Walt Disney – An influential innovator and entrepreneur in the mid 20th century, Disney is the man behind the Magic Kingdom, not to mention the hundreds of animated cartoons, countless feature films and endless toys that bear his name.
Oprah Winfrey -an American television host, actress, producer, and philanthropist, best known for her self-titled, multi-award winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and was once the world’s only black billionaire. She is also, according to some assessments, the most influential woman in the world.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield – lifelong friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield completed a correspondence course on ice cream making from Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery in 1977 and a year later formed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Burlington, Vermont. In 1988, the pair won the title of U.S. Small Business Persons Of The Year, awarded by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Richard Branson – a British industrialist, best known for his Virgin Group of over 400 companies. What started as a mail-order record business turned into Virgin Records, which was sold to EMI in 1992, giving Branson the capital to build Virgin Airways.
Simon Cowell – Best known as the obnoxious judge on the hit TV show American Idol whose cynical comments sent contestants running out the door in tears, but what most don’t know is that his work didn’t start there and most definitely won’t end there. His list of achievements is long and includes being a successful record producer and executive for the BMG UK record company to gathering wannabe entrepreneurs on his show, American Inventor.
Michael Dell – both Chairman and CEO of Dell computers, Dell started the road to success out of his University of Texas dorm room in with just $1000 and an idea in 1984. Dell now sells directly to the customer so to avoid middleman mark-ups.
Henry Ford – Founder of Ford Motor Company and manufacturing assembly line innovator, Ford was not the inventor of the automobile, but his innovations in assembly-line techniques and the introduction of standardized interchangeable parts contributed to making the United States a nation of motorists and produced the first mass-production vehicle manufacturing plant.
Bill Gates – Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates is perhaps the most famous entrepreneur of this era. He had the vision to predict the evolving importance of the personal computer. This allowed him to top Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, with a 2006 estimated net worth of $50 billion.
Howard Hughes – once the most talked-about entrepreneur in the world – legendary for both his bold business tactics and his outlandish personal life. The recent popular movie “The Aviator” has prompted a new interest in this fascinating entrepreneur.
Wayne Huizenga – the only person in history to have founded three Fortune 500 companies, and six NYSE-traded companies. Huizenga is founder of the third largest U.S. waste disposal company, Republic Industries; the global leader in video entertainment, Blockbuster Entertainment; and the country’s first and world’s largest publicly-traded automotive dealership, AutoNation. He’s also currently the owner of the Miami Dolphins football team.
Ingvar Kamprad – IKEA Founder and one of the wealthiest man in the world, Kamprad still flys coach, takes the subway to work, and drives a ten-year-old Volvo. What started as a person-to-person business selling everything from pens to picture frames has grown to over 200 stores in 31 countries, employing over 75,000 people and generating over 12 billion in annual sales.
Donald Trump – Billionaire real estate tycoon and host of the apprentice, Trump has a long list of accomplishments and assets in real estate development, hospitality and entertainment. He was the outspoken star and producer of “The Apprentice” making him one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs. With his rollercoaster track record, he demonstrates one of the most important entrepreneurial traits: the ability to stand back up when you fall down.