Entrepreneurs' Picks: Celebrities Who Inspire Success

Guts. Passion. Ambition. These celebrities inspire us by leading the way.

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Tina Fey

"I've always been a fan of Tiny Fey, who inspires my own entrepreneurial spirit with her fearless risk taking, especially in a typically male-dominated field. Her ability to juggle acting, writing, producing, and mothering, as well as stepping out of her comfort zone to take on new projects helps, fuels my own passion for the many hats I wear and the ones I'm dying to put on but aren't sure how they'll fit."


-- Kristen Chase, Publisher and CEO of Cool Mom Picks

Photo Credit: Jeanette Smith

Gwyneth Paltrow

"Because she built a business (GOOP) and a personal brand based on her interests and passions, and she doesn’t deviate from that vision. Her voice and point-of-view are distinct and unwavering. Hers is the perfect example of doing what you love and trusting that the rest will always follow."

 

-- Elizabeth Dehn, freelance writer and founder of Beauty Bets, as well as a natural luxury skincare line, By Elizabeth Dehn.

Photo Credit: Woodnote Photography

Sophia Bush

"Whether she's curating a CD to raise money for The Gulf or raising money to fight cancer, she's always doing something. She's the epitome of what it means to use your talents and resources to help someone in need. And she inspires those of us lucky enough to call her friend."

 

-- Tina Wells, CEO of Buzz Marketing Group, Author of the Mackenzie Blue series, and Chasing Youth Culture And Getting It Right (Wiley, April 2011)

Photo Credit: Jon Carlson

Madonna

"Since I started my first business in 1995, when asked what celebrity I admire most, I've always said Madonna and that still stands. I love how she constantly reinvents herself but it always seems part of a master plan. She seems fearless in the face of change or, if she does experience fear, she doesn't let on and just moves forward and sticks to her guns."

 

-- Aliza Sherman, founder of a mobile consulting company Mediaegg, and author of nine books, including, Mom, Incorporated: A Guide to Business + Baby.

Photo Credit: Maya Bisineer

Sandra Bullock

"She has managed to stay close with her family; she even owns a restaurant with her sister and speaks so lovingly of her mother. She was a wonderful stepmom and handled the infidelity of her husband with such grace and courage. Sandra is such a class act and an inspiration of taking what life gives you and moving on in such a positive and courageous way! Love her!"

 

-- Tracey Martin, lifestyle coach and founder of Rebirth, designing women's handbags and statement accessories.

Photo Credit: Kelly Cappelli

Mary Karr

"My biggest hurdle has always been caring too much about what others might think of my faults or failures. Fearing judgment is paralyzing for an entrepreneur. I love memoirist and poet Mary Karr for her courageous acts of publicly copping to her most ignoble behavior or darkest thought in her writings--with a sense of humor and humility! She also honors the mystery of a higher power that plays an active role in her life. That speaks directly to my own sense of what Mammaste is all about, an awareness that we are all a part of something very positive and beautiful that connects us all."

 

-- Lori Yang, founder and CEO of Mammaste

Photo Credit: Pamela Diedrich

Angelina Jolie

"She's a working mom who gives her career and philanthropic endeavors equal weight. She's also unapologetic about her life choices. I aspire to impact the world the way she does, and with the same attitude."
 

-- Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth.com, a daily email about money management designed for women. 

Photo Credit: Jordan Matter

MC Hammer

"I have a lot of respect for someone who can make mistakes, learn from them and point the way toward the future. His investments in Square Inc., Bump Technologies, and WireDoo, among other cutting-edge companies, show that 'super-geeks', as he's called himself, can come from all sorts of backgrounds and life experiences."

 

-- Cheryl Contee, Partner at Fission Strategy and Attentive.ly, Co-Founder at Jack & Jill Politics
 

Photo Credit: Brian Solis

Oprah Winfrey

"She has successfully built a multi-billion dollar brand based on her ethics and value system of helping people to become their best selves. She's never one to stay in her comfort zone or rest on her laurels. Launching the OWN network, which was a very risky thing to do straight after the unrivaled success of the Oprah Show, is a clear example of this. "

 

-- June Sarpong, CEO of Row6.com

Photo Credit: Deborah Anderson

Heidi Klum

"She is a multi-tasking master mind who juggles four children, being a wife, a career as a supermodel, the producer of Project Runway as well as a jewelry designer for QVC, a clothing designer for Jordache and Victoria’s Secret, as well as an active wear designer for New Balance and Amazon. Whew! And she still manages to find time to always look amazing. I am tired just thinking about everything she has accomplished but it keeps me going strong every day!"

