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40 Successful Business Leaders To Follow in 2016

May 12, 2016 · Jeremy Boudinet · 13 Minute Read

The scions of the business world are enjoying quite the Renaissance.

For better or worse, we've entered an unprecedented era. The world's leading business figures are more prevalent, visible and accessible than ever before. Public fascination with entrepreneurship, startups and company leadership seems to hace reached an all-time high, thanks to social media, Silicon Valley and Shark Tank.

40 Successful Business Leaders to Follow in 2016

Amidst all the hoopla (and an obsession with one business-leader-turned-politician, in particular), we've created our 1st annual list of influential business leaders worth watching in 2016.

Listed in alphabetical order, here are the top 40 most influential business leaders of 2016.

#1. Mary Barra 

top business leaders

Role: CEO of General Motors

Quote: If we win the hearts and minds of employees, we're going to have better business success.

Birthplace: Waterford, Michigan

Degree: M.B.A. Stanford University

Age: 54

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#2. Marc Benioff

famous business leaders

Role: Founder, Chairman & CEO of Salesforce

Quote: You must always be able to predict what's next and then have the flexibility to evolve. 

Net worth: $3.8B

Birthplace: San Francisco, California

Degree: B.A. University of Southern California

Age: 51

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#3. Jeff Bezos 

business team leader

Role: Founder, Chairman & CEO of Amazon

Quote: A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.

Net worth: $2.7B 

Birthplace: Albuquerqe, New Mexico

Degree: B.S. Princeton University

Age: 52

Social Media: Twitter.

#4. Warren Buffett

business icon

Role: Chairman & CEO of Berkshire-Hathaway

Quote: It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.

Net worth: $68.5B 

Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska

Degree: M.S. Columbia University

Age: 85

Social Media: Twitter.

#5. Ursula Burns 

black business leaders

Role: Chairman & CEO of Xerox 

Quote: The best way to change it is to do it. After a while you become it, and it's easy. 

Birthplace: New York, New York

Degree: M.S. Columbia University

Age: 57

#6. Stewart Butterfield

top business leaders of 2016

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Slack

Quote: Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to build worthless things.

Birthplace: Lund, British Columbia, Canada

Degree: M.Ph. University of Cambridge

Age: 43

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#7. Grant Cardone 

business team leadership principles

Role: Owner of Cardone Enterprises

Quote: Your success will be compromised by your need to be liked by everyone.

Net worth: $100M

Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana

Degree: B.Sc. McNeese State University

Age: 58.

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#8. Brian Chesky

best business leaders to follow

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Airbnb

Quote: If you want to create a great product, just focus on one person. Make that person have the most amazing experience ever.

Net worth: $3.3B 

Birthplace: Niskayuna, New York

Degree: B.F.A. Rhode Island School of Design

Age: 34

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#9. Tim Cook

famous business team leaders

Role: CEO of Apple

Quote: You can only do so many things great. Cast aside everything else.

Net worth: $785M 

Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama

Degree: M.B.A. Duke University

Age: 55

Social Media: Twitter.

#10. Mark Cuban 

top business executives 2016

Role: Owner of Dallas Mavericks

Quote: Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world.

Net worth: $3.2B

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Degree: B.Sc. Indiana University

Age: 57

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#11. Jack Dorsey

famous entrepreneurs 2016

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Twitter and Square

Quote: My goal is to simplify complexity. I just want to build stuff that really simplifies our base human interaction.

Net worth: $2.3B 

Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri

Age: 39

Social Media: Twitter.

#12. Daniel Ek

most respected business team leader

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Spotify

Quote: Put your consumers in focus, and listen to what they're actually saying, not what they tell you.

Net worth: $400M 

Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden

Age: 33

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#13. Lisa Falzone

female chief executives

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Revel Systems

Quote: If you recover slow, you're dead. Recover quickly, and you will be successful.

Degree: B.S. Stanford University

Age: 33

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#14. Reed Hastings

successful business leaders

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Netflix

Quote: Stone Age. Bronze Age. Iron Age. We define entire epics of humanity by the technology they use.

Net worth: $1.72B 

Birthplace: Boston, MA

Degree: M.S. Stanford University

Age: 55

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#15. Marillyn Hewson 

women who are CEOs

Role: Chairman, President & CEO of Lockheed Martin

Quote: I like to know whether you're the kind of person who can set priorities, take initiative and drive results right from the beginning.

Birthplace: Junction City, Kansas

Degree: M.A. University of Alabama

Age: 62

Social Media: LinkedIn.

#16. Ryan Hoover

top startup founders

Role: Founder & CEO of Product Hunt

Quote: Not everyone should start a company and not every idea needs funding.

Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon

Degree: B.S. University of Oregon

Age: 29

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#17. Arianna Huffington 

top female entrepreneurs

Role: President & Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group

Quote: Fearlessness is like a muscle. The more I exercise it the more natural it becomes not to let my fears run me.

Net worth: $3.2B 

Birthplace: Athens, Greece

Degree: M.A. University of Cambridge

Age: 65

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#18. Jay Z

african-american business leaders

Role: Co-Founder of Carter Enterprises

Quote: People respect success. They respect big. If you're big enough, people are drawn to you.

Net worth: $550M 

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

Age: 46

#19. Lynn Jurich

top young business leaders

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Sunrun

Quote: The way to make the biggest difference is to change mainstream behavior.

Birthplace: San Francisco, California

Degree: M.B.A. Stanford University

Age: 37

Social Media: LinkedIn.

#20. Travis Kalanick

famous entrepreneurs

Role: Founder & CEO of Uber

Quote: Uber is efficiency with elegance on top.

