11 Inspiring Stories of People Discovering and Living Their Dreams: Life Entrepreneurs

11 Inspiring Stories of People Discovering and Living Their Dreams: Life Entrepreneurs

Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives
by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek
Pub. Date: March 2008, Jossey-Bass
ISBN- 9780787988623
256 Pages
Success Rating:4

Why I Read this Book: We all should lead our own lives as we see fit. Inspiration from others is one of the best ways to get there. This book provides plenty of it.

Topics Covered:

  • Living your purpose
  • Taking control and being the leader of your life
  • The dangers of following the crowd
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Hardships involved in taking the road less traveled
  • Achieving lasting fulfillment


There is nothing more inspiring to me than seeing people living life in their own way–taking the chance at the road less traveled and having it lead them to their own greatness and life success. It is amazing to see those who discover and live their true purpose, despite the seemingly endless amount of opposition that often come with living ones dreams. It takes courage but the result is so worth it.

Life Entrepreneurs was recommended to me by a true life entrepreneur himself, Richard Leider, whom I met at a wellness retreat in Mexico this past January. As I got to know him I discovered him to be a best selling author and internationally ranked “purpose coach”. You can be sure to see plenty of his books posted in the future. Many years ago, Richard discovered that his life purpose was to help others find their unique purpose. He has since created an international following and a successful life and career revolving around his true gifts and talents. After hearing my story, he recommended I put this read at the top of my list.

Richard is what Gregg and Christopher call a Life Entrepreneur, someone who has become, not only a creator of the fate of their own business, but of the fate of their life as a whole. Why only be an entrepreneur with your career, when you can build a life that fulfills all of your dreams using your unique strengths and gifts to live your true purpose? It’s an unbelievable question that so many leave unanswered.

Life Entrepreneurs is a new term to me but far from a new concept. Since reading Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, entering into my adult life, founding RS and beginning my own journey, this concept has been at the front of my mind. As I have met people throughout my life and studied people’s lives around me, old and young, I’ve noticed something strange. It seems so easy for anyone of us to live our lives through to the end and look back only to realize we spent not even a day doing what we were really meant to do. It happens every day around all of us and sadly many of us are stuck in that situation–living to get through each day believing that some day we will “get there”, that someday we will arrive to a life of fulfillment and purpose but not until after we have put so much time into doing something we are not meant to do. Unfortunately we never really “get there”.

I cannot say that I blame those in this situation. After all, our society trains us for it. From the day we begin learning and attending school we are taught that the way of life is to find an honest living and work your way up. The younger generations see it by example in their parents and then are trained to make their way through early adulthood and school with the expectation that at the end of college they should know what they want to do. In the end, so many of us are being trained to settle for less than we can be. And it’s not only unfair to ourselves but also to the tens, hundreds or thousands who would be better off if we were living our life the way we know we can best live it. When someone is living their purpose, their energy, passion and excitement are contagious. That, more than anything, is what the world needs more of.

Key points to take away:

  • Living life according to how you believe it should be lived is worth it, no matter what
  • When going astray from the crowd, expect extreme opposition
  • A life is meant to be lived according to ones unique purpose
  • Success and Entrepreneurship are not only career related terms–they are life terms
  • A genuine support system is essential in building anything–be it a life, family or career

Gregg and Christopher have taken this concept of Life Entrepreneurs and are making it into a movement. Through over fifty real-life case studies of “ordinary people creating extraordinary lives” they show the reader what it means to be a life entrepreneur. Any one of these stories is enough to inspire the reader to go out and live life as they should, and the group of them together makes it hard for the reader to think of doing anything but that. They range from the high powered lawyer on the partner track who trusts his gut and changes direction to start a business helping the underprivileged in Africa, to the founder of Cliff Bar who started a business based on passion and instead of cashing out for $70M, decided to turn the buyer down to see his vision through. These stories are moving to say the least.

