The Future of Work

Ladders 101: The most influential people in the world of work, management, and career

We spend a third of our lives at work — and that’s a modest estimate. Usually, it’s not just for a paycheck. We expect a lot out of work: money, of course, but also recognition, fulfillment, new relationships, and new challenges. And what we put in is just as complicated: time and effort of course, but also spirit, ambition, and a desire, maybe, to improve the world in our own little way.

That’s a tall order. So when we want to do better, we look to the people who stand out, who make us want to improve, who show us the way to think bigger.

As we launch Ladders, a new daily publication about how work changes us and the world around us, we want to honor the people who really do work right — from the professors and psychologists who teach us more about ourselves and the economy to the women who fight for equal pay to the celebrities whose stories teach us to try harder and ask for better. They’re people who capture who we are, who we want to be. And in this unique moment in history, when everything about work is changing, they also tell us where we’re going.

This list of 101 people represents those to whom we look for inspiration. We hope their accomplishments, and their advice, lift you a little too.

— The Ladders Team

  1. The Accelerator

    Sam Altman

    Sam Altman
    ycombinator.com

    As the co-founder of OpenAI and the president of startup accelerator Y Combinator, Sam Altman wants to change the way people work in Silicon Valley — and he believes he can politically mobilize normally apolitical techies to do it. How? Altman doesn’t think that unionizing is “the perfect metaphor for this, but it’s not far off.” Altman is pushing for someone from the tech world to join California’s gubernatorial race and is urging Silicon Valley employees to use their platform to “clearly define the values and policies they’d like to see their companies uphold.” Twitter: @sama

  2. The Improver

    James Altucher

    James Altucher
    Forbes.com

    If you mention James Altucher’s name, you’re bound to quickly find at least one person within earshot who religiously reads everything he writes about careers, entrepreneurship, wealth, productivity, and self-help. Like a well-run algorithm, the tech expert is always scanning for some new truth. His trademark is his willingness to look closely at his own life and scrutinize his failures to see what can be improved. Fourteen books, a blog, and a podcast later, it’s no wonder hundreds of thousands of people tune in daily to see what he’s talking about. “Write ten ideas a day and constantly exercise your creativity muscle,” Altucher tells Ladders. “You will become a creativity machine! Let ideas be both bad and good, don’t judge them. They will compound your creative and success ‘muscles’ into non-stop achievement in every area of your life.” Twitter@jaltucher

  3. The Cognitive Detective

    Dan Ariely

    Dan Ariely
    www.forbes.com

    The behavioral economist and popular TED speaker knows we’re contradictory creatures who play against our own self-interest, and his research is helping us understand what motivates our behaviors. Ariely got his start on studying irrationality after experiencing third-degree burns, which led him to wanting to “understand how to better deliver painful and unavoidable treatments to patients.” In The Upside of Irrationality, Ariely looks at irrational workplace behaviors, such as why high bonuses can lead to lower performances. Some time spent with his research always helps us understand ourselves better. Twitter@danariely

  4. The Futurist

    David Autor

    David Autor
    Ted.com

    Autor is a professor of economics at MIT, where he teaches and researches the future of work — a vast swath of subjects, from robots taking our jobs to how disability payments affect how many people are working, to whether men in manufacturing lose their value as potential husbands as their industries decline. He publishes research often — sometimes several times a month — and his chosen topics are usually at the cutting edge of social policy on work and labor. Autor’s researchwill make you smarterabout how the world of work is changing around us. Twitter@davidautor

  5. The Productivity Guru

    Eric Barker

    Eric Barker
    www.bakadesuyo.com

    Popular blogger Eric Barker focuses on a question we all obsess about: How can we be happier while having fulfilling careers? His upcoming book is Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong. In it, Barker analyzes a wide range of people — from Navy SEALs to Genghis Khan and disaster survivors — on what keeps them going and how we can achieve work-life balance. Barker tells Ladders that his favorite observation for his book came from Stanford professor Bob Sutton: “When you take a job take a long look at the people you’re going to be working with — because the odds are you’re going to become like them, they are not going to become like you. You can’t change them. If it doesn’t fit who you are, it’s not going to work.” Twitter: @bakadesuyo

  6. The Life Coacher of Life Coaches

    Martha Beck

    Martha Beck
    www.marthabeck.com

    Martha Beck is a life coach who inspires the loyalty of a vast swath of people in the working world, from teachers to CEOs. Her books, including Finding Your North Star, visit — and revisit — the idea of zeroing in on the career that will make you happy. She knows something about a pivot, from her childhood in a small, insular community in Utah to two Harvard degrees, including a PhD, and then, while fighting illness, on to life coaching. Oprah Winfrey gave Beck a boost into the stratosphere of self-improvement gurus. Now, she’s a life coach to the life coaches — and teachers, accountants, and CEOs looking to change their lives. Her method: Find your path in life — and your true career — by “tracking” your true self as you might track an animal in the wild. Twitter: @MarthaBeck

  7. The Anti-Feelings Advocate

    Dr. Michael Bennett

    Dr. Michael Bennett

    Bennett is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and therapist who… hates feelings. His 2015 book “F*ck Feelings” advocates for less worry about our emotions and more of a focus on positive actions — a nearly groundbreaking idea when most work advice is about forcing ourselves to fight against every negative thought and think only beautiful things — a method that’s good for sainthood, but not so much for the daily grind. “If you expect to feel good when you can’t, you’ll feel worse, not just because you’ll be disappointed, but because you’ll feel personally responsible for your pain,” Bennett has said in his manifesto. He also advocates cursing to “fight superficial empathy, false hope, sentimentality, and the over-valuation of feelings compared to actions.” That’s very on trend, as studies have shown that cursing at work can convey authenticity and make you better-liked. Website: F*ck Feelings

  8. The Comedian

    Jill Bernard

    Jill Bernard
    http://jillbernard3.blogspot.com/

    Critically-acclaimed award-winning improvisor and workshop facilitator Jill Bernard is one of the pioneers of applying comedic improv techniques to business, so that managers and executives learn to think on their feet as well as doing strategic planning. To loosen up corporate types, she has an alter ego named Dana Awesome, a faux life coach and motivational speaker who is self-admittedly “full of it.” Twitter@jillybee72

  9. The Queen Bey

    Beyoncé

    Beyoncé
    Beyonce Assets

    It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a decade and a half since the former lead singer for girl group Destiny’s Child released her first solo album. Since then, she has become not only a global sensation but also a career icon. Her songs advocate for resilience, ambition, power, and money as a way to change the world: “Always stay gracious, your best revenge is your paper,” she sings on Formation, of the power of money as a source of freedom. Beloved by millions internationally, Queen Bey AKA Beyonce Giselle Carter Knowles has nearly as many alter egos as Game of Thrones’ Mother of Dragons. Beyonce is by turns recognized as a feminist, activist, capitalist, and fierce protector of her own brand, dropping unexpected music releases like Lemonade and looking to employ the most creative people she can find. And we’re all on a first name basis with her. Twitter@Beyonce

  10. The Time Finder

    Heather Boushey

    Heather Boushey
    Heatherboushey.com

    Boushey is a rising star in the world of work. She’s executive director and chief economist at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank that has been looking to lead the way on research into the labor market. While she writes frequently on topics ranging from the future of unionization to the effect of unpredictable work schedules, Boushey’s latest stamp on the world of work centers on a personal subject near and dear to our hearts: Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict, published by Harvard University Press. Twitter@HBoushey

