It is the end of the year again. As families all across the world make plans to ring in the new year, journalists everywhere are clamoring to compile their lists. It seems there  are year-end lists for everything under the sun:  best and worst dressed; best  books,  music, and movies; most important celebrities; and many more. As business owners,  executives, and leaders, we are particularly interested in the list of the top 5 most  inspirational people in business in 2014. These five individuals have been chosen  because they are forward-thinking visionaries.

Larry Page, Google, CEO and Co-Founder

The Google campus is home to a gigantic T-Rex skeleton, which serves as a reminder to all who work there that they must not let Google become extinct. And, Page has no intention of letting that happen during his tenure. Under his leadership, the Google X labs are working on several exciting projects, including a self-driving car, a drone delivery system, and eyewear that contains a screen and camera.

Tim Cook, Apple, CEO

Cook had extraordinarily large shoes to fill when he took over as CEO of Apple after the death of Steve Jobs. He made our list of the 5 most inspirational people in business in 2014, however, because he has filled those shoes well. iPhone sales are thriving, and Apple has proven once again that it is a technological pioneer once again with the release of the Apple Pay service and the upcoming Apple Watch.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, CEO and Founder

Zuckerberg made the list of top 5 most inspirational people in business due to his determination not to let Facebook go the way of some of its predecessors, like MySpace. Facebook’s Creative Labs has released several exciting new products this year, including Paper, Slingshot, Mentions, and Rooms.

Bob Iger, Walt Disney Co., Chairman and CEO

The Walt Disney Co. is flourishing under Iger’s leadership, which is why he made our list of the top 5 most inspirational business leaders of 2014. Disney Pixar’s animated movies are consistently at the top of the box office. Frozen, for example, is the highest-grossing animated film ever. It has numerous films in the works, and will soon also be opening the first Disney theme park in China.

John Martin, Gilead Sciences, Chairman and CEO

Under Martin’s leadership, Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, has created a wonder drug that can actually cure hepatitis C. Sales for this miracle medicine, Sovaldi, are expected to double the company’s revenue this year.

Two to Look Out for in 2015

The following individuals came so close to making our 2014 list that we decided to create a new list just for them. We are calling this list “Two to Look Out for in 2015.”

Jack Ma, Alibaba, Executive Chairman and Founder

E-commerce giant Alibaba became a household name this year when its IPO propelled Ma into the top spot on China’s richest list. Under his leadership, third-quarter sales increased by 54%, and it had a record 307 million buyers. Alibaba’s market value is now $260 billion, which is higher than one of the biggest retail giants of all time, Wal-Mart.

Mary Dillon, Ulta Beauty, CEO

Dillon became Ulta Beauty’s CEO in July 2013, but she is already making bold moves. She recently laid out a large scale five-year plan, which includes opening 500 new stores and almost tripling e-commerce sales. Under her leadership, shares are up more than 28% since the beginning of the year.


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