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The 10 Most Influential People of the 21st Century

December 16, 2015 - Posted toStudy and Education

Content the 10 most influential people of the 21st century

The 10 Most Influential People

15 years into this century, and we already are carving out those individuals who are the most influential and inspirational. Many of them were just as influential in the 20th century, and new ones will certainly come along as this century marches forward. That’s the beauty of the human race. Every generation will have it inspirational heroes, and there will always be people who demonstrate what mankind can achieve. This list includes 3 tech giants, a prominent investor, 2 world leaders, 2 scientists, a TV icon, a sports legend, and a young girl. If you have counted 11, that’s because one spans two fields. Here they are.

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

South Africa had its first democratic election in 1993. Nelson Mandela took office in 1994 and served as President until 1999. Through his efforts to end the system of Apartheid, Mandela showed the world the power of persistence for a right and just cause. His efforts resulted in a life sentence in a South African jail, where he served 27 years before being released in 1990, as a recognized hero in the struggle to end racial inequality in his country. Among his awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the order of Lenin, the Bharat Ratna (the highest award in India), and the Nobel Peace Prize. The entire world mourned when he died in 2013, but his legacy of pursuit for social justice will influence the world for years to come.

Mark Zuckerberg (1984-

Many credit this young man with the entire boom of the Internet. After creating a social media site from his university dorm room at Harvard, he dropped out to promote the site nationally and, ultimately, internationally. Today, about 1.2 billion people have Facebook accounts. Zuckerberg is influential for his entrepreneurship and for transforming the Internet in a place that has become more and more “social.” However, he has also become an inspiration to others when he made a huge announcement this past fall upon the birth of his daughter. He and his wife will be donating 99% of their current wealth to important world causes related to education and health.

Angela Merkel (1954 –

Angela Merkel is the Chancellor of Germany, a post she has held since 2005, and making her the most successful female world leader of the 21st century. Merkel was initially a chemist but became active in politics when East and West Germany were re-united in 1989. In addition to her popularity with the German people, Merkel almost single-handedly managed the European financial crisis, negotiating bail outs and financial reform for countries in trouble. She continues in that role today as several countries continue to struggle financially. She has received a number of international awards from Italy, Norway, Germany and the U.S. Forbes Magazine lists her as one of the world’ most power people.

Pele (1940 –

At age 75, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known worldwide as just Pele, is still amazingly active in a large number of social causes in his native country of Brazil. But as an international soccer star, he put Brazil “on the map.” He played a total of 1363 games and scored 1281 for his country’s team, earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was so beloved during his playing days, and he conducted himself so admirably, that he has become a role model not just to young athletes, but to young people everywhere. He is a Brazilian national hero, of course, but is also one of the most respected athletes in the world. He is the epitome of a true sportsman.

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

No one will know what would have been Steve Jobs’ next idea. We only know that he was responsible for transforming the digital age of communication with his iPod, iPhone, and iPad. As the founder of Apple, Inc. years ago, Jobs became an icon in computer technology. A bit of a maverick, however, he fought with the Board of Directors and was asked to step down. He went on to found Pixar and was responsible for some of the best animated movies to be produced in the late 20th century. He was asked back to Apple, because those who took over ran the company into the ground. And back he came, with loads of new ideas. Apple is the company it is today because of Jobs’ leadership. It is hard to imagine a world without Apple products. Fortune Magazine named jobs CEO of the decade, 2000-2010.

Malala Yousafzai (1997-

Now 18 years old, Malala Yousafzai’s profile in courage began as an 11 year-old school girl, writing a blog about life under the Taliban occupation of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. Though she wrote under a pseudonym, she was soon discovered, and the Taliban determined to kill her. She was attacked on her way home in her school bus and was ultimately airlifted to the UK for treatment. She became an international hero and advocate for the rights of girls to education. In October, 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest recipient ever. Time Magazine has listed her as one of the most influential people in the world, three years in a row. Her fight for female education continues. This past July, she opened a school in Lebanon for girls who are Syrian refugees, funded by the “Malala Fund.”

Bill Gates (1955-

From college dropout to co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates has become a legend of the digital world. As the architect of Windows and Microsoft Office, he launched a new age of computer operating systems and has become one of the wealthiest men in the world. His influence in the world of computers goes without saying, but it is in other areas that he is now achieving fame. He and his wife, Melinda, have pledge to give away 95% of their wealth through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization that works to bolster education in third-world countries as well as to eradicate diseases.

Stephen Hawking (1942 –

Diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21, Stephen Hawking vowed to continue to pursue his career in theoretical physics, and he has not disappointed. He has continued to work in his field of physics and cosmology and the physical laws that operate the Universe. He is responsible for unifying the two theories of relativity and quantum physics and has also determined that black holes do emit radiation. Hawking communicates through a computerized voice system and has been the subject of a number of scientific awards and honorary degrees. He has transformed physics in important ways that future scientists will build upon as they seek to unravel the other mysteries of the Universe.

Warren Buffett (1930 –

Nicknamed the “Wizard of Omaha,” Warren Buffett grew up in Omaha Nebraska and still lives there today in the very first house he bought. He is considered one of the world’s smartest investors, and his influence in the fields of investment and finance is global. He is president of his own investment firm and is one of the richest men in the world. He, like so many others of such wealth has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth through his and the Gates’s foundations. He has been a prime mover in the formation of a club of individuals whose net worth exceeds 50 million, who have pledged to give away at least 50% of their wealth. He is also a strong advocate for American tax reform, a on the brought home when he learned that his secretary pays more taxes than he does. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Oprah Winfrey (1954-

Clearly one of the most influential women on the planet, Oprah Winfrey began a life in poverty and as the victim of sexual abuse. Known primarily for her daytime television talk show, those who follow her activity understand that she has dedicated much of her wealth and work to funding education in Africa, building and maintaining schools for girls and in improving the lives of children living poverty in America. She is one of the wealthiest self-made women in the world. For her charitable work, she was awarded the President Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

This list is by no mean complete. There are many more individuals who, through their contributions or charitable work could easily be added to this group. In fact Time Magazine lists 100 at the end of each year.

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