In our lifetime, there are many people who are influencing our thinking and decision making. I believe the most important thing we have to do in life is to choose appropriate role models, mentors, and influencers. These are the people you look up to. Ideally you look up to them because of their values, their attitudes, and their thinking – not because of their material possessions.
I divide influencers into three different categories:
- Real-Life Mentors (RLM)
- Virtual Mentors (VM)
Real-Life Mentors (RLM) are people you get to know in person. A real-life mentor is a person you have access to, which means you can meet your mentor occasionally for dinner or you can call him anytime to ask for advice. The RLM is a person who has already achieved what you want to achieve.
Virtual Mentors (VM) are people you don’t know in person. Most likely you will never meet them in your life. Maybe they live on another continent, are famous, or already dead. Virtual mentors can be significantly more successful in what you are trying to accomplish than your RLM. That’s what makes often so inaccessible. However, the values, thinking, attitudes, and experience of your VM are well documented in the form of biographies, books, interviews, podcasts, newsletters, or else. This way you can learn from your VM everyday and all the time.
Influencers are people you don’t necessarily want to model. You want to achieve something different than they have achieved. This makes them not less worthy. Maybe they are simply active in different fields or industries – i.e. you are interested in physics but your influencer is a politician. However, what you do value from your influencers are their thinking, rationale, values, or attitudes. While you don’t want to study their life story in detail, you still follow them for their reasoning and wisdom. This might also be in the form of interviews, blog articles or newsletters but you may also know your influencers in person.
Some virtual mentors I study and follow are:
- Charlie Munger
- Peter Thiel
- Stephen A. Schwarzman
- Bruce Poon Tip
- Elon Musk
- Warren Buffett
Some influencers I study and follow are: