From the cradle to the grave, people learn from their surroundings. It starts from observing our parents during mealtime and learning from them how to hold a spoon. Throughout life, we search for role models or adapt some skills and behaviors unconsciously.

I am not an exception. Growing in a strong leader’s family, I have been trying to absorb as much as possible from my mother. When I left my family nest, I kept looking for inspiration from other people at my university and tried to learn from them. There were professors, other students, my mates from AIESEC, and my managers when I got my first recruiting gig. A few years later, when I started my work for Mars, I discovered that 20% of our development is coming from other people that surround us.

Last month, I was in the process of searching for a mentor, and it got me thinking about how we make our choices of people we want to look or act like. Most of the time, it happens unconsciously, and we follow the flow. It is fascinating to think about how people in our life influence our development and our personality. I want to share some simple tricks that I have discovered about 20% of development throughout life.

From Unconsciously to Consciously

Of course, we have a lot of fun with some people and enjoy spending time just playing board games, talking about different topics, and drinking beer. But if you think about it, why do you like conversations with some of your friends more than others? There could be different reasons — they could be charming and have a great sense of humor; they may tell some things you have never heard about; they share the same values as you. But most of the time, we like to be in the company of people that share something new with us, something curious and fascinating. And that’s when the learning comes.

I am not saying that you need to keep a notebook in your pocket and make notes during conversations with your buddies. I just think it is nice to reflect a bit on people you like to chat with and what you like about them. I usually ask myself: “Why am I having so much fun with these guys? Why are they so cool? Can I learn something from them?”.

Follow the Cream Of the Crop

When you have this “I wanna be like her/him” moment, it is a moment of inspiration. And based on my personal experience, the more these moments we have — the more effort we put into making the change. That is why it is always important to be surrounded by people who inspire us and make us become a better version of ourselves.

I am happy to share my inspiration list. Here are people that inspire me by their personalities, life values, and success:

  • Natalya Vodianova — most of you know this superwoman. Mother of 5 kids, supermodel, and one of the famous worldwide philanthropists. She finds time for her family, keeps up with her career, and helps special kids live healthy lives.
  • David and Daniil Liberman — my dearest friends that always follow their dreams and make a change in the world.
  • Sasha Zharkova — I think this girl came from another planet. I still do not understand how she can run one of the most successful media businesses, set up new projects, participate in different events, podcasts, regularly train and run, and inspire others. One of the most energetic people I have ever met.
  • Vika Moldavskaya — hardworking business girl. Having a small kid, she manages to grow her small empire of jewelry. She is not afraid to move with bold ideas and make changes in the jewelry market, setting a higher bar for her competitors.

I think more people should know about these fantastic humans and get inspired by them. Do you have anyone who inspires you?

Get in Touch With Your Role Models

I never had a problem with starting conversations with strangers in public places or sending a message to people that inspire me. It always tickles something inside of me, like I have butterflies in my stomach. I ask myself if I need this meeting or call. But the result is always the same — I learn something new, and I am delighted that I made this first step.

So here is my last piece of advice, do not be afraid to reach out to your role models to learn something new from them! It could be a colleague who is an expert in some specific area and can help you master some skills. It could be absolute strangers that inspire you to start your own business. It could be successful people from the media that shows the whole world that anything is possible.

I am not saying that you will get a response from all of them, and they have time for you. Most likely, Bill Gates or Tim Cook are quite busy and won’t respond to your messages. But at least, it is worth trying to reach out to some other kickass people who can change your life entirely just with one small convo.

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