39 Luminaries Transforming Society: Creative Alchemy, Social Evolution + Mindful Influence

chePreface: A few months ago I published the precursor to this with a small handful of folks in it -- my intention was to continue deepening it over time to create a living resource, and so I am. I don't consider it an exhaustive end-all list, but more a small and growing -- incomplete -- resource. It's highly filtered -- people I've come in contact with who're driven by a force of greatness, and also maintain a certain luminous resonance in their life and work. *Charmed* you could say. At the time in which a person's greatest work begins to carry itself, a certain lightness emanates -- it's a noticeable buoyancy that can lift you up too.

Some will be featured in the forthcoming Edge Flow Project -- if you resonate with this group I'm guessing you'll love that project too, though it pushes a different edge.


Aided by social technologies and the intimate global web, we seem to be reaching higher levels of collective conscious evolution. Meanwhile, there's those pesky forces of collective ignorance, willful complacency and general darkness.

I'm particularly interested in the work of people who've managed to find a specific toehold -- catching momentum and making a deep impact -- while cultivating mindful resonance. These are the new luminaries -- creative alchemists and mindful influencers of our human/social evolution for good.

Some of these are people in the earlier stages of their work, like Margaret Nichols in the emerging luminaries section, who's joyfully immersed in the messy sprawl of New York City while quietly building a movement of unity. Others, like Josette Sheeran in the luminaries of social change/public policy section -- who's working towards the effective elimination of world hunger as director of the UN World Food Program -- are well along their paths.

One commonality between them all is an uncommon drive to push the edges in their life and work, while maintaining a certain luminance or flow. They're also actively engaged in the social web, and working towards some greater common unity between us all.

The Luminaries

Here's my small and growing personal list of luminaries pushing the edges in Art, Entrepreneurial Leadership, Social Technology, Social Change, Self-Mastery and Human/Social Evolution.

1) Luminous Artists Pushing the Edges of Personal and Social Transformation:

Alexander Ebert A master recording artist, previously known for his work as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, his solo album 'Alexander' is luminous and brilliant. Completely self-made, he composed and played every part: Alexander | Official Site.

The single Truth is incredible, but I was won over by his video for Let's Win about the activist Tim DeChristopher who was recently sentenced to two years in federal prison for effectively blocking the sale of 14 parcels of drilling land -- by bidding for them with no intention to buy -- in a Bush administration oil-rights auction [Guardian article].

JR Winner of the 2011 TED Prize, JR's work uses large-scale photographic art prints to unite communities and cultures in conflict and spark social change. Watch his inspiring TED Prize wish video: Use art to turn the world inside out.

inside out

Participate in the INSIDE OUT PROJECT: "A large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities."

Jonathan Harris jonathan harrisI love Jonathan's work -- he sort of encapsulates the conflicting sense of togetherness and isolation in our modern lives. His work brings together humanity and technology in such an incisive way, like his interactive installation commissioned by MOMA, I Want You To Want Me

This sliver of a conversation from his Today project captures a bit of  his essence:

It's like, there are these gaps between everyone. Every couple, every set of siblings, every parent and child, every group of friends, and you don't really know how big or small the gap is, because there's all this fog in the gap so you can't see into it. You start to imagine a bridge in the gap, hiding in the fog, and you're pretty sure it's there and if you ever really needed to you could go across the bridge. But when you take a trip with someone, and spend so much time together, all that fog blows away, and you can finally see the gap for what it is. Sometimes the gap is much smaller than you thought it was, and you grow a lot closer. Sometimes it's much bigger than you thought, and then you grow apart or break up.... [source]

2) Luminaries Fusing Heart + Spirit with Entrepreneurial Leadership:

These people are well-known in many circles, but having personally met each of these remarkable folks I can attest to each one's luminous presence and integrity.

Charlie Gilkey charlie gilkeyRazor sharp, perceptive and wise, Charlie's a great coach, and a master of delivering.

Nice sample of Charlie's work:

Level 1 showing up is showing up, going through the motions, and tracking your time in. We show up in this way when we attend classes and do the homework the way it’s prescribed. We show up this way when we sit in our offices and wait for something to react to or to motivate us. We show up this way when we hear the people around us and do what we need to to keep the peace.

