The Rock even had an alarm clock app, dubbed "The Rock Clock," where fans could grind along with him (which they still do on social media).
At this point, everyone knows that The Rock and Kevin Hart are friends (begrudgingly). The two entertainers have connected due to their common appreciation for work hard and are always thinking about their next move. Hart is one of the most successful comedians in the world; he sells out football stadiums like it’s just another Thursday night. He’s also an actor, producer, and coauthor of the book, I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons. Hart is a source of daily inspiration on social media, reminding his followers to get up early and go after it; even in the face of criticism or injury, he reminds us to smile.
Alex Honnold is best known for being the rock star of rock climbing. He is the only person to ever free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (which means he climbed 3,000 feet in around 19 hours without a rope). If you've seen the documentary about this, entitled Free Solo, you know one thing about Honnold: he's not like other people. He's driven, calculated, and loves climbing almost more than anything else. In that documentary, he says, "Anybody can be happy and cozy. Nothing good happens in the world by being happy and cozy." Honnold embodies what it truly means to leave fear behind and exit your comfort zone.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been making headlines ever since her show, Fleabag (which she wrote and stars in), became one of the most critically acclaimed series in the world. She also served as showrunner, executive producer, and writer for the first season of Killing Eve. However, before the first season of Fleabag in 2016, Waller-Bridge was known for her stage work. One of the plays she starred in was her one-woman play entitled Fleabag. That play won the Fringe First award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and became what is now the BBC series. Waller-Bridge has used the last decade to become one of the most in-demand writers in Hollywood (and was most recently hired to rewrite the new Bond movie: No Time to Die). If you’ve seen Fleabag then you’ll have a vague understanding of this woman’s heart. As Fleabag character Belinda says, “People are all we’ve got. So grab the night by its nipples and go flirt with someone.”
Here’s something that needs to be said: most talk shows blow. First We Feast’s series Hot Ones is a different story; it's the show where celebrities have to endure increasingly hot wings while answering fantastic questions. Most talk show hosts don’t know how to conduct a good interview, but Sean Evans does. He always shows up prepared, having read the guest’s book or watched their show. He and his team research their guests thoroughly. On top of this, he’s out there, every week, eating the hottest things imaginable (the above GIF is of him eating a Carolina Reaper). The format for Hot Ones was originally Christopher Schonberger’s but it would not have been successful without a great host. Whatever your idea, no matter how great or how stupid, commitment and due diligence pay off.
As the host of the immensely successful talk show, The Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres has told millions of people, on a daily basis, to be kind. She’s also used her platform to support families in need and bring recognition to people who wouldn’t otherwise receive it. She’s donated countless amounts of money, aided Feeding America, The Gentle Barn, and other humanitarian efforts. When DeGeneres dances into a room, she does it as herself, utterly and completely, with the best of intentions.
Massimo Bottura is an Italian restaurateur. His restaurant, Osteria Francescana has been named among the best restaurants in the world for the last 10 years. After his restaurant was named the best in the world in 2016, he started opening community kitchens ("refettorios") serving creative, three-course meals to the hungry and homeless. He did this with leftovers and convinced others to do the same with food that otherwise would have gone to waste. This is when he began to form the cultural food foundation Food for Soul with his wife, Lara Gilmore. The foundation has grown beyond community kitchens, becoming a non-profit organization aimed at showing us the value of food and the people who eat it. What’s more inspiring than a foodie hungry to change the world?
Bill and Melinda Gates
Everyone knows Bill Gates as the founder of Microsoft and one of the richest people in the world. But what's most notable about Gates is what he and his wife Melinda have done at the top. The two titans founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world. The foundation is geared toward reducing poverty, enhancing health, and expanding educational opportunities around the world. The foundation is an extension of the sentiment surrounding the Giving Pledge campaign Gates launched with Warren Buffet in 2010: billionaires should give at least 50 percent of their wealth to charitable causes. The Gates family has pledged that when they are done, 95 percent of their wealth will have been given to their foundation. Bill and Melinda are a part of this world; when they talk, people listen. Their story is a reminder that when you get to the top, you should do something that extends beyond your own success.
Andy Frisella is one of those influencers who will light a fire under your ass. He's the owner of Supplement Superstores, Paradise Distribution, and the fitness brand 1st Phorm international. His podcast The MFCEO Project features him talking about all of the things he has endured on the path to success. He talks to other fitness freaks, entrepreneurs, and other lionhearted people. Whether or not your goals this year include fitness is irrelevant. Drive and tenacity apply to every facet of life. In a very direct way, Frisella will tell you to stop whining and go get it. Follow him on social media for daily inspiration.
The former professional football player and two-sport all-American is a social media sensation, entrepreneur, and two-time New York Times bestselling author. Howes runs one of the best podcasts in the world aimed at teaching (The School of Greatness). He interviews people like Tony Robbins and Sara Blakely. He shares inspiring content daily as well as great advice on social media. He's one of those guys who is surprisingly candid about the things he has been through because he recognizes the importance of community. Overcoming adversity is easier when you realize you are not alone.
When Greta Thunberg was 8 years old, she first heard about climate change. She then convinced her parents to lower their family’s carbon footprint, start recycling, and become vegan. That was the beginning of her journey. She has fought in her home country of Sweden for a pollution-free future and warned against environmental degradation and climate change. She has inspired students and adults alike across the world to try and make a difference, becoming one of the most well-known people in the world.
Greta Thunberg is now 17 years old. She has Asperger's. Neither of those things has limited her at all. Thunberg has called her diagnosis of Asperger's her “superpower.” With a meticulous understanding of reality, laser-focused determination, and the loudest voice anyone has heard since civil rights leaders of the '60s, it just might be. Unlike a lot of us, when Thunberg feels that something is important, she’s not going to look away or give up. Her mission is what matters and that’s it.
Gary Vaynerchuck is a serial entrepreneur and easily one of the most motivating guys online today. As the chairman of VaynerX and CEO of VaynerMedia, he basically foresaw the influx of social media influencers. Not only was he the first one to the party, he hosted the party. He’s invested in everything from Facebook and Twitter to Venmo and Uber. He’s one of the most-followed individuals on LinkedIn (bested only by people like Melinda Gates) and offers marketing tips to everyone and anyone. His main tip is this: whatever you are good at, do it all the time and then post about it online, all the time (that's what he did with his family's wine business). Vaynerchuck has no sympathy for those who are left behind (unless they want to be). It’s not that complicated: master your craft, recognize trends, and capitalize.
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U.S. soccer women’s national team co-captains Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Megan Rapinoe took home a combined $1,725,000 when they won the 2015 Women’s World Cup; the U.S. men’s national team brought home twice that much when they lost in round 16 of their 2014 World Cup. In 2019, the women’s team sued their employer for gender discrimination. In July, they beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final, becoming the first team in history to win four Women’s World Cup finals. Know your worth.
This guy is motivated. He lost 106 pounds in three months before becoming a Navy SEAL. After his career in the Navy, he heard about ultramarathons, which are 100 miles long. Having never attempted this type of competition before, Goggins nearly broke his body just to qualify. He’s failed again and again. He never stops. The only way to truly absorb the type of inspiration that Goggins can dish out is to follow him on Instagram, read his book Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds or check out his episode of The Joe Rogan Experience (you’ll be hooked). At the core of Goggins’ story is the singular goal of “callusing your mind.” You control your reality.
Oprah Winfrey has called Marie Forleo "a thought leader for the next generation." She is a life coach, motivational speaker, author, web television host and CEO of Marie TV. She offers her followers and viewers daily doses of inspiration considered to be some of the best online—Forbes listed her website in their "Top 100 Websites for Entrepreneurs." It's nearly impossible to walk away from anything Forleo produces feeling even an ounce of negativity. Her brand is to be herself and she advises you to do the same. Personalize everything and never quit.
Joe Rogan does a lot of things; he's a successful comedian, actor (kind of), martial artist, and mixed martial artist commentator...oh, and he has arguably the best podcast in the world (The Joe Rogan Experience). Why? Because he dissects ideas. He has great conversations with great guests. From Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson to Bill Burr and Kevin Hart, Rogan can talk to anyone about anything. The dude loves knowledge and understands what it means to hold yourself accountable for the things you decide to do with your day.
Matthew McConaughey used to be the romantic comedy guy; he was a rich, A-list celebrity, playing what he has called "Saturday characters." He enjoyed his life. What he wasn't necessarily proud of was the trajectory of his career—it wasn't dangerous or exciting. So he stopped taking the easy money and chose riskier projects (when they did start to come). That was how the McConaissance came to be, including roles like the ones in The Lincoln Lawyer, Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, and True Detective. He's now one of the greatest actors in the world, a professor at the University of Texas, and the founder of the Just Keep Livin foundation—a nonprofit committed to the heath and well-being of our youth. "Hook 'em."
Lulu Wang nearly abandoned filmmaking to work in radio before The Farewell (which is one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2019). Public radio paid more and allowed for more creative freedom. In 2016, she wrote and narrated a story for This American Life called "In Defense of Ignorance," which focused on her family's decision to hide a cancer diagnosis. Forty-eight hours after the story aired, Lulu Wang received a call from producers wanting to make the movie. She told them that she would only make the film if she could do it the same way she had for This American Life. The Farewell was made because she was prepared to walk away rather than compromise the integrity of her story.
At 99 years of age, artist Luchita Hurtado has finally arrived. Hurtado worked as a painter for nearly 80 years but it wasn't until last year, at the Serpentine Galleries, that she displayed the first retrospective of her work. Having dabbled in many of the artistic movements, Hurtado is a respected artist; however, her artistic ventures have mostly been displayed in private. Her paintings often depict the human body as part of its environment, stressing the importance of universal connectivity, not just with each other but with the world we live in. This type of art is more relevant than ever and so is Hurtado. Like all of the people on this list that have preceded her, she's earnest and in love with what she does. So whenever you feel deterred or dejected, remember Luchita Hurtado—you have time and it’s never too late.