People I’m Especially Thankful For This Thanksgiving

November 25, 2011 · Print This Article

Thanksgiving weekend is a time for gratitude for the people in our lives who make life a miraculous bundle of joy. Here are some people I’m especially thankful for this Thanksgiving 2011. Each of whom in one way or another has played a hugely influential role in my life this year.

West Coast Friends

  1. Carly Brantmeyer for her amazing energy and photography and for introducing me to Pinterest in August!
  2. Alan Mask for his musical inspiration, awesome beats and lyrics, and intensely creative Jambulance video.
  3. The visionary Elliott Bisnow for building a great team at Summit Series and putting on an absolutely one-in-a-lifetime Summit at Sea in April.
  4. The most amazing musician Austin Bisnow for making songs your heart can feel out of Malibu, CA and making a difference within the lives of children it with the Get Well Soon Tour.
  5. Rich Halvorson for giving me a great tour of Venice Beach this summer and kicking butt with Global Fast.
  6. Nathaniel Whittemore for working hard in SF-style stealth mode to create something amazing at AssetMap.

NC-Based Friends

  1. The unstoppable and wonderful Jess Shorland for lighting up my life in many ways, taking me to my first Taylor Swift concert last week, and along with her partner Dara Keatts kicking butt on Pengo Loans, a peer-to-peer SME lending start-up.
  2. Ryan Richards, Allie Treske, Sarah Miller, Tom Meehan and the team building Nourish International into a movement of people committed to ending extreme poverty in our lifetime.
  3. Mailande Moran formerly the lead singer for Rusty the European Tour for her to-die-for singing voice not to mention her passion for making a difference in the world.
  4. Aaron Houghton, Jeff Revoy, David Rasch, Tim Oakley, Sarah Stealey, Pam Rose, Kevin Fitzgerald, Ralph Kasuba, Michelle Tabares, Matt Kopac, and all the amazing 270 people working their butts off to build iContact into a great global company and leader in email and social media marketing.
  5. Malcolm Young, Russ Jones, Jeff Staub, Jake Bohall, and all the folks working to build Virante into a leader in search engine optimization.
  6. Rye Barcott for writing a book that changed my life – It Happened On the Way to War.
  7. My friend Zach Clayton for being there for me at a key time in the Spring, telling me what it’s like at HBS, and for kicking butt with Three Ships Media this year.
  8. James Rushton for being a great financial advisor and keeping me protected (not to mention a half-English man like me).
  9. Neil Bagchi for being the best corporate lawyer I’ve ever known as well as awesome Nourish board member.
  10. Alison Dorsey for some wonderful chats at Beyu in downtown Durham.
  11. Jud Bowman for some great chats about entrepreneurship and life.
  12. Rachel Weeks for having an amazing 2011 building School House into a leader in fashionable college branded apparel.

NYC-Based Friends

  1. NYC-based Fabian Pfortmellier and the founders of eco-friendly apparel company Holstee for creating the most amazing company manifesto ever.
  2. Bobby Bailey and Hugh Evans of the Global Poverty Project for being crazily impassioned earth shakers creatively bringing to the attention of millions the reality of extreme poverty in the developing world and what we can do about it.
  3. Michael Simmons, Sheena Lindahl, and Sarah Green (in D.C.) for kicking butt building Empact, launching the Empact100 list, and holding two Future of Entrepreneurship Education Summits this year.
  4. Dan Sutera for building low-cost schools in rural Africa with Impact Network.
  5. Doug Akin, for inspiring many by traveling the world over the past six months! (so far he’s been to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Bostwana, Zimbabwe and South Africa).
  6. The wonderful Carla Blumenthal for brightening my Thanksgiving morning by sending me the Turkey Dancer guy video!
  7. The newly Boulder-based truly unreasonable Amber Rae for her amazing motivational drawings she calls Ambergrams. They can be truly life changing.
  8. Antony Demenkin for his sweet freestyle rapping and being willing to jam with me in NYC.
  9. Tatiana DeMaria for her amazing music videos, particularly Road to Paradise.
  10. Michael Ellsberg for writing a very eye-opening article on hypomania/bipolar II and publishing a great book this summer on alternative educational paths called the The Education of Millionaires.
  11. Anthony Adams for being the type of dedicated crazy man we all love, letting me stay at his place in the West Village for 12 days in July, and introducing me to the wonderful world of Priscilla Queen of the Desert on Broadway (think Australian drag queens lost in the outback).
  12. The most amazing PR guy I’ve ever met, Scott Gerber, founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council for going to Egypt with me and helping launch iContact’s social media product media campaign.
  13. Danny Alexander, for being what I am convinced is my long-lost male soulmate and twin, yet infinitesimally more talented as a designer and drawer.
  14. James Marshall Reilly, a roommate of mine for 12 days this summer in NYC, for writing the book Shake The World
  15. Stephen Cesarini for throwing an unforgettable July 4th party in Montauk this year and successfully summitting Kilimanjaro in October.
  16. Simon Sinek for writing an amazing book Start With Why and spending some time together in New York City this summer. Watch his TEDx talk.
  17. Laurie Davis the eFlirtExpert!
  18. The amazing Montse Ferrer for teaching me how to truly love Cookie Monster and introducing me to Miss Favela’s Brazilian brunch in Williamsburg Brooklyn.
  19. Lewis Howes for being able to mind-control squirrels (seriously), put on great social media webinars, and introducing me to so many great people in New York this year.
  20. Kim Scheinberg of Presumed Abundance for being a friend and allowing me to host an impact investor meetup of 30 of my closest friends at her apartment in October.
  21. Sheel Tyle for being the most amazing 20 year old I’ve ever met.
  22. Taryn Miller-Stevens for her infectious energy and constantly encouraging me to dance.