  11. The Change Maker

    Adam Braun

    Adam Braun
    adambraun.com

    Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Adam Braun began his career at the age of 16, when he precociously explored a life on Wall Street during summer internships at hedge funds. By the time he got to college, he was ready for a career pivot: traveling abroad in India, he encountered a young boy begging for a pencil. His book The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list and in 2015 he received the nation’s most prestigious award for public service, the Jefferson Award. As a side hustle, Braun blogs about life and leadership and provides startup tips — and mantras — to other people who want to start their own businesses and become leaders. Twitter@AdamBraun

  12. The Conservative with Heart

    Arthur Brooks

    Arthur Brooks
    Photo: Bill Moyers

    As president of public policy think tank American Enterprise Institute, Brooks has long been a highly regarded policy expert, and in recent years he’s spent his efforts advocating for startups and entrepreneurialism. But he’s really a master of the career pivot, having had three acts in his life so far: as a professional French horn player in Barcelona’s orchestra, a college professor, and now setting the agenda for moderate political conservatism at AEI. In his forthcoming book, The Conservative Heart, Brooks argues for the idea of a new kind of conservatism that emphasizes heart over hard ideals. Twitter@arthurbrooks

  13. The Storyteller

    Brené Brown

    Brené Brown
    www.brenebrown.com

    Brené Brown is an Oprah-approved researcher-storyteller whose TEDx talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” has reached millions of people and taught them not to be ashamed of being vulnerable and real. Under her view of the whole-hearted person, vulnerable people are strong people who know they are worthy because they are “willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.” She’s an advocate for the power of authenticity, a characteristic that’s gaining more currency as the key to true success. Twitter@BreneBrown

  14. The Brilliant Machinist

    Erik Brynjolfsson

    Erik Brynjolfsson
    Alchetron.com

    Erik Brynjolfsson is Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and co-author of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. The MIT Sloan School of Management professor is sought-after expert on the future of work, productivity, and data-driven decision-making. Twitter@erikbryn

  15. The Skeptic

    Oliver Burkeman

    Oliver Burkeman
    static.gulfnews.com

    Burkeman, a columnist on psychology and work for The Guardian, “investigates the routes of mental well-being” weekly, which includes everything from how to be more productive to how to talk to strangers. His most recent book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, comes out firmly against the cult of positive thinking that forces people to spend most of the day in struggle with their true natures. “Don’t confuse getting lots of things done with doing things that matter. (I languished in this trap for a long time),” he tells Ladders. “If you put all your efforts into becoming super-productive, you’ll end up feeling more overwhelmed. You can only really focus on the truly important stuff once you’ve accepted that lots of almost-as-important stuff will inevitably fall by the wayside.” Twitter@oliverburkeman

  16. The Slacker

    Stewart Butterfield

    Stewart Butterfield
    www.StewartButterfield.com

    Stewart Butterfield knows what we want from sharing. He’s CEO and co-founder of company messaging site Slack and co-founder of photo-sharing service Flickr. Slack has transformed the way businesses operate, using “channels” where employees can post within threads, as well as direct message one another, and striking a blow to the dreaded email threads that had previously dominated team collaboration. Butterfield’s real innovation: creating a work collaboration tool that reflects how casual offices have become. Slack has all the fun of texting, complete with emoji and GIFs, and it creates a public space for colleagues to demonstrate not only their smarts, but their humor. It’s a breath of fresh air in cubicle life. Twitter: @stewart

  17. The Powerhouse

    Rhonesha Byng

    Rhonesha Byng

    Rhonesha Byng is the powerhouse behind Her Agenda, a career resource and inspiration website centered on Millennial women. In addition to providing advice, Byng has interviewed countless successful career women, including actress Keke Palmer and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington. Her own message to others, though, is to become indispensable. “Get as much experience as possible, build relationships, never be afraid to humble yourself and do tasks that seem small to support your co-workers,” she tells Ladders. “Make yourself a valuable asset by listening and observing and learning everything you can about your field.” Twitter@NeshasAgenda

  18. The Muses

    Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew

    Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew
    www.techcrunch.com

    Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew turned their work as management consultants at McKinsey — advising companies on how to reorganize — into teaching people how to reorder their lives. They’re the co-founders of job listing and career advice website The Muse and co-authors of the book The New Rules of Work: The Ultimate Career Guide for the Modern Workplace. As they write in the book: “We believe in your ability to find your path, to discover a career that fulfills you and that you can throw your true self into. A career that you can thrive in, and that gives back to you, too—not just in the form of a paycheck, but in the form of learning, growing, and making an impact on the world. It might not happen immediately, but anything worth having takes time to build, and your career is no exception.” Twitter: @acav@kmin

  19. The Of-the-Moment Economist

    Andrew Chamberlain

    Andrew Chamberlain
    www.achamberlain.com

    As chief economist at the popular job-ranking website Glassdoor, Chamberlain heads up a research program that provides surprising perspective on everything from the best-paid jobs in America to how millennials think about the gender gap at work. Chamberlain’s team uses data to explore labor-market issues that are very much of the moment and tied to wider policy discussions about equal pay, immigration, gender, and the work practices of giant companies. The results are nearly always surprising, putting to rights our view of how the world of work really functions. Twitter@adchamberlain

  20. The Self-Made Man

    Chance the Rapper

    Chance the Rapper
    www.cloudpix.com

    To know about Chance the Rapper is to love him. He created his own brand without relying on the music industry to support him or promote him. In fact, the musical artist downright refuses to sign with a label. He creates no physical albums and posts his songs online for free. He makes his money from touring and selling merchandise, which hasn’t hurt his wallet or his cred. This year, he became the first artist to win Grammy awards — three of them, actually — without “selling” a single album.  As a side hustle, he’s trying to help fix the world: He donated $1 million to support Chicago’s struggling public schools. For managing his own fame and knowing how to do it independently, Chance is an inspiration. Twitter@chancetherapper

  21. The Boss

    Faun Chapin

    Faun Chapin
    www.creativemornings.com

    Faun Chapin has an influential high-powered job as the CEO of San Francisco design studio Guts & Glory, but what she’s really known for is being an advocate for creativity and its power to change how we work. Chapin herself buzzes with creativity, speaking on “design mischief” and her favorite topic, how to be a “boss bitch,” a topic she must know something about since her advertising work for giant multinational companies has won prestigious Cannes Lion and Obie awards. Trying to add a creative infusion to your own work life? Watch Chapin in action at a recent Creative Mornings breakfast event discussing risk. Twitter@GutsGloryAndUs

  22. The Comedy Mogul

    Louis CK

    Louis CK
    www.flavorwire.com

    The comedian went from the comedy circuit of “smelly beer-soaked little places” to a multimedia entrepreneurial star, with his own hugely popular TV show “Louie” and viral video views on riffs like his famous one about our entitlement on planes — titled, timelessly, “everything is amazing and nobody’s happy.” But where Louis CK is a career inspiration is that he’s never hesitated to overturn the way the entertainment business has worked — and he knows the power of his own brand. Louis CK rejected some lucrative contracts from big players so that he could make his work more accessible to big audiences. He did an end run around Ticketmaster by selling tickets directly to fans, earning $4.5 million in only 45 hours and allowing buyers to avoid ticket fees. He followed up in 2015 by dodging cable-network exclusivity, selling his own comedy special online to fans for $5 — and again, earning millions. Not bad for a comic who once made $10 a show, and a great example of how to think like an entrepreneur, no matter what your career. Website: Louis CK

  23. The Knight Professor

    Professor Sir Cary Cooper

    Professor Sir Cary Cooper
    World Economic Forum

    Professor Cooper, one of the earliest and most influential voices in organizational psychology, earned a knighthood for his work in the field and, at the age of 76, is still connected with the University of Manchester and active in his field. His work on stress and emotions in the workplace has made us all a little smarter about why work can make our personalities different. Twitter@ProfCaryCooper

