The 27 Greatest Digital Influencers of 2013 (meet my virtual mentors)

“If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

-Isaac Newton

2013 has been the best year of my odd, frantic little life.

If you’re wondering if now is the best time to start your business, the answer is always, irrefutably, unconditionally a resounding YES.

It’s truly amazing what you can create in a very short time if you just have the courage to take the power into your own hands. Go out there and do it. Now.

That being said, I have to be honest…

I haven’t done any of this alone.

As I’ve mentioned before, I really didn’t have too many people in my immediate circle (family or friends) to ask when I had questions about venturing out on my own. I didn’t have a pre-made group of mentors.

So I had to go out and find my own. I searched all over the world for people who were inspiring me with their amazing tales of success (and often private tales of brutal defeat). Some of them ended up becoming good friends. Others don’t even know that I’m psuedo-stalking them. I don’t feel weird about it though.

All of them have given me an immense boost in my confidence by showing my that success IS possible (and there’s more than one way to get it).

Every single one has dramatically shortened my learning curve by sharing their stories and secrets.

I simply couldn’t have done it without these amazing men and women.

How to use this list: the temptation with a list like this is to skim the text, look at the pretty pictures, click on a few links and move on. Do me a favor. Don’t.

This list is a TOOL. Use it as a window into what other successful entrepreneurs are doing and when you find someone who is doing something similar to you (or creating something that interests you), really dig into it. Find out why what they are doing is working. Get mechanistic with it. Really tear it apart.

Then reach out to them. Whether it’s via social media, email, snail mail, YouTube…whatever. Not every single person will respond – and yes, all of them are busy. But some of them will. They don’t bite.

When you make a connection with someone who is on a much higher level than you and they actually respond, all of the sudden there is a paradigm shift. That weird obstructive fog between “them” and “us” lifts and it becomes much easier to realize that if we just put in the (right type of) work, we can often have the same results as them. Or (gasp) even better results.

As I was creating the list, I reached out to them and asked them to give me a brief soundbite regarding their thoughts on entrepreneurship.

So without further ado, the list.

The people who have inspired me, my virtual mentors.

PS – no link in this list is an affiliate link or an attempt to promote something for financial gain. I’m just a fanboy who loves to share good work.

The 27 Greatest Digital Influencers of 2013 (in no particular order).


1.) Corbett Barr

“Being an entrepreneur isn’t the right choice for everybody, but for some it’s the only choice. You’ll be able to tell which camp you fall into pretty quickly. If it’s right for you, you’ll feel like starting a business unlocks some fundamental part of who you really are.”




Corbett is the creator of Think Traffic and Fizzle. I can’t remember where I first heard about his work – but when I started paying attention to him I started to understand the process on building a brand/culture online a lot more thoroughly. He has a great podcast on iTunes as well.

Twitter: Corbett Barr


2.) James Altucher

“Entrepreneurship is about failing enough times that you get lucky enough to succeed at least once.”



I have no idea what James actually does, and I’m not sure he does either. I know that he’s started dozens of businesses – some of which have made him rich, and others which have completely decimated him. But more than anything, he’s honest about all this. His blog Altucher Confidential inspired me to write with an entirely new level of honesty and openness on mine. Plus he’s just a funny guy. His new book Choose Yourself is great.

Twitter: James Altucher



3.) Chris Brogan

“Entrepreneurship is about being brave enough to leave the instruction manual behind and invent your own future.”



If you aren’t familiar with Chris Brogan, I have one question for you: “do you even internet?”

This guy is everywhere. But let’s take a deeper dive and think about WHY. The biggest reason I can see is that, much like James (above), Chris is so transparent with his writing. Noticing a theme here? Specifically, he taught me that it’s ok to tell people that you’re selling something as long as the product is amazing. He calls it his “Pitchy Pitch, Selly Sell”

Twitter: Chris Brogan



4.) Seth Godin

“[Entrepreneurship is] hiring yourself to organize something big.”



Seth is at the very top of the Pantheon when it comes to contemporary business wisdom. But his reach and philosophy applies to so much more than just business. I first found out about him after reading his book Permission Marketing and then dug back through the archives to find everything else he’d ever done (18 best sellers and counting). I’m inspired by the fact that he’s able to create such poetic, potent content on his blog every single day. EVERY DAY. I can barely keep up with this thing once a week. It was an honor to even get an email back from him.

Twitter: Seth Godin 


5.) A.J. Leon

“The day that you realize that this is your life, and it is your one and only, everything changes. Life becomes an adventure and you become the protagonist in a wild eyed journey.”



