Forget about the 1%. The men and women who are featured on Forbes’ annual ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People are the 0.00000001% –the global elite whose actions move the planet. These heads of state, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs truly run the world.
To compile the list, we considered hundreds of candidates from various walks of life all around the globe, and measured their power along four dimensions. First, we asked whether the candidate has power over lots of people. Pope Francis, ranked #4 on our list, is the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics. Doug McMillon (#32), CEO of Wal-Mart Stores WMT +0.00%, employs 2.2 million workers.
Next we assessed the financial resources controlled by each person. Are they relatively large compared to their peers? For heads of state we used GDP, while for CEOs, we looked at measures like their company’s assets and revenues. When candidates have a high personal net worth, like the world’s richest man, Bill Gates(#6), we also took that into consideration. In certain instances, like the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (#14), we considered other valuable resources at the candidate’s disposal –like 20% of the world’s known oil reserves.
Then we determined if the candidate is powerful in multiple spheres. There are only 73 slots on our list – one for every 100 million people on the planet – so being powerful in just one area is often not enough. Our picks project their influence in myriad ways: Elon Musk (#38) has power in the auto business through Tesla Motors, in the aerospace industry through SpaceX, because he’s a billionaire, and because he’s a highly respected tech visionary.
Lastly, we made sure that the candidates actively used their power. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (#46) has near absolute control over the lives of the 25 million people who live in his country, and is known to punish dissent with death.
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