I am the hero of my own story.

After all, who else could be?

Once upon a time, my hero was Barry Sanders.  I thought I was going to rush for 2,000+ yards and become the greatest running back of all time—just like Barry.  The only difference was that I was going to win Super Bowl after Super Bowl.  I was basically going to be the Tom Brady of running backs.

But my work ethic didn’t match my dreams.

I still believe I had the talent.  I mean, I’m thirty and I still only need three steps to jump on the roof of my car.  But I played like a wild man, before all the awareness around concussions.  I was a ruthless initiator of helmet-to-helmet contact.  (See: Pachycephalosaurus)  I may develop CTE as is.  I can’t help but feel blessed that I’m not in the NFL.  I’m pretty sure it would have taken decades off my life, or at least my sane life.

If I could have seen how Barry trained firsthand, I think things might have been different.

All I could see is the end result:

On-field brilliance.

I didn’t see the 5AMs, the 6 hours gym sessions, and all the film study.

So I didn’t see the path to being a Hall of Fame running back.

Truth be told, that’s not even that interesting to me anymore.

But there are a lot of things that are.  And now the Internet makes it easy to see those paths.

So I have new heroes.  And I take these a lot more seriously.  I am an adult now, after all.  You have to put your pride in your back pocket to admit you have heroes at 30 years old.  I can do that, especially if it means a better me.

However, I’m not only here to talk about heroes.

I will certainly talk about the dudes who inspire me most today.  But I will also talk about several who absolutely don’t.

I’ve learned a A LOT from lazy, stupid people.

No, I’m not talking about what not to do.  I’m talking about the right things to do.  That’s because it’s 2018.  Idiots can win, as long as they do the right things.  I’ve bought many training programs from morons.  And many times, their strategies worked.

Between hero and moron, there’s a wide spectrum.

I’ll take my lessons from any of them.


My heroes always play in the same arenas I do.

I used to have a football hero.  Now I have a marketing consultant and business consultant heroes.  I’m still looking for an investing (and maybe a political) hero.  Maybe I need a writing hero, but they would have to be exceptional.

I suppose that’s already a prerequisite with a list like this:

Barry Sanders

Mentioning Emmitt Smith or Tyrell Davis in the same sentence should be punishable by death.

For real.

Watch this if you don’t believe me:

The G.O.A.T.

The reason I fell in love with football.

The classiest superstar of all time.

One of few great athletes ever to retire in their prime.

Definitely hero-worthy.

Gary Vee

Eventually, Zachbradshaw.com might rank in the top 5 in Google for “Gary Vee”.


He’s probably been mentioned in all of my monthly personal growth posts.  And he’ll probably be one of the first people who gets their own page on my site.

I’m a fan.  So what?

I just love the dude.  He is aiming to be the entrepreneurial G.O.A.T.  He might get there.

I see a lot of myself in him.  We say a lot of similar things.  Both of our Scorpio characteristics really dominate our personalities.

And honestly, DailyVee helped me dig myself out of an emotional pit.  More on that eventually, but not today.

Here, I just wanted to mention some of my favorite Gary Vee ideas

  • Self Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Kindness
  • Honey Empire
  • Pushing From Both Sides
  • Everything Is My Fault

I spammed a ton of my favorite Gary Vee videos in my January growth review if you’re interested.

Marcus Lemonis

Once I master a few different marketing agency models, I will move to bigger things.

My marketing businesses will always play a large part.  However, too many entrepreneurs come to me for marketing when they really need to be spending their money elsewhere.  New customers will always be the life blood of any business.  But all too often, the business model itself needs work.  Offering a wider scope of consulting services would allow to me bring more value to the table.

In large part, that’s what Marcus Lemonis does.

He brings value to new businesses.

On his show The Profit, he makes it clear that he is not a business consultant.  He is an investor.  He usually buys a stake in the businesses he helps.  Eventually I might move on to that.  Regardless, the way he fixes businesses provides a great example.

He is all about the “3 P’s”

People.  Product.  Process.

I’m pretty sure that’s the right order.

Simple but effective—especially the way he puts it all into practice.

I think I am a master of processes.  I bet I could go toe to toe with anybody here.  I need experience across more industries before I’ll be a master of products.

Where I need the most work is with people.  Leading people.  Managing people.  Talking to people.  This is probably where Marcus shines most.