I first caught on to AJ when I saw his massively successful Kickstarter campaign with raised $38,000…even though the original goal was only $10,000. In only 30 days. Not a typo.

As I started looking into him more, I admired his story, his candor and style. He was (many) something(s) right. Check him and the Misfit movement out.

Twitter: AJ Leon


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6.) Jonathan Mead

“Entrepreneurship is the second greatest vehicle I know of for personal growth. The first is having a spouse.”


I knew about Jonathan’s site Paid To Exist before I’d ever heard of him…and I have to say, the name alone just resonated with me. Isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all just want to be able to support ourselves by being ourselves? Audacious ambition, maybe. But more than ever before, it’s possible. You should check out one of his free webinars. Pretty sweet. Side note, his wife Ev’yan has a really interesting blog on sexuality. Definitely a great read.


Twitter: Jonathan Mead


7.) Maneesh Sethi

“Entrepreneurship is about realizing that you can create something that no one else has created—and bring in other people to join you on the journey. Together, you can build something far bigger than the sum of its parts.”

n214421_33635172_8581 Maneesh’s site Hack The System caught my attention at the opening line: Cheat Codes For Life. That actually gave me a genuine LOL – because I can remember the satisfaction of plugging cheat codes into the Game Genie and suddenly feeling like a god. If his site had even a fraction of that allure, I was in. Sure enough, Maneesh doesn’t disappoint. Check out this awesome article on building a drop shipping business. What, you don’t know what drop shipping is? Sigh. That’s another article.


Twitter: Maneesh Sethi


8.) Alexandra Franzen

“The word ‘entrepreneur’ stems from an Old French term, meaning ‘readiness to undertake challenges, a spirit of daring.’ Being an entrepreneur has nothing to do with your business model, the number of subscribers on your mailing list, or the dollar amount you raked in during your last product launch. Being an entrepreneur means that you have a daring spirit. You’re willing to say what others don’t. You willing to do what others won’t. You’re willing to be who others aren’t. Be daring, daily. And congratulations: you’re an entrepreneur!”


33590718fd8c0ba129d0125e671db1af Ok, can I brag on this girl for a minute? Thanks. I was going through a time in my life where I (felt like I) had a ton of expectations to live up to. The expectations of others, thatis. I didn’t really see an out. I thought I’d just have to fulfill these “obligations” in order to get the monkey off my back. Then I read Alexandra’s post “How To Say No To Everything Ever”. Instant clarity. The rest of her site is equally as powerful. Check it out. Like, now.


Twitter: Alexandra Franzen


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9.) Natalie Sisson



“Start today. Don’t wait until you are ready or everything is perfect because that day never comes.”


I first learned about Natalie through her blog The Suitcase Entrepreneur, which pretty much combines my two favorite concepts on the planet: travel and entrepreneurship. To be honest, I think what I like the most about Natalie and her movement is the very tight focus on managing the different facets of travel while working. There are a lot of sites out there with one-off tips and “travel hacks” – but her site is pretty much a one-stop-shop. She also has a very highly-rated podcast (which has been running since at least 2011…I need to get on this!!).


Twitter: Natalie Sisson



10.) Nev Medhora

“I’d try tons of ‘little projects’ on the side. Some worked. Some sucked. I’d roll with the ones that worked. Money followed”


My first encounter with Nev was his brilliant video “How do I make money?” where he literally walked me
nevthrough all his failed business ideas, how he figured out something that would work and how he tested it, then created multiple streams. It’s this type of transparency that reminds me more and more to keep doing what I’m doing. I love the blatant honesty – which is also apparent in his blog. This is the type of tone that I strive for. Side note – I love that his website is a little “ghetto”. It’s purposely not as polished or branded as other personal blogs out there, he doesn’t have a million widgets in your face…it’s just him. Again, points for authenticity. T


witter: Neville Medhora



11.) Charlie Hoehn


“Entrepreneurship is a game with three simple rules: Find a group of people you want to serve. Create gifts that delight you and your group. Make more money than you spend.”


I found Charlie after digging through posts on Ramit Sethi’s blog – where I found a repost of his incredible article
32f405a2fb92e6389e57176a14cec108How to Hack Someone’s Mind“. That probably sounds a little devious but the bottom line is, when you can find out what people like and dislike, determine how they’re thinking and what problems they are encountering BEFORE you engage them, you’ll have amuch better chance at becoming relavant to them. READ THE ARTICLE. As I perused his blog more, I realized that this guy is the real deal. He’s created apps and marketed books for Tim Ferriss and Tucker Max. Pretty awesome stuff – go learn from him.