  24. The Office Satirist

    Sarah Cooper

    Sarah Cooper
    thecooperreview.com

    This ex-Googler left Silicon Valley so she could use humor to talk about the contradictions in corporate culture. Her blog became well-known for satirical takes on the “10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings,” which advised us to “draw a venn diagram” and ask “will this scale, no matter what it is.” Those 10 tricks have become 100 tricks in Cooper’s book on the subject. Coopers tells Ladders that, above all, she wants her readers to laugh. “If they also realize something about themselves or their meetings or their coworkers that’s gotten predictable or stale (due to the things I’m making fun of) and they think about changing it, that’s another great outcome,” she said. Twitter@sarahcpr

  25. The Ballerina

    Misty Copeland

    Misty Copeland
    Mistycopeland.com

    People who choose to be “firsts” in anything are guaranteed a challenge, and Misty Copeland has met hers with grace — literal and metaphorical. As the first-ever African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland redefined her entire industry’s idea of what it means to be a ballerina. The dance icon has written two best-selling books — a memoir devoted to “all the little brown girls” and a book on achieving the “ballerina body”  — and has become a symbol of how to use difference as a strength in your career. She reflects often on her unstable childhood and how it taught her resilience in her career. “When it came to my childhood—growing up in a single-parent home, often struggling financially—my mother definitely instilled in me and my siblings this strength, this will, to just continue to survive and succeed,” Copeland said in an interview with The Washington Post. Twitter@mistyonpointe

  26. The Invigorating Economist

    Tyler Cowen

    Tyler Cowen
    www.youtube.com

    Tyler Cowen is a Professor of Economics, at George Mason University and consumer behavior expert who probably has a better idea of what you might say or do or interact than you do. In an NPR interview about his book The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream, Cowen depressingly shared the fact that “People have grown more risk averse and are reluctant to switch jobs or move to another state, and the desire to innovate — to grow and change — has gone away.” To paraphrase Cowen, if you isolate yourself from those that are vastly different from you by lifestyle or income, you’re going to stop being challenged and as a result be unable to change or innovate. Twitter@tylercowen

  27. The Actress

    Viola Davis

    Viola Davis
    www.cloudpix.com

    Award-winning actress Viola Davis is known for her performances in The Help, Doubt, Fences, and How to Get Away with Murder, among many others. As the first black actor to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony for acting, the 1993 Juilliard graduate breaks the mold of how we think about film with every role. She has talked about how what keeps her going in Hollywood is the hope of breaking down barriers and inspiring the women who come after her. Twitter@violadavis

  28. The Habit Former

    Charles Duhigg

    Charles Duhigg
    Charlesduhigg.com

    Duhigg, who has a Harvard MBA, is only in his early 40s but has already lived several careers: briefly as a bike messenger, then in private equity. He became a journalist, racking up awards and accolades as part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team of reporters at the The New York Times who explored Apple’s corporate culture in a series called “The iEconomy.” Duhigg has kept his job as a writer at the Times while tacking on a side hustle as a bestselling author, writing a book on productivity,  Smarter Faster Better, which started with his effort to put his frazzled, overcommitted life in order, then following up with the even more popular The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. He speaks about productivity and management, among other topics, helping people make smarter decisions in life and work. Twitter@cduhigg

  29. The Director

    Ava DuVernay

    Ava DuVernay
    www.avaduvernay.com

    DuVernay’s artistic impact as a director is equalled by her success in changing the entire world’s idea of how being different can be a moneymaker. She’s the first woman of color to direct to a live-action movie with a production budget of more than $100 million, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. She directed the Golden Globe- and Academy Award-nominated historical drama Selma, the television series Queen Sugar, and the documentary 13th. DuVernay’s reaction to success has been to share the wealth, helping others get ahead as well. She uses her film collective ARRAY to distribute and highlight works created by people of color and female directors, and when Shonda Rhimes let her direct her first TV episode of Scandal, DuVernay used her access to help other women break into the insular world of television. Twitter@ava

  30. The Designer

    Tina Roth Eisenberg

    Tina Roth Eisenberg
    Photo: Swiss Miss Studio

    As the founder of Studiomates (now Friends), CreativeMornings, TeuxDeux, and Tattly, Tina Roth Eisenberg, also known as swissmiss, believes in “labors of love.” She literally decided to start her design studio, swissmiss, on the day her daughter was born, and has seen similarities between raising children and growing a business. She has spoken extensively about how to turn your passion projects into your career. When it comes to getting the career you want, there is no “magical perfect moment,” Roth Eisenberg believes. As she told a 99u audience, “the right moment is now.” Twitter@swissmiss

  31. The Meaning Maker

    Emily Esfahani-Smith

    Emily Esfahani-Smith

    Esfahani-Smith, an editor at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, has devoted her career to finding out what makes us happy, writing about psychology, culture and relationships for a number of publications. Esfahani-Smith writes of her magical childhood — complete with dervishes —  in a Sufi community in Montreal and that history of spiritual seeking makes its way into her new book on structuring our careers and lives, The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters. By imbuing our idea of life with a respect for our spiritual needs, she looks to put an end to our tendency to sleepwalk through  our days and instead wake up with excitement and purpose. Twitter@EmEsfahaniSmith

  32. The Shortcutting Guru

    Tim Ferriss

    Tim Ferriss
    Forbes.com

    Ferriss’s ideas have influenced the way we talk about work. Most of us remember author and early-stage technology investor/advisor best as the by turns loved, loathed, or lauded creator of The Four Hour Workweek book and phenomenon which set the notion of a traditional 9-5 day on its ear. In the last two years, he’s interviewed about two hundred performers, celebrities and cultural figures for his podcast (he mentions Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Foxx, we chose to geek out to Marie Kondo and Cheryl Strayed.) He distills everything from their daily routines and workouts to life lessons and shortcuts in his new book Tools of Titans. Twitter@tferriss

  33. The Superboss Expert

    Sydney Finkelstein

    Sydney Finkelstein
    Ceotrust.com

    Sydney Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, is an expert on corporate culture who has coined a new category of boss for us all to aspire to be or be managed by: superboss. In his 2016 book Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, he looks at great leaders like Ralph Lauren and Mary Kay Ash and identifies what makes them tick, arguing that there’s three types of this boss who go above and beyond the call: a Glorious Bastard, a Nurturer, or an Iconoclast. In a world grasping for good role models for what makes leadership, Finkelstein’s easy-to-understand work is eye-opening. Twitter@sydfinkelstein

  34. The Love Expert

    Helen Fisher

    Helen Fisher
    www.helenfisher.com

    Helen Fisher is an anthropologist focused on the biology of why we choose one person over another, mixing the fields of chemistry and psychology. Her desire to understand what makes sparks fly has led her to work with Match.com and found Chemistry.com, a site that believes our hormones play an important role in what personalities will mesh. In Fisher’s Why Him? Why Her?, she used biochemical profiles to divide people into 4 categories depending on which hormone dominated their brains: serotonin-inspired Builder, testosterone-laden Director, estrogen-influenced Negotiator, or a dopamine-influenced Explorer. She’s been influential in how we can think about who we really are and what draws us to other people, at work and outside of it. Fisher tells Ladders that she created her questionnaire that has been used by over 14 million people because “once you know how a colleague, boss or client scores, you know how they are predisposed to think and act.” She believes that “when you understand how the brain works, you can reach anyone.” Twitter@DrHelenFisher