I really admire how Marcus deals with people.  He sometimes gets sucked into petty little tiffs.  And his ego can get the best of him just like anyone on camera.  But hot damn!  He puts people in the right place.  He evaluates strengths and weaknesses, tackles tough conversations, and sets people up for success much better than I do.

The part of The Profit’s intro where Marcus says that he does it “to save jobs” really speaks to me.

Paying the people that work for me is probably my favorite part of being an entrepreneur.  It feels good to pay people I love.  It’s pretty awesome actually—waaaaaaay better than other bills.

It also feels good to make money with other people.  I’m only just starting to learn how valuable partnerships can be.  Now that I think about it I’ll probably watch The Partner again.  As I remember, Marcus chose the right person there too.

Marcus is perhaps number two behind Gary on the list of people I would be willing to spend several years working for.

Dudes Who Created Dream Jobs

So halt the love fest.

This is where things get interesting (and applicable).

This is that only-in-2010-and-beyond stuff.  The legends Barry, Gary, and Marcus all could have existed in some form in the 1990s.

But for this group to gain the success they’ve enjoyed, the Internet is a necessity.

All of these guys are basically in adult education and personal growth.  You can find a variety of examples across a variety of other industries.

I suppose I chose these guys because I love teaching.

They are all great teachers.

Vishen Lakhiani

Mind Valley is one of the most well-known companies in the personal growth space.

They are certainly the most well-known personal growth publisher of their type.  I found Mind Valley probably seven years ago.  I’ve watched Vishen grow.  It’s been awesome to witness.  Watching from afar, I can say I’m proud of how far he has come.

I admire his mission and more.

For this post though, I want to point out the story of Mind Valley—Vishen’s telling of how he created the company of his dreams.

There are various shorter versions of this story.  But I’m in the reminiscing mood and so I choose the “young Vishen” version.

Basically, he figured out what he truly wanted.  Then he brought it to himself with a combination of intuition, boldness, and hard work.  He kept adapting both life and career to become more fulfilled.  From that, his business has exploded.

I see him as a front runner in the race to achieve lasting, positive impact in the education system.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is a nerd.

And I have a lot of love for him.

He took his love of reading, love of teaching, and love of being his best self.

And he combined them in to an awesome fricking business.

Philosopher’s Notes TV is SO DOPE.

I’ve never consumed a PDF or his longer MP3s.  But I do like his Optimal Living 101, Optimize +1s, interviews, and journaling sessions.

He takes life-changing books and reads them all for me 😁.  Then he pulls out big ideas and connects them across authors.  It’s pretty awesome.  It’s made me better.  It’s made my life better.

His paid community is on my wishlist.  Honestly, it’d probably be higher up if it was more expensive.

I’ll definitely become a paid student of Brian’s eventually though.

Tom Bilyeu

Tom’s entrepreneurial story is similar to Vishen’s.

At least, it’s comparable in this context.

I’ve heard Tom tell the story of how Quest started several times.

This one’s pretty short:

He says that how Quest Nutrition was basically a response to building a life he hated.

It’s a household name now and billion dollar company.

He pivoted from there to Impact Theory, which is an even more passion-centric project for him.

His life mission is to “help break people out of the matrix.”  He wants to create a Disney-level media company that creates stories to that end.  That’s just awesome.

I’ll be watching this guy for the few decades, hopefully from closer and closer up.

Until then, thank God for the Internet.

Role Models

You don’t have to admire someone to admire the role they play.

There are various people in industries I play in that fit this bill.

That goes for SEO, work from home, and alternative education.

I’ll repeat it again.

One of the greatest things I’ve learned as the Internet has matured:

Morons can become successful if they do the right thing.

The keys:

  1. Find the right things.
  2. Execute on them.
  3. Don’t stop until.

Know your role and play it very well.

Here’s a few examples of guys I’ve seen do it.

***Names edited to keep my shade more anonymous.

Big Bucky

Big Bucky is an Internet marketing badass.

No, really.

Eeyore GIFHe’s slower than Eeyore.  And I can’t think of any clever comparison for how lazy he is.  But he is lazy.  And I don’t think he is very smart.

Yet he is pretty good at SEO.  At least, he is good enough at SEO to create products that other SEO experts use as outsourcing solutions.  I don’t think his versions are that particularly high quality.  He seems to have a real mandate for doing the bare minimum.

With that said, his companies have found decent success.

Moreover, they have done it in a way that doesn’t required much intellect or hard work.

