Tom Peters' Superstar/Top41 Entrepreneurs

I was asked by a magazine to come up with a list of the five entrepreneurs I most admired. Consistent with my whatever, I offered a list of 41, though I did single out my top 13 (**) and my Top 1 (*****). You’ll find the list below. (And a PDF version as well.) I was determined to steer away from the obvious with a couple of exceptions—and also emphasized social entrepreneurs and a couple of entrepreneurs (classification justified, I believe) within firms. All yours …

Susan Frampton, President, Planetree Alliance, Derby CT, top “patient-centric” hospital care model, broadly diffused

Larry Janesky, Basement Systems Inc., author of very popular Dry Basement Science, transformer of moldy basements, this “ordinary” business a huge winner

Jim Penman, Jim’s Group, with HQ in Australia, nearly 3,000 franchisees doing “routine” stuff that busy clients don’t get around to doing, like dog-walking and driveway paving; also author of What Will They Franchise Next?

Dennis Littky, founder Big Picture, project-based learning model for secondary schools, widespread diffusion courtesy Gates foundation

*****Wendy Kopp, founder, Teach For America, potent beyond measure in insanely tough environment (My #1)

**Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize winner, father of micro-lending, started in Bangladesh

**Women recipients (94%) of Grameen micro-loans, incredible payback record

John Bogle, sane & successful funds manager, founder Vanguard Funds, author of Enough

**Steve Jobs, himself, no ID needed!

**Lorenzo Zambrano, CEMEX, Mexico, world’s #3 cement maker, low-price, high volume housing developer for the poor

David Kelley, IDEO, top product design company, innovation consultancy, founder of Stanford “D-school” (Design School)

Don Berwick, creator of campaign-organization to save hundreds of thousands of lives by focus on patient safety in hospitals

Bob Stone, reinventing government (Bob called “Mr. Rego”) for VP Al Gore, big-scale under-the-radar change in resistant environment

Robin Chase and Antje Danielson, founded Zipcar

**Horst Brandstatter, Brandstatter Enterprises (including Playmobil); exemplar of Germany’s Mittelstand (Germany #1 world exporter, driven almost entirely by Mittelstand companies)

Oprah, entrepreneur, billionaire, social change agent

**Carly Fiorina, dramatically changed/wrestled to ground a very strong culture at HP; Welch (GE) and Gerstner (IBM) did good work, but did not do culture change, resurrected old cultures that had frayed

John Doerr, VC extraordinaire; no $$$, no high-growth start-ups

**Taddy Blecher, CIDA, university, founder, South Africa, services tens of thousands of kids from the townships

Almost all of Bo Burlingham’s Small Giants (e.g., New Hope Contracting, Righteous Babe Records, and LFS Touring)

Billy Ford, serious about green for years and years at Ford, internal entrepreneur, lonely voice

**Michelle Rhee, superintendent, D.C. schools, young, taking on powerful teacher’s union, succeeding

Rick Warren, love him or hate him, Saddleback monster church, bestselling book ever

Bono, putting aid to Africa on the map

**Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler & visionary, Dubai; amazing act of human imagination

Narayana Murthy, founder, Infosys, #1 exemplar of Indian IS prowess

**David Petraeus, changed U.S. Army doctrine, internal entrepreneur

Lee Kuan Yew, senior minister and former prime minister, Singapore, created little giant of a Sovereign State

Ronald Reagan, champion-enabler of the entrepreneurs in a “big company” environment

Jacqueline Novogratz, Acumen Fund, fund social entrepreneur efforts for projects-programs serving those with <$4/day in income

Bill Drayton, Ashoka, supports the development (selection, training) of entrepreneurs worldwide

Sultan Bahabri, HITS telecom plus, Kuwait, ignites widespread efforts to support the less well off

Zhang Xin, SOHO China, unusual large-scale property developer, very design driven, female with hyper-humble roots in a male’s game

Arianna Huffington, Web social change agent

Helen Greiner, iRobot, MIT grad created powerful-imaginative techy firm amidst “all boys” industry

Ted Turner, ridiculed for imagining CNN; potent social entrepreneur

**John Coleman, Weather Channel, thought a joke at the start, valued in the billions of $$$$

Dame Anita Roddick (“the late,” alas), mother of large-scale corporate social responsibility (wish she’d been running a big bank)

Vernon Hill, made Commerce Bank the poster child for consumer-friendly banking before troublesome departure

**Howard Dean, de facto creator of “high end” Web-based politics