  35. The Basecamper

    Jason Fried

    Jason Fried
    www.Thegreatdiscontent.com

    It’s hard to remember a time in many offices when collaborative technology wasn’t the rule. Now it is, in part thanks to Fried, the founder of Basecamp, which allows coworkers to organize projects and chat. In his New York Times bestseller REWORK, Fried, along with David Heinemeier Hansson, took the notion of simplicity a step further in realizing that as it became easier to set up a business, it became more crucial to create tools and planning to run it business easily and efficiently. Fried doesn’t look for or provide shortcuts, choosing instead to merge technology with life in a sustainable way. Twitter@jasonfried

  36. The Michael Bay of Business

    Cindy Gallop

    Cindy Gallop
    Photo: Twitter

    Gallop made her name as a force in advertising, and her bold persona continues with a Twitter bio that says “I blow sh*t up. I am the Michael Bay of business.” Now most of her efforts go into her startup that advocates for sexual freedom and a very active side hustle in career advice for women looking for a bit more confidence and a lot more pay. Her timeless advice on salary negotiation is not only inspiring, but absolutely correct: “you should ask for the highest number you can utter without actually bursting out laughing.” Further wisdom she shared with us: “The only person who can make things happen for you is you. Most important qualities for entrepreneurs and leaders: persistence, resilience and the ability to manage your own mind.” Twitter@cindygallop

  37. The Science Writer

    Daniel Goleman

    Daniel Goleman

    Daniel Goleman is the science journalist and psychologist who brought “emotional intelligence” into our vocabularies in 1995. Today, leaders, politicians and schools are adapting his lessons to their curriculum. In his upcoming book Altered Traits, Goleman will tackle the hype around mindfulness and show us how we can get the most out of it. Twitter@DanielGolemanEI

  38. The Salt Bae

    Nusret Gökçe

    Nusret Gökçe
    refinery29.com

    This Turkish chef and restaurant co-owner, also known by his trending moniker of #SaltBae, gained viral fame (and over 6 million Instagram followers) by showing passion for his work. Where some chefs may slice meat and salt it absent-mindedly, Salt Bae turned the task into a balletic art, “blessing the meat” and showing respect for his craft and its methods. He’s also a restaurant mogul, with a small chain of high-end eateries in Abu Dhabi, London, and New York. Gökçe’s viral moment showed everyone how to work with a little more flair, and his GIF-length inspiration is accessible any time we’re looking to level up. Twitter@nusr_ett

  39. The Giver

    Adam Grant

    Adam Grant
    adamgrant.net

    Adam Grant is a Wharton professor and organizational psychologist who is steadily changing what we know about how we work. His studies on meaningful work have been cited by Sheryl Sandberg, Malcolm Gladwell, and Susan Cain. His specialty: an emphasis on adding a sense of humanity to work. Through Grant’s work on Give and Take, he argues that the secret to getting ahead in work is through helping others. “If you want to be successful, spend a few hours every week trying to make other people successful,” he tells Ladders. Twitter@AdamMGrant

  40. The Management Maven

    Alison Green

    Alison Green
    Linkedin.com

    Green, the “Dear Abby of the work world” according to Bravo TV, was once a manager herself, and now she’s using those years of experience to advise others on everything from getting a job to bad bosses, taking criticism gracefully, and other management issues through her popular blog Ask a Manager. With straightforward real talk and step-by-step solutions, Green’s advice is helpful to employees and bosses alike. Twitter@AskAManager

  41. The Oversharer

    Alison Griswold

    Alison Griswold

    Alison Griswold is a Quartz technology reporter who releases a weekly newsletter, Oversharing, a friendly guide to the sharing economy that explains the Ubers of the world through smart analysis of the stakeholders involved and humorous gifs. Griswold told Ladders that she “started Oversharing to have a frank conversation about the ‘sharing economy’ startups that have attracted so much money and attention over the last several years.” She wants to explain how “Uber is more than a ride at the touch of a button, and Airbnb not just a cheap alternative to a hotel.” As those companies change how we define work — and how it’s compensated — Griswold’s newsletter is an important read. Twitter@alisongriswold

  42. The Networker

    Kelly Hoey

    Kelly Hoey
    Photo: Kellyhoey.com/Lisa Tanner

    J. Kelly Hoey is a former law firm partner and angel investor who has gained a reputation as a great relationship-builder and communicator. A favorite speaker at conferences on finance, technology, and the power of women in the workplace, Hoey is also the author of Build Your Dream Network, a new book with common-sense advice for making connections and parlaying working relationships into great new jobs. “Skills alone won’t make you a success. A resilient career comes not only from having a great resume and experience, it needs the backing of a strong network. Networks make recommendations, vouch for credentials and make your resume more than just words on a page,” she tells Ladders. Twitter@jkhoey

  43. The Happiness Deliverer

    Tony Hsieh

    Tony Hsieh
    www.Speakerpedia.com

    Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is pretty much everyone’s idea of success. At 24, he sold his first company LinkExchange to Microsoft for a cool $265 million. He’s since not only revolutionized the notion of selling shoes online — at Zappos, all customers are considered VIPs — but Hsieh’s also fully embraced the ideals of Holacracy, a way of doing business without managers or traditional corporate hierarchy. But while Hsieh’s corporate philosophy seems to be working, his philanthropic efforts are a new challenge. Five years after investing $350 million of his own money into revitalizing Las Vegas after a downturn, the results have been slow to materialize, though that doesn’t seem to have stopped Hsieh’s boundless enthusiasm for delivering happiness, a concept he calls his personal and business mantra.

  44. The Adaptor

    Jon Huntsman

    Jon Huntsman
    Articlebio.com

    Utah earned the title “Best Managed State in America” by the Pew Center on the States under former Republican governor Jon Huntsman, who earned kudos for job creation and set an example as a capable manager. The chairman of the Atlantic Council and co-chair of the nonprofit political organization No Labels entered politics when he worked for the Reagan administration in 1987, and since then has worked for every presidential administration, currently as the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He’s a good example of how to survive and thrive even when your industry (and your boss) changes constantly. Twitter@JonHuntsman

  45. The Hustler

    Jay-Z

    Jay-Z
    Cloudpix.com

    He’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man. Jay-Z came up from the projects to create a rap career from scratch; finding no labels to help him, he created his own, Roc-A-Fella Records. The Grammys and awards piled up after that, not to mention the sales: Jay has scored more Billboard Top 200 singles than any other solo artist. He didn’t stop there, moving on to become a business mogul with RocaWear, Tidal and collaborations with HP and Coca-Cola. He also has a knack for networking: He and billionaire Bill Gates hit it off nearly immediately. Jay-Z’s career is a testament to always think bigger, even when you’ve already made it big. Twitter@S_C_

  46. The Ironist

    Mike Judge

    Mike Judge
    Photo: Chris Pizzello

    From the movie Office Space to the show Silicon Valley, director, writer, and producer Mike Judge is judging American white-collar workplace cultures and finding them wanting. With tech insiders like ex-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acting as consultants, “Silicon Valley” accurately and hilariously satirizes the ironies and quirks of working in the booming U.S. tech industry. Both real and fake Silicon Valley want to make the world a better place; Judge’s show Silicon Valley goes a step further by subtly arguing for more real innovation and less greed and squabbling. Twitter@MikeJudge

  47. The Laureate

    Daniel Kahneman

    Daniel Kahneman

    Kahneman, a psychologist, is a Nobel laureate who has revolutionized the study of psychology by studying how our brains help us perceive the world — and how to recognize the mistakes they’ll inevitably lead us to. In 2010, his TED talk on the science of happiness changed how we understand our memories. Thinking Fast and Slow, his most recent book, was an international bestseller.