Net worth: $6B

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

Degree: B.S. University of California, Los Angeles

Age: 39

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#21. Gary Kelly

business team leaders who became CEOs

Role: CEO of Southwest Airlines

Quote: We have to be on our toes and compete with everybody.

Degree: B.B.A. University of Texas

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#22. Jack Ma 

business icons of 2016

Role: Founder & Chairman of Alibaba Group

Quote: You should learn from your competitor, but never copy.

Net worth: $24.1B

Birthplace: Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

Degree: CEO Program. Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB)

Age: 51

#23. John Mackey

coolest chief executives

Role: Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Whole Foods

Quote: It's competition that forces companies to get out of their complacency.

Net worth: $100M

Birthplace: Houston, Texas

Age: 62

#24. Charlie Munger

oldest business leaders

Role: Vice-Chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway

Quote: I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines.

Net worth: $1.32B 

Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska

Degree: J.D. Harvard University

Age: 92

#25. Elon Musk

inspiring business leaders

Role: CEO of SpaceX & Tesla Motors

Quote: I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.

Net worth: $14.2B

Birthplace: Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa

Degree: B.S. University of Pennsylvania

Age: 44

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#26. Satya Nadella

Tech Business Leaders

Role: CEO of Microsoft

Quote: The one thing that defines me is that I love to learn.

Birthplace: Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, India

Degree: M.B.A. University of Chicago

Age: 48

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#27. Indra Nooyi 

Indian CEOs

Role: Chairperson & CEO of PepsiCo

Quote: I'm brutally honest. I always look at things from their point of view as well as mine. And I know when to walk away.

Net worth: $144M 

Birthplace: Greenwich, Connecticut

Degree: M.A. Yale University

Age: 60

Social Media: Twitter.

#28. Larry Page 

wealthiest business leaders

Role: CEO of Alphabet, Inc

Quote: My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, that they feel they're having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society.

Net worth: $38B 

Birthplace: East Lansing, Michigan

Degree: M.S. Stanford University

Age: 43

#29. Mark Parker

CEOs who were business team leaders

Role: CEO of Nike

Quote: Be a sponge. Curiosity is life. Assumption is death. Look around.

Birthplace: Poughkeepsie, New York

Degree: B.A. Pennsylvania State University

Age: 60

#30. Sundar Pichai

Google CEO

Role: CEO of Google

Quote: The right moral compass is trying hard to think about what customers want.

Birthplace: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Degree: M.B.A. The University of Pennsylvania

Age: 43

Social Media: Twitter.

#31. Kevin Plank

top entrepreneurs

Role: Founder & CEO of Under Armour

Quote: Brand is not a product. It's an idea. A theory. A meaning. It's how you carry yourself.

Net worth: $3.9B

Birthplace: Kensington, Maryland

Degree: B.B.A. University of Maryland

Age: 43

#32. Carlos Rodriguez

Carlos Rodriguez

Role: CEO of Automatic Data Processing

Quote: There's a huge culture of learning here.

Birthplace: Havana, Cuba

Degree: M.B.A. Harvard University

Age: 51

#33. Sheryl Sandberg

female business leaders in tech

Role: COO of Facebook

Quote: The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.

Net worth: $1.31B 

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Degree: M.B.A. Harvard University

Age: 46

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#34. Dan Schulman

Most successful business leaders

Role: President & CEO of PayPal

Quote: We want to democratize the management and movement of money.

Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey

Degree: M.B.A. New York University

Age: 58

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#35. Adam Silver

business leaders to follow 2016

Role: Commissioner of the National Basketball Association

Quote: One of the great things about the NBA is that we are both influenced by culture and we influence culture.

Birthplace: Rye, New York

Degree: J.D. University of Chicago 

Age: 54

#36. Bill Simmons

business team leadership

Role: Owner of Bill Simmons Media Group

Quote: Leaders thrive when they feel creatively empowered, when they trust the people around them, when their confidence is swelling.

Birthplace: Marlborough, Massachusetts

Degree: B.A. College of the Holy Cross

Age: 46

Social Media: Twitter.

#37. Gary Vaynerchuk 

entrepreneurs who inspire

Role: Founder & CEO of VaynerMedia

Quote: People don't want to embrace culture shifts because it's not going to happen in the next 20 minutes.

Net worth: $10M

Birthplace: Babruysk, Belarus

Degree: B.S. Mount Ida College

Age: 40

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#38. Jeff Weiner

business team leaders who became startup CEOs

Role: CEO of LinkedIn

Quote: You have to maintain a culture of transformation and stay true to your values.

Net worth: $200M 

Birthplace: New York, New York

Degree: B.Sc. University of Pennsylvania

Age: 46

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#39. Meg Whitman 

most powerful women in business

Role: President & CEO of Hewlett-Packard

Quote: When people use your brand name as a verb, that is remarkable.

Net worth: $2.1B 

Birthplace: Huntington, New York

Degree: M.B.A. Harvard University

Age: 59

Social Media: Twitter. LinkedIn.

#40. Mark Zuckerberg

Most famous entrepreneurs 2016

Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Facebook

Quote: A simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.

Net worth: $48.2B

Birthplace: White Plains, New York

Age: 31

Social Media: Facebook.

More Insights from Successful Business Leaders

If you're a business team leader who's noticed an oversight on our list, let us know. We want to hear who you've been watching closely in 2016, so add your feedback and recommendations in the comments section below. 

For more business team leadership inspiration, check out these 35 Business Leadership Quotes from Sports. We hope you enjoyed our inaugural list of business icons. Thanks for reading!

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