British entrepreneur and CEO of Virgin Corp. Branson has built an empire of companies with a track-record of nearly unrivaled business success: he has an airline, one of the world’s first spacelines, a record label, travel agencies, resorts and hotels. The list can be made long. And if that wasn’t enough he is also a daredevil when it comes to world record attempts, he has a longstanding commitment to humanitarian involvement and activism. He’s a pioneer in every sense of the word. To me he is a role model because of his success and because in his work at Virgin and elsewhere it’s so easy to tell that he loves what he’s doing and the people it involves, there is much heart to everything he does.
The Brooklyn son made the accolade rags to riches dream in America, nowadays outta Tribeca and all over being one of the world's best-selling artists, all time. 17 Grammys, 75 million records, MTV's greatest MCs. Entrepreneur, investor, businessman, lyrical genius and master of flow. On the billboards he's: Elvis, who?
Now a duo Jay Z and Beyonce run the town occasionally collaborating with names like Kanye, RiRi, Pharrell, Mary J Blige, you name it. It's not easy being that big but to Sean Carter it comes natural, born for it and the rest of us can just admire and enjoy.
Rolled with the kids in a local UNICEF group around highschool, we learned a lot about prevention of common problems for the needy that we had no idea about and we had no idea about the scale of child mortality. But we were also marvelled at the progress. What surprised me most was that much of it wasnt exclusively in hands of the established institutions and big pharma but a couple of impatient optimists powered by Bill & Melinda Gates.
Everyones heard of Microsoft but how many have heard of the Gates Foundation? In the business, if its serious and promising work in health, development, poverty or education chances are you have. Dedicated to the American go-getter spirit that real impact happens when youre at the right place at the right time doing the right thing the Gates Foundation helps millions. With an emphasis on the world's most vulnerable the foundation encourages the advancement of novel ideas and inventions to remedy pressing issues. Like alleviating medical conditions, bringing the world new medicine, making school a reality and lifting people out of poverty. The brilliance of Gates helped define the modern age of tech, having spent many years opening a window to computing for all the world, the Gates Foundation continues by constructing windows of life and fulfillment.
Aside the philantropy the public private site the Gates Notes is where you'll find innumberable topics and works from a wide variety of current and past issues commented and reviewed. A great source of learning and inspiration delivered always professionally thoughtful, creatively intriguing and fun.
UNICEF was created by the United Nations general assembly to serve the needs of children in the wake of wars and disasters. To young people, especially in the developed world, charity organisations may be well-known and everyone knows their work is needed, indeed invaluable, but may also come around as a lil boring. Save the children earlier made a message centered around the complexities of making their line of work trendy, that its not just difficult its sometimes entirely out of place. Theyre right, but when I was younger and joined UNICEF I obviously hadnt seen that message and even less thought about it, so for me it was a revelation learning that charity could be thrilling and exciting.
So to me unicef is a rolemodel not just for what they do but how they do it. How theyre able to translate serious work in a very engaging and youthful way. Just think of the good will ambassadors theyve engaged, ever since Danny Kaye theyve had numerous celebrities lend their red carpet shine for the cause. Today youll find names like Shakira, Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor and Sir Roger Moore just to name a few.
There is nothing inevitable about someone being there for someone else and thats why the people like the ones at unicef who dedicate their lives and walk the line for others are the unsung heroes of our time. The work these people do should never be taken for granted and appreciated to its commensurate value.
A Columbia and Harvard graduate, his tenure is one reminiscing the times of Presidents Reagan or Kennedy. With his energetic moving speeches and charismatic character he's acclaimed to have revived the rhetoric spirit of the great America.
Barack Obama's tag line Yes We Can is an immortal statement of the power of the people. It arrives straight from the heart of the founding fathers' constitution with an inalienable connection to the We in We the People. He's more than the President of the U.S., more than a Nobel laureate, more than a role model, he's an icon of our time.
A keeper of and believer in the American family, he famously pronounced the ideal that there is not a liberal or conservative America but a United States of America. There there is not a black America or a white America, a latino America or an asian America. There's the promise that is the envy of the world: of hope and opportunity for all in the United States of America.
A continous mission, Jesse Jackson once mentioned we aren't without faults as a people but we are called to a mission without faults. A devotion to a pursuit centered around the understanding that everyone is created equal, something Lincoln claimed his most solemn oath to preserve, protect and defend.
In a dauntless effort he and VP running mate Joe Biden managed to captivate and engage the hearts and minds of millions at home and inspire people everywhere.