Through them, all the glory and reward is laid out along with the periodic fear, doubt and uncertainty that comes with a life worth living–making the message especially realistic. Any one of you who have taken a dream bundled up with a lot of faith and hard work and made a run at life, know that everything imaginable is likely to come up in your path to try to tempt you back to a life of mediocrity. Since I have set out on my own, I cannot tell you how many times I have stayed up nights with an anxious stomach wondering how on earth I was going to make this work, what I would live off of if things didn’t work out, the people who have told me it’s not possible or simply the ones who have opted not to offer their support–the most crucial ingredient in life entrepreneurship. No one ever said that the path was easy and would not be met with resistance, but every one of them will tell you how very worth it the journey is and was. You will see it in every one of the stories in this book as well as in most anyone whom you come in contact who leads a fulfilling life on their own terms, whatever that means for them.

Our world is changing faster than we can imagine. But it is changing so much for the better. I am 26 and continue to be inspired by the lives I read and learn about every day, both in person and in my books. There are more entrepreneurs today than there ever have been. More new businesses are started each month than ever before. And most importantly people are beginning to realize that life and success are not about reaching the gold at the end of the rainbow or living someone else’s life. But it is about making your life and your life’s goal that very rainbow and creating a life that allows you to live inside of that rainbow every day.

Purpose and fulfillment are beginning to take priority over wealth and status. That is what excites me more than ever. And as I finished the last page of the book and write this review, I look up in pride as I realize I am becoming my own life entrepreneur… and it’s only just beginning. If we keep our priorities straight, that will always be the case. There is room in this world for every one of us to be life entrepreneurs no matter how old our young you are or where you are in life. The only question is, where will your personal venture lead you?

Are you a life entrepreneur or do you have a specific dream of being one? What is your venture? What caused you to take the plunge? If you are still only a dreamer, what is holding you back? Leave your comments and let us explore the journey together.

And please, as always, if you know of anyone who could benefit from this review or this book, please pass it along to them.

~Reading for Your Success

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Valuable Quotes:

If you ask me what I have come to do in this world…I will reply: I’m here to live my life out loud. –Emile Zola

Everything that happens to you is your teacher. The secret is to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it. –Polly B. Berends

Failure’s hard, but success is far more dangerious. If you’re successful at the wrong thing, the mix of praise and money and opportunity can lock you in forever. –Bridget Bradley Gray

Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. –Anais Nin

There is no such thing as a self-made man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success. –George Burton Adams

When we are in this state of being where we are open to life and all its possibilities, willing to take the next step as it is presented to us, then we meet the most remarkable people who are important contributors to our life. –Joseph Jaworski

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears. –John McCain

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes. –Benjamin Disraeli

The reason most people fail is because they’re not prepared for success. –Robert Egger

The challenges of entrepreneurship are indisputable. It is messy, chaotic, taxing, and risky. Potential failure lurks around many corners. But what is failure, really? Don’t we really fail by failing ourselves, our loved ones, and our dreams? We fail by not persevering. If we fall down, we can get up. If we lost our way, we can find our way back. But if we don’t summon the courage to take the first step, we will never know where our journey might have take us.

Don’t just climb the mountain because it’s there. Really think about whether that’s the mountain you want to climb. —Kim Smith

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still the rat. –Lily Tomlin

I urge people not to go through life getting their ticket punched so they can later go do what they want to do. I think you should try to do what you want to do right away. The best way is to just start doing it. –Billy Shore

The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where these is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies between. –Diane Ackerman

It’s ok not to find the right fit in your profession right away, but you have to keep trying and never settle. When you find the right fit, everything changes….You are never too young to think about the legacy you want to leave behind. –Bill George

When we realize that the dividing line between ordinary lives and extraordinary ones is mostly a fiction fueled by fear, inhibition, and failure of the imagination, we begin to see our lives in terms of possibility. There is no limit on the number of entrepreneurial lives that can be claimed.

The first and most important step in creating an extraordinary life is choosing to do so–with imagination, courage, and conviction.

In the time of your life, live. –William Saroyan