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Five People Who Inspire Me [Who Inspires YOU?]

Originally published 05.24.08:

I spend a lot of energy reading about real estate trends, marketing, public relations, and the like and in this instant gratification culture we have where we (okay, maybe just I) rely on the Treo to run our day, it is good to stop and reflect how you’ve gotten to where you are now. I’ve never met Oprah and I don’t read her books so she’s not on my list, but I want to share with you the five people that have served as inspiration in shaping my personal life. Who are YOUR Five Inspiration People?

st. thomas more

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More has always stood out to me as one of the most courageous men of all time. On the scaffold where he was hanged, one of his last statements was that he was “the King’s good servant, but God’s first” and thus he died protecting a tenet of his faith when all he had to do was sign an oath that he supported King Henry VIII’s divorce. Select few know that in my journey from my Episcopal (the faith fathered by King Henry VIII) upbringing to my now Catholic faith I have encountered persecution by my own family. It just so happens that St. Thomas More is the name of the church I was confirmed in this Easter. I pray that I can be as strong in my faith as he was in his.


Guys Named Benn

Everyone knows my husband Benn but did you know that I married him because I aspire to be as generous, intelligent, kind, business savvy, faithful and humorous as he? Did you know that he stood up for me when some of my family turned their back on me? He serves not only as a personal but a business inspiration to me- he has given me all the bravery and confidence in the world.

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I was close with my grandfather who died a few years ago, and he told me as a child “just be the best Lani you can be.” While I was struggling with a personal issue when Benn and I had just started dating (just a few weeks after my grandfather died), he looked at me and said “just be the best Lani you can be,” and my heart leapt. I’m very lucky.

My father is named Ben, thus making this a two-fer; he’s the big headed kid pictured above on the right, circa 1960. If you want to know why I am as snarky as I am and why I find stupid things funny (like ichc and fotc), you now know who to blame (as evidenced here in the blog he runs (ignore the photo of my family flipping the camera off)). Dad raised us as a single father who was very strict but never physically disciplined us (but I was grounded for life in third grade). He’s the one who told us “no one likes a tattle teller,” “stand still or I’ll nail your foot to the ground” (leading me to believe I’d be stuck walking in a circle for life), “do you want to go to the car?” and “they made me drive all the way here so I could throw your mouse away. Don’t bring dead things to school.”


Deanna Roy

Oddly enough, I ran into my high school journalism teacher recently but I was too shy to run up and tell her how she changed my life by giving me the desire and ability to write (although I did email her insisting that I can’t call her Deanna and she’d have to live with “Ms. Roy”). She’s a big part of why I’m even a part of because without her fostering my very young writing as a teen, I would never have the confidence to write for such a popular site. She is a professional photographer and writer, and she has a blog that helps parents who have lost a baby through their time which was a silent support for us once upon a time. And the crazy thing is that she has no idea what an influence she had in her short time teaching at my high school.


Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom’s novel “Tuesdays With Morrie” is my favorite book despite studying literature at the University of Texas. If you haven’t read it, do. It keeps me grounded as I remember the unimportance of material things, reminds me to be kind and giving and live in the present not the past. I LOVE the line, “why would I want to be 16, 25 or 45? [because I’m 77,] I’ve already been those ages.”

Leave a comment telling us all who inspires YOU!

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Brian Brady

    May 24, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I’ll give you my five:

    1- Pope John Paul II told us to “Be Not Afraid” and I took that advice on so many fronts.
    2- Ronald Reagan told me that gov’t is the problem and not the solution.
    3- My father taught me to play it straight; always.
    4- Dean Alvin Clay (Villanova School of Business) buoyed me up when things weren’t going so well.
    5- Gus Ignas, my high school crew coach, taught me that a good attitude and hard work can allow me to reach for things I never imagined

  2. Ken B.

    May 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Inspiration, what a beautiful thing.

    1. My three kids – Lauren -24 and the twins Nick & Heather 22. Lively open-minded family relationships with the young keep you aware, imaginative and hopeful.

    2. Roy H. Williams – The Wizard Academy in Austin, TX. 21st Century Business/Communication Arts and Science. Persuasion and Communication. If one has done it, you can too.

