Top 5 Favorite Personal Development Influencers That Have Impacted Me In My Younger Years

1st Mentor Street

If you have read other articles of my blog or listened to episodes of my podcasts, you are probably already aware that I am a huge fan of personal growth and development.  Consuming such content always inspires me to seek ways to become a better version of myself. This journey didn’t start until my early 20s, with none other than the “guru” himself, Tony Robbins. 

I am so glad that many personal development leaders have invested their time and efforts over many years to learn so that they can share nuggets in compressed forms for us to benefit from. Now I am passing this benefit to you through 1st Mentor Street, 1st Mentor Podcast and more channels in the future. 

Today, I want to share the influencers who have impacted me the most when I was still a young adult with you. Let’s start with my favorite five authors that I have crossed paths with from my early 20s until my mid-30s, but have still been a part of my life until today because of what they taught me.  Join me as I recall my “encounters” and share of my favorite quotes or lessons. I would love to know if they resonate with you as well. 

Here are my personal top 5 influencers in sequence of the time they entered my life. 

  1. Tony Robbins
  2. Robert Kiyosaki
  3. Stephen Covey
  4. Randy Pausch
  5. Sheryl Sandberg

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is without a doubt one of the earliest and longest personal growth and development gurus that have impacted me the most on my journey. I came across his name for the very first time in my early years at college. I still remember my friend telling me that he has tapes of one of Tony’s programs, which I borrowed and listened to. It ignited a little fire in me to improve myself and achieve more in life. His passion for life strategies were truly infectious. Tony covers topics from mindset to productivity, relationships to health, business to personal finance and others. 

Over the years, Tony appeared in and left my life multiple times, but his lessons always stayed with me in one form or another. Life happens, I got distracted, so personal development was not always on top of my priority list in my 20s and 30s. Many times, school, my career and then my family took most of my time and priority. But whenever I picked up one of Tony’s books, saw one of his videos or listened to any of his lessons, that little fire burning inside of me came rushing back. As a result, I made goals again and was determined to achieve more.

One of my wish list items for many years was to attend one of Tony’s seminars in person. I must be insane, but 12 to 14 hour per day for multiple days covering different aspects of personal development in a room with thousands of people actually sounded very exciting to me. However, the price tag hasn’t allowed me to realize this wish quite yet. Well, at least not until 2020. When COVID-19 hit, and we were quarantined, the opportunity arrived to attend a virtual event for probably 10% of the price that I would have paid for an in person event. So, I bought myself a birthday gift to attend UPW – Unleash the Power Within, virtual edition. Four long days of dancing, jumping, screaming, laughing, some crying, learning and taking notes until my hand hurt, all by myself in my room. Overall, I really enjoyed it although there were a few aspects of the event that I didn’t like. But it accomplished the goal of experiencing Tony “live”. 

Before I leave you with some of my most memorable Tony’s quotes, I wanted to add that my interview with Marcee Kleinman on “The 1st Mentor Podcast” episode 47 and 57 discussed some of our experience and lessons from Tony Robbins in more detail. Make sure you go check it out.

Here are some of my favorite Tony quotes and lessons:

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.”

“Where focus goes, energy flows.”

“The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.” 

“If you talk about it, it’s a dream, if you envision it, it’s possible, but if you schedule it, it’s real.”

Robert Kiyosaki

In my mind, Robert Kiyosaki will always be remembered as the author who inspired me to think about passive income. Up until then, I only knew the principal of trading my time for money. I have to work hard to earn more money to have a better life. That’s all that my parents and school taught me when I was younger. Any form of investing hardly crossed my mind. I was fearful, so afraid of loss that I didn’t want to take any risks. So, I took the safe and predictable but limiting route of working hard to build my career and life. 

Kiyosaki’s book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” was one of the first personal development books I read in my early 20s, at the beginning of my career as a financial auditor. I still remember my coworkers talking about it during one of those long nights when we were burning the midnight oil. Soon after, I devoured other Robert Kiyosaki books that shared similar messages. One of the books led me to announce that I will retire at 45 because I will have passive income from my real estate and other investments as well as businesses. Well now, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen because in my 20s I didn’t take any actions, and in my 30s too few actions were taken to make that goal a reality. 

But the idea and curiosity of earning passive income really stuck with me. I looked into this thought process multiple times throughout my adult life. The only problem I had with the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series was that it gave me the inspiration to think differently, but not the exact steps on how to achieve financial freedom by building income generating assets that would allow me to stop trading time for money once everything has been set up.  Nevertheless, I am still very thankful for this new idea, so much that I gave it to my son to read when he was only 9 years old. The book had the same effect on him.

Here are some of my favorite Robert Kiyosaki quotes and lessons:

“In the real world, the smartest people are people who make mistakes and learn. In school, the smartest people don’t make mistakes.” 

