The individuals listed below are all listed for diverse and differing reasons. Specifically, while I admire Ayn Rand's abilities as a novelist, and her insightful perspective on the human condition, I do not necessarily agree with her devout athiesm. Likewise while I stand in awe of the amazing works of Jim Steinman, his aloof attitude and self-aggrandizing leave a lot to be desired. Yet, in their own rights, each of these individuals had something amazing to share with the world at large, whether they had an equally less desirable personality trait to overshadow that contribution or not.
Greenspan, for example, is the source of one of my favorite stories. As a manager, it is my job to make sure that individuals in my employ are turning out the best work possible each and every day. As a result, I sometimes have to motivate them to introspection and to do so, I enjoy using a story I once heard about Mr. Greenspan.
Specifically, he once had a new intern working for him who provided him with a report. The next morning, the report was back on the interns' desk. Assuming that Mr. Greenspan was dissatisfied with the quality, he worked on it further, honing it. Yet, the very next morning, there was the report once more on his desk. Once more, he attacked the report. After several days of this, he finally took the report to Mr. Greenspan personally. As he handed it to him, he said, "Mr. Greenspan, this is the best that I can do. I have worked this report to the best of my abilities."
Mr. Greenspan's response? "Very good. Then this time, I shall look at it." How can you not admire a man who pushes you to be your best without really doing anything?
Henry Knox was not only a patriot, but was a bibliophile as well. Debatably, he was the owner of the first bricks-and-mortar book store in the colonies. What's not to love?
Gene Kranz should be a household name to managers everywhere. As the behind-the-scenes guy on numerous space missions, it was his job to keep everyone functioning as a team, through disaster and triumph. Each time I see an interview with him, he proves over and over what a fantastic and level-headed (no pun intended, with reference to his haircut) manager he is. And what an unassuming, down-to-earth guy he is as well.
Ayn Rand, while controversial, was someone who understood the dangers of allowing the weak to remain so, while taking their toll on the strong. "Atlas Shrugged" is not only my favorite book, it also highlights some deep-seated feelings that I had long held but had not been able to truly articulate until I had finished reading this work. Specifically, social programs are good and right in the right place, and under the right conditions. But, too often, individuals develop a sense of entitlement which then degrades society further until the downward power-dive is too far gone for us to return. Personally, I believe that we, as a society, have reached this point. When too many people procreate too many more, and there are not enough competent, hard-working individuals to support them in their senses of entitlement there comes a point of inversion where chaos ensues and society collapses. I look forward to being dead before this occurs, but with the wave of mediocre-at-best poiliticians shuttling through public service I don't hold out much hope.
Jim Steinman is amazing for, if nothing else, being able to craft a song that is powerful and evocative to the masses. I have dubbed his songs 'big songs', specifically because of the emotional grandeur they employ. When one reviews his credited list of hits, it becomes clear what I mean. Argue if you like, but the man is a geinus.
Bob Taylor was a driven man. The word 'can't' did not seem to be in his vocabulary, and he was instrumental in taking what appeared to be an insurmountable task and making it look easy.
Nicola Tesla was a man well before his time, who was - and still, to some degree, is - misunderstood. I often wonder what could have been for this man, had Thomas Edison not stood in his way at every turn. Here was a brilliant man, who was thwarted from making the world a better place at every possible juncture by men more powerful than he. Had it not been for George Westinghouse, one wonders how far he could have gotten in the face of such adversity. And it wasn't just Edison who thwarted him, but the media as well. When Marconi was dubbed the father of modern radio, we once again saw Tesla relegated to the back stacks as someone else received international acclaim for what was essentially his work. Posthumously, this credit was reversed (Tesla was proclaimed the father of modern radio, rightfully usurping Marconi, but who remembers things like this, once the damage has been done?) To this day, if you ask anyone who the father of modern radio was, Marconi will undoubtedly be the response. Which is sad.
Wozniak I admire because he was a pure scientist. He created personal computers for nothing more than the sake of doing so, and always seemed to consider the greater good. While Steve Jobs was the ruthless figurehead of Apple™ Computer, with business acumen to spare, it was Wozniak who, in my opinion, made it all possible.