  48. The Introverted Executive

    Stephane Kasriel

    Stephane Kasriel
    Hbr.org

    Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel created a company that empowers freelancers to find jobs online. He’s also probably one of the first C-level tech executives to fully embrace not only his inherent geekiness in mentioning his abiding love of executive profiles in computer magazines, but also talk about his true nature as an introvert. In an endearingly open piece on the Harvard Business Review, Kasriel wrote, “I’m not completely socially awkward — I can get by in a crowd, but it doesn’t come naturally.” It felt like a benediction for the rest of us who sometimes have to try harder to seem completely at ease in the world. Twitter@skasriel

  49. The Disruptor

    Marion Kelly

    Marion Kelly
    http://www.koreaboo.com/

    On March 10, the four-year-old daughter of Robert Kelly gleefully and confidently stomped into her father’s office and declined to leave quietly, inspiring us all to take up a little more space in the world. By interrupting her dad’s live BBC Skype interview with her little brother, she became a viral meme that every working parent could relate to. Kelly has become a symbol of the life of working parents — and a role model for anyone, young or old, who has ever wanted to embrace just being yourself.

  50. The DJ

    DJ Khaled

    DJ Khaled

    Khaled Mohamed Khaled, known professionally as DJ Khaled, is a record producer, DJ, record label executive, and author. He’s also one of the elite list of celebrities who have managed to own social media and mold it in a way that works best for them. In Khaled’s case, an upbeat use of  Snapchat has won over fans and create a slightly oddball but endearing brand that’s like a mashup of Dr. Phil and the Buddha. His book on work, The Keys, includes valuable advice on resilience and never letting haters get you down. “They don’t want you to have stars on the roof of your Rolls Royce,” he scoffs of rivals who may try to keep you down. Too true. Twitter@djkhaled

  51. The Explainer

    Jed Kolko

    Jed Kolko
    JedKolko.com

    Jed Kolko’s minimalist website and social media presence seem as matter of fact and unassuming as he is, as the chief economist at Indeed, the world’s largest online job board.  While Kolko has a significant pedigree as a researcher and analyst, he also put together a fairly no-nonsense guide on LinkedIn explaining not only what he does, but why companies might be in need of services akin to the ones he provides. Kolko is good lesson in talking the talk without any hype or hyperbole. Twitter@JedKolko

  52. The Demystifier

    Maria Konnikova

    Maria Konnikova

    One of the toughest tasks we all face when trying rising in the world is knowing when we’re being taken in: by a business partner, a colleague or even in a standard negotiation. In her latest New York Times-bestselling book The Confidence Game, Maria Konnikova teaches us how to spot the scam before we get scammed. One of her most startling findings: a little part of us likes being lied to. Writing for The New Yorker at the intersection of social psychology and culture, Konnikova is building up our awareness of these master manipulators, as well as other techniques that make us more aware of how we approach life including how practice doesn’t make perfect, and how we can think like Sherlock Holmes. “There’s no such thing as ‘success,” she tells Ladders. “You have to figure out what it means to you – and that requires doing something that most of us think we’re too busy to ever do: slow down. Take a break. Step away. Reflect. The single most undervalued thing in modern life is quiet, and I think it’s the thing that is most likely to lead you to the best, most fulfilled version of you.” Twitter@mkonnikova

  53. The Investor

    Sallie Krawcheck

    Sallie Krawcheck
    Photo: Ellevate

    For women in the very tough world of finance, Krawcheck drew notice for her ability to rise to the highest positions at America’s biggest banks while speaking her mind. Now she’s on to her second act, helping women get their careers and financial lives together. Her new book, Own It, advocates that women find their own style — read, to stop trying to be men at work. The mission of Ellevest, the startup she leads, is to provide women with a no-nonsense way of investing their money without being talked down to or steamrolled. Krawcheck is committed to leveling the playing field for women. Twitter@SallieKrawcheck

  54. The Storyteller

    Michael Lewis

    Michael Lewis
    Photo: Amazon

    The author of Liar’s Poker spent only a few months on Wall Street, but he parlayed his curiosity about work culture into an entire career of writing that gets into people’s heads while they’re working on something big. From The Big Short about the financial crisis or Moneyball about how baseball players and their salaries, Lewis gets at the very human motivations behind why we do what we do at work, and they’re hard to forget later. Website: Michael Lewis

  55. The Big Sister

    Aliza Licht

    Aliza Licht
    www.alizalicht.com

    Many fans of Aliza Licht’s may know her as the now-defunct Twitter personality DKNY PR Girl, where she tweeted about all things brand and Gossip Girl. Licht moved on from Donna Karan to write her successful internet-age career book Leave Your Mark and pen a popular monthly career newsletter called Blackboard. Her trademark: a confident, big-sister tone that compels you to get up and chase your dreams. For others who want to see success in their careers, she says to take matters into your own hands. “You can’t just wait for someone to hand you the ‘in,’” she tells Ladders. “You have to build your network, hone your reputation and create your own way in. Nothing happens unless you make it happen.” Twitter@AlizaLicht

  56. The Organizer

    Phil Libin

    Phil Libin
    www.inc.com

    The co-founder of Evernote helped to create a revolutionary note-taking product that more than 150 million of us use to organize our thoughts online, and which has revolutionized how we take notes for work. Evernote was also an early adopter of office trends that are common now: an open office, a flat hierarchy with no outward perks of seniority, desks without phones and unlimited vacation time. Perhaps the best idea he’s advocated: “officer training” for managers that required anyone on track for a promotion to visit other departments and participate in their meetings. Libin has been open about his dislike of office politics, particularly as a midlevel manager within a larger company, which may have contributed to his choosing to be a venture capitalist now at General Catalyst. Twitter@plibin

  57. The TV VP

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Photo: Getty

    As the ego-driven Selina Meyer on Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has charted the rise and fall of a politician who finally got what she wanted —becoming president— only to lose it all. We’d argue that Veep may be one of the best shows on careers ever made, as the characters struggle with diva colleagues, constant gaffes, and petty squabbles between co-workers. Louis-Dreyfus’s own career is going far better than her character’s: She won five consecutive Emmy wins for her performance — adding to her two others for Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine. Her work on Veep has won her fans on both sides of the aisle: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both tune in. Twitter@OfficialJLD

  58. The Good Human

    Nancy Lyons

    Nancy Lyons
    Photo: Clockwork

    Nancy Lyons, CEO of Clockwork, seems determined to dispel the myth of nice guys (and gals) finishing last – in the nicest way possible. Lyons’s bio includes her mottoes: “think strategically, act thoughtfully, and be a good human.” Along with that comes the notion of championing a more “human-centered approach to business.” Keep an eye out for Lyons’ forthcoming book that taps into the power of being nice in the workplace. Twitter@Nylons

  59. The Hacker

    Moxie Marlinspike

    Moxie Marlinspike
    Photo: Webstock

    As the founder of the Open Whisper Systems, Moxie Marlinspike is a coder who is helping encryption — previously the province of hackers — go mainstream. Marlinspike created Signal, a popular, free encrypted messaging app for politicians and civilians alike to communicate privately. Signal’s encryption protocols affect more than a billion people worldwide—WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have adopted its protocols into their own apps. For workplaces increasingly set on security and protecting communications, Marlinspike’s work will be all too relevant in coming years. Twitter@moxie

  60. The Planner

    Kate Matsudaira

    Kate Matsudaira
    Photo: Geekwire

    Kate Matsudaira is a software development leader who wants us to be more awesome at our jobs, and has given step-by-step advice on how we can achieve that. As part of this mission, she created the Spark Notebook planner to help you be the “smartest person in the room” and founded Popforms, a company that trained other companies how they could “help superstars shine at work.” Twitter@katemats

