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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

40 (+8) Faces of Business Leadership in 2009

Fortune Magazine released its “40 under 40” today listing the 40 most powerful business leaders under the age of 40.  Simultaneously, it released its “8 over 80.”  Here are a just a few things I found interesting:

–          The online sector is by and large the most well-represented.  Seventeen of the 40 would be characterized as “online” leaders, from Sergey Brin and Larry Page at Google, to Tim Armstrong at AOL, to Raul Vazquez at Walmart.com. 

–          There’s an undercurrent of “risk pays” in the list.  For example, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college to start-up Facebook, a venture he’s now grown into a multi-million dollar business.  I became curious about college drop-out statistics, so I Googled “College Dropout.”  The first result was a fittingly titled Web site “Billionaire College Dropouts,” which profiled such renowned business leaders as Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, and Kirk Kerkorian, who’s coincidentally profiled in the“8 over 80.”

–          It’s services and entertainment over product.  Only 20% of the “40 under 40” create and sell a product.  The rest provide a service or entertainment.  Contrast that with the “8 over 80,” where that ratio is effectively turned over, and we see fundamental shift.