Boston-Based Friends

  1. The wonderful Emily Silberstein for opening my eyes to so many great things including the joys of Hunger Games, the cosmopolitan excitement of Mumbai, the world of African private equity, the HBS Africa Business Club and so much more.
  2. Ameel Somani for sharing my excitement and passion for investing in companies in Africa over the next 50 years.

All Over The Place Friends

  1. Shervin Pishevar, Shauna Robertson, Angela Mwanza, Randy Zuckerberg, Brian Gott, Zaw Thet, Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, and Elliott Bisnow (repeated) for serving with me on the 2011/2012 UN Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council.
  2. Jit Sinha, Brad Woloson, Buck Goldstein, Carter Griffin and the amazing group of mentors I have around me at iContact.
  3. Shama Kabani for being an awesome friend while in Egypt and for sending the most amazing Sherwani to wear at the Nourish Chairman’s Reception this year.
  4. Saul Garlick for kicking butt with ThinkImpact in it’s first year as a for-profit company.
  5. The doubly-unstoppable Roey Rosenblith for having a great year with Village Energy Uganda bringing solar lamps to market in and around Kampala.
  6. Elizabeth Davis for kicking butt building a leadership, hospitality, and entrepreneurship college for girls in Kigali, Rwanda called The Akilah Insitute for Women.
  7. Cameron Herold for giving an awesome talk at the MIT/EO Entrepreneurial Masters Program, mentoring me from July-October, and sharing many a lesson learned as COO of 1-800-Got-Junk.
  8. Jeff Calibaba for leading the class of 2011 for the MIT/EO Entrepreneurial Masters Program and all my classmates.
  9. Ben Abram for showing me how to hustle with Wylan Capital by helping finance green tech companies.
  10. Super social enterprise connector Martin Montero for connecting me with so many great people.
  11. Daniel Epstein for being completely unreasonable, co-founding The Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, CO and having a huge vision.


  1. My cousin Lisa for introducing me to the world of hilarious and dirty Disney jokes over Thanksgiving dinner last night.
  2. Andy Allis for being a wonderful brother and lighting up my life as a castmember of the improv troupe The Proverbial Loons at The Castillo Theatre.
  3. My parents Park and Pauline for a lifetime of inspiration and lessons and not charging me rent for 18 years AND still to this day giving me a free place to stay every Thanksgiving week :-)

This year has been a wonderful whirlwind, with still 35 days to go. Thanks to everyone who has helped make 2011 an amazing year full of so much growth for myself, iContact, Virante, and Nourish!


2 Responses to “People I’m Especially Thankful For This Thanksgiving”

  1. Brian Gott on November 30th, 2011 10:13 pm

    Ryan – you inspire people to want to be better….and I bet you don’t even know it. Thank you for being an extrordinary individual.

  2. Bolaji O | The Nocrastinator on January 20th, 2012 9:29 am

    Hey Ryan!

    This is an amazing collection of individuals you’ve surrounded yourself with. Ha ha – with family, friends and mentors like this, you have NO CHOICE but to DARE MIGHTY THINGS.

    Bolaji O.

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