  61. The Big Tipper

    Danny Meyer

    Danny Meyer
    Photo: Forbes

    The founder of the endlessly popular burger chain Shake Shack, Danny Meyer is also a businessman who is constantly reconsidering how staff should work. The restaurateur famously eliminated tipping at his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants and upped meal prices to make up for it; he believes tipping has “created a completely false economy so that when you see a menu price at a restaurant, you know and I know that it includes the cost of the food, the cost of the linen, the rent, but it doesn’t include the service.” Meyer’s advocacy for the humanity — and the incomes — of his staff have set a standard in his industry. Twitter@dhmeyer

  62. The Hamiltonian

    Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Lin-Manuel Miranda
    Photo: The Daily Beast

    As the creator and star of the award-winning musical  “Hamilton,” Miranda resuscitated Alexander Hamilton, the least-studied Founding Father, into a career icon who symbolizes the power of resilience, the weight of good connections, the importance of skill, and how we are our own worst enemies. The Broadway hip-hop musical that teaches us about immigrant success and the peaks and perils of political ambition: “the ten-dollar Founding Father without a father / Got a lot farther by working a lot harder / By being a lot smarter / By being a self-starter.” Miranda’s own career shows us that great ideas can take years to incubate. In Miranda’s case, it took six years of writing lyrics and music to turn the embattled story of America’s first treasury secretary into a piece of art that everyone can understand and relate to. Secondary benefit: by creating a vivid portrait of Hamilton’s jealous, power-hungry frenemy Aaron Burr, Miranda demonstrates how rivalries at work and in life can shape us. Twitter@Lin_Manuel

  63. The Gig Economist

    Diane Mulcahy

    Diane Mulcahy
    www.Dianemulcahy.com

    Diane Mulcahy knows how to spot a trend in work and make sense of it. She’s the author of The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want — one of the few books about gig economy life that rejects sweeping Ivory Tower analysis to focus instead on the practicalities of workers’ lives. As a speaker, lecturer on entrepreneurship at Babson College and a senior fellow at the nonprofit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Mulcahy gives students and readers a handle on what they need to do to shape a different kind of working life. “Not one study suggests that working in an office eight hours a day, five days a week maximizes employee productivity, satisfaction, or performance. Yet somehow, despite evidence of the many benefits of independent, flexible, and remote work, our office-based, facetime-focused, workweek-in-the-cube approach to work still persists at many companies….The most impactful lesson that traditional companies can learn from the gig economy is to judge all workers, including employees, on their results, and value delivered, not on when and where they do their work,” Mulcahy told Ladders. Twitter@dianemulcahy

  64. The Developer

    Matt Mullenweg

    Matt Mullenweg
    Photo: Matt Mullenweg

    Matt Mullenweg developed the web software that 25% of all websites are hosted on, including the one you’re reading: WordPress. As the CEO of Automattic, he modeled a new way to work with no offices and no email, allowing his hundreds of employees to work remotely from over 50 countries. Mullenweg sees remote work as the future of nearly all work, but in order for it to be duplicated at other companies, he believes “it has to be part of the DNA of the company from day one. You have to be really committed to keep the creative center and soul of the organization on the internet, and not in an office.” Twitter@photomatt

  65. The Deep Worker

    Cal Newport

    Cal Newport
    Photo: Cal Newport

    This computer science professor has study hacks to give students, young and old. He authored three how-to’s to students (How to Win at College, How to Become a Straight-A Student, How to Be a High-School Superstar) and then he aimed his lifehacks at the working world. In his best-selling So Good They Can’t Ignore You, he makes the case against “following your passion,” arguing that how hard you work is more important than what you’re working on. His latest book Deep Work shows workers how they can focus themselves in a world of distractions like social media. Website: Cal Newport

  66. The Entertainer

    Jordan Peele

    Jordan Peele
    www.alechetron.com

    Actor, comedian and filmmaker Jordan Peele, sure has a funny way of making people confront bias. Formerly known as half of comedic duo Key & Peele, he recently wrote, produced and directed Get Out, a horror movie that sends up how we see race in society. In an interview in the Hollywood Reporter, Peele made a stand for diversity: “I think the lesson is that when you give black voices a platform and the opportunity to tell our story, we will tell good stories just like anybody else.” Just as importantly, Peele has demonstrated that talking about race is a workable business model in Hollywood. Nothing makes a point about the power of inclusion louder than financial success. Twitter@JordanPeele

  67. The Youthquaker

    Lindsey Pollak

    Lindsey Pollak
    www.lindseypollack.com

    Lindsey Pollak is a millennial workplace expert and author of the New York Times bestsellers Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders and Getting from College to Career: Your Essential Guide to Succeeding in the Real World. The webinars she made and hosted as a LinkedIn Ambassador for six years reached more than 100,000 people and she gives speeches, consults and gives career guidance to young people starting businesses. Her mission: to redeem the unfair reputation of millennials at work as “entitled,” and in doing so, to make room for a new generation of leaders. “In today’s increasingly multigenerational workplace, it is more important than ever to focus on career development and be the CEO of your own career path,”  Pollak told Ladders. Twitter@lindseypollak

  68. The Coach

    Gregg Popovich

    Gregg Popovich
    www.alchetron.com

    As the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, Gregg Popovich has led the Spurs to five NBA championships and is the longest-tenured coach in the NBA. He has also created a formula for creating winning teams: choose teammates for their character. Here’s the lesson we can apply on- and off- the court that Popovich uses when recruiting players: “When there’s a guy who talks about himself all day long, you start to get the sense that he doesn’t listen real well. If you’re interviewing him and before you ever get anything out of your mouth he’s speaking, you know he hasn’t really evaluated what you’ve said. For those people, we think, ‘has this person gotten over himself?’” That’s an evaluation even people who aren’t sports fans can relate to.

  69. The Sharp Raiser

    Dan Price

    Dan Price
    money.cnn.com

    The CEO of $80 million credit-card processing company Gravity unleashed a firestorm by promising to set the minimum wage for workers at his company at a relatively high $70,000 a year. Then, Inc. reported, Price really went all in: he “emptied his retirement accounts, and mortgaged his two properties — including a $1.2 million home with a view of Puget Sound — and poured the $3 million he raised into Gravity.”  What followed was a bitter lawsuit with his brother and business partner, who claimed that Price paid himself too high a salary, but the CEO prevailed. End result: a discussion about a higher living wage and a lot of soul-searching among companies and employees about what a fair salary really is. Twitter@DanPriceSeattle

     

  70. The Policy Wonk

    Bruce Reed

    Bruce Reed
    www.newamerica.org

    Bruce Reed served as a top White House policy adviser in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and now he spends his days as Co-Chair of the Future of Work Initiative at The Aspen Institute. The effort sets out to look at the way we will work in the future, and how to make that compatible with good social policy — a pressing need as generational shift reshapes the demographics of workers. 