Level 2 showing up is different in kind. When we show up this way, we understand that the prescribed homework is a springboard to new applications and understanding. When we show up this way, we show up to our offices ready to make something happen whether the winds are favorable or whether we’ll be rowing. When we show up this way, we listen for what’s really going on with others and move beyond keeping the peace. [Show up in a different way]

My interview with Charlie for Freedom Business Summit: Build Your Strengths + Kick Your Weaknesses in the Pants


Chris Guillebeau chris guillebeauHaving finally met Chris in person at his World Domination Summit this year, I find him to be more of an enigma then ever. He may be the most productive person I've ever known, and yet he's intensely thoughtful and mindful, and doesn't seem to miss any of the tiniest details.

I enjoyed this recent piece of Chris's wisdom:

When you begin to share your important work with the world, a funny thing happens: some of the people closest to you don’t understand it. They damn you with faint praise, or they point out something trivial that could be improved. Sometimes they never say anything at all, which of course is the worst thing.

When the time comes to show off your great project, you’re all, “Hey! Check out this thing that I did!” And they’re all, “Oh. That’s nice.” Nice? [...] Some of the people you expect to be your biggest supporters will disappoint you—and some of the people you rarely thought about, or didn’t even know existed, will turn out to be your true friends. This is how it works when you begin to share yourself with the world. It’s a funny thing. [LEGACY PROJECTS AND THE LOVE OF TRUE FRIENDS]


Corbett Barr corbett barrRazor-sharp intelligence matched with lots of heart and vision.

Love the new directions he's been moving in. He's a great encouragement. :)

When you find glimpses of your best self underneath all the layers of expectations and conformity, you have to encourage that better self waiting inside you. Nurture your best self and let it grow.

You know there is a magnificent side of you just beneath the surface, waiting to come out and flourish and change the world in your unique positive way, whether big or small.

Your job is to find that side of yourself and embrace it.

Welcome your life’s flow and start living your potential. [Finding Your Life’s Flow]

Interview with Corbett for Freedom Business Summit: Live the Life You Want: Freedom-Business Building with Corbett Barr


Danielle LaPorte danielle laporteA master of personal evolution and the human condition, Danielle's work consistently cuts through any stereotypes of personal development and straight to the core. She's also just a lot of fun.

Great wisdom:

Intuition is Queen. Cash is King. Love trumps all.

Watch my interview with Danielle: Anchoring Into a Life of Freedom (2 mins + 43 secs in the Fire with Danielle LaPorte)

I found her piece on Accessing your innate personal power essential and revealing. I'd still love to see her tackling some more of the issues affecting our larger future and collective human evolution... :)


Jonathan Fields jonathan fieldsWow, so much to say about this remarkable dude, but he says it best himself through his work:

No doubt, for me, one of the greatest elements of entrepreneurship is the ability to pursue a passion or cause. Something capable of serving others, having a profound impact and making me come alive. That very quest, in fact, is often the purest fuel behind the most successful entrepreneurs. In fact a recent study of pentamillionaires found that most were driven not by money, but by passion or the quest to solve a pervasive problem.

BUT, it’s also critically important to explore how you are going to leverage that quest, that passion, that cause into a business and venture that is capable of generating enough cash to live well in the world and, if necessary, support a family. Sometimes there’s a readily available answer. Often times there’s not, and that’s where you have to get hyper-creative.

[The 4 Delusions of Entrepreneurs]


Jonathan Mead jonathan fieldsI've got my eye on this trailblazing day-job killer, waiting to see what he comes up with next. Whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be life-changing for a bunch of folks...

Bliss is unique to the individual. It’s not a panacea prescription that can be distributed en masse. My purpose here is to explore the uncommon way of looking at self development that is often overlooked by the typical, mainstream approach.

In other words, I try to look for where the line is drawn… then deliberately cross it. [About]


Mark Silver mark silverA quietly fierce leader of the heart, Mark really won me over with his deep kindness and deeply rooted love of humanity and spirit when we finally got to meet in person recently.

Here is some of Mark's best writing over the past decade plus: The best out of hundreds written since 1999

My interview with Mark for Freedom Business Summit: Slow Down and Open Your Heart to the Flow of Momentum


Pam Slim pam slimKeep an eye on this lady, she's got some great stuff up her sleeves -- a lot deeper than you might think at first glance. Enjoyed this recent piece from her blog:

What is your body of work?

Your body of work is everything you say, affect, create, contribute and impact.

Smiling at your neighbor every morning as you get the paper can contribute to your bigger desire to see more happiness and joy in the world.

Your jaunt in a legal career may be a very important part of your body of work contributing to the health of busy professionals through your yoga-based health and wellness practice (see Kelly Newsome’s story here and site here)

My passion for and commitment to seeing and stoking the fire of creation inside all human beings has led me from community development projects on the outskirts of Bogotá to non-profit education to teaching martial arts to corporate consulting to entrepreneur coaching and writing a book. And it will take me new directions in the future, without having to feel constrained by any one audience or business or job title.

A body of work is big and deep and complex. It allows you to experiment and play and change and test.

It supports creative freedom.

[Blowup traditional careers in favor of bodies of work]



3) Luminaries Pushing the Edges of Social Evolution + Decoding Technology:

Douglas Rushkoff

douglas rushkoffRushkoff is a prolific writer and thought-leader. He's pushing the edges in co-creating the Contact conference:

"To explore and realize the greater promise of social media to promote new forms of culture, commerce, collective action, and creativity."

His latest book is Program or be Programmed. I'm sure he'll be emerging even more visibly in the future as the imperative of mindful human/social evolution becomes more widespread.


John Hagel

john hagelJohn is pretty much a badass. Read his post Revolution from the Edge, you might see what I mean.

Co-author of The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion. His Twitter bio is fitting -- "Work and play on the edge - views breathtaking, experiences deep and satisfying, learning limitless"


Kevin Kelly

kevin kellyAuthor of What Technology Wants, founding editor Wired Magazine. Seminal thinker, creator of the 1,000 true fans theory, understands the human-technology interface to the core, joyfully translates for the rest of us.

Read The Positive Balance of Technology, on the moral dimensions, past and future trajectory of human/technological interface.


Venessa Miemis

venessa miemisCreator of the Future of Facebook Project, and Organizer for Contact Summit 2011, Venessa's doing some genuinely amazing work with a lot of heart and intelligence, elevating the discussion on the future of the human web, and the future of money. About Venessa.

My interview with Venessa: Pushing the Edges: Venessa Miemis on Facebook, Technobuddhism and Emerging Collective Intelligence



4) Luminaries Pushing the Edges of Self-Mastery + Social Evolution

Bindu Wiles bindu wilesBindu is a renaissance woman, writer, photographer, fashionista, thinker, community-builder working towards Enlightened Society.

I love the deep honesty and piercing luminance of her work and her presence.

Watch my interview with Bindu for Freedom Business Summit: Cultivating Luminous Clarity in Your Life and Work



Ev Bogue

ev bogueContinuously thrusting himself forward into the unknown future, and modeling his own development on what he finds, Ev is a whirlwind of energy and mindful influence. Always one to keep your eye on.

Author of Augmented Humanity and Minimalist Business. Loved: Data Transfers from the Heart.

My interview with Ev for Freedom Business Summit: Building a Life and Business On Your Own Terms

On Google+

Gwen Bell

gwen bellA fierce guide to the inner and outer worlds of the social human web, Gwen is a master connector -- between thoughts, ideas, action and key people. I'm guessing this comes with years of deep reflection on the most pressing issues, thoughts and questions of her life (and our times) to unearth deeper values of meaning. Master of Digital Warriorship.

Interview with Gwen:The Warrior’s Path of the Broken Heart: Mysterious, F*cking Fierce, Gwen Bell

Always fun to watch the evolution of Gwen's work online: (blog)



Jan Stewart

jan stewartCo-creator with @rosshill of the Mindful conference in Melbourne -- look for some great short video interviews there -- Jan is like an ocean breeze from Oz. Refeshing, grounding and clear. She can often be found in the midst of short illuminating conversations about the nature of reality and human evolution with friends on her site.

