• 01.13.14

Looking Beyond Steve Jobs

If you could tap any figure from history to add to your company, who would it be?

Looking Beyond Steve Jobs
Chu (left) interviewing Ahrendts at our Innovation by Design conference on October 2, two weeks before she announced her move to Apple.

For an exclusive group of key business ­leaders who we recently polled, the top choice–by one vote over Steve Jobs–was Leonardo da Vinci.


This is more than a parlor game: In highlighting da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance man, our poll subjects underscored the need for creativity in our era of high-velocity change. Da Vinci was, after all, an accomplished engineer in his day. But his diversity of ­talent–a meshing of art and science–is what set him apart.

After months of research, Fast Company has identified a constellation of modern Renaissance men and women in business across the economy and around the globe. We call these honorees the Most Creative People in Business 1000, and we have developed a special area dedicated to them on that launches this month. We will post daily articles about them, and whenever they are mentioned on the site, their names will link to pop-up ­profile pages.

We will also ask these creative businessmen and -women questions, as we did for this issue with the da Vinci example and a slew of other poll topics, the results of which appear in a special Most Creative People ­section that begins on page 47. Who is the most creative leader working today? (No. 3 on the list: Pope Francis.) What’s the most creative company? (Uber and Tesla make the top five.) The members of the Most Creative People 1000 show where business is moving–and who is leading the way. More complete poll data will be available online, and we plan to return to this special group for more and deeper insights in the months ahead.

Despite his No. 2 finish, Steve Jobs certainly built a distinctive, creative culture at Apple. The unanswered question is how that culture will evolve without him. In “A New Season at Apple,” ­editor-at-large Jeff Chu explores what the ­hiring of Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as Apple’s new head of retail means for the future of the Cupertino ­behemoth. Jobs was a charismatic, enterprise-shaping figure, and thus impossibly difficult for successor Tim Cook to follow. Cook knows that Apple needs to find new ways to define itself, both internally and externally–to move beyond Jobs’s personal aura. Chu’s in-depth profile of Ahrendts reveals what sort of influence she might have in forging a new creative culture.

Just as Apple continues to reinvent itself, we’ll continue to develop our Most Creative People 1000 list, adding honorees each June, when we reveal our annual all-new 100 Most Creative People in Business package. And there’s more to come, in print, digitally, and at live events. Given that creativity never stops, we won’t either.

About the author

Robert Safian is editor and managing director of the award-winning monthly business magazine Fast Company. He oversees all editorial operations, in print and online, and plays a key role in guiding the magazine's advertising, marketing, and circulation efforts.