There is nothing more inspiring than meeting someone who is already doing what you always dreamed of achieving.
Business Insider interviewed a lot of people in 2010. We selected 10 inspiring individuals who have created excellent careers for themselves. We also picked five up-and-comers to watch.
Find out how they got where they are today, and their best advice for how you can follow suit.
When Adam D'Angelo quit his job as Facebook's CTO in January 2010, the blogosphere was buzzing. But months later, the young talent reappeared on the tech scene with a startup of his own, Q&A site Quora.
We asked him how he is building a successful company: 'One thing that is really important is hiring good people. If you can get the best people, that's a big part of being successful. Another thing is that the world changes really fast, so being able to keep up with it is really important.'
SCVNGR, the Boston-based Foursquare rival, made a name for itself in 2010. They've partnered with 650+ businesses including the Boston Celtics and The Boston Globe. Last week, they closed $15 million in funding.
We asked Seth what it's like to be backed by Google Ventures: 'When I was in school, I was excited to study under impressive professors,
Hsieh's first company, LinkExchange, sold to Microsoft for $265 million. Shortly after the Microsoft deal, Tony discovered a company called Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store. He joined the company as an advisor and investor and eventually became CEO. Last year, a decade after selling LinkExchange, Tony sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion.
We asked Tony how he created the famously-fun Zappos work environment: 'We've actually passed on a lot of smart talented people that we know can make an immediate impact on our top or bottom line. But if they're not good for our culture, which is more of a long-term play, then we won't hire them.'
Dal LaMagna founded a 200-person company that generated $30 million+ in sales...after he failed at 15 prior ventures.
We asked him why his 15th venture, Tweezerman, finally worked: 'I realised I needed to do something with the money I had, that I needed to be patient, stay focused, and not try to make $1,000,000 overnight.'
We asked him how he began successfully marketing Jelly Bellies: 'In the beginning it was almost impossible to get the item off the ground. I needed one big break. I called up the Associated Press and I talked to the editor of the business section and said 'I have the only Jelly Bean store in the world.' In 1976, the article hit the Associated Press. For some reason, it was picked up by just about every newspaper in the United States. I never had to do any selling after that. Stores were calling me saying they read about this new jelly bean.'
Kim Kardashian is a buzzing TV personality of E! reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She just authored a book, Kardashian Konfidential, and has a clothing line ShoeDazzle, along with her sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian. With over 5.5 million Twitter followers, Kim also holds one of the most popular Twitter accounts.
We asked her what it's like to run a business with her family: 'I've definitely seen in many cases where that just is not the smartest idea. However, the way I was raised, my father was in business with his brother and I'm super close with my family. If anything three heads, where it's me. Kourtney and Khloe, are better than one. It's good to have a numbers system where two out-rule the third person. It makes our decisions go faster.
Bartiromo, the famous CNBC anchor, made her big break after she ignored advice from former boss Lou Dobbs. He told her that leaving her CNN producer job to become a reporter for CNBC was the biggest mistake of her life.
We asked her why she left her great job at CNN to pursue on-air reporting: 'I wanted to love what I do. You have to have self-knowledge. You have to really know yourself and know what you can do and know where your heart is. In order to be successful, you have to wake up with a fire in your belly and just want to go at it. That's the only way you'll be able to work really hard at it. I had the courage to realise what I was doing wasn't what I loved. What I loved was being in the field.'
The Huffington Post has grown extraordinarily since its launch five years ago. The news site/aggregator had more than 26 million monthly unique visitors. It also had its first annual profit this year and, some months, it rivals the traffic of The New York Times.
We asked Arianna where she's expecting her company to be company five years from now: 'The amazing thing about the internet is, if you say where your company will be in 10 years, everyone will tell you your imagination is not big enough. So much has happened in the last five years that we could not have predicted. I think we have to take it no more than one year at a time. That means we can stay open to all the new things that are happening and integrate them into what we are doing.'
Brook Moreland, Founder of Fashism* - Fashism closed $1MM last fall; investors include Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. With well-connected stars backing her, we're sure Moreland will have celebrities using her application in no time.
Doug Imbruce, Founder of Qwiki - Won TechCrunch Disrupt (San Francisco) in September
Matt Rosenberg, Founder of Fast Society - A contender in the group texting space rivaling GroupMe
Alexa Von Toble, Founder of LearnVest - Closed $4MM in funding this summer. Her goal is to teach people personal finance since it is not taught in school systems.
Dan Leahy, Founder of Village Vines - A contender in the daily deals space, specializing in restaurants. They have spread to multiple cities nationwide and partnered with Plum Benefits since their launch just six months ago.
*Brooke is the wife of Business Insider's Deputy Editor, Joe Weisenthal.
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