Twitter: Charlie Hoehn



12.) Tyler Tervooren


“At the core, entrepreneurship is about self-reliance; when you learn to make a living on your own, you learn that you’re able to take care of yourself without having to depend on anyone else.”


tyler Man, I couldn’t agree with Tyler’s quote any more. It’s so hard to take the leap and risk everything in order to support yourself – but it’s worth it. And that’s what his blog Advanced Riskology is about – living a better life despite (and evenbecause of) great risks. The broad concept of risk taking alone is worth hopping over to the blog and taking a read. But Tyler goes a lot deeper (I love long, deep dive articles). Check out this awesome article on preventing project failure BEFORE it happens (it’s called the pre-mortem technique).


Twitter: Tyler Tervooren



13.) Sibyl Chavis


“Entrepreneurship is about realizing that success doesn’t happen in a straight line where you simply take steps forward from point A to point B. Instead, the only way to create success is to make it up a spiral – your Possibility Spiral. The spiral will have larger rings at the bottom where you will really need to push and create momentum. There will also be back sides on every loop of the spiral where you may feel like you’re not getting anywhere or that things are not falling into place. However, you’re just going up a spiral and as long as you’re taking steps forward, no matter if you’re on the bottom of the spiral or the back side, you’re moving up your spiral. Understanding that success is created by moving up your spiral makes it so much easier to persevere and ultimately get to where you want to be.”


sibyl-home I met Sibyl through my friend James Clear, who spoke praises about the work she was doing on her site The Possibility of Today. I love a few things about Sibyl (and her site). First, I have to be honest, it feels wonderful to see black women doing amazing work. But second, and even more importantly, I often get bogged down by all the business stuff I read. Sibyl’s work is a breath of fresh air. One concept of hers that I particularly vibe with (and am trying to implement more) is not complaining. She actually wrote a fantastic (free) ebook on the subject. Worth the read, for sure. It’s amazing how many things just seem to fall into place when you stop constantly complaining about your life.


Twitter: Sibyl Chavis


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14.) Austin Kleon

“Live cheaply. Make something every day and put it on the internet. Give yourself at least a decade.”

Austin’s New York Times bestselling book Steal Like an Artist was what put him on my radar. I feel like he really “gets”


what it means to remain analog in a digital world. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who still writes in notebooks. Once I read his book, I was again reminded that there’s no such thing as an original idea – which is why it’s so important that we strengthen our creative muscles and learn how to synthesize new ideas from previous ones. Interesting side note, I’d always been fascinated by the Newspaper Blackout Poems I’d seen around the internet, but never knew it was him that’d made them so popular. What an awesome spin on poetry.

Twitter: Austin Kleon


15.) Chase Jarvis

“Entrepreneurs aren’t “founders”. We don’t “find” things. We are artists who make something where there was nothing before.”


Chase is a great anti-example of the starving artist stereotype turned on its head, and I’ve learned much from him when itcomes to positioning myself as a creative. It’s so important to both understand your value as an artist AND to assert it. Where he really excels, though, is his TV/web show Chase Jarvis Live. Man, talk about production value. I’m a big proponent of getting things started early and adjusting gradually, but holy shit – when I start my TV show, I want it to look like this. So many amazing guests, such high-quality delivery and the black/white recording adds a distinctive signature. Awesome.

Twitter: Chase Jarvis


16.) Rob Walling

“Entrepreneurship is about hard work, focus and a bit of luck. And you’ll start to find, as those years of focused work go by…that the harder you work, the luckier you get.”


One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about entrepreneurship is that it’s important generate multiple streams from rob_walling__stdseveral unrelated sources. In keeping with that mindset, it’s important to STUDY different fields of entrepreneurship to get a more complete picture of how you can improve yourself. That’s why I love reading Rob Walling’s blog Software by Rob. Before I was even interested in development, I loved how deep-dive Rob’s content was. In fact, extremely high-quality case studies like this influenced my writing from the very beginning. One thing that you’ll realize as you read his material is that the process of creating a good product (software or otherwise) is universal.

Twitter: Rob Walling


16.) Design Kompany (Dipika & Akira)

“For me, entrepreneurship is Life, Work, and Service as one—about aligning what you truly desire with who you want to serve and what you can give. To do this work, I need to listen, be playful, and drive at knowing what I want to create.”