    3. Seth Godin – Common Sense – Odd Angle Observation

    4. Hugh MacLeod – Witty, On Fire, The Real Deal perspective

    5. Marilyn Eiland -Co- Owner Prudential Gary Greene Realtors – hired me and mentored me without knowing – her actions spoke for her. Once told me – “Ken, I don’t agree with your decision, but I believe in YOU.” I’ll never forget that compliment and vote of confidence.

    6. My wife, Robyn – fierce love of family and unnatural loyalty. In the end, what else is there?

    That would be my starting 6, I’m inspired all over the place. I think to succeed in the Real Estate business, inspiration, from where-ever and when-ever is like oxygen. The X factor separating the haves from the have-nots is emotional and mental, not technical….that’s what I think anyway.


  3. Tom Vanderwell

    May 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Okay, I’ll chime in here….(In random order)

    1. My Dad, Howard Vanderwell – he taught me that what ever you do, do it for the Lord and do it well.
    2. Jerry Fondse (my high school English teacher) inspired me to see the good in literature, enjoy writing and made me want to be an English teacher (God had other plans, so I’m in banking)
    3. Rodger Rice – a friend of my dad’s who told me, when I was getting burned out by the “sell sell sell” mentality in the mortgage world, “God needs good people in the mortgage world.” That changed my focus from selling to helping people and my job satisfaction grew substantially. That was 13 years ago.
    4. My Wife – for saying, “I Do” 23 years ago this coming July and for keeping on living that pledge for the entire time. I’d be nothing without her.
    5. Dixie Bickel – she left her job as a nurse in Illinois to run an orphanage in Haiti. 2 of my 5 children came from that orphanage and they currently have 170 kids that they are caring for. Countless lives have been saved because of her efforts, including my daughters life. Check them out at
    6. (I’m a banker who can’t count on the weekends). People who serve in the military inspire me. Whether it be during war time, or otherwise, the discipline, devotion, willingness to go in harms way for the good of others is truly inspirational. I love reading military history books even though I could never do it myself (I’d never pass the physical, let alone boot camp.)

    There’s my top of the head list…..

  4. Bill Lublin

    May 25, 2008 at 12:30 am

    1. My Dad who showed me the importance of family, how a man deals with tragedy, and that the job of a salesperson is to make the value of the product exceed its cost.
    2. Ray Richman, a Real Estate broker who taught me so many things about being a good real estate professional. The importance of writing contracts properly, paying attention to the details, and the importance of being active as a REALTOR. And when I started being active as an officer of the group taught me the most important job anyone has in a group is to leave it in better shape when you leave then it was when you came into office. Ray also taught me the value of real estate investing when he said “the only mistake I ever made in buying real estate was selling it.”
    3. An unknown attorney who, by being condescending, abrasive and abrupt when I was a young salesperson taught me that no one has the ability to make me feel if I don’t let them
    4. J. Walter Eppieheimer, a banker who, without even a written application, gave me a $15,000 line of credit on a signature to start my business at a time when my greatest assets were my wife, my son and my expertise (in that order). The meeting started with his saying, I know how you work – now what do you need?
    5. My wife Sheila without whom none of what I do would mean very much. She has been my family for longer then my Mother, Father or Sister were – and is the definition of home ( the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in)

    And for Memorial Day let me cheat a little and remember three unknown NY firefighter who raised the flag after the World Trade Center was destroyed to show the world that (in the words of Medgar Evers.”You can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea.”

  5. Vance Shutes

    May 25, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Lani – a great topic! Here’s my five:

    1. My mom. The toughest woman I’ve ever known, and the source of my eternal optimism, which she models every day.
    2. Ronald Reagan – for reminding us that we really are a GREAT country.
    3. On Memorial Day weekend, our Armed Forces. Thank you for your service to our country!
    4. Oscar Spaly – my first broker, recently deceased. He saw something in me that I didn’t recognize for myself. My continued condolences to his family.
    5. My wife. That’s easy. ’nuff said.

  6. Latwanuia

    May 25, 2008 at 6:44 am

    That’s great and I’m sure, they are thankful and greatful to you, but I love and appreciate everyone who made or makes a difference in another’s life, but I highly admire Dr. Martin Luther King because he lived, he spoke words of encouragement and words of confidence and dreamed big.

