During the course of my life, there have been a number of people that I have tried to emulate. Some of these are people I have known and some I have ‘met’ by reading about them in books or through the electronic media. They are the ones who have decided their own destiny and made sure they achieve their goals no matter what. A glance at these people’s lives is enough to motivate us and prevent us from giving up our aims in life.
Through technology, be it the television or the internet, a vast number of individuals can be reached out to. In the olden days, influencing people could only be done either by meeting them, or through word of mouth. However, in the 21st century, a whole generation can be motivated through the use of technology. Below are listed a few of the most influential people, from different walks of life, of the 21st century, who have carved a niche for themselves and set a bench mark for the generations to come.
1. Mark Zuckerberg (1984-Present)
Mark Zuckerberg is an internet mogul, who is the CEO and co-founder of Facebook. Calling him a successful person would be an understatement for what he has achieved. His social networking site has more than 350 million people sharing the good and bad moments of their life, through pictures and videos. Mark’s father trained him in ‘ATARI Basic Programming’, and thus began the making of a man who would rule the internet in the 21st century. Jose Antonio Vargas, a writer said that, “some kids played computer games; Mark created them”.
Facebook has achieved unimaginable success, which has resulted in this entrepreneur’s name featuring as the youngest chief executive in the prestigious ‘Fortune 500 List’. Zuckerberg is also a benefactor for those who are underprivileged. The young billionaire has taken an oath to give away half of what he earns to the needy. A movie called, ‘The Social Network’ is based on the success of Facebook, which speaks volumes of the influence he has on people.
2. Angela Merkel (1954-Present)
Angela Merkel has reinvented German politics ever since she entered office in 2005. She has held the position of being the first female chancellor since then. The year 2015, saw her being named for the 9th time in the ‘Forbes’ list as the most powerful woman in the world. This German politician, with a doctorate in physical chemistry, went on to become the President of the European Council. Her influence on people can be gauged by the awards which were presented to her, such as the ‘Order of Merit’ she has received from a number of nations, and also the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ (U.S.A)
3. Pele (1940-Present)
Pele is a renowned personality in the sports field and an iconic soccer player, now retired. During his active years, the footballer ruled the game to the point of being graced with the title, the ‘King of Football’. He played as a Forward, and scored a whopping number of 1281 goals in 1363 games and has secured his name in the Guinness World Record. Also called the ‘The Black Pearl’, it was his deep fondness for the game and the knack of scoring outstanding goals that made him a sporting star and an idol for millions of people around the world. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) regarded him as the ‘World Player of the Century’. This star player of the Brazil football team, who is also a philanthropist, dedicated his 1000th goal to the underprivileged kids of Brazil.
4. Bill Gates (1955-Present)
Bill Gates has been a titan of technology ever since the early days of the personal computer. Even after retirement from Microsoft as a CEO, he continues to exert incredible influence on technology. He is consistently ranked among the world’s well-heeled people, and at present is the richest man in the world. Gates will always be remembered as the mastermind behind Microsoft. This business mogul has also donned the role of a philanthropist, and runs his own charitable institution with his wife, called the ‘Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’. In 2002, Bill and his wife were graced with the ‘Jefferson Award’, for the service they render to the poor.
5. Warren Buffett (1930-Present)
Fondly called as ‘Oracle of Omaha,’ Warren Buffett is an investment specialist and one of the richest businessmen in the world. Also known as the ‘Sage of Omaha’ he had his business instincts in place right since childhood. He made his first investment at an early age of 11 by buying 3 shares. He has taken a vow of donating a monumental 99% of his earnings to the needy, through the Buffett Foundation and Gates & Melinda Foundation. He was honored in 2011, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (U.S.A) by Barack Obama.
6. Oprah Winfrey (1954-Present)
Widely known as the face of the “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, she is the plushest African-American of the 20th century. ‘The Color Purple’ actress had gone through a terrible childhood and heart wrenching instances of abuse. Not only was she was beaten with a stick by her grandmother, she was raped by her cousin, uncle and a family friend for about 4 years before she ran away from home. But all these misfortunes have turned her into a stronger woman, who has achieved a massive feat; that of being one of the most inspirational women the world has ever had. She extended her support to Barrack Obama which got him more than a million votes, resulting in him winning the elections. Her interview with Michael Jackson has been the most popular episode ever. Her work has won her the Presidential Medal of Freedom (U.S.A) which was given to her by President Barack Obama.
7. Steve Jobs (1955-2011)
Apple CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs ruled over the first decade of the 21st century like no other man. It was under his supervision and management that the company established a series of groundbreaking technologies, which resulted in the creation of the iPhone and iPad among other products. The entrepreneur also co-founded and held the position of a chief executive for ‘Pixar Animation Studios’. He went on to becoming an esteemed member of the Board of Directors of ‘The Walt Disney Company’ in 2006. This visionary has a prestigious award like the ‘Grammy Trustees Award’ to his credit. The fact that he is hailed as the ‘Father of Digital Revolution’ speaks volumes about the impact he has on the world.
8. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015)
Kalam was professionally a scientist who tried his hands at politics, and went on to become the 11th President of India and held that position for a good period of 6 years. Despite financial troubles during his childhood, he studied hard, excelled, and joined ‘ISRO’ (‘Indian Space Research Organization’). His outstanding intelligence led him to build India’s first indigenous ‘Satellite Vehicle’ (SLV). After retiring from ‘IRSO’ he joined ‘Defense Research and Development Organization’ (DRDO) where he was in charge of the missiles ‘PRITHVI’ and ‘AGNI’ from conception to delivery. He has been graced with the ‘Bharat Ratna’ which is the highest civilian award that can be given to any Indian citizen.
9. Stephen HAWKING (1942-Present)
Even those people, who are not really into physics, would have heard the name of Stephen Hawking, a legendary physicist. Even though he has been on a wheelchair since he was 21, his mental capabilities and the will to achieve his goals makes him an idol and inspiration for the youth of today. Hawking is often remembered for the work he has done in the field of cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity, exclusively with respect to black holes. Apart from being graced with the significant Presidential Medal of Freedom (USA), he also has 12 honorary degrees to his credit, among the rest of his achievements.
10. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was the first black president of South Africa, and held that position for a period of good 5 years. Ironically his forename, ‘Rolilahla’ means a ‘troublemaker’ which went well with his actions of creating uproar against the South African government by leading an anti-apartheid movement. His revolutionary ways, ended up in him serving a long span of 27 years in jail. Mandela received recognition for what he did for the society, as he was graced with Presidential Medal of Freedom (U.S.A), Order of Lenin (Russia), Bharat Ratna (India) and also the most extraordinary Nobel Peace Prize. With all the pain he has taken for the empowerment of the silent majority of his country, South Africans calling him the ‘the father of the nation’ comes as no surprise.
These are the idols and heroes of this century, people who inspire us to come out of our comfort zones and achieve exceptional goals. It is up to us to just read about them or pick up their good qualities and imbibe them in our lives, making something out of it. What would you pick?