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Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011

For me, 2011 will be a year when I saw people make leaps that inspired. It was amazing to watch all six of these people embrace an ethic of risk in their personal and professional lives. Each inspired me to make 2012 a year in which I live deliberately. Without further ado, here is who inspired me this year:

Rebecca Thorman

Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011 - Rebecca ThormanEver since I met her in 2007, Rebecca is someone who makes me think, encourages me, and tries new things in order to become a better person. Case in point? This year, she began to charge a monthly fee of $5 to read her blog, putting her at the forefront of a growing trend of sites and blogs that charge for access. Because of the success of her bold experiment (which you can read about here) we started charging a premium for our value-added emails at Cool People Care. It's been a great move for us as a company. And we have Rebecca to thank for it.

Hal Cato

Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011 - Hal CatoHal had a job for life. As the very successful and highly respected CEO of Oasis Center, Hal continued to grow the impact and bottom line of this model nonprofit organization. Hal is someone I've admired since Oasis gave me my first stint in the nonprofit world back in 2005. Then, I was a lowly beginner, yet Hal still made time for me to pick his brain about all things nonprofit-related. This year, after 10 years at the helm, Hal decided to move on into the world of entrepreneurship. His new venture will get off the ground in 2012 and it will be exciting to watch. Thanks, Hal, for showing us that it's worth doing things that make us uncomfortable.

Nancy VanReece

Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011 - Nancy VanReeceA friend since we met in 2008, Nancy was the hardest working woman in Nashville this year. She had spearheaded our nonprofit relationships at Cool People Care the past two years, and this year, she took on the daunting task of running for a city council seat. A late rezoning put her unexpectedly up against an incumbent, but it only made Nancy work harder and start conversations her district needed to have about the future of the city. Nancy was also the first openly gay female candidate to run for city council in Nashville. And, even though she didn't win a seat, she's not done making Nashville better.

Adrian Reif

Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011 - Adrian ReifI've known Adrian since he graduated from Vanderbilt a few years ago. He's always willing to dream big and is a fellow social entrepreneur. That pathway led him to fully launch Yumbutter this year. They make the best peanut butter on the planet. Seriously - I eat some every day. He launched his company with a commitment to feeding people - both those who pay for his product and those who could never afford it. When you buy a jar, a kid somewhere gets access to nutritious food. Watch for this delectible product to come to a store near you in the future, and look to Adrian as someone who can show you that in order to find meaningful work, all you have to do is dream it.

Anna Guest-Jelley

Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011 - Anna Guest-JelleyI met Anna when she became a client of Proof, a branding company I started in 2010 with Matt Cheuvront. Upon meeting Anna, her commitment to making yoga accessible to all people was apparent. This year, in the face of personal loss, she continued pushing yoga further than it has been pushed. She teaches classes and blogs regularly all in an effort to spread the message of body positivity. Anna's commitment to a more just world evidences itself in her entrepreneurial journey, and Curvy Yoga continues to draw its circle bigger to include all people who simply want to try.

Bob Bugg

Six People Who Inspired Me in 2011 - Bob BuggThe father of my college roommate, Bob has been chronicling his bout with a 'nasty little disease' on his blog for a while. And in 2011, he continued to fight. His weekly stories keep me informed of his progress and any reader can see that devotion to family is paramount above any other achievement. The love Bob has for his wife and his children - and grandchildren - is what keeps him going. Bob's story is also a reminder that when we are rightly rooted in relationships with those who matter most, we can face anything.

Who inspired you?

These six people inspired me in 2011. I'm lucky to personally know each of them. It's easy to look to the headlines for people who inspire. I hope all of us can back up a bit in order to focus on those closest to us. May you be aware of the beauty and true that exists at an arm's length in 2012.