The 10 Most Influential People You Should Follow: Part One
SHERYL SANDBERG – “The Most Powerful Woman in Business”
When conversation turns to Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, arguably “the Most Powerful Woman in Business,” there are a few “—versity”s worth talking about: university, adversity and diversity. In May 2013, Sandberg published her best-selling book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, where she assessed the imbalances between women and men—why women are less present in leadership roles, what can be done to empower and educate them, and make a shift towards equality. “As a country and as a world,” she says,” we are not comfortable with women in leadership roles. We call little girls bossy.” She trails the effects of this stigma of “bossy girls” and low expectations of women from university, where there aren’t many women in computer sciences, to government, where women’s voices in the U.S. Senate are underrepresented and outnumbered by men. Four years after the publication of her “female-manifesto”, university took a back seat to adversity when her beloved husband, best friend, and business confidant, Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey passed-away from heart complications. Suddenly, Sandberg found herself trying to cope with the loss of the life she expected to live with Goldberg, what she called “Option A.” A few withering months after his death, the mantra “Let’s Kick the Shit Out of Option B” was born from the lips of Sandberg’s close friend and co-worker Mark Zuckerberg. After that, Sandberg did a new sort of “leaning-in” to business—that is, small business. “My grandfather had a paint store. It’s what put my mom through college. Small business is part of my family history.” Wishing to debut her care and dedication to small businesses, Facebook remains a relatively free, quick, and easy resource for advertising. It enables smaller businesses that might not have the time or funds to afford a website to have some representation amongst the louder, bigger companies. This is where university and adversity come together, as Sandberg pushes for leadership diversity.
TONY HSIEH – “The King of Company Culture”
Imagine that a random guy with a mohawk claims to know the secret to good customer service. It’s reasonable to believe that most people wouldn’t buy into it—especially if they saw that he uses a “z” to make words (wordz) plural. The remaining audience would listen skeptically, as he whispers the secret: “the phone.” But, what if this regular joe sported a mohawk as his commitment to trying “one uncomfortable thing a day;” and the words phonez, live chatz, and emailz were the only words he made plural with a ‘z,’ as a part of the Zapponian culture; and this guy was not regular at all, but in fact, the CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh. Suddenly, he has a very, very large audience. Find out why, in an increasingly cyber society where live chats and emails are king, Hseih insists that phones and personal connections are the secret to exceptional customer service and enduring customer loyalty.
MARK PARKER – “Most Creative CEO in the World”
Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, knows what it’s like to start at the bottom—and that’s not just because his company deals with footwear. Parker initially began his career at Nike as a designer; twenty-five years later, in 2006, he found himself at the forefront of what has become the world’s premier athletic shoe company. Leading with an “edit and amplify” leadership style, Parker accepts that new ideas and perspectives can come from anywhere—from the desks of staff members, or from different cultures around the world. He operates under a formula where innovation and inspiration for product-design are drawn from these omnipresent ideas, and polished by seeking detailed insight and information. He recalls a conversation on an airplane where he was asked, “what more can you do with shoes that hasn’t already been done.” Today, he laughs at the challenge, as the environment for innovation and inspiration thrives.
RESHMA SAUJANI – Warrior for the Gender Gap in Technology
Lately, there has been a lot of conversation about the gap. Theories and solutions may seem a dime a dozen when the overarching problems of withstanding wage differences and societal traditions appear to magnify the breach between men and women in the workplace by tenfold. Yet, Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code, advocates that imperfection may be the perfect foundation to start filling that gap. Like most great ideas, her solution did not come to her overnight; it came to her at the age of thirty-three, after an unsuccessful campaign to be elected into office. She mused to herself that this was either the bravest thing she had done, or the stupidest. Within the wake of newspapers saying that she had wasted $1.3 million running for office, she found the answer to women’s problems everywhere: failure—or rather, the bravery to accept failure, and accept imperfection. She explains in her Ted Talk, Teach girls bravery, not perfection, that girls are socialised to be perfect, and boys are taught to be brave; that the real problem is not an economic deficit, but a bravery deficit. Coding, she believes, helps teach girls to be brave, and re-wire their apprehension towards making mistakes, or “looking stupid.” Saujani’s efforts to educate women in Computer Sciences has resulted in over 50,000 girls in each state across the United States heeding the call to coding. As they study coding, girls learn to reject the idea they are coded wrong—instead, they address the problems within the codes in front of them, on their computer screens and in the workplace.
ELON MUSK – World Environmentalist & Systems Disruptor
“The faster we can get there, the better.” One might assume that the context surrounding this statement from Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, might have to do with the ever-present need-for-speed that is the pinnacle selling-point to every luxury-car commercial on TV. Yet, a couple tweets from March 2017 and a drive to South Australia would energise a very different situation: the global journey towards renewable energy, starting with a bet to build the world’s largest battery in 100 days. This was following the lightning storm that blacked-out South Australia’s 1.7 million residents in September 2016. It’s no joke that the CEO of the environmentally-minded automobile company meant business when he tweeted: “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?” It was. He delivered on his promise 40 days ahead of schedule. When debuting his success at the world’s largest lithium-ion battery farm in South Australia, he introduced the renewable-resource technology as the “technology of the future,” and “the faster we can get there, the better.”
Follow this environmentalist on Twitter as he illuminates pressing environmental issues, and inspiring technological breakthroughs both in and out of this world.