And in that election the two managed to beat the republican's bid on one of the really renown American mavericks: John McCain. And when they did, Obama claimed the victory not so much just for the team but infront of an audience with none other than Jesse Jackson, he claimed the victory to belong to the people. And so four years later the Obama Biden duo repeated the feat getting reelected against another respected American's candidacy: Mitt Romney.
In his first inaugural address Obama famously honored the founding of America in Hope and Virtue:
Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Congressman, vice-president, writer, film-maker Vanderbilt and Harvard graduate. Among much else famous for getting the most votes in a presidential election and not winning. One to early realize and promote the possibilities of developing the internet at a time it was called the information superhighway.
In works: Grammy, Emmy, Academy awards. Say more? Nobel prize. He's taken climate issues and environmentalism to heart and delivers regular updates on an online journal featuring a collection of the latest articles, opinions and comments that recent science and new reason can provide.
Together with the intergovernmental panel in his acceptance speech for the Nobel prize he made a profound call for mankind to resolve one of the greatest problems facing us in modern time. We need to get more sustainable and we need to take care of the planet to take care of ourselves.
Either they will ask: What were you thinking; why didn't you act? Or they will ask instead: How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?
We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource.
So let us renew it, and say together: We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.
While covering the Nobel Prize I too want to highlight a few lines by the president of the European Council Herman von Rompuy whom I think speak of greatness beyond the ordinary.
Why the Union and European brotherhood deserves the prize? It's a 28 member state behemoth, the biggest and most complex project undertaken in recent memory. Anyone familiar with European 2000 year old history know that for essentially forever the people of the region have not gotten along, only since the Coal and Steel community and the later formation of the integrated and expanded community turned Union has Europe become what we know and take for granted today: a marvelled construction of freedom, cooperation and peace.
People growing up these days don't really know the past and in some cases aren't to blame, it's their parents and the generation before them that failed to convey the values and worths of what so many struggled so much for to accomplish. How brotherhood was possible from the most violent and hostile pasts, and how it was possible to bridge even the largest divides. Let me quote von Rompuy:
In politics as in life, reconciliation is the most difficult thing. It goes beyond forgiving and forgetting, or simply turning the page. What we had at that point was the will to do something radically new, so strong that new words had to be found.
Two I really admire in their line of work, is John Kerry and Carl Bildt. Both with more than respectable record's worth of service to the people in various roles. Bildt recently named the most well-connected foreign minister, something he in a typical Swedish humble manner almost didnt mention, Kerry is Kerry and even if he wasn't he's the secretary of state in the US.
Theyre similar in that both are the kind drawn to a pursuit beyond the traditional call of duty. And in that theyre defining their profession, not following suit. When reasonable not necessarily confined to what is, not indifferent to what can be. A pronounced moral courage, a trait Robert Kennedy dubbed the one essential quality in man.
They're also out there with everyone. The two've probably covered the most miles of all. Maybe an affection for our one Earth but probably also a belief that getting to the heart of things is best done where they are. I think we're all fortunate they are who they are and even at great distance it's an honor to be around in the same time as they.
The shepherd role, the responsibility of setting the course for and representing the earthly christian clergy has been one of the most central positions known to man, while the many variations of its influence and its amount has changed greatly over the years, the mission has surely seen many different incarnations and some transitions between Rome and Avignon. These days it's Rome but the 2013 elected Jose Mario Berglio known around the world for his papal name Francis has made some noticeable trips beyond the Vatican State.
Like when he gathered millions of Brazilians in Rio. Hardly a reason for Argentina to cry he was named Time's Man of the Year and Fortune's greatest leader. But it's not titles that makes the man it's what he does. For instance Pope Francis has specifically chosen to champion the cause of the world's poor. Famed for moving the living quarters from the Apostolic Palace to Sanctae Marthae a substantially more modest environment, claiming it easier to receive visitors and hold meetings.
For an institution dating it's central message a couple of years in the making the Vatican and the church has capitalized on the possibilities of the internet age. Running it's own social media accounts, websites featuring podcasts and on-demand video, aswell as articles and commentary.
I think Pope Francis is a role model because he fronts the Earthly house of God with a modern heart lined in dignity and integrity, dedicated to all of humanity and to the pursuit to promote divine reason characterized by a willingness to reform and move with the times whats not central to the teachings.