As I dabble in more interests, I’ve become increasingly obsessed with beautiful design. Whether it’s a digital product, aphysical product, a book or a home cooked meal – I want it to be beautiful. When I found Dipika and Akira through a friend, I knew these two really understood beauty. Their work isn’t about blogging, it’s about creating beautiful work with their hearts and hands – something I feel is lost behind a computer screen many times. Check out their portfolio.

Twitter: Design Kompany



17.) Chris Higgins

“I’m a freelance writer. I’m an entrepreneur in the sense that I run a real simple business: words for money. Assuming you are actually capable of writing well and meeting deadlines, this business is mostly about relationships — if you can develop friendships with writers, editors, and readers, you will be able to find work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but reward the people you ask by delivering the best work you possibly can. My first writing gigs came through friends, and that built a base I could build on — I got future gigs on the strength of that initial work.”


Wise words from a wise man. Having a successful online venture nowadays almost always includes the creation of great content. You don’t have to be Hemingway (thank God)…but you do have to write. Chris Higgins has cracked the code to something many of aspiring novelists will wonder about their entire lives (while still clinging to their 9-5) – making a living as a writer without dying. Check out his new book The Blogger Abides: A Practical Guide to Writing Well and Not Starving.


Twitter: Chris Higgins


18.) Jim Hudson

“For me, entrepreneurship means being a bit of a quiet rebel. Bending the world to your vision, and making it a little better than you found it. It’s about taking big risks, and engaging with the world creatively for your own idea of freedom and happiness. What’s better than getting to choose?”



Jim’s unique outlook on entrepreneurship is actually a lot like mine – a tad bit rebellious. Choosing this path is hard and it takes a lot of conscious growth and maturity to go from the entrepreneur you are, to the one you want to be. Thats what Accelerate Me is all about – growing. I’ve actually grown quite a lot through meditation over the past year – Jim talks about his mediation journey in depth here.

Twitter: Jim Hudson


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19.) Tom Ewer

“Something that has been on my mind recently regarding the subject of entrepreneurship is the simple fact that many people in this world don’t want anything more than what they have. They’re comfortable with, or — perhaps more often — resigned to their fate.

It seems to me that it takes a special kind of person with a desire to create; to put themselves out there and risk failure after failure in the hope that one day they will find the success they crave so passionately. These personalities are in no way “better” than the person who is simply happy to accept the status quo — we do of course need people of all types in order for the world to keep turning in the way that it does — but nonetheless, it seems to me that you either have a kernel of entrepreneurship within you or you don’t.

So when it comes to making the decision as to whether or not you are truly committed to the path of entrepreneurship, one of the most important questions you must ask yourself is this: do you really want it?

If the answer to that question is yes then you can grant yourself the freedom to launch yourself into your efforts with gusto. If the answer is no then you can be happy in the knowledge that what you have is good enough. If you’re not sure what the answer is, my advice is to pretend that you want it — to play the role of a driven entrepreneur.

You’ll soon find out what kind of person you are.”



Maybe it’s because I’m editing this at 1:41 am, but re-reading that just made me want to cry a little. I did’t. But I wanted to. Ipretty much don’t have anything to follow that quote up – you’ll know exactly why I love what Tom does. It’s worth noting that his site Leaving Work Behind is primarily about his journey as a freelance writer, and gets pretty in-depth with everything he’s accomplished from the very beginning – including financial details. Pretty cool stuff.

Twitter: Tom Ewer



20.) Will Mitchell

“Entrepreneurship is a quest to achieve greatness on your own terms. For some, it’s a struggle to achieve freedom. For others, it’s a journey to change the world. One thing all entrepreneurs can agree on – there’s more to it than just building businesses…”


Will Mitchell is co-founder of the site StartupBros, a website dedicated to ditching the typical 9-5 and creating a lifestyle worth living… and make great money doing it! Will is what some might call a “natural” when it comes to entrepreneurship and has started numerous companies already — including an import business at 13! (Holy shit.) Check out StartupBros. You won’t be disappointed. 


 Twitter: StartupBros


21.) Cody McKibben

“For the longest time blogging didn’t earn me any money, I just did a lot of writing simply because I was passionate about sharing my interests, my travels, and my philosophy. But eventually things started to change—I started to spend a lot more time solely working on projects that really got me inspired, focusing much more just on organizations who had causes I cared about, partnering to help out friends here and there, and eventually I dedicated myself to creating my own projects, and now, I really don’t do very much client work at all anymore.”