By being dumb and lazy, they have taught me a lot.

It’s not like their customers are disappointed either.

For me, they provide a benchmark for the “least effect dose” for several SEO strategies.  I often use their methods to test different niches.  I also learn a lot about how to systemize in a way that makes them easy.  It makes sense that they are good at such things.

I try my best to set my judgement aside.

Then I choose to learn.

Dildo Dan

This guy makes that a bit harder.

SEO can be technical and tedious.  Lazy SEO is still pretty hard.  Big Bucky isn’t really that much of an idiot.

Dildo Dan is on another level.

The two main lessons I’ve learned from him are timing and leverage.

Dildo Dan is one of those early adopters that turned the Internet into a cash cow.  As you might have guessed, he made his fortune with women’s playthings.  He was one of the first/best selling them on the Internet.  From my research, he built a $10 million sex toy empire.

I’m not quite sure what this means:

But “schmuck” seems to fit.

Maybe I’m just bitter though.

Dan had good timing.  And he did well for himself.

From there, he’s found ways to leverage the time, capital, and opportunity a massive online business affords you.  He now has a YouTube channel.  He’s basically a talking head for a topic completely unrelated to eCommerce.  I’ve even seen featured as a guest teacher within a paid online course.

Dildo Dan is doing great for himself.

It’s a path I wouldn’t necessarily choose.  But I’m not above learning from watching how the man climbs the mountain.

If I’m honest, I’ve seen several guys go from eCommerce to YouTube.  Carter Thomas with Coin Mastery TV comes to mind.  It’s a smart pivot if you go about it the right way.  To compound things in this discussion, YouTube is one of the best ways to gain more leverage to prepare for the next time of opportunity.

That’s something I am interested in doing.

PlayBoy Pete

Speaking of going from eCommerce to Youtube…

I’ve seen about 1000 PlayBoy Petes online.

That number is only going up.

Some of these guys are just posers.  But many of them aren’t.

There are obnoxious 20-somethings that have built seven and eight-figure online businesses.  It’s not surprising then that many of them turn into Playboy Petes.  Neither is it surprising that many other 20-somethings who try to emulate them.  From where I sit, it’s pretty easy to tell the difference.  But I’ve been working online for five years now.

For others, it might not be so easy.  That’s unfortunate.

Many of these guys push courses with a get rich scheme feel.  Sometimes, that’s because it made them rich quick.

Two examples that seem pretty legit are Kevin David and Mike Vestil.

This gives me motivation to hone in on my business processes and set myself up to scale up quickly.

It also provides a nice carrot for my next steps.

My Worst Nightmares

I love chasing a great carrot.

But I like the stick too.

And the prevalence of Playboy Petes online points to a scary reality.

I have competition.

What’s more, I often find this competition in my inbox at Greensboro SEO Pro.  Too often, they’re jumping at Gary Vee’s advise to offer low cost work to get into my industry.  I’m happy to oblige them with opportunities to work for me.  However, their inquiries become more and more common.  And their offers become more and more selfless.

That’s annoying.

I use free work to set up my deals.

So I watch this young guns with interest…

But also with respectful fear.

Here’s a quick stream of consciousness of what it’s been like meeting these kids.

***Names edited again because I felt like it.

Seven Things Samantha

Marketing director for a mom and pop shop.

Writing online content for multiple digital agencies.

Building a place as a social media influencer.

Going for her social media marketing Master’s Degree.

Girl, stop.

Just chill.

You’re freaking scary.

Probably destined for greatness.

Just don’t get burned out.

‘Cause dayum.

Thanks for the motivation.

Corporate Kenny

Take a (crappy) online course.

Build a solid social media brand from scratch anyway.

Offer to intern for free with the most selfless pitch ever.

Meet and tell me you’re looking for something more suit and tie.


Dually noted.

Taken into account.

Added to the fire.

Dynamic Damien

Who are you dude?


Great with people.

Fast learner.

Talented creative.

Already does great work.

Way too young to get it like you do.

In ten years, I bet you have a lot of people working for you.

Excited to see if I can maintain my lead over you.

I appreciate the push young homie.

I’m not too good to learn from anyone.

I look up to my heroes and the dudes that created their own dream jobs.

I appreciate both my role models and worst nightmares.

Knowledge is valuable, no matter the source.  Choose the right influences and you also end up with motivation and self belief.

We can all use a little more of those.