Highlighting how a hobby can be transformed into a wonderful company, Susan Gregg Koger turned her love of thrifting into one of the web's first community-focused shopping sites. Ms. Koger had a passion for buying beautiful vintage clothes at thrift shops and secondhand clothing stores, even if the clothes weren't her size. After accumulating a closet full of vintage outfits, she and her now-husband, Eric, started ModCloth in 2002 using open-source software and social media, an uncommon avenue in those days. The company now has over 300 employees, and the couple and the company have been recognized many times for exceptional innovation.
Yanni - Musician and Composer
Like many greats, it is likely that Yanni began his career in the right place at the right time, but his unconventional style of business and dedication to improving humanity make him an inspiration to us. In his early years, Yanni formed a partnership with PBS and risked $2,000,000 of his own money to fund a go-big-or-go-home performance in Greece in 1993. The event was a wild success and propelled the composer into a career that has allowed him to perform in over 40 countries and donate to causes he supports, such as the World Wildlife Fund. Yanni's commitment to his fans and collaborators, his love for the world, and his drive to create his own sound and experience make him an inspiration to us.
Dick & Rick Hoyt - Father & Son Racing Team
Team Hoyt, as they are commonly called, are the highest example of endurance and unconditional love one can find in the modern world. In 1962, Rick Hoyt was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, causing a lack of oxygen flow to his brain and resulting in cerebral palsy. His parents declined to institutionalize Rick and instead chose to raise him the same way they would have raised an otherwise able-bodied child. In 1977, Rick asked his father, Dick, to help him participate in a fundraising run for a fellow student who had been paralyzed. Dick pushed Rick in his wheelchair through the run, and Rick enjoyed the experience so much that Dick began training sans Rick to increase his endurance. Soon, Dick & Rick began running longer races, eventually progressing to half marathons, full marathons, and finally, Ironman triathalons. Between 1977 and 2014, when the team retired from racing at the ages of 73 and 52 respectively, Dick & Rick completed 1,108 events, including 72 marathons and 255 triathalons. Their endurance through the years, their vision for all people, both those who are able and those who are not, and their love for each other is an incredible inspiration to us in our own lives.
Tim Ferriss - Entrepreneur and Author
Well-known in the entrepreneuer community for his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim is an inspiration to us, but not because we strive to only work four hours per week! Instead, he inspires us with the attitude that he brings to his work. His can-do attitude and motivation for efficieny as opposed to work for work's sake help us to be better entrepreneurs and remain focused on our end goal of being the best company we can be.
Ohkwan Yoon - Peace Activist
Holding ideals of re-unification of the Korean Peninsula from a young age, South Korean, Okhwan Yoon, left his career in trading in 2001 and began bicycling around the world to raise support for his vision. Since then, he has cycled through every United Nations country except North Korea. In his journey, he has been struck by vehicles five times, resulting in surgeries each time, he has gotten malaria five times, and he has been illegally detained or abducted in three countries. Nonetheless, he continues to hold to his ideas and still continues his journey. Irrespective of his political ideas, his steadfastness and continuation of his journey despite the obstacles is an inspiration to us.
Tasanee Keereepraneed - Loving Parent
Our greatest humanitarian inspiration lives in a small home on the border of Thailand and Burma. Raising four young children already, a baby was left in the middle of Tasanee's living room. The child's mother had died in childbirth. A nurse took the child and ventured out to find a caretaker in the surrounding area. No one could be found and finally, the baby was left in Tasanee's home, as she had recently given birth and was the only one woman able to nurse the child. Given the choice between taking the baby as her own or leaving the child to die, Tasanee adopted the child into her family. Soon, more children were given to her and her family expanded into what has become Safe Haven Orphanage. Over the decades, Safe Haven Orphanage has grown and is now the home of more than 50 children who live as one family. Tasanee is the most selfless person we have ever had the privilege to know and we will be a supporter of Safe Haven Orphanage for as long as the orphange continues to be a home and a family for children in Thailand and Burma.