Cody hit on something there, and I’m not even sure if he realized it: money is great, but passion is the only thing that’s really sustainable. That’s what his siteThrilling Heroics is all about – the passion of traveling entrepreneurship and digital nomadism. Read more about Cody here. Am I jealous that he gets to do all his awesome work from the beach in Thailand while I’m sweating my ass of here in Hotlanta? No. Not at all.

Twitter: Cody McKibben


22.) Kelly Kim

“You don’t need to sit in meditation for decades anymore. Just start up a company to get clarity of purpose and to know who you truly are. Entrepreneurship is one of the best tools for self realization.”



Kelly and her husband Eric are the founders of Twylah, an awesome app that helps you build a social media brand that you can actually be proud of by helping you align your social message with the things that are actually important to you. If you’re not using Twylah, where have you been for the past year? Go get it. Kelly makes an interesting point as well – why spin your wheels trying to get clarity before you actually start something? Why not use that new project to actually GAIN clarity and reshape your purpose from there? Brilliant insight.

Twitter: Kelly Kim (Twylah)


23.) Erin Blaskie

“Entrepreneurship is about finding that one thing that will keep you up way late at night and have you springing out of bed with enthusiasm in the morning. Passion is overwhelming and contagious so use it to fuel the business you so strongly desire.”



One reason I really love Erin’s work is because despite the fact that making products is fun and profitable (and I believe she has a few of them) at her core, she still loves doing client work. In an interview I did with her last year, she spoke in depth about the scaling issues that come with putting together a profitable freelance service-based business (and how she had to back down from the $1M mark as things became less enjoyable!!)


Twitter: Erin Blaskie


24.) Liz Seda

“Entrepreneurship is trusting your crazy idea and your ability to find a way, or make a way to make it happen.”



I first discovered Liz from a guest post she did on Corbett Barr’s blog (see #1) – her post on creating custom landing pages was so genius I’ve literally made one for every single guest post I’ve done since reading her article. They convert ridiculously well. When we finally got to talk in person…err…video, I found out she’s also a really great person – and wicked smart when it comes to networking her way around the the some of the biggest players online. Check out her site A Life on Your Own Terms. It’s gold. Pure gold.

Twitter: Liz Seda


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25.) Scott H. Young

“Entrepreneurship is about looking at the world and seeing what needs doing, instead of waiting for someone to assign you the job.”


Scott’s work is unique in that his focus is almost entirely on getting more from life through increased learning speed, reduced learning curves and deeper understanding of complex material. He first jumped onto my radar with his incredible experiment, The MIT Challenge– where he successfully completed a 4 year MIT computer science curriculum in 12 MONTHS (then broke it down for us peons to gaze in awe)! He also has incredible insight on growth curves in business/life. I use his analogy of the “two type of growth” all the time.

Twitter: Scott H. Young


26.) Steve Aitchison

“Being an entrepreneur takes imagination, courage, and being able to jump into the abyss not knowing if you’ll come out at the other end. Most of all it takes a vision, a vision that will keep you awake at night, a vision that makes you excited to jump out of bed every morning and a vision that you just HAVE to share with the world.”


Steve’s site, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life, is ridiculously popular (and for good reason). He writes about meaningful experiences that can help you improve your entire being, not just your business. As you travel further and further down the entrepreneurial path, you’ll realize that all the work and personal growth you’ve been doing was in vain if your life isn’t somehow improved by it. Steve helps keep that in perspective.

Twitter: Steve Aitchison


27.) Hector Cuevas

“I’ve learned to fail fast. The faster I fail the faster I learn what works and what doesn’t.”

Hector’s blog,, was an essential piece of my learning curve when I’d just started blogging.


hectorI think what I like about his writing style is the complete accessibility of his content. He writes about exactly how to use your blog as a platform for your business, and going even deeper, exactly how to build the blog in the first place. You need to be reading this site. Period. Bonus points that his site is so clean and well-presented. I’ve stolen several elements from his layout.

Twitter: Hector Cuevas


28.) YOU?


You should be on this list next year. What are you working on right now that will help us all to live better lives?

Let me know!





Daniel DiPiazza

Daniel is the founder and CEO of Rich20Something. A millennial business mastermind, he has successfully started three consecutive freelance businesses and scaled them to over $100K in revenue with zero startup capital. His work is regularly featured in Time Magazine, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fox News, and Yahoo! Business. His debut book, Rich20Something, publishes on May 2, 2017.

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