Harry Houdini (1874-1926)
As I posted in a recent essay, Houdini was much more than a talented escape artist.
A masterful promoter, educator, and fervent consumer of knowledge, Houdini was constantly learning, in areas beyond that which he was proficient. The illusionist had a collection of thousands of books, and was constantly probing the worlds of spirituality, geography, and human anatomy.
From a small town in rural Wisconsin, Harry Houdini rode his passion and curiousity for life to international acclaim. He didn't shy away from much of anything, often allowing perfect strangers to challenge his abilities of escape and strength. This may have led to his demise, which adds to his mystique.
“My brain is the key that sets my mind free.”
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)
Nightingale's work has advanced the worlds of nursing, sanitation, and statistical analysis. Upon returning from the Crimean War, Florence spent a great deal of time analyzing the information she gathered while tending to thousands of injured soldiers. The reports she presented to the British government were integral to further developments in medical care.
"The world is put back by the death of every one who has to sacrifice the development of his or her peculiar gifts to conventionality."
Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
Steve Jobs had an indellible impact on so many aspects of modern life. His work revolutionized modern personal computing, music consumption, digital animation, and mobile connectivity at a personal level.
It has been said that Jobs was a harsh task master who demanded perfection among his employees. His visions of the products he produced included even the most finite details - down to the screws inside the machines. It was this unyielding attention to detail that brought him the success he enjoyed later in his life.
The most inspiring thing about Steve Jobs is the story of where he came from. By understanding the failures and disadvantages that he overcame, this story of technological success becomes even more inspiring.