Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson has spent his entire career pushing the envelope. It's resulted in an eclectic and expansive set of companies under the Virgin name, including airlines, a bank, and most recently a hotel chain. He's a self-made billionaire who dropped out of high school and hasn't stopped doing things differently for the past 45 years. Though he's well-known for his penchant for pranks, his costumes, and his private island, he's built an empire and survived countless setbacks thanks to his commitment to being an exceptional leader.
The Venture Capitalist
Tony Hsieh is well known for building Zappos into a billion-plus company, and perhaps even better known for building an unusually strong culture that encourages employees to have fun, embrace quirks and “create fun with a little weirdness.” He’s become a workplace evangelist of sorts: his 2010 book Delivering Happiness, which details the Zappos philosophy, has sold more than 300,000 copies; in addition to selling shoes (and now clothes and more), Zappos also has a consulting arm that trains companies like Google and Eli Lilly on building happy workplaces. But as Hsieh floats toward guru status, he’s also quietly been up to something totally, completely different. And if his next act goes as planned, Zappos and delivering happiness may just be his first chapter.
At 44, Musk is both superstar entrepreneur and mad scientist. Sixteen years after co-founding a company called X.com that would, following a merger, go on to become PayPal, he’s launched the electric carmaker Tesla Motors and the aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, which are among the most closely watched—some would say obsessed-over—companies in the world. He has been compared to the Christian Grey character in Fifty Shades of Grey, though not as often as he’s been called “the real Tony Stark,” referring to the playboy tech entrepreneur whose alter ego, Iron Man, rescues the universe from various manifestations of evil.