Leo Gura of Actualized.Org

Top 30 Personal Development Influencers on the Web in 2017

Most people aren’t as plugged into the personal development space as I am. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to create a comprehensive list of all the top active personal development influencers across the web. The list covers the most impactful leaders for all content platforms, including social, podcasts, and blogging.

As a note, these are modern leaders that are currently active, who have their own personality as a brand online and the largest influence on a raving fanbase in the industry.

Evan Carmichael

Evan has one of the top Youtube channels to help people achieve success. Evan is most well known for his “_______’s Top 10 Rules of Success”, which are video montages of a successful people giving success advice. He covers successful people of every domain and skillset, including entrepreneurs, talk show hosts, actors, athletes, world peace leaders, marketers, motivational speakers, philosophers, and martial artists. Here’s an example of one of his videos:

Evan has over half a million YouTube subscribers and posts numerous videos on a daily basis.

There are two qualities I like most about Evan’s videos. First, he spends a lot of time to create curated content in a form I appreciate most: video interviews of top achievers. Second, some of his videos are really well curated and obviously require a lot of digging to find each clip. The video below is the best example I could find. He made a montage of dozens of billionaires and other successful people talking about why you should follow your passion.

I was flabbergasted after watching this. His team probably had to manually watch and dig through a hundred hours of lectures to find the one moment when they talk about the topic.

Joel Brown of Addicted2Success.com

Joel started his site addicted2success.com on the side while working a full-time office job. At first, the ads on the site barely paid for lunch. Slowly but surely, his site became one of the most visited self development sites in the world. He was even offered $1 million for it, which he declined.

Joel runs a podcast with the same name. He has many high-hitting guests on his podcast, including millionaire entrepreneurs and meditation gurus. Joel’s content has a flavor of general self-development advice, covering everything from habits to vision boards. There is an entrepreneurial flair to this content, as most of the role models and podcast guests are successful businessmen (Steve Jobs, Grant Cardone, etc.), though he does occasionally add in other big figures, like Gandhi.

Stefan James of Project Life Mastery

Stefan teaches a broad and expansive set of skills in the personal development space. He covers everything from goal setting to procrastination to money mindset. He has proudly proclaimed that his platform covers a broad spectrum of topics, including relationship advice, happiness, and how to build an online business.

What’s unique about Stefan’s content is that he covers a lot of details on online business. He has courses and content on Kindle publishing, affiliate marketing, and so on.

He also has a monthly goals reports, which documents his progress on many of his goals, from financial to relationships to bucket list items (like running in Tough Mudder). His goal reports are inspirational to me because you’re shocked at how many of his goals he’s achieved, which including a multi-million dollar stock portfolio and a certain amount of subscribers and followers.

Stefan is firing on all cylinders when it comes to which platforms he’s on. Having said that, his biggest followings are on YouTube, his blog, and his podcast. You can find out more at projectlifemastery.com.

Stefan and his team were gracious enough to let me guest post on their site on the topic of minimalism.

Andrew Ferebee of Knowledge for Men

Andrew started with humble beginnings. He was completely broke and emotionally affected from a breakup with his girlfriend. The podcast he ran on the side, Knowledge For Men, saved him from homelessness. He grew a large audience and leveraged that into a business to help men become the best, masculine versions of themselves.

His podcast is one of the top podcasts in the world for this market. Every episode, he interviews an expert in the men’s dating or self improvement industry. Andrew’s flavor of personal development has a clear focus on a dating, relationships, and returning to your masculine, ancestral self.

andrew ferebee knowledge for men

James Clear

James Clear runs a high traffic self development blog that gets over 1 million visits per month at jamesclear.com. His articles have a focus on habit and behavior change with scientific evidence. Therefore, he covers topics like dealing with procrastination, habit formation, breaking bad habits, focus, and creativity. He is well known for his writing ability. He often adds scientific and historical evidence in the footnotes of his articles.

