15 Inspiring and Unconventional People You Have to Know About

Written by Conni Biesalski. Follow me on Twitter.

Need some inspiration on how to live an unconventional life? Or maybe a kick in your conforming ass? Want to know how other people create their own paths in life?

Congrats, you’re in the right place then!

This is a three-part series of posts introducing you to people in the online and blogging realm who are doing IT (not I.T.!) in many different ways: Screwing mediocrity and living life on their own terms.

Part I: Inspiring & Unconventional People and their Lifestyles
Part II: Unconventional Jobs, Businesses and Ways to Make a Living
Part III: Unconventional Travellers

Three posts in four weeks. So I’d recommend signing up to my newsletter, that way, you’ll get them straight to your email inbox, when I post them. Couldn’t be simpler, folks!

Go and read those guys and girrrrls, admire them and get inspired. I’m sure you’ll get something out of this exercise. (You should let me know in the comments or shoot me an Email)

Note: Most of the peeps presented here are multi-categorial. I tried my hardest to make them fit into one of the three posts. But you know how it is with unconventional, non-conforming people: They just won’t fit.


Here we go: Part 1 a.k.a. Sweet Peeps living life unconventionally:

(In no particular order!)


Emilie Wapnick

Emilie has decided to never commit to one career path. Instead she embraces her multi-potentiality and helps other people discover their their own passions to turn them in to a living. She’s honest, she’s awesome, she rocks. Take my word. “I don’t negotiate with specialists.”

Blog: Puttylike / Twitter: @emiliewapnick
One inspirational post: Failure Celebration Week


Everett Bogue

Ev is a nomadic writer dealing with the evolving edge of humanity and technology. He experiments in the digital world and as a result, untethers a lot. All his belongings fit into a bag. He totally screws a lot of blogging conventions, and is bloody brilliant doing so.

Blog: Ev Bogue / Google+: Ev Bogue (He untethered from Twitter this year)
One inspirational post: How to Untether From ‘Alright’


Taylor Conroy

Wow, Taylor. What a man: He destroys outdated social norms to live a free, centred, and giving life, and aims to contribute the absolute maximum locally-globally-emotionally. He travels, runs donation projects, and lives the change he wants to see in the world. Cool stuff he did recently: Building a school for hundreds of kids in Kenya with pocket change. He’s making this world a better place. We need more people like Taylor!

Blog: Destroy Normal / Twitter: @destroynormal

One inspirational post: Let’s Change the World


Gwen Bell

Gwen never went down job-house-marriage-kids-lane. Instead, she started travelling and ended up opening up a yoga studio. In Japan. For six years. (Yeah, dig that!). Then she walked down writer-avenue. And stayed. She’s all over digital sabbaticals, digital warriorships and the concept of alignment. No idea what any of this it? You know what to do then.

Blog: Gwen Bell / Google+: Gwen Bell (You guessed it, right. Ev and her are friends – so no Twitter for her either.)

One inspirational post: Why I Do Exactly What I Want Each Day


Joel Runyon

A little while ago, Joel got tired of leading a conventional and conforming life. So he decided to change that: He sat down to write a list of all the things he thought were impossible to do and went out to make them possible. These days, he regularly pushes his own limits to get adrenaline rushes, travel the world, run triathlons, learn new languages and lots more. He’s doing it. Everyone should. Are you out there making the impossible possible?

Blog: Blog of Impossible Things / Twitter: @joelrunyon

One inspirational post: Think Outside the Box… What Box?


Chris Guillebeau

Ok, folks – This list cannot surely not go on without Mister Unconventional himself: CHRIS G. (he deserves capital letter power). He writes, travels and helps people take over the world. He’s anti-authority and anti-status quo and encourages everyone to go out and experience the world the way they want to, against all expectations. Sidenote: He’s been to 168 countries, with 25 left to accomplish his goal to visit every country in the world. Just saying.

Blog: The Art of Non-Conformity / Twitter: @chrisguillebeau

One inspirational post: Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel the World


Cody McKibben

This man is an entrepreneur, writer and permanent traveler, who challenges his readers to create unconventional lifestyles on their own terms and live fearless lives of adventure, entrepreneurship, travel, giving and fun. He’s lived and worked location independently for several years now and is all over lifestyle design and digital nomadism. Way to go. Check out his Digital Nomad Academy!