  71. The 'Yes' Woman

    Shonda Rhimes

    Shonda Rhimes
    www.npr.org

    Shonda Rhimes is best known for the “dark and twisty” characters she creates on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, who have redefined the way people (especially women) talk about and think about careers. In addition, Rhimes’ bestselling book Year of Yes and her viral TED Talk “My year of saying yes to everything” have created more conversations about what it means to “have it all” and how that’s changed in the 21st century. Twitter@shondarhimes

  72. The Self-Helper

    Tony Robbins

    Tony Robbins
    Photo: Thrive Global

    One of the most successful and enduring self-help gurus on the circuit, Tony Robbins, began as a self-help coach despite not having any educational background in psychology. Robbins’ methodologies are anything but traditional and he incorporates everything from tactics for understanding love and relationships, to firewalking, skydiving and board breaking in his seminars in an attempt to encourage people to push through their fears. “I’m not much of a meditate-er,” Robbins has said.  “Trying not to think doesn’t work too well for me.” For Robbins and his followers, actions alone speak volumes. Twitter@TonyRobbins

  73. The Advocate

    Gina Rodriguez

    Gina Rodriguez
    www.ginarodriquez.com

    Gina Rodriguez wants to see a different group of faces in her industry, and she’s making it happen. The star of “Jane the Virgin” is an Golden-Globe-winning actress who is using her platform to spread the gospel of #movementmondays on her Instagram to highlight the achievements of overlooked creative and political achievements of people of color. Rodriguez also has an active involvement in philanthropy and has spoken out against bullying— showing that you can be successful and make sure others come up with you. Twitter@HereIsGina

  74. The Data Whiz

    Max Roser

    Max Roser
    www.maxroser.com

    Economist and Oxford University researcher Max Roser is part of the team building the web publication Our World In Data that examines how work and economics relate to education and health. Roser’s team is compiling data, statistics and predictions on the things we all secretly wonder about, from food consumption rates to fertility. Roser looks carefully at trends in work, from charts that show our works hours steadily decreasing since 1870 (even if doesn’t feel that way) to how our living standards are changing. Twitter@MaxCRoser

  75. The Searcher

    Gretchen Rubin

    Gretchen Rubin
    www.gretchenrubin.com

    As the author of bestsellers “Better Than Before,” “Happier at Home,” and “The Happiness Project,” Gretchen Rubin has made a career out of the pursuit of happiness. In her blog and on her podcast, she discusses ways we can build happier lives, and her trademark touch is reaching out to her readers and learning about their lives. For those who have felt confused about what they really need to be happy at work or in life, Rubin’s work is a necessary first stop. Twitter@gretchenrubin

  76. The Guide

    Sheryl Sandberg

    Sheryl Sandberg
    Photo: Getty

    As Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg is internationally recognized as one of the upper echelon of women in tech. In her book that launched a movement, Lean In: Women, Work and in The Will to Lead, Sandberg (with co-author Nell Scovell), Sandberg encouraged women to lean into positions of authority and power, instead of shying away from the spotlight and responsibilities. While some were critical of Sandberg’s messaging as too targeted at the corporate world, she has updated her thoughts on the difficulties of childcare as a woman alone. Her public expression of grief at the loss of husband Dave Goldberg struck a chord with many who struggled with their grief at work and in life, inspiring Sandberg’s new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Twitter@sherylsandberg

  77. The Code Revolutionary

    Reshma Saujani

    Reshma Saujani
    www.Reshma_saujani.com

    When Reshma Saujani was running to be the first Indian-American woman to get to Congress, she visited local schools and noticed a significant gender gap in computer science classes. It led her to found Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that wants one million women in computer science jobs by 2020. In her TED talk, Saujani says that girls are raised to “be perfect” while boys are taught to “be brave” and she wants more young women to take risks — and to even out the employment ranks in one of America’s fastest-growing industries. Twitter@reshmasaujani

  78. The Cubicle Detective

    Nikil Saval

    Nikil Saval
    www.Dallasnews.com

    If you’ve ever noticed the architectural hierarchies in an office seating chart, you’ll be able to relate with Nikil Saval’s research from his book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace. Saval finds that throughout literature and history, it not only matters what work we do, but where we end up doing it, especially in relation to where the boss works: “the distance between junior clerk and partner was seen as both enormous and easily surmountable.” The spaces we work in determine the quality of the work we do, and Saval has studied that in a way that makes sense to every kind of reader.

  79. The Globalist

    AnnaLee Saxenian

    AnnaLee Saxenian
    Photo: Chemical Heritage Foundation

    AnnaLee Saxenian is dean and a professor in the UC Berkeley School of Information, examining how immigration — one of the top political topics of the day — is changing companies and entire economies. Her latest book is The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy, and her work has highlighted how highly-skilled immigrants are changing the nature of entrepreneurship. In a country where nearly 40% of companies are started by immigrants, Saxenian’s work provides essential perspective.

  80. The Altruist

    Emma Seppälä

    Emma Seppälä
    www.emilyseppala.com

    The bright young Seppälä, the co-director of Yale’s Emotional Intelligence Project and the director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research. Her focus is the study of how interdependence changes us for the better, how communities make us who we are, and how spiritual goals are compatible with career ones. To be good workers, Seppälä seems to suggest, we must be good humans. She’s the author of the new book The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success. Twitter@emmaseppala

  81. The Balancer

    Anne-Marie Slaughter

    Anne-Marie Slaughter
    Photo: Speakerpedia

    Anne-Marie Slaughter is the president and CEO of New America, a think ​tank that does extensive research on how policies around work, labor and pay are changing the United States. Dr. Slaughter has also somewhat controversially attempted to dispel the notion that women could in fact have it all. Instead, she offered a complicated viewpoint that explained that women were being pressured to try to attain everything at once without being given the proper respect or societal tools or support to make it a reality. An influential article in The Atlantic on the subject, along with a TED talk and her ongoing studies of work-life balance, have put Slaughter at the top of a subject that affects everyone and is still being discussed daily. Twitter: @SlaughterAM

  82. The Creative Director

    Michael Steger

    Michael Steger
    www.michaelstegar.com

    Professor Michael Steger has made it his mission to help people find what can go missing at work: a sense of meaning and purpose. As an associate professor of psychology at Colorado State University, he’s spent more than a decade researching people’s ability to find meaning in their lives, but really gained an audience with a lively TEDx talk on his core topics. On his blog, Professor Steger regularly updates his thoughts on adding creativity to your life, along with dispelling some of the myths of the midlife crisis. Twitter@MichaelSteger11

  83. The Wild One

    Cheryl Strayed

    Cheryl Strayed
    Photo by Holly Andres

    Cheryl Strayed is a popular essayist, novelist and advice giver whose book Wild inspired people to hike the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail to find the lives they really want. As the Dear Sugar advice columnist, she answered readers’ questions on life, love, failure, and career perseverance with warmth and humor. As she advised one reader who felt stuck in her career, “The only way you’ll find out if you ‘have it in you’ is to get to work and see if you do.” We’d bring our work worries to Strayed knowing her advice would be good and delivered well. Twitter@CherylStrayed

  84. The Prioritizer

    Brigid Schulte

    Brigid Schulte

    Brigid Schulte is author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time, a new book on how we’re all just doing entirely too much. As a former journalist for the Washington Post, a speaker on productivity topics, director of The Better Life Lab and founding director of The Good Life Initiative at the nonpartisan think tank New America, Schulte helps people realize the importance of prioritization. Twitter@BrigidSchulte

  85. The Predictor

    Kristin Sharp

    Kristin Sharp
    www.newamerica.org

    Kristin Sharp is the executive director of New America and Bloomberg’s joint initiative, SHIFT: The Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology. Sharp’s multifaceted background in technology, innovation, and national security policy in the U.S. Senate, affords her a unique perspective on the future of the working world. While Sharp frequently speaks about the future of traditional work, she also factors in the gig economy and recently predicted that gig-type jobs will be a reality for up to 50% of the American workforce by 2025. Twitter@ktsharp2

  86. The Optimist

    Simon Sinek

    Simon Sinek
    www.startwithwhy.com

    Speaker and writer Simon Sinek instructs leaders and organizations on motivating people. A self-described “optimist,” he is the author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, among others, and his TED Talk on the same topic was listed as one of the 10 most popular TEDx talks. “…I always say that, you know, if you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears,” he said in the talk. He continues to explore topics that make us think about the nature of work. Twitter@simonsinek

  87. The Remote-Control Boss

    Joel Spolsky

    Joel Spolsky
    Photo: Techrepublic

    The creator of Trello, the project-management app, would have done enough for the world of work by distributing the handy card-based organizational system. But he’s also passionate about the value of working remotely. Roughly half the workforce of Trello works from elsewhere, a remarkable ratio that makes the company the envy of many software engineers trapped in Silicon Valley cubicles. Twitter@spolsky