Jaime Masters of Eventual Millionaire

Jaime runs an audio and video podcast called Eventual Millionaire where she interviews millionaires. She has already interviewed over a hundred millionaires and is still going strong. You can learn a lot about how to make money from these interviews, but that is not all you will learn. The millionaires interviewed often talk about other tips, like productivity, mindsets, goal-setting, happiness, purpose, fulfillment, and setting up automated systems.

Jaime started from scratch with no connections to any millionaires. Over time, she grew great networking skills and created a rolodex network of influencers and entrepreneurs. She’s often mentioned by other top influencers.

One thing you should know is that her podcast had a clear entrepreneurial focus. The advice is geared towards other entrepreneurs. This is the one of the only unfortunate things about her content, since not all of us want to become millionaires by starting a business. However, it seems like that’s how a majority of her guests made their money.

Steven Aitchison

Steven boasts a following of over 3.2 million on his Facebook page. He runs a counterpart blog at stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog. His topics cover a broad range of self-help, including psychology, health, relationships, and business. His motto is “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.”

steven aitchison personal development

Todd Herman of 90 Day Year and Grit ‘N’ Hustle

In terms of brand exposure and traffic, Todd Herman is not the most well known. However, behind the scenes, he is a superstar. Todd works directly with many top influencers and entrepreneurs on the web, including Kimra Luna, Pat Flynn, Ryan Lee, Amy Porterfield, and Jeff Walker. He is well known to the audience of these influencers since he coaches them as well.

Todd started his journey as a mentor to the well known motivational speaker Jim Rohn. From there, he started and grew his coaching program for athletes. He has helped Olympians and billionaires reach higher levels of mental toughness and performance.

Todd has a podcast called the Grit ‘N’ Hustle Show where he brings on successful people to interview. You can find more content from him on his blog http://toddherman.me/blog/. Todd’s current focus is on helping entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs improve their goal-achieving ability, productivity and mindsets. He has a flagship program called the 90 Day Year.

Jordan and AJ Harbinger of the Art of Charm

Jordan is a cofounder to one of the oldest personal development podcasts in existence, The Art of Charm. This podcast is over a decade old and still running strong. It’s now one of the top podcasts of all time in iTunes. It gets over a million downloads a month. It started out as a dating and pick-up artist podcast, which slowly morphed into a comprehensive men’s improvement podcast. The flavor of Art of Charm development is all-encompassing, though there is a focus on men’s networking, communication, body language, and dating skills.

Their network of contacts in Silicon Valley has allowed them to get some high-hitting guests, from top entrepreneurs to scientists. You can get advice from everything from how to build a network to how to improve your emotional intelligence to how to get matches on Tinder.

Pay special attention to advice they give on networking, social skills, and emotional intelligence because that is their specialty and what they leveraged to achieve their success.

Mark Manson

Other than James Clear, Mark is one of the only top self help bloggers who writes longer form, personal articles. He has one of the world’s top read blogs at Markmanson.net which gets at least a million readers a month. Mark started out blogging about dating advice as a pick up artist. He soon transitioned to general men’s dating, and then, to self development in general.

He calls his material “life advice that doesn’t suck” and has positioned himself as the “anti-B.S.” self development guy. His flavor of topics focuses on:

  • Not caring what other people think.
  • Happiness.
  • Habits.
  • Confidence.
  • Goal-setting.
  • Mid to long-term relationships.
  • Life skills and knowing yourself.

Lately, Mark has lately been expanding outside of these topics and writing on what he pleases, which often includes politics. He also offers a subscription service for his premium articles and authored a book called The Subtle Art to Not Giving A Fuck, after the success of his blog post with the same name.

Charisma on Command

Ben and Charlie started Charisma on Command as a blog. They were self-help junkies and gravitated towards social skills topics, like making friends and confidence. Over time, they experimented with different types of content, like LinkedIn articles and YouTube.

YouTube worked really well for them. They skyrocketed to over 800,000 subscribers in a very short time. Today, Charisma on Command focuses on helping men become more charismatic and magnetic to help their relationships. They post consistently on their own blog and their YouTube channel.

Charisma on Command Top Personal Development Influencer
They are without a doubt one of the top YouTube influencers in the social skills self help industry.