    This is a great way to reflect and admire the one or ones we love for their works, determination and leadership that they have many times displayed and brought to this world and this nation and to our families, we have witness the love and compassion of these ambassadors, and their hands have brought much warmth, unity, and peace all together in order for us to live this fulfilling prosperous life, their lives touch our lives and made it shine through the hard and rough times, and this is the reason we must continue to speak out and live out the legacy that was passed on to us.

    Latwanuia Henry

  7. Vicki Moore

    May 25, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Although I can’t remember their names, I can see their faces. There were two teachers who made life-altering impacts toward my self-beliefs and my future. One was a high school English teacher who with one act told me something about myself that I had never heard. As class was settling down to get started, he called me to the front, quietly handed me a slip of paper removing me from his class of English basics to assign me to an English class for college prep.

    The next teacher was a junior college English professor of creative writing. He challenged me and brought out the writer in me who was hidden deep below. I framed my A with his personal note indicating that he believed I had the ability to win a Pulitzer Prize.

    Mr. Guerro – I remember his name because he was my instructor for four years – in woodshop. He taught me how to put my mind to work in a physically creative way; and made me his teachers’ assistant – that was way cool.

    I could probably come up with two more but those are always top of mind and by far the most inspirational people to have impacted my life.

    Thanks for asking Lani. Those are good memories.

  8. Jeremy Hart

    May 25, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    What a blessing to sit and reflect on this. Thanks Lani!

    1. My wife. She’s my stable platform and my partner. Gives me confidence when I’m shaken, and loves me warts and all.

    2. My father, who 20 years ago this Memorial Day left too soon. In the short time I had with him, he taught me to give it my all, and he always demonstrated a strong character. I’ve often felt lost without him, but I know I’m blessed to carry with me the lessons he left me, even if I’ve yet to learn them. Love and miss ya Dad.

    3. A friend and pastor, Tommy McDearis. When I was wary of the church, he welcomed me as a friend, no questions asked, and inspired me to be more.

    4. My mother, who gave me everything she had as a single-mother. I put her through hell, yet she loved me as only a mother could.

    5. Eric Hodies, a friend from home. “Living” with aplastic anemia, his daily routine would put any of us down, yet he keeps on with a smile and a perseverance I can’t imagine. I can’t help but end a conversation with him without a smile on my face. It was a long while before I took the opportunity to tell him how special I thought he was, but

  9. Jeremy Hart

    May 25, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    1. My father, who 20 years ago this Memorial Day left us too soon. I hope I carry with me his strength of character, and I always remember his request that I give it my all. He taught me much in the short time I had with him, but he left me with the answers to more lessons I’ve yet to learn. Love and miss ya Dad.

    2. My mother, who did the absolute best she could as a single-mother. I put her through hell, yet she loved me as only a mother can. Much respect for this woman.

    3. Eric Hodies, a friend from home ( I can’t walk away from a conversation with this man without feeling completely inspired and in awe – while “living” with aplastic anemia, he just keeps pushing and finding new ways to love each and every day. It too me a while to tell him how much I admired him, I’m glad I had the opportunity.

    4. Tommy McDearis, my friend and pastor. He showed me a merciful God when I was wary of the Church, and opened his family to me. I’ve not always been as gracious to him as he’s been to me, but will always count him as one of my dearest friends.

    5. My wife. She’s my friend and partner, my calming influence. Despite the circumstances, her grace and strength continually amaze me. She’s a beautiful woman, and she drives me to be and do more than I ever imagined.

  10. Sabrina

    May 25, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    My husband and I are both Catholic converts from Protestantism. My husband was the son of a Presbyterian minister, and I was brought up in a charismatic non-denominational church. We both converted for theological reasons, so I have a lot of respect for you for converting. As far as inspirational people, I like Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams. The woman was willing to bake bread and take care of the farm and children while writing some of the best letters ever written by an American. She also rubbed shoulders with heads of state and was indispensable to her husband at a crucial time. She was really something.

