Learn From the Best: Most Inspiring CEOs To Follow on LinkedIn


Richard Branson

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It’s Official: LinkedIn has emerged to claim its place as the better-dressed, networking-savvy big brother of all social media platforms. Although you may already appreciate the site for its infinite utility during a job search, there’s even more to be gleaned by following the influential and thought-provoking CEOs who come there to share their wisdom.

Although fewer than 1/3 of Top 500 CEOs use social media, according to Forbes, those that do are overwhelmingly active on LinkedIn. Even more telling, the site is actually more popular with CEOs than it is with the general public.

Here are a few picks to enlighten, inform, and entertain. 

1. Quirks Galore

If you want to be inspired to innovate on your own terms, it doesn’t get any better than infamous Virgin CEO, Richard Branson. The well-known LinkedIn “Influencer” writes on topics ranging from How to Find a Fulfilling Career to how to Screw Business Meetings As Usual (his words, not ours!). His perspective is both passionate and compassionate, making his regular posts interesting, compelling, and fun.

2. Blogging for Good

The title of CEO isn’t always equated with generosity, and rarely with social justice. But CEO and author of Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes Katya Andresen defies the stereotype. Her stirring post, 3 Mantras to Give Your Work More Meaning, encourages the reader to explore their calling and contains her own concepts to live and work by, including: “Do one thing today that will help a child learn.” A far cry from the media antics of less inspiring CEOs (looking at you, Dov Charney).

3. Craigsblog

As noteworthy as all the Influencers at LinkedIn are, many can be infrequent posters, leaving us wanting more. Craig Newmark (of Craigslist fame) delivers quality content on a regular basis, and never fails to be both earnest and refreshing. His everyman voice is apparent in his recent entry, Why I Speak Only for Myself, where he opens by telling us, “as a manager, I kinda suck, but I found my calling in customer service, and every day I saw how we helped people put food on the table and put a roof over that table.” He’s also really into bird watching and maintains a gallery dedicated to the topic with his wife (Craig and Eileen’s Spectacular Birdography), and that’s just plain adorable.

4. Work It

For practical career insights that can be applied in everyday situations, look no further than CEO of CAREEREALISM, J.T. O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s prolific collection of writing spans the gamut of workplace concerns and is constantly being updated with useful tips intended to aid in professional development. She breaks down the components of successful Online Networking and provides concrete steps to help us make a great first virtual impression:

“The best online introductions answer three questions as follows:

  1. What problem do you love to solve in your work?
  2. How do you do that?
  3. What are you looking to do next with your skills?”

Her candor is invaluable; it’s like having a best friend in HR who’s willing to dish the dirt and always has your best interest in mind.

5. Humble FTW

Forbes recently shared the findings of a study exploring the effectiveness of Humble CEOs. The study, which polled 63 Chinese companies using stringent checks and complex rating systems, found that the greater the level of humility in the CEO, “the more top- and mid-level managers reported positive reactions. Top-level managers said they felt their jobs were more meaningful, they wanted to participate more in decision-making, they felt more confident about doing their work and they had a greater sense of autonomy.” Humble CEOs engendered the desire to collaborate and communicate in top-level managers, and the level of engagement and commitment expressed by middle managers.

Shuki Lehavi, former CEO of tech startup Gumiyo, shared with us his own favorite Humble CEO to follow on LinkedIn and had the following to say: “Jeff Stibel, CEO of D&B Credibility Corp is a down-to-earth CEO. He knows how to start, grow and sell businesses and his advice is not only honest but also provocative and insightful. If you ever visit his company, you will see a wall covered with whiteboard where everyone writes down their biggest failure. In my LinkedIn posts I try to convey the same honesty and humility as he does.”

No matter who you decide to follow, LinkedIn is a platform ripe for providing tangible connections with great minds.

If you harbor your own secret (or not so secret) desire to become a sage CEO, GA’s offerings (like their Business Fundamental Course) can get you started down the road to glory.


Disclaimer: General Assembly referred to their Bootcamps and Short Courses as “Immersive” and “Part-time” courses respectfully and you may see that reference in posts prior to 2023.