Mike Dillard of Self Made Man 

Mike walked into work one day and told his boss he wanted to quit to start his company. Although his boss doubted him, he became a wealthy entrepreneur. Mike runs a podcast called The Self Made Man, which interviews some of the world’s top CEOs. His mission is to empower men who can change the world. The podcast is business-focused, but any man can benefit from the general lessons of mindset, happiness, and goal-setting that are also discussed. I like how the show often dives into Mike’s personal life, mistakes, and struggles because you learn how money does not guarantee happiness and what healthy mindsets you should have to stay resilient no matter where you are in life. You can find more at http://selfmademan.com/.

Mensutra

Menstrua is a Youtube channel run by Shwetabh Gangwar. It boasts over 400,000 subscribers. The channel covers a variety of higher-level self help topics, specifically around living the best life possible, social skills, dating, doing well in school, choosing the right job, and motivation. Here’s one of his videos:

James Swanwick of The James Swanwick Show

James runs a personal development podcast that focuses on more broader range topics including health, wealth, love, and happiness.

Thanks to his background in sports reporting and interviewing celebrities, he has gotten interviewees including doctors, retirement experts, relationship coaches, nutritionists, fitness experts, New York Times best selling authors, and millionaires.

Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich 

Ramit is the best-selling author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich and a blog of the same name. He built a multi-million dollar business of his blog. Ramit’s blog started out as a personal finance passion project. It has evolved into a blog and business to help people in their 20s to 40s with earning more and becoming successful CEO’s.

Ramit’s flavor of personal development blog posts are hyper focused on getting raises, freelancing on the side, automating budgets, networking, and starting online businesses. The techniques he teaches has an undertone of “mastering your psychology.” He has a distinct, outspoken style to his writing.

Fight Mediocrity

There are a lot of animated self-help book summary YouTube channels out there. But the biggest has to Fight Mediocrity (also sometimes known as Phuck Mediocrity). What he does is simple: He creates animated book summaries of top self-development books that last around 5 minutes long. And he will inject his own review of the book at the end (and sometimes sprinkled throughout the summary).

There is a definite focus on quality over quantity. Unlike most other YouTube channels, he will not upload a new video for 1 to 4 weeks. Here is one of his videos to give you an idea:

You can find him at youtube.com/phuckmediocrity

He covers a lot of the most well known self help books, so they get a lot of popularity on YouTube. There are a few up-and-coming YouTube channels that do something very similar, like Obtain Eudamonia (same thing, more colors).

Practical Psychology 

Practical Psychology is very similar to Fight Mediocrity except his animated videos focus on scientific studies rather than book summaries, though he does the occasional book summary as well.

Mimi and Alex Ikonn

Mimi and Alex were self-help junkies even before they became 7-figure entrepreneurs. Back when they were broke, they practiced visualization. After they got married, they started a hair extension to solve a need of their own. By effectively using YouTube and Instagram, they grew their following to millions of fans. In the process, they effectively marketed their business, Luxy Hair.

Unlike many other CEO’s who claim to have 7-figure businesses, Mimi and Alex actually pocket 7 figures after all expenses are paid. They both have personal YouTube channels where they release vlogs and occasional personal development advice themed around self-love, starting a business, earning money, visualization, and social media marketing.

Marc and Angel of Marc and Angel Hack Life

Marc and Angel are a couple. They run the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. They have a large audience of 130,000 email subscribers and over a million monthly readers. They have been blogging for many years and are well known in their space. Their topics cover a broader range of self development. Their articles are more generalized and list-based, with a focus on improving happiness, relationships, motivation, and dealing with overwhelm.

You will like them if you prefer “listicles” and a conversational tone. They tend to bounce around many general self help topics and give advice from the heart, like Zen Habits, rather than focus on data or scientific evidence.

I would prefer if they gave more evidence for most of their posts rather than just give me 10 tips on how to be happier. I get skeptical when they do that since it could just be their opinion on what makes you happy. Nonetheless, they have achieved quite a large blog following.