  11. Missy Caulk

    May 26, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Hi Lani, Happy Memorial Day to you and Ben !
    My dad inspired me to dream and believe I could be anything I wanted to be.
    My kids for their unconditional love. My daughter, my partner for inspiring me to “keep dreaming”
    My assistant, Betty who goes beyond the call of duty now for 11 years.
    My friends, face to face friends who know I have these cyber friends and spend as much if not more time with them.
    Our soldiers both past and present who fight and protect for us so we can have the freedoms we enjoy every day.

  12. Larry Yatkowsky

    May 26, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Being Number 9 never gets me on a list. Any chance for a reverse draw?? .>)

  13. MIssy Caulk

    June 27, 2009 at 10:11 am

    This was fun to review. Not much as changed for me, except to tell you the name of my Elementary School was St. Thomas More.

  14. Benn Rosales

    June 27, 2009 at 10:12 am

    As cool of a post today as it was then.

  15. Joe Loomer

    June 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    1. My Dad – a WWII Vet and career diplomat – who despite surviving the South Pacific campaign, was still the most gentle, loving man on the planet. I miss him every day of the last 22 years.

    2. My Mom – a Battle of London survivor. Gave everything and asked for nothing. One of the bravest people I’ve ever known.

    3. John Maxwell – everything he writes is inspirational.

    4. Gary Keller – he created the company that has changed my life.

    5. Master Chief Frank Loomis – my first Command Master Chief back in 1982. He reminded me of my father and taught me a Chief’s only job is to take care of Sailors. He died of cancer, crawling up the stairs of his house so he wouldn’t throw up in the downstairs half-bath his wife had just cleaned.

  16. BawldGuy

    June 27, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I’ve been blessed by the people who’ve crossed my path at exactly the right time. In no particular order…

    1. My pastor, Bob Thieme Jr., the only genius I’ve ever met in person.

    2. Grandma Love — Her wisdom was and is part of my character’s DNA. She’s still the only person I’ve known who could rebuke you and leave you grateful.

    3. Uncle Dick — He’s not blood, but he’s been like a second Dad. His counseling and support have been both timely and invaluable. I still make sure to spend quality time with him at least 2-3 times monthly. Movies are made about the life he’s led.

    4. Mom — Who was a divorced mother of two when all divorced women were treated as second class citizens. She got the job done, and Lord only knows how tough it really was.

    5. Wally Porter — My best friend’s dad, who by example showed me how life can be lived without giving back evil for evil. The man made Dale Carnegie look like Satan’s Spawn.

    • Kelsey Teel

      December 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

      Bob Theime–great choice. I was raised on his lessons and continue to listen to them today. 🙂

  17. Agent for Movoto

    December 6, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    1. Picasso
    2. Malcolm Gladstone
    3. Jack Welch
    4. Madeline Albright
    5. Tolstoy

    • Lani Rosales

      December 6, 2010 at 6:45 pm

      Those are definitely inspirational people!

  18. Haley Weaver

    December 27, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Mrs. Roy did a wonderful job! The guys named Ben brought tears to my eyes as I have the same guy (named Patrick) who is helping me through a similar family situation. How lucky and smart we are to have chosen these guys.
    I never realized how inspiring my Grandparents were to me until I visited them over the Christmas weekend. They started their own (farming) business and I really got to just listen to them and hear their very real struggles and how they made it through together. Pretty fascinating! I also have a high school English teacher whom I can’t call by her 1st name but if it weren’t for her I probably wouldn’t have graduated high school. She will always be Mrs. Bridger to me :).
    Thanks for the wonderfully insightful post!

  19. Claire

    March 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    For some reason I really go for the the women who consistently turn out to be better rulers and vastly more enlightened than the long list of hapless, genetically challenged morons of the male sex who inherit the throne. Oh and I will throw in some intellectually hefty revolutionaries who bucked the religious mores of their day in for good measure.

    1. Catherine the Great
    2. Elizabeth I
    3. Elizabeth II
    4. Thomas Jefferson
    5. Che Guevera

  20. Madonna Mekhail

    September 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    This is amazing, i just wrote a post about that on my blog called Footprints in My Life: about the people who had an impact on my life.

    They'd be:
    1. Dad
    2. Mom
    3. S. E. Hinton
    4. My 9th grade English teacher

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