Startup Founders Share Their Inspirational Heroes

Who's your hero? Who do you want to emulate, and why?

To find out who inspires startup founders to create and grow their companies, we asked eight successful young entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) about the individuals that they looked to emulate in their businesses and their lives.

1. Elon Musk

As a serial entrepreneur myself, I envy anyone that can successfully juggle multiple projects at once. It's one thing to do it with moderate success, but it's astounding to see it carried out at the multi-million dollar revenue level. Elon Musk, the current CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is also the Chairman of Solar City. Previously, he was a co-founder of PayPal. The fact that all of the aforementioned brands have such immense success is very inspiring to me. It's obvious that Elon has learned to optimize his time and focus on his priorities every single day. While I don't expect to ever come close to mirroring Elon's success, he is a great example of a well-diversified entrepreneur that has found success through a great deal of hard work and innovation. - Logan Lenz, Endagon

2. Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind is one of my heroes because he thinks about where culture as a whole is going and what that means for business owners and leaders, which is what I strive to do for the branding industry. Pink always manages to make me walk away with great ideas for my business but doesn't do the thinking for me. He is able to take data and trends in culture behavior and make sense of them in a way that can be valuable to anyone in any industry. - Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

3. Steve Jobs

While this may be controversial, Steve Jobs was always a respectable man. He had great imagination and visionary skills. Although he may not have had the social skills to treat employees properly, he made them grow better and develop more to be the best they can be and to create the most revolutionary products. Steve would turn them down and force them to edit what they've done if it wasn't satisfactory. His management skills worked and he was a great leader. Steve was a genius marketeer of any product you wouldn't expect to need, but Steve always found a reason for why you'll need "one more thing." His presentations were enthusiastic, life-changing, and changed industries and life to be more social whenever, wherever and however. As Steve did, I aspire for success to change the world. - Lane Sutton, Social Media From A Teen

4. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart embodied every quality that I try to sow into my own life: determination, audacity, bravery, ambition, compassion. She was a trailblazer and a dreamer who wouldn't take no for an answer when she was determined to accomplish something. Amelia Earhart also became a major personal brand, licensing her name and image on a variety of products. As a woman, I also love and respect that she opened doors for other women in the male-dominated world of aviation. The legacy she left behind is astounding and she's still inspiring people today - like me! - Natalie MacNeil, She Takes On The World

5. John Elway

As odd as this may sound, I am mentioning a football player, John Elway, because of his willingness to never be out of a game and knowing he could pull it out at the end. He faced a lot of disappointment in his career, yet ultimately retired a champion. As an entrepreneur, you face numerous set backs and you encounter projects you don't know how to get through. If you believe you can get it done - no matter the obstacles, as long as you apply the right strategy and have the right team - you can come out with the win! - Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group

6. Richard Branson

Growing up, Michael Jordan was my hero. These days, I have a ton of respect for serial entrepreneur Richard Branson. His Virgin Group has started over 400 companies. It is one thing for entrepreneurs to make millions in one thing, that takes guts and dedication. But it's another thing when someone replicates success after success with entirely different business models, products and services. That takes a person with massive ADD, a lot of coffee and one amazing team! - Peter Nguyen, Advertiser360

7. My Kids - And Making Them Proud

I recently listened to a podcast on parenting called "Love, Dad," and one of the hosts suggested you should act as though your kids are watching you all the time. He was applying that philosophy to his personal life (drinking, smoking, gambling), but I have realized it would be a great way to guide actions at work as well. I can look at what I am doing and ask, "Is this what I would do if my kids were watching me? Am I treating everyone the way I should be? Am I working as hard as I should, or am I being lazy? Am I doing something meaningful?" Answers to these questions help guide me and identify the type of person I want to be. - Brant Bukowsky, Veterans United Home Loans

8. All The Overcomers

I am inspired by the tales of people who overcome hardships, who exhibit leadership, and who fight against all odds and succeed. Though I have lived through many ups and downs, my struggles pale in comparison to what many others have faced in life. When I hear those stories, I can only wish that I could be like them, and have their extraordinary courage and perseverance. I believe that limiting myself to only one hero would limit my ability to see the best in myself and everyone around me. I want to emulate the best business leaders, the best athletes, the best political leaders, and especially the everyday hard working men and women who make a difference every day in the lives of others. Anyone who makes a difference in the life of one other human being is truly someone to be emulated. - Michael Seiman, CPX Interactive

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.