James Altucher

James run his blog Jamesaltucher.com and his podcast The James Altucher Show. Both are wildly popular. His blog attracted hundreds of thousands of readers a month and his podcast attracts millions of listeners a month, rivaling the audience of a lower quality HBO TV Show.

James’s writing is unique. Every article pulls you in with shocking, and sometimes offensive, curiosity. He reveals embarrassing and evoking stories and feelings from his past. And occasionally, he gives you some advice. The topics he writes about can range quite a bit, but often, the advice is a small tip based on daily life, like how to persuade better.

His podcast has a format where he brings a successful guest on to be interviewed. His guests range from successful entrepreneurs to authors to spiritual teachers (kind of like Addicted 2 Success). What makes it unique is that James sometimes spends weeks preparing for his guests. He reads all of his guests’ books at least once.

John Lee Dumas and Kate Erickson of Entrepreneur on Fire

John, and his wife Kate, erupted onto the podcast scene a few years ago with a new style of podcast: a daily interview series of top entrepreneurs. With thousands of episodes already releasaed, they forged one of the largest beginning entrepreneur tribes online. Their podcast is a great free resource for you to learn from wealthy, happy CEO’s. 

Their personal development content has a focus on male 9-to-5 employees who want to start a business. While there is a lot of business strategies, Entrepreneur on Fire also has a lot of general self help advice as well, including goal-setting journals like The Freedom Journal and advice on building habits.

John Lee and Kate Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire

Leo Babauta of Zenhabits.net

Top blogging experts like Pat Flynn and Corbett Barr have claimed zenhabits.net as the most popular personal blog of all time. Still run by just one person, Zen Habits attracts over two million readers a month.

If you start reading the blog, you will quickly realize it has a focus on minimalism, simplicity, meditation, and building good habits. His articles (and entire site) has a minimal design and only features text — no images, social media, or graphics. Similarly, his writing style follows this theme. 

I personally would prefer if he gave more evidence for some of his advice. But pay particular attention to his advice on writing, blogging, simplicity, minimalism, or meditation. He has quite a lot of experience and success in those areas, as you can tell by the popularity of his site.

Andrew Warner of Mixergy

Andrew is a successful entrepreneur who sold his company for millions of dollars after the Dot Com Bubble of 2000. After getting tired of retirement, he returned to the scene with his interview site Mixergy.com.

Thanks to his network, he has interviewed over 1,000 entrepreneurs, ranging from startup founders to CEOs of billion dollar companies like AirBnB. Andrew offers some of his interviews as free videos or audio podcast episodes; he sells some of the as premium content for a monthly fee. He has covered interviews on nearly every topic related to entrepreneurship, from copywriting to scaling a business. 

Although his content has a clear entrepreneurial focus, there is plenty to learn about general self-improvement, earning more, mindset, habits, productivity, or goal-setting.

Brendon Burchard

Brendon has a large presence on YouTube, his Facebook page, and his blog Brendon.com. He runs a multi-million dollar training company and the site Growth.com as well. Brendon covers a wide range of general personal development principles, including leadership, peak performance, goal-setting, meditation, staying positive, and productivity. 

If you want to learn from him, his YouTube should be your first stop. He gets tens of thousands of views for each of his weekly videos. The next stop would be his Facebook page, which has millions of fans. He posts tons of Quote cards and other inspirational content on there frequently.

Leo Gura of Actualized.org

Leo has one of the largest personal development presences on YouTube. Leo’s flavor of content has a meditation and spiritual-focus, though he keeps it objective enough so that you can learn from him even if you are not religious.

Leo Gura of Actualized.Org

Leo draws from the large amount of books he has read and the science he has learned to back up his points. Here’s one of his videos:

Most of Leo’s content has an undertone of “becoming the best actualized, higher level spiritual version of yourself.” There is a clear focus on moving towards enlightenment.

top modern personal development influencers
Image by Luc Galoppin

Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach and 10x Talk 

Dan has coached coaches of successful entrepreneurs through his program Strategic Coach. He runs a podcast called 10x Talk. Although his target audience are ambitious entrepreneurs, many of his podcast episodes focus on habit practices, techniques, and mindsets that are beneficial to everyone. He has very specific strategies with coined names from his program that he teaches you to help you feel more fulfilled, happy, and defeat procrastination.

Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is a well known player in the online space. He runs a podcast and blog at michaelhyatt.com and calls himself, “Your Virtual Mentor.” Michael has authored best-selling books like Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want and Platform University: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

There is a definite focus on helping people stop drifting through life, discover their passion, and turn it into an online business by building an audience. If that is not for you, he also touches on how to shift your mindset for success, productivity, and leadership.

Tony Robbins

Tony got his start apprenticing under an old self development and motivation legend, Jim Rohn. Starting out as a broke janitor, Tony rose through the ranks. Decades later, he runs a billion dollar set of training companies. Tony started out in the infomercial business but has sinced transitioned to in-person live events for thousands of people.

He is still mainly an offline guy. He is well known for his book Awaken the Giant Within and live events Unleash the Power Within and Date with Destiny. He is the most well known self development man to the mainstream market.Top celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman, Maria Menounous, and Usher have attended his events. Tony’s content is focused on general personal development principles, such as unleashing your full potential, discovering motivation, rekindling relationships, improving your energy levels, and becoming wealthy.  

Steve Pavlina

Steve is known as one of the first personal development blogs to ever be created on the Internet. He is still around to this day. His articles focus on a more general, non-spiritual, daily-life style form of personal development. Steve blogs at stevepavlina.com.

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings

Maria started her blog for fun. Originally, only her friends read it. Over time, it grew to be one of the largest personal blogs in the world. Brain Pickings is borderline not personal development. I would not recommend it for a beginner.

The topics Maria writes about are often philosophical, esoteric, and intended to make you think. Occasionally, she will profile a recognizable successful person. But usually, she just picks interesting people. Her topics are all over the place. They include storytelling, history, love, powerlessness, courage, crisis, self-pity, and creativity.  

Her articles usually are not “How to” or intended to specifically teach you a specific way of doing something. The beautiful images she chooses for her articles make them really stand out.

Marie Forleo

Marie worked as a bartender, fitness instructor, and for NASDAQ, but never felt fully fulfilled. She started a fitness event-based business online, which grew into a seven figure business. She chose to shut down the business completely because she still didn’t feel passionate enough about it. Her next venture, a life coaching business, slowly grew into a multi-million dollar business that teaches beginners how to succeed in life and start their own online businesses.

Marie is one of the longest enduring influencers on the web. She started making weekly Youtube videos in 2011 and has never stopped. As she’s gotten better, her production technology has increased. 

She calls her content, Marie TV, and she releases a blog version and a version on her Youtube channel every week. The topics she talks about focus on general self-development tips that her female-dominated audience struggle with, which are usually psychological shifts. These shifts include dealing with imposter syndrome, feeling overwhelmed, getting over perfectionism, why you should embrace gratitude, and adopting an abundance mindset.

She often interviews top experts (scientists, speakers, authors, and entrepreneurs) on Marie TV

Marie Forleo Personal Development Influencer
Marie Forleo is one of the top self help influencers on YouTube. Look how many views she gets.

You will not get any technical tactics on starting a business for her content because she is more focused on overarching beginner strategies. She has two taglines, which she says in every episode of her videos. These are, “The place to be to create a business and life you love.” and “The world needs that special gift that only you have.”

Tim Ferriss

Tim is the undisputed heavyweight. His name and his 4-Hour Work Week brand is the most well known in the self development and tech entrepreneur communities. Tim’s book The Four Hour Work Week launched him into the scene from nowhere. Its focus is on optimizing your life and business to get the most return in the least time possible. An interesting fact is that Tim’s book was not an instant success. It was turned down by a dozen publishers and it required a lot of smart networking to spread the word.

Tim is known as the “human guinea pig.” He tests weird techniques, supplements, pills, and drugs to optimize his sleep, performance, energy, and fitness so his audience knows what’s best. Tim’s style of personal development content is more focused on lifestyle design, outsourcing a business, medicines, and weird techniques.