“The most successful people in life are the ones who ask questions. They’re always learning. They’re always growing. They’re always pushing.”

“Often, the more money you make the more money you spend; that’s why more money doesn’t make you rich – assets make you rich.”

“Never say you cannot afford something. That is a poor man’s attitude. Ask HOW to afford it.”

“Losers quit when they fail. Winners fail until they succeed.”

Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey’s popular book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has been a bestseller for many years, so much that it’s almost considered a classic now. There are also other versions connected to the same principles. Similar to other authors and personal growth and development coaches I mentioned earlier, I came across Covey’s teachings in various forms throughout my life. 

Besides reading or listening to this book more than once, I have also attended Franklin Covey time management/productivity classes offered by Disney and not to mention reading the stories of “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” as bed time stories a gazillion times to my children when they were younger. If you are interested in in our podcast discussion about “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids”, please click on these links to listen to episode 3 and 6.

I believe out of the 7 habits, I embody habit # 2 the most, Begin with the End in Mind. I am a planner and tend to spend, sometimes too much, time on setting goals and figuring out how to achieve them. I have been goal oriented for the majority part of my life now. If you are curious about this topic, you should read my article Going Beyond Setting SMART Goals about my goal setting strategies. 

The habit that I need to probably work on the most is # 5, Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. Like most people, I tend to lean slightly more towards the speaking than the listening side. One of my goals when dealing with people is to ask more questions and listen so that I can understand their point of view and what’s important to them before I explain my thoughts and opinions. We all have things we can do better, don’t we?

Here are some of my favorite Stephen Covey quotes and lessons:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

“If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.”

“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).”

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Randy Pausch

When you think of personal development, Randi Pausch is probably not the first person that comes to mind. Nevertheless, his content have made a lasting impact on my life. Randy is probably best known for his viral YouTube video “The Last Lecture”, which has over 20 million views. 

Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and was diagnosed with cancer with only a few months left to live when his three children were still quite young. With the dilemma of limited time and the never fulfilled wish to teach his children various life lessons as they grow up, he decided to give a last lecture speaking about the importance of overcoming challenges, supporting others with their dreams and seizing the moment. It was a very positive and inspirational book as well.

I am very glad that I actually read the book first before I watched the YouTube video because I learned about the background before listening to the lessons, which helped me to understand his message so much better. His lecture and book mean a lot to me for various reasons. 

First of all, it was recommended to me by a good friend and former coworker who also lost her battle with cancer not too long ago. She, like Randy, was a very optimistic and inspirational person. Every time I think about “The Last Lecture”, I think of her and the lessons she taught me when we were working together. 

Secondly, I read the book when my two children were exactly the same age as two of the author’s children at the time he wrote the book. It truly made me wonder about what I would do if I were in his shoes. It was so relatable to me and opened my eyes to many areas that I couldn’t see before. His quotes are some of my favorites that I have used when mentoring my mentees many times throughout my career. 

Here are some of my favorite Randy Pausch quotes and lessons:

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”

“When you’re screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you.”

 “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”

“There’s a lot of talk these days about giving children self-esteem. It’s not something you can give; it’s something they have to build… You give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process.”

Sheryl Sandberg

Chances are, you probably heard of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. But before I was introduced to “Lean In”, I haven’t heard of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer. However, once I read her book “Lean In”, I was an immediate fan. It discusses the progress of women in leadership roles and our struggles and provides ideas on how we can achieve our full potential.

The biggest influence this book has on me is that every time I enter a conference room with a large conference table in the middle and seats to the side of the room, I make sure that I intentionally select a chair at the main conference table. I want to lean in, want to be part of the conversation instead of just a bystander or observer. 

My other major take away from the book was that I started applying for jobs and opportunities where I didn’t check off all the boxes in the qualifications category. Prior to that, I would be hesitant to even consider it when I didn’t have at least 90% of what the employer desired from candidates. Afterwards, I would give myself permission and the chance to at least include myself as a potential candidate. 

The teachings of her TED Talk and this book have become so popular that even Disney experienced a grass root movement where a few women got together and founded Women at Disney. They coordinated events and panel discussions to empower growth and opportunities at the company. I was lucky enough to have been made aware of this development at an early stage and was invited to provide input and feedback on types of events we could plan. It was exciting to sit in meetings listening to the experience of other professional women and their hopes, and then finally attending a panel discussion of women from Disney Animation sharing their stories or participating in a speed networking event where I had the chance to meet women at Disney from different segments and job functions. 

Here are some of my favorite Sheryl Sandberg quotes and lessons:

“Done is better than perfect.”

“There is no perfect fit when you’re looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around. The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”

“Women need to shift from thinking “I’m not ready to do that” to thinking “I want to do that- and I’ll learn by doing it.”

“Feeling confident — or pretending that you feel confident — is necessary to reach for opportunities. It’s a cliché, but opportunities are rarely offered; they’re seized.”

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