  88. The Nudger

    Cass Sunstein

    Cass Sunstein
    www.Alchetron.com

    Cass Sunstein, considered the father of nudges, defines nudge in his book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (written with Richard Thaler) as a “gentle, not mandated, cue, push or other means to encourage a desired behavior.” The premise: sometimes people need encouragement to make wiser decisions that are better for everyone involved. It’s really a testament how others can push us to be better, and how we take social cues, which are relevant to how we work. Only one request: we’d like the next book in the series to examine the fine art of reminding people to do things  — if the nudge doesn’t work. Twitter@CassSunstein

  89. The Negotiator

    Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift
    www.cloudpix.com

    Taylor Swift made her name as a pop starlet known for sharing past romances and breakups in her lyrics, but get less attention for her work as a business woman. Swift is the head of a team that makes sure the Taylor Swift brand stands for the right thing at all times — which includes standing up to the largest company in the world, Apple, when it wasn’t paying musical artists enough. All you need to know about Swift’s knack for finding leverage with grace: she made Apple back down from its music business model in only a few days. Now that’s a negotiator. Twitter@taylorswift13

  90. The Professor

    Deborah Tannen

    Deborah Tannen
    Photo: Deborah Tannen

    Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University, revolutionized our understanding of how the way we choose our words also changes our relationships. Her books Talking 9 to 5 and You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation opened our eyes to how our conversational styles affect how we’re seen. We asked Tannen for her advice to people who think they’re coming across all wrong. She advises the use of “meta-communication” to fix misunderstandings: “Talk about it to the person, and ask ‘what it is about what I’m saying?’ and ‘here’s why I think the impression you’re getting is not the right one.’ It can be helpful to show them an article about it. ‘Hey, look at this, do you think this could be happening between us?'” We can’t wait to try it. Website: Deborah Tannen

  91. The Bone Builder

    Nina Tandon

    Nina Tandon
    www.Ted.com

    Nina Tandon is the CEO and co-founder of bone reconstruction company EpiBone, which grows custom-made bones from stem cells. The TED Senior Fellow and author of Super Cells: Building with Biology is working with a team to help reshape the medical field through what is reportedly “the world’s first company growing living human bones for skeletal reconstruction.” Besides being a prominent advocate for women in science, she’s also a reminder that you don’t have to be an expert at just one thing: Tandon is also a certified yoga instructor. Twitter@ninatandon

     

  92. The Bouncer

    Justin Trudeau

    Justin Trudeau
    Photo: Twitter

    Whatever you think of the politics of the youthful Prime Minister of Canada, there’s no question his career is a masterclass in managing pivots and levelling up. For years, the son of one of Canada’s most beloved leader lived in his father’s shadow, dismissed as a political prospect. While he worked as a teacher during the day, he picked up colorful side hustles: his resume includes work as an actor in a popular miniseries, a nightclub bouncer, and stints as an instructor in bungee-jumping, snowboarding, and white water rafting. Trudeau also knows about career branding: in a charity boxing match in 2012, he knocked out a rival politician, which earned him enough positive popular reaction that  he stood out above the political scrum and eventually found his way to the highest office in Canada. Twitter@JustinTrudeau

  93. The Digital Detective

    Sherry Turkle

    Sherry Turkle
    www.reclaimingconversation.com

    If you’ve ever found yourself worrying that all that texting and DMing leaves you unable to make even basic conversation, you’re not alone. Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT, and the founder and current director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, has a book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, that investigates how our collectively moving away from conversation can actually undermine our relationships, creativity, and productivity. It also poses the unasked question: are we having relationships with our devices or the people in our lives? Twitter@STurkle

  94. The Welcomer

    Hamdi Ulukaya

    Hamdi Ulukaya
    Photo: Wikipedia

    As the founder and CEO of yogurt company Chobani, and the founder of the Tent Foundation, Ulukaya has been a champion of refugee workers. It’s partly because of his own background as aTurkish immigrant of Kurdish descent, which he frequently mentions. Chobani employs immigrants and refugees, who work with American employees. “The number one thing that you can do is provide them jobs.  The minute they get a job that’s the minute they stop being a refugee,” Ulukaya has said. Twitter@hamdiulukaya

  95. The Fighters

    U.S. Women's Soccer Team

    U.S. Women\'s Soccer Team
    www.dailymotion.com

    Asking for a raise is tough for anyone, but it’s even tougher when your whole industry is underpaid. This April, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team reached a collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer in a contract that will give them equitable pay after the team publicly rallied against an employer that was paying the men’s team more for the same job. We see the winning result, but the team’s fight for equal pay did not happen overnight: it happened through unglamorous late nights on Google docs, anonymous surveys, and negotiations over PowerPoint slides. They show us that the fight for equal pay in workplaces is a long game — but it can be won.

  96. The Futurist

    Amy Webb

    Amy Webb
    Photo: Amy Web

    As the founder of the Future Today Institute, Amy Webb is here to explain all our tomorrows, including in the office. In her book, The Signals Are Talking, she investigates how technology can predict what’s coming next. Her search for the best data has helped her both professionally and personally —in a popular TED talk, she discussed how she hacked online dating algorithms to find her husband. One reason to read her work: we’ll need to know what to say to our robot coworkers in 10 years. Her advice to readers of Ladders: “Most of the time we’re fighting yesterday’s battles rather than thinking up strategies that will help us tomorrow. Forecasting the future is all about making better decisions in the present.” Twitter@amywebb

  97. The Guru

    Oprah Winfrey

    Oprah Winfrey
    Photo: Cliff Watts

    There are few people who have burnished a personal brand like Oprah, who has used her own search for meaning as a template to bring a faithful audience along with her. Whatever Oprah reads, we read. Whatever Oprah buys, we buy. Winfrey, the world’s first female black billionaire, is the pioneering lifestyle and entertainment mogul, actor, philanthropist, and confessional advice giver who elevated her Chicago daytime talk show into a phenomenon that’s never stopped. But even Oprah fails, and that’s the parting lesson she gave the Stanford Graduate School of Business on how to build a meaningful life: “Your job is to feel that, to hear that, to know that and sometimes, when you’re not listening, you get taken off track. You get in the wrong marriage, the wrong relationship, you take the wrong job. Yeah, but it’s all leading to the same path. There are no wrong paths. There are none. There’s no such thing as failure really, because failure is just that thing, trying to move you in another direction. So you get as much from your losses, as you do from your victories because the losses are there to wake you up.” Twitter: @Oprah

  98. The Skimmers

    Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin

    Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin
    Photo: The Skimm

    Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin are the co-founders and co-CEOs of theSkimm, a media company that made its name with a wildly popular newsletter. The newsletter began in 2012, when they took their passion for news and storytelling and started putting together lively summaries of news events written for millennial women. Today, the newsletter reaches more than 5 million subscribers, and the company has expanded to include theSkimm app, Skimm Studios, which includes video, and Skimm Studies, a marketing tool. “We hope that the future of work involves knowing an audience and meeting them where they are,” they told Ladders. Twitter@DMWeisberg@cbzakin

  99. The Astronaut

    Peggy Whitson

    Peggy Whitson
    www.esa.int

    As the first female Space Station Commander, Peggy Whitson paved the way for women in space. The NASA astronaut and biochemist broke the record for cumulative time in space by a U.S. astronaut on Monday, April 24, 2017, a title formerly held by NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. “I think my parents are probably the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. I think I got a double dose of the dedication and stubbornness gene from them which contribute to being my success,” Whitson said in an International Space Station pre-flight interview. Twitter@AstroPeggy