Tim’s podcast is one of the most downloaded of all time, hitting over 100 million downloads. His podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, started as a fun experiment to document the conversations he was having with top performers, thanks to his connections as a tech investor. Over time, his guests have gotten increasingly interesting, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Foxx. His podcast is focused on deconstructing the performance of high achievers so you can optimize your life. Each episode is usually a long form (one hour) interview or question-and-answer session.

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is a motivation, sales, and self help legend. He is spoke of on the same line as other legends like Zig Ziglar, Wayne Dyer, and Jim Rohn. Brian started as a high school dropout working odd jobs. In his early 30’s, he discovered self development and sales, which transformed his life. In the next couple decades, he became a top salesperson and motivational speaker in the nation.

Brian creates content every week on his Youtube channel, Facebook page, and blog http://www.briantracy.com/blog/. The content is high quality, high production, and actionable. It may be too high production and cookie-cutter for some people though. Brian is a great person to follow because he has decades of actual experience negotiating, selling, and improving productivity in business to back up what he says. His content focuses on time management, earning more money, improving as a salesperson, public speaking, and running a business.

Brian is most well known for his “Eat That Frog” productivity concept, which pushes you to finish the task you dread the most first.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary burst onto the Internet scene a few years ago and has become one of the most followed social media influencers with the most engagement. He mainly gives entrepreneurial-themed advice and his main topic of interest is emerging social media platforms. Topics cover everything from staying motivated, productivity, growing a business, and growing a following.

He primarily operates on YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat. But his team creates offshoots of his content on Instagram, Tumblr, podcasts, and every other social media or blogging platform.

Lewis Howes of The School of Greatness

Lewis has been in the online business space for several years. He became a millionaire by teaching other entrepreneurs how to sell more products by leveraging webinars. Lewis started his podcast The School of Greatness early on to help listeners become the best at what they do. It’s now grown to be one of the top self-help podcasts in iTunes. Although his business is for entrepreneurs, his podcast, and the book with the same name, covers topics that can help anyone succeed. 

The show interviews everyone from successful entrepreneurs to billionaires to Youtube stars to scientists to coaches. There are also episodes with just Lewis talking on his own on self improvement concepts.

Topics you will hear about in the show include earning more, motivation, generosity, self-belief, taking time for yourself, burning out, mental shifts, persistence, and standing out. There is a focus on more psychological and “internal game” topics.

Pay attention to Lewis’s advice on networking and digital marketing because that is his specialty.

Lewis Howes School of Greatness

Will’s Personal Development Show

This is me. I’m an up and coming blogger, podcaster, and YouTube on personal development. My unique spin is that I filter all my advice through two filters: is it science-backed and/or is it coming from someone who has achieved massive success in the field? A lot of the content nowadays isn’t backed up with evidence. For more info on what I have to offer, check out my About page.

Conclusion

As you can see, personal development comes in many flavors. Differing interests, personalities, and delivery create different content. Choose who you think will help you and suits you best.

Did I miss anyone? If you know of a huge personal development influencer that is not mentioned, leave a comment to let me know.

Get All Their Secrets in One Checklist

I’m a self improvement junkie. There’s no denying that.

I spent years studying everything I could get my hands on from all of these people above. In fact, it was overboard. Each of these influencers have hundreds of episodes of podcasts or YouTube videos — and I’ve seen most or all of them.

If you want a free PDF of the main patterns of advice I see from all of these people. Click the button below:
Yes, I want the Secrets of Success in one digestable place.

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2 Comments

  • Kate Erickson

    February 27, 2017

    Thanks so much for the shout out, Will – this is a really incredible list filled with what I consider to be many of the top personal development influencers as well. Appreciate you putting this together, and I’m honored to be among these great entrepreneurs!

    Reply
    • Will

      February 28, 2017

      Thanks, Kate for leaving such a thoughtful comment. Yes, it’s a pretty thorough list since I’m a self-help junkie.

      Reply

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