Lately, in an effort to simplify and cut down on the “noise,” I’ve been culling down my list of people I’m learning from. The list still falls well into the three digits, but I’ve started focusing my attention on a “shortlist” of very cool, very interesting people and companies who have a lot to say about entrepreneurship and small business today. Today I’ve decided to share five of my favorites from my shortlist and tell you why I think they’re so important:

1) Dixie “Dynamite” Gillaspie (@dixiedynamite)
Dixie “Dynamite” Gillaspie is the secret weapon behind several of my favorite mentors and recently became my own coach. Dixie is a coach, a consultant, a muse, an adviser, a friend, and she has earned her nickname, “Dixie Dynamite,” at least a thousand times over. She has helped me find myself and is helping me re-design Business in Blue Jeans around the vision that’s most near and dear to my heart. Her blog alone contains so much inspiring insight, but I highly recommend signing up for her e-mail newsletter. Dixie is, in a word, extraordinary.

2) Bob Burg (@bobburg) and John David Mann (@johndavidmann)

This one should come as no surprise to any of you, if you’ve been following me for awhile. I make no secret of the fact that I “puffy heart love” Bob Burg and that he’s been one of my absolute favorite mentors for years. John David Mann is Bob’s co-author on books like The Go-Giver, Go-Givers Sell More, and their latest, It’s Not About You. John is “the quiet one” because he’s usually writing, but let me tell you, John, who I met recently, is a fount of wisdom that you must not miss. Both Bob and John are extraordinary human beings who have delivered to us a really beautiful way of approaching business, sales, leadership, and, dare I say, life. If you haven’t read their books, you must. The Go-Giver series really ought to be a part of your success library.

3) Scott Ginsberg (@nametagscott)
Scott Ginsberg, who I also met recently, is a seriously brilliant dude. Fortunately for us, he’s also a prolific writer. Go to Scott’s web site (aptly titled “Hello, my name is Scott“) and you’ll find an insane number of blog posts and articles about all manner of topics, but in particular, Scott’s unique forte, approachability. I have to confess that when I first met Scott, I had heard of him, but didn’t yet know who he was and inadvertently stumbled into asking him silly, inane questions about his nametags (Scott wears a nametag 24/7). What’s cool about Scott and his web site and books is that somehow, he manages to continuously come up with a fresh take on things, even though he’s written more than one can absorb in, I don’t know, like a month of solid reading. (also, Scott’s giving away his new book, The Nametag Principle for free. I’ve been reading it and it’s excellent. For details, visit http://bit.ly/rVJe71)

4) John Michael Morgan (@johnmorgan)
John Michael Morgan is a branding superstar. I bumped into John on Twitter recently when we discovered that we have a ridiculous number of friends and acquaintances in common. So I invited John to hang out on the phone with me last week so I could get to know him, and the guy is insane with knowledge. John lives and breathes branding and marketing- and since I do, too, I can tell you it’s rare to find someone who loves this stuff and thinks about it as much as (if not more than) I do. John’s first book, Brand Against the Machine, just came out and it’s also fantastic.

5) HubSpot (@Hubspot)
Hubspot is a new favorite of mine. Hubspot has been putting out a crazy amount of really solid learning content on inbound marketing. They have a bunch of e-books, articles, and webinars on their site, and so far, everything I’ve read is superb and on-the-mark. From what I can tell, HubSpot is actually a full-service web hosting platform that takes all the web site and blogging tools and combines them with a bunch of marketing tools. I’m not too sure about the platform itself, as I haven’t really explored it enough yet to make an assessment, but I don’t think I’d be surprised if their software is great, considering how as good their content is. Whether you’re looking for a tool like Hubspot offers or not, though, if you want to learn about inbound marketing, these are the people to follow.

In coming weeks, I’ll share more from my list of Awesome Entrepreneurial Superstars. Stay tuned! 🙂

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