Blog: Thrilling Heroics / Twitter: @codymckibb

One inspirational post: How to Go Location-Independent and Become a Digital Nomad


Kristy Powell

Who says we have to wear different clothes everyday? Exactly. So Kristy decided it was time to say no to social norms and conventions, and is now wearing the same dress for one year. She is ‘fasting from fashion’ in order to protest some of the things she thinks are ethically questionable in the fashion industry today, such as the unsustainable patterns of how we consume and dress ourselves in America, the insidious effects of fashion advertising, and the ways all of this stuff really makes us feel about ourselves. Could you do go on a fashion diet? You can join her here. (Kristy also writes brilliant posts)

Blog: One Dress Protest / Twitter: @onedressprotest

One inspirational post:  Minimalism, Fashion and Idolatry


Corbett Barr

Corbett rocks. He left his conventional life a couple years ago, went on a travel sabbatical and is now the perfect digital nomad. He can work from anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection and a little inspiration. On his blog he wants to be the unrealistic influence in your life and encourage you to run with your ideas and chase your dreams with reckless abandon. And he does so really well. (He’s also the man behind Think Traffic – one of the only online business websites that I can handle reading.)

Blog: Corbett Barr / Twitter: @corbettbarr

One inspirational post: The Quest to Be F*cking Awesome


Jonathan Mead

Jonathan is creating a revolution based on authentic action. A movement of people liberating themselves through living on their own terms. He’s a day job quitting coach, barefoot runner and martial artist who helps people get paid to be who they are. For him, Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week is not enough: He aims for the Zero Hour Work Week. This guy is so dedicated to his cause and the community he has built in the last couple years – 100% truly inspirational. (He was one of the first bloggers I read and am still totally into his stuff.)

Blog: Illuminated Mind / Twitter: @jonathanmead

One inspirational post: How to Start a Revolution


Leo Babauta

I’ve got to bring Leo into this now. Yes, he’s huge out there in the blogging world. Yes, most of us know him already (But not everyone reading this). No, I never get bored of him. He is one of the biggest bloggers out there with his sites Zen Habits and mnmlist. He’s got six (!) kids and lives a simple and minimalist life that is highly inspiring. After everything I’ve read by him: I’m still amazed.

Blog: Zen Habits & mnmlist / Twitter: @zen_habits

One inspirational post (out of thousands): Minimalist Fun: The 100 Things Challenge


Jacob Sokol

When Jacob was still in his old job two years back, he didn’t have an enthusiastic feeling when his day began. He had the money and the toys, but is soul wasn’t screaming ‘Hell Yeah!’. A backpacking trip to Europe woke him up and changed his life in the process.  Today he’s committed to living an extraordinary life and he has created Sensophy as a way to show others how to do the same! Jacob is one awesome guy with lots of energy – check out his videos!

Blog: Sensophy / Twitter: @jacobsokol

One inspirational post: 23 Easy, Actionable, and Kick-Ass Ways to Create an Extraordinary Life, Today!


Sean Ogle

In 2009, Sean’s life sucked. So he quit his job, moved to Thailand, built a business, and started living life the way he’d always wanted. His blog documents the journey and teaches others how to do the same thing. Along the way, he’s working hard to get through his bucket list. These days, he’s hanging out in Asia a lot, enjoying his location independent lifestyle to the fullest while taking care of his Internet business. He’s living the life, guys!

Blog: Location 180 / Twitter: @seanogle

One inspirational post: My Last Day…


Tyler Tervooren

Tyler Tervooren is on a personal journey to join the top 1% of the world by completing epic personal challenges. But he wasn’t born doing that. In Februray, 2010, he was laid off and lost that good job. Facing incredible unemployment and the fact that he never really liked his career in the first place, he realized he’d already taken the biggest risk I ever could by not allowing myself to pursue the life I really wanted. And then he went for it. Advanced Riskology is a blog and social movement encouraging people to consciously choose what they want from life and take the risks necessary to achieve it.

Blog: Advanced Riskology / Twitter: @tylertervooren

One inspirational post: How to Have Everything You Want


Nathan Whitworth

Nathan is my real hero. After losing his girlfriend, he bought himself a little boat to live on the Thames in London to satisfy his craving for adventure. In an attempt to escape the rat race and his boring life, he went on to learn how to sail and then left London with 500 bucks in his name to circumnavigate the UK. He still lives on the his tiny sailboat today. Beat that for doing the unconventional.

Blog: OnKudu

One inspirational post: Introduction (“Have you ever had a silly idea?” )


Please share this post, if you enjoyed reading it!

Feel free to leave comments and let us know of any other unconventional peeps living life unconventionally!
Or maybe you’re own lifestyle is unconventional? Tell us your story or leave a link to your blog!

Stay tuned for the next part of my unconventional peeps series – Part II is all about folks making a living the unconventional way and unconventional businesses! Don’t miss!


