Unique Business Leaders

Unique Business Leaders

When you think of a successful business owner, you might imagine a serious person who dresses professionally every day, but that doesn't have to be the case. Business leaders actually come in all shapes and sizes. Some may be computer experts or the suit-and-tie type, while others are more relaxed, eccentric, or unique. Get inspired by these uncommon business owners.

Andre Sandifer & Abir Ali

Native Michiganders and married business partners, Andre Sandifer and Abir Ali design and manufacture modern furniture out of their own studio, Ali Sandifer, in Detroit. Their portfolio features a few basic designs, but the pieces are unique because of the hidden storage compartments and the fact that they use sustainably harvested domestic hardwoods. This husband-and-wife team trained as architects and opened their first studio in Ann Arbor in 2003. When Ali was awarded a Detroit Revitalization Fellowship, they moved their family and their business to the city. They’re proud to be one of the few minority-owned furniture design studios in the country and appreciate the creative community in Detroit.

Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin is a highly prolific and respected music producer. His credits include early work by LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, comeback albums by Johnny Cash and Black Sabbath and hybrid works, such as Run-DMC and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Even more important than Rubin's resume, however, is his leadership style. Rubin motivates musicians and sound engineers by incorporating Zen meditative principles into his work. He meditates regularly and helps the artists he works with do the same. This meditation allows him to listen carefully to what the artists want and need, support and validate their strengths, and guide them toward their best work. Most of the artists who work with him are motivated to do their best work because of his unorthodox and accepting methods.

Giuletta Carelli

Giuletta Carelli is the owner of Trouble Coffee, a San Francisco coffee shop that has really taken off despite its location in a small, sleepy neighborhood. She is driven and determined; she opened her own shop after years of working in other coffee shops and dreaming of owning one of her own. Trouble Coffee is named in honor of all the people who helped Carelli when times were tough. Her shop is small by design. She wanted people to have to stand close to each other so that they would be forced to talk and get to know each other. Her business plan demonstrates both her determination to do things her own way and her love of community.

Nicholas Woodman

Nicholas Woodman puts his surfing background to good use in his company, GoPro, which makes waterproof cameras for surfers, scuba divers, and other water enthusiasts. In 2002, he created the first prototypes for a wearable, waterproof camera using a drill and his mom's sewing machine. Since then, he's revised his product line and now makes over $1 billion per year selling his cameras on home shopping networks and in surf shops. Woodman has been surfing all his life and was raised by an investment banker. He combined his knowledge of both of these areas to create a successful business.

These business leaders are all unique people who put their talents, interests, and backgrounds to work to create successful businesses. Which business leader inspires you?

Lizzie Wann is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services, and Student Services for Ashford University.

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