 

-- Christina Holm-Sandok, President and Creative Director of Style Architects, a creative lifestyle services company
 

Photo Credit: John Wagner Photography

Jennifer Lopez

"She is an average singer, average actor and an average fashion designer, but what she is exceptional at is knowing her strengths, playing to them and building businesses that harness them. For someone who is average at a lot of things, she is superior in brand building and is an amazing self starter and entrepreneur. And more over, she is a minority and used her talents to do something much bigger: She brought Latin pop music into the mainstream."

 

-- Anjula Acharia-Bath, CEO of Desi Hits!
     

Photo Credit: Amit and Naroop

Woody Allen

“Woody Allen has been a rather unusual source of design inspiration to me as both a designer and entrepreneur. He is the classic underdog and anti-hero who unexpectedly turns out to be lovable. The element of surprise is a key to my designs and I enjoy playing with people's expectations. I created my Woody bag with the anti-hero concept in mind, taking the shape of a boring old European shopping bag and transforming it into an object of desire--colorful, striking and unique."
 

-- Hester van Eeghen, Founder and Designer at Hester van Eeghen

Photo Credit: hveus.com

Andie McDowell

"She's aging gracefully into well-selected acting roles, a family woman who has shielded herself and her children from the spotlight, and she has conducted herself with grace and class."

 

-- Adrienne Sforza, Founder, Adrienne Sforza Strategic Research

Photo Credit: Brooke Jacobs

Kate Winslet

"In an industry riddled with fake personalities and plastic surgery, she has risen to the top by firmly being herself and playing to her strengths while still being humble and keeping her feet on the ground. For most of my own career, I struggled with finding a business or job in which I could succeed while embracing my own strengths and weaknesses. I finally have this now with my blogging and writing career: I can be driven and successful while still being somewhat disorganized and scattered."

-- Wendy Piersall, founder of Woo! Jr. Kids Activities and Vintage Fangirl, and author of Mom Blogging for Dummies.

Photo Credit: Ashlee Wells from Windy City Pinup

Dr. Oz

"I've always been inspired by celebrities such as Dr. Oz who empower people to take charge of their lives. He continues to educate us to make better choices to improve our own health and the health of our loved ones. In addition to that, I think people like Dr. Oz have helped pave the way to make alternative health concepts better understood by mainstream audiences."

 

--  Francine Chambers, founder of Diva International, makers of The DivaCup

Photo Credit: Diva International

Beyoncé

"She's humble, forever stylish, divinely talented, an extremely hard worker, and a brilliant creator. She is also a mom-to-be, like me! She motivates me to work harder to perfect my craft as an entrepreneur and businesswoman."

 

-- Zuhairah Scott, Founder, Kahnoodle
 

Photo Credit: Zuhairah Scott

Bethenny Frankel

"She runs her own company, as well as being a great mother and wife, and is up for any challenge, even starting a family and marriage at 40. I've taken care of my family, my business and my foundation, as well as my ailing mother who lived with me till she passed in May. Bethenny let me feel like I wasn't crazy to take on so much, and to remind me that I choose this life, it's not easy, though I do love the organized chaos."

 

-- Vallie Gilley, Owner of Jitters Coffee Pub and Founder and CEO of Feeding the Soul Foundation 

Photo Credit: Natalie Warr

Martha Stewart

"She lives my life motto: 'I am a Buffalo. I do what I want.' I know she gets a rap for being a bit of a hard edge, but the lady is 70, hot and tough as nails."

 

-- Melissa Picoli, founder of BijaBody

Nigella Lawson

"Nigella's distinctive cooking style and culinary creativity is a naturally inspiring talent. But what truly inspires me about Nigella is her deep passion for what she does, and her willingness to share these skills and talents with the rest of us."

 

-- Suzy Schmigel, owner of Whipped Cupcake Company

Photo Credit: Suzy Schmigel

Katy Perry

"She has managed to move away from a strict fundamentalist background (she was raised in a strict Christian household) and be herself stylistically, while at the same time staying close to her family. She may not be my first choice for music or style, but her willingness to be who she really is I find inspirational."

 

-- Sheryl Grassie, founder of The End of the Spectrum

 

 

 

Jennifer Jeanne Patterson is a freelance writer and author of 52 Fights. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three children. Find her blog at Unplanned Cooking.

Related: Second Acts Greatest Hits

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Photo Credit: Richard Grassie
First Published January 10, 2012

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