The Importance of Role Models, as an Entrepreneur

Who is your role model? Do you have more than one? What is special about them? This post gets into what is a role model, why they’re important, and how to select them.

Breaking role model down in this context:

The Definition of the word: Role

The Definition of the word: Model

Basically, someone who models a specific role. 


Adam and I were leaving a networking event the other day and this topic came up. I asked him who he looked up to, and why. He wanted some time to think, so he asked me the same question. We discovered there were a few people that came to mind, but we couldn’t really hone in on what it was about them that we wanted to emulate. They were simply people we respected for their line of work and how they presented themselves. I started to wonder, “How do you pick a role model exactly? Do I even need one?”


According to the study Entrepreneurship and Role Models 1, there’s a significant correlation between having a role model and one’s own entrepreneurial aspirations. Studies like this give some grounds to the idea that role models show us what is possible. 


Entrepreneur and owner of the blog lifeoptimizer, Donald Latumahina, said:

“This is perhaps the most important reason for having role models. Our expectations are often too low, especially if we base them on what we see around us. But having role models can help you overcome those limitations.

Instead of limiting yourself with what you see around you, now you know what is actually possible. Your expectations will become much higher and that’s how you can reach your full potential.”

This idea also relates to motivational speaker Jim Rohn’s famous words: 

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”


Those you observe and give space to (whether mentally or physically), have a larger impact on you than you may think. So this begs the question, how do I pick a role model?


You could pick 1 role model who models many traits you agree with and desire to be like, or even surpass. You could pick 3: a role model, reverse role model, and an anti-role model, according to this podcast by Drift. You could also pick 10 role models that each exhibit a trait or two that align with your values, aspiring to be a mix of these people. 


Similar to figuring out what you want in a partner or who you want to surround yourself with, picking a role model requires figuring out what traits are important to you and having an idea of what kind of person you want to be. 


Personally, I’m going to start making a list of people I respect, and what I think makes them special. I’ve determined guidance is what I need to level up my personal growth.


Who is/are your role model(s)? What do you wish to emulate from them?



1 Bosma, Niels & Hessels, Jolanda & Schutjens, Veronique & Praag, Mirjam & Verheul, Ingrid. (2011). Entrepreneurship and Role Models. Journal of Economic Psychology – J ECON PSYCH. 33. 10.1016/j.joep.2011.03.004. 

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