Jan is also involved with some great projects via Hub Melbourne and Integral Development


Julien Smith

julien smithA wonderful instigator of all-around individual awesomeness, and a man who isn't afraid to push the edges fiercely in his life and work.

Read this viral post: (again...)

You know when they say “the best revenge is a life well lived”? Well, this is true, but it isn’t the whole truth. A life well lived is great, yes, but it cannot happen while you are sweating about who your detractors are and what they think. What you have to do, what you have no choice but to do, is accept it and move on.

So not giving a fuck is actually a necessary precedent to create a good life for yourself. It can’t happen without it. That’s why you have to begin today.

[The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck]



Leo Babauta

leo babautaA wonderful, heartful man, who never ceases to amaze. Always pushing the edges of open transparency and collaboration, as in his marvelous forthcoming "effortless life" book, which was open for a brief period for anyone to edit or contribute to.

My interview with Leo for Freedom Business Summit


Raam Dev

raam devA deeply kind, resonant and fascinating guy, Raam is a wonderfully insightful writer and visionary.

As long as you’re listening, learning, and sharing when you’re ready, there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying quiet.


5) Luminaries Pushing the Edges of Social Change and Public Policy through Social, Environmental and Manufacturing Technologies

David Batstone

david batstoneFounder of the Not For Sale Campaign against human trafficking. Organizing innovative approaches to end human trafficking: Witness.



Jeremy Rifkin

jeremy rifkinJeremy provides a quintessential piece to the puzzle. You may have seen his 10 minute animated talk on the empathic civilization, but have you seen the full version? With a perspective going back to the dawn of human civilization, he makes a strong case that we're at a turning point for our young human species, facing the probability of extinction in the next 100 years.

The work Jeremy's doing with early development of a worldwide shared/distributed energy grid is breathtaking: Foet.org


Josette Sheeran

josette sheeranExecutive Director of the UN World Food Program (about Josette). Doing great work to help reverse the hunger problem worldwide through innovative technology, distribution and empowerment programs.

Around one billion people go to sleep hungry and malnourished every night. Tens of thousands of these people die every day unnecessarily. Learning of her work, I came to realize that the time has come when this may finally be turned around, in our lifetimes.

Watch: Josette Sheeran: Ending hunger now


6) Emerging Luminaries Pushing the Edges of their Work/Flow + Personal/Social Evolution

(These are friends who are either in the earlier stages of their work, or further along but gaining traction... i.e. people to watch)

Amy Martin amy martinFun to watch as she evolves and reinvents herself -- experimenting with flow, play and "radical small biz coaching."

Lady has got one interesting bio. Not sure about that FBI bit tho... ;)


Chantelle Baxter chantelle baxterA luminous spirit who's really exploring the outer limits of feminine and personal empowerment with edge.

Also co-founder of the remarkable One Girl organization in Australia.


Crystal Street

crystal streetOne to watch. Gorgeous photographic vision. Digital nomad, with a good sense of humor.

Great stories of the inner and outer journey: storytelling traveller


David Elliott

david elliottRemarkable healer, writer and teacher with whom I've studied directly.

Read this book: Healing (free download)


David Hood

david hoodOrganizer, instigator, facilitator, instigator, social change agent, and...

I'm honestly not sure exactly what he's doing, but whatever it is, I know he's Doing Something Good


Dusti Arab

dusti arabDusti's a real spark of insight and inspiration -- razor sharp and a gem.

Digital Dominatrix and firebrand for the aspiring rebel spirit and the self-promotionally challenged: Undefinable You


Ev`Yan Nasman

ev'yanHeart of gold. Fearlessly shedding light on the truths we've shamefully hidden away.

A female liberation artist for our times: Sex, Love & Liberation


Lex Garey

lex gareyLex is awesome. Love the way she pushes her own edges with seering honesty and bravado, verving between street life, flow and digital mad-hattery... + random stick-and-poke knuckle tats! :)



Lynn Fang

lynn fangA truly thoughtful global citizen.