It may just be an island in a world of continents but its served as home for a thousand years to an amazingly resilient people. As the saying goes, when the channel mists the continent is isolated. Historically the epicenter of the Commonwealth Empire the land carries a long and proud history. In 2015 they celebrate the 800 year anniversary of the Magna Charta, single out one English contribution to the world and thats a pretty good one. It merits mention just of itself but its also vital for its implications as values and their traditions are central to the British, and so too their secretary of state William Hague and prime minister David Cameron.
Both with a past at the esteemed Oxford Uni, both past and present leaders of the conservatives. Formerly Hague was a consultant for McKinsey & Co and Cameron a director at Carlton Communications, he's also the youngest PM in the nation in 200 years and the first in 70 years to lead a coalition with the liberals. They're not alone out of 10 Downing but these two are the most visible. Fronting a typical eloquent bold British idealism not shying away to pronounce a values-based policy. Highlighting morality and principles without sacrificing pragmatism. Afforded a rich realism that comes with the wisdom of long traditions. It's a team effort making Britain Great but Cameron and Hague represent their people well in a noble pursuit the rest of the world surely can learn from.
Trusted foreign minister by both Dmitri Medvedev and Vladimir Putin a graduate from the oldest and most prestigeous school of diplomacy in Russia: the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Conversant in English, French and Sinhalese Lavrov has a longstanding career in public service, described by an international community as a cunning and talented negotiator, a diplomat not so much politician. In the 1970ies stationed in South-East Asia and has at least a decades worth of work in the United Nations main halls as Russia's ambassador, a title he holds to the Russian Federation itself extraordinary.
Well-celebrated and honored in the country and abroad, I think Lavrov is a rolemodel because he employs his smart and abilities to move the tenets and statures of the international community to be more clear. A visionary in many areas and a moral fibre to outline the hazards of double standards.
American senator, First Lady, Secretary of State, philantropist, a world citizen famed for helping take the age of diplomacy into the 21st century: Hillary Clinton. The Wellesly College and Yale graduate is the first ever First Lady to run for public office. She got more votes than any other female candidate in US history only narrowly did the democratic presidential nomination go to Barack Obama. An advocate for right to prevail whenever it can, in particular in the encouragement of women's empowerment everywhere. In 1995 she proclaimed infront of 180 nations representatives that human rights are womens right and womens right are human rights. A speech that made its way around the globe and still resonates.
Clinton continues to be one of the defining voices of recent American time. She's repeatedly voted the most admired woman in the nation and has since completing her role as the secretary of state worked for the Clinton Foundation, a non-profit founded by Bill Clinton to strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence. Many vision her a likely candidate in the 2016 elections but no matter candidacy I think she is a role model for in her character is a devotion to a call greater than individiual ambitions and honors. And whenever the world finds distinguished wills to lend their talent in service of others we should make the most of that blessing.
It's your world, but someone has to ensure. Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Sec-Gen taking over after Kofi Annan in 2007. Jan Eliasson is the deputy Sec-Gen since 2012, the two make out the top of the UN echelon.
Ban a South Korean with a past in the foreign ministry, degrees from Seoul National Uni and the JFK school of Gov. at Harvard. Becoming a diplomat coincidentally a wish ever since meeting JFK as young on exchange. Eliasson a Swede with a masters in economics and time at the Naval Academy, a record of distinguished service to the UN and Sweden with positions placed in NY, Paris, Bonn, D.C., Harare etc, as advisor, mediator ambassador, foreign minister.
For all the world's populations within all areas imagine the incredible demands. Whenever strife there's a reliance on the UN. At the UN improvement isn't a goal, it's expected.
The world's gone from 50 nation states in the middle of the last century to 200. For that the UN is the forum we have. How do we make the outside world a source of promise and potential and not a problem. Eliasson describes the pursuit of peace, development and human rights as central to collective security and well-being. For it all to function the world needs an international division of labor. Place the issues in the center not the institutions. No one can do everything but everyone can do something.
These guys' job never stops: traveling, conferences, meetings, speeches. Ban said he gets up at latest 6 am, on Sundays. Regular days at 5. A habit. Unless of course it's stressful, then he gets up at 4. MDGs, country to country stuff, poverty, equality, hunger: few have made so much to further the universal values of the United Nations as Ban Ki-moon and Jan Eliasson.
Iker Casillas is something of a Spanish national treasure, setting records to his name he's basically accomplished everything there is. WC, Euros, Champions League, La Liga, he's the first ever to amount 100 wins for a national team, chosen UEFA team of the year, Fifa WC team, highest ranked goalkeeper, only topped by Messi, Ronaldo and Torres. The only one ever to be chosen best goalkeeper for five times, in a row.