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39 Responses to 15 Inspiring and Unconventional People You Have to Know About

  1. Jacob Sokol says:

    Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet. Thanx for the warm words Conni! -=)

  2. Hi Conni. Thanks so much for sharing my work with your readers. Great list of people here.

    • Conni says:

      Absolutely, Tyler! Your blog was one of the first I came across a few months ago that stuck with me. Congrats on the marathon by the way!

  3. Corbett Barr says:

    Hey Conni! Thanks so much for creating this list, and for including me among such fantastic company. I’m a big fan of almost everyone on the list (and there were a few new faces as well). Cheers.

    • Conni says:

      Thanks a trillion for stopping by, Corbett! How could I not include you? :) Your whole Million Dollar Blog Project got me into this!!! (And man, am I glad it did!)

      • Yes awesome list of friends and familiar faces and as Corbett says some newer ones for me. Taylor is someone I never got to meet in Vancouver despite being friends with his closest friends and I didn’t even know he’d started a blog so awesomeness.

        • Conni says:

          Yes, Taylor is preeeetty amazing. Incredibly inspiring. Hope to meet him too one day.

          I love your blog, Natalie! And Thanks for stopping by here!

  4. Joel says:

    Thanks Conni :)

    Really appreciate the shoutout here. Let me know if there’s anything impossible I can help you do! :)

    • Conni says:

      I say thanks for just being there and serving as a motivation on your blog! Looking back, a few months ago, doing this ‘blog thing’ seemed highly impossible. Crazy, how things change, ey… (Might take you up on the offer ;))

  5. Emilie says:

    You ROCK Conni! Thanks for including me among all these wonderful people.

  6. Bryan Weller says:

    What an amazing list of people! Some of them already inspire me and I’m looking forward to discovering those people that are new to me. Thanks for putting this list together.

    • Conni says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Bryan!
      It’s great to look at all of the guys that influenced my whole blog project, knowing where this comes from.
      You have a great start going over on your website, too. I love what you say on your About page! I’ll be following you!

  7. mandy says:

    I love your website!! We share many of the same ideals:)

  8. Rad awesome, thanks for the shout out Conni, this is a great start!!

    Oh and is it just me, or did Chris Guillebeau recently steal my goatee?

  9. Conni, this is an incredible list of such inspirational people. I’m looking forward to checking out those who are new to me. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    • Conni says:

      You are truly welcome!! Makes me happy to inspire other people with this list! They surely had a big effect on me! Will share even more in the next two posts of this series!

  10. Dan says:

    Awesome! Thanks for including me…wait…I didn’t make the list!

    No bother. I will. Someday.

    Thanks for a terrific list. We follow the wisdom of some similar folks. I’m excited to expose myself to the work of those I’ve yet to discover.

  11. Rochelle R says:

    All such inspiring stories. :) What an amazing list of people, will follow all their sites. :) Thanks for featuring them.

    • Conni says:

      My pleasure!! Glad you like them! Hope they can be of as much inspirational value for you as they have been for me! All the best, Rochelle!!

  12. Katie says:

    Hi Conni – quite a refreshing list, some old favourites, and some brand new ones too.

  13. I’ve bookmarked your post because I found it useful. You have gathered a useful list for someone to follow and get new ideas, which is always a valuable option to have.

  14. Srinivas says:

    Somebody in my network shared your link on twitter so I had to see who was on this list that I didn’t know. Finding the people I didn’t know yet is my favorite thing about these lists.

    • Conni says:

      Cheers, Srini!! Glad you found a couple you didn’t know yet! Got Part II coming soon!
      (I’m a big fan of your blog and Podcast by the way!)

      • Srinivas says:

        Awesome. Always great to meet an connect with new people as I’ve said. I recently hosed my entire RSS reader to start reading blogs i didn’t know about and yours was one I added to my list.

        • Conni says:

          Cool, I feel honoured! :) And I just uploaded a lot of BlogcastFM interviews onto my iPhone, that should make my life on Berlin’s trains a bit more enjoyable :)

  15. jean cave says:

    Where are all the older world nomads. You didnt even mention one??

  16. Tennille says:

    great list…definitely going to share

  17. Heidi says:

    Spent hours reading about all their stories – I feel like I’ve just come up for air :)! Thanks for posting this, keep up the good work X. Heidi.

  18. Lidiya K says:

    Great collection of inspirational people.

    I didn’t know most of them but I’m definitely gonna take some time to check out their blogs and read their story.

    It’s so motivating to see how possible it is to become self-employed these days, to follow your dreams, do exactly what you want and help people with it. People like these are the proof I need to keep going :)


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