Sowing the seeds of change: Upcycled Love


Marga Laube

marga laubeA master astrological consultant, Marga's work is truly indispensable for the transformationalists.

Excerpts from her actually highly useful monthly newsletter, found here: Marga's Cosmic Almanac


Margaret Nichols

margaret nicholsIn a nutshell: "goddess trainer, existentialist detective, oneness cheerleader."

An all-around awesome gal, lifting us up with edgy, no-fluff discussions on enlightenment and spirituality in real life: oneness. in the city

Awesome interview with Mags: Sweet and Vicious: Margaret Nichols on Accelerating Human Evolution


Mark Robertson

mark robertsonRemarkable thinker, storyteller, nomad and drifter between worlds.


NOW, the endless train of circuitous idiot logic and brilliant nonsense is still there—but I’m not. I’ve had this issue for a while: I’ve stopped being as troubled by things that are out of my control (bureaucrats, the weather, Lybia, eternal souls, bacteria), and have been more aware of the extraordinary ordinary beauty of everything beyond the bad.

SOMETHING there is that hides behind beauty—it’s a burden to cleave to the beautiful.

[The burden of beauty]



Rhina Ju

Rhina JuI don't know much about Rhina yet, but I just like her. But what really made her jump out at me? Interviewing 1,000 visionaries:

My Year-Long Experiment: 1000 Hands, Synchronicity, and Time Affluence


Sandi Amorim

sandi amorimJust bubbling over with transformational sparks, sincerity and joyful celebration!

Celebrate with Sandi: Deva Coaching


Scott Dinsmore scott dinsmoreScott's been at it for a while, but he's just completely redone and relaunched his site as Live Your Legend, and I like what he's doing -- strong path of leading by example, forging community and fearlessly remaking himself.



To be continued...

The hardest part of creating a list like this is knowing how many people I'm leaving out. All of my true friends and most of my regular readers here are luminaries in their own right, and I intend to bring many more into this group over time.

What will you do with this resource?

For starters, you can follow these people, subscribe to their work, and engage with them. Many can be found together with others on this twitter list:(update in progress) http://twitter.com/#!/satyacolombo/human-evolution

What does it take to lead from this place of deep heart + edge-pushing acumen? Who else should be added to this list? I'm particularly interested in those who are actively, deeply enacting social change and transformation.



2011 will be remembered as the year of rediscovering wonder (TED) -- among other things -- diving mindfully into the core of our individual and collective humanness to re-envision and recreate our world and our future. This is essentially cultivating beginner's mind as it relates to human potential, which I can really resonate with in my own life.

There are a number of people I consider friends, luminaries and compadres in the battle of fierce light and truth with whom I've had the privilege to connect with personally, and so many more I have not had the chance to get to know better... yet. I'm committed to pushing the edges of my own personal evolution, and that of our human collective.

Mindful Influence vs. Playing with Power

In contrast to this group of exceptional beings, I see a lot of people playing with power online, using elements of human and universal energy flow to manifest and attract what they desire -- be it money, fame, success, or whatever.

On the other end of the spectrum is a smaller core of luminaries operating from a far deeper level of personal power and engagement.

These are people who've tumbled and battled with their demons long and hard enough to understand the value of mindful awareness and meaningful, precisely executed action.

These are the ones with the potential to make the greatest positive net impact over time, who are shaping our collective human evolution for the better -- the ones I’m interested in supporting, and those who'll continue rising up, as the tides shift away from greed and destruction towards practices that truly benefit our collective human species.

The creative energy and potential we wield as humans is immensely powerful. It’s essential we be mindful of what we create and support in the world, and how we approach our life and work, to avoid sowing the seeds of our own collective destruction.

This is what drives my work. It's what I write about in the Fierce Wisdom Manifesto, and why I wrote the book Flow.

This is a living piece, and will continue to be updated with others pushing the boundaries of mindful evolution in science, technology, business, consciousness, social change, art and media. Subscribe to the Epic Flow Series for updates.

Live well, and please Retweet/Share with your gang... thanks for your support! -- :)