He debuted as the youngest player in the Spanish U-17 squad having been raised in La Fábrica. A lot has happened since. Nowadays he's the Captain of both Real and La Roja. He's also ambassador for United Nations Development alongside eight other celebrities, like russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. His role is in the Millennium Development Goals to which he said he spent all his time trying to prevent goals and here he's helping out score some.
A blessed and humble giant, achieved near everything and gives of his greatness to help others. He serves an inspiration both on and off the pitch for players and spectators alike. An idol as a goalkeeper but so too as a human being.
A runway model for names like VS, Versace and Chanel featured in mags like Vogue and ads for a ton of brands. Been in the business a decade and to that got a degree in econ and political science at Columbia. She's said looks arent everything and she's no typical model. Conscious about the attention from getting so much press I think she's a rolemodel because she's chosen to highlight social issues.
Like joining the debate about how we in society really view beauty and surfacing different forms of gender and racial discrimination. Tackled social issues like self-image insecurity and how todays images are powerful but also produced superficially. Among other stuff involved in an art group focused on grassroots networks and street art. So while she's on covers everywhere it doesnt really show an equally charming and beautiful intellect.
His parents immigrants, divorced when he was barely born. Leonardo DiCaprio was brought up in LA on Hollywood Boulvevard and Western Avenue. Rough streets for a kid, they had to make it without much means. Encountered a revelation getting beat up one day at school, one way or another we live in our mind and that was rearranging, said that motivated him for something better.
No free ride but one early audition getting noticed by DeNiro served him well. The rest is cinema: starred in works by Scorsese, Spielberg, Nolan, etc. Famed for depicting a wide range of complex roles, like FBI chief J.Edgar Hoover, aviator Howard Hughes and recently fraudster Jordan Belfort. Surely a one of a kind for his artistic and creative talent but the top goes a little in and out of style doesnt it, Brad Pitt, Christian Bale and so on. What doesn't is his journey from humble beginnings to stardom. And he's keen on giving back, an environmentalist that early on dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Today he's involved in the Pristine Seas, WWF and Ocean 5 and he's got a foundation dedicated to the preservation of the oceans. Anyone that doubts their dreams can draw inspiration from the possible that DiCaprio shows and all the world envys and admires.
Back in the days long before Youtube, Vimeo and all that, as a kid, well probably a lil older, watched this show called Vox Pop. A collection of the new stuff coming outta the scene. Only later I learned its short for voice of the people. whoda known. Now with the internet, everything is amazing and it's served a superb platform for new artists.
Avicii, or Tim Bergling, is a whiz kid with DJing on an entirely new level. The youngest Swedish claim to fame is known for giving the electronic supersoul, filling stadiums wherever he tours. An inspiration for any aspiring talent collaborates with Guetta, Romero, Madonna, ABBA and so on. Here's Avicii with Aloe Blacc:
In the dawn of the internet, something like that but it was probably more like 20-30 years on, well, it took a good 30 minutes to grab one song. These days, and I just got a phone that no longer costs less than a super-sized meal at McDonald's so I could kinda wow the difference right here, you can click around and get any random music or movies in virtually seconds. It doesnt solve all our other issues but thats amazing and it allows us our modern day Mozarts and Beethovens to play at our will.
An Irish-born American that planned on becoming a sportscaster only to discover another call in human rights and foreign policy. Yale and Harvard with a multitude of positions prior to being entrusted by Pres. Obama to take over after Susan Rice. Worked with the International Crisis Group, she was the exec director of the newly founded Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard where she also held the Anna Lindh professorship in Global Leadership and Public Policy at the JFK school of gov.
She served at the White House national security staff and started out as a journalist in hotspots like the Balkans, East Timor and Sudan. Compassion doesnt rule out strength and I think she shows that with intelligence. Her Pulitzer prized voice in the security council is that of the U.S. but in her work-record and commitments are also the voices of people all around making her a champion for the ones that once inspired her to pick up the cause.
Martin O'Malley has devoted his tenure to what he famously calls better choices, better results, elected and re-elected twice and named the best young mayor in America he recently said we become who we are in difficulty and that there is nothing wrong in the extravagence of aspirations when it contributes in the right direction for everyone. For everyone Maryland ranks consistently number one in public education and for everyone the best place for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Now in his second term as Governor the state has rid a record structural deficit through responsible fiscal practices: cut wasteful spending, reformed state pensions to be sustainable longterm, regulated business licenses to reduce wait times and tune in to this: through a conscious initiative Team Maryland has managed to reduce the incidence of violent crimes by 42% in Baltimore, the greatest yet among the 20 most populous cities, and to a level not seen in 40 years. On his O'Say Can You See committee established to expand opportunities and the quality of life it says Baltimore endured the British to save the country. Maryland 200 years later is still standing out.
There's something about South Korean descendants and impossible jobs. There's UN Sec-Gen Ban ki-moon but there is also a Brown and Harvard graduate from Iowa that holds a similarly tough position. Dr. Jim Yong Kim runs the World Bank.
WB belongs to a group extending over 140 nations composed of a network of institutions and affiliations. The IBRD or the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and IDA, the Int Development Association make out the World Bank. But the group is bigger and consists of the IFC, the Int Financial Corp, the MIGA, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the ICISID, the Int Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. Together each one of them provide vital functions to the groups main objectives in international development. It involves mobilising capital, providing advisory services, promoting foreign direct investments, political risk insurances, conciliation and arbitration of investment disputes and so on.
With its 10 000 employees it's not a traditional bank but a partnership for its member states domestic agencies to help tackle outstanding issues. With a priority on measurable results centered around reforms through open development the WB helps guide on focus areas in education, health, agriculture, resource management and developing private and public financial sectors.
The current main objectives are ambitious, plenty and tough, the job of running the WB is in part to rally the international community to engage in new and follow through on established commitments to visions of healing a wounded world and help it grow healthy, independent and viable.
One defining objective is ending the global depravity known as extreme poverty. They've set out a global ambition to have reduced the amount of people living on less than $1,25 to 3% of the world's population by 2030. At current levels around 17,7% it needs to lift 50m every year to achieve it's goal. Available to anyone WB has designed scorecards to provide overviews of how the work's faring. With all that, and the vast multitude of the WB's other projects (over 12 000 in 170 countries) it's no easy job.
Jim Yong Kim says his time and encounters with different people at the Third World Center at Brown University helped shape him to become the one he is today. Kim whom among much else has a past at Harvard, WHO and over 20 years in international development, mentions on Time's most influential, says we can always get better and it's defining of his humility. He talks of getting it right with a clearly defined vision of where to strive, elevating needs to foster participation and inclusion and move away from bad practices. He encourages others to find clarity and purpose and to build on the ethics that once inspired him, that it's always a good time to do what's right.
An idea that originated from a conversation between Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel: communities throughout time have sought to their elders for counsel on issues. The two questioned whether in our global village a small dedicated group of experienced and influential individuals could form together to convene their wisdom on our pressing issues.
They took the idea to a distinguished elder in South Africa, found liking and in 2007 Nelson Mandela founded the Elders. The newly formed group had gathered a collection of civil society and political leaders that individually had earned the world's respect for inclusive and progressive leadership. You don't need to have High Commissioner, Secretary General, President or Nobel prize in your c.v. to be an Elder, but almost. What you strictly need is to be impartial of vested bias because together they mission to provide an independent voice of wisdom for shared virtues and universal values. Working by employing their unique influences to bring people together, amplify and support progressive efforts and highlight neglected issues.
Today Kofi Annan is in charge of the Elders and together they've worked to ease hardships and foster understandings, peace-building and betterment in regions from Cyprus to Myanmar to Zimbabwe. Together their many years in service in various roles make out a special wealth of experience, wisdom and knowledge that not many other groups if any can contest, and it's a real show of greatness they've chosen to share it in the way they do it with the rest of us, for us.
Always admired work where the creative inner will shows but isnt content until it nestles its way out of its medium, surprises and takes off into the neuron flow where it releases what the best of science has yet to make and bottle. Im talking about the happy pills pieced together by a world of widely different at odds elements: standard testing and procedures blended with ideas and sometimes outright strange marvel melded into a display only the outrageously spoiled talent can realize.
I'm not saying they're the best car reviewers in the world, although they are, add Chris Harris, but it's how TopGear never ceases to reinvent itself. Put anyone at the wheel of something engineered by the top automakers and they'll make it shine. TopGear has the knowledge and experience to make garbage heap objects into high quality infotainment showbiz. Sometimes just entertainment. So what's that all about. Well. Olympic Games for autos? Ya. Push priceless artifacts along motorways more suited sitting still in a museum. Yea. Safety tests that'd make Master Splinter and the Turtles all green? Yeaa. Roadtrips so fascinating you start getting nervous whether you forgot to tell the neighbors you went on vacation. Yaaaall the way until you see the credits and the blissful has a rendez-vous with reality and the heartfelt disappoint is only replaced once the solitude arrives of knowing tomorrow is another show.