The 25 Most Influential People in the World

Posted by on January 25, 2012

While some of the names on this list you’ve probably been hearing since  you were little, most of them are not international rock stars or even close to it. They are ordinary people that were placed in extraordinary situations and somehow managed to shake the world. With everything from generals to rappers, from revolutionaries to news reporters, these are the 25 most influential people in the world.


Fathi Terbil – Human Rights Lawyer

In 1996, after a Libyan prison uprising, Gaddafi’s regime refused to release the names of the thousands of inmates they had killed. Many family members who questioned Gaddafi ended up in prison themselves. Fathi, aware of the risk, took up their case and was of course arrested not long after. His arrest, however, led to rioting and demonstrations that ended the regime of a brutal dictator.


Julian Assange – Muckraker

The subject of much controversy, this Australian born hacker was chosen to be the face of wikileaks from among his peers due to the fact that he had no wife, kids, or even permanent residence, and therefore the least to lose. He willingly filled the role and is now facing the consequences.


Nathan Wolfe – Virus Hunter

As director of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative (GVFI) Wolfe spends most of his time in remote regions of Africa and Asia taking blood samples and tracking down viruses before they make the jump from animals to humans. It’s not exactly the safest job in the world, but millions of people are glad he does it.


Larry Page – Search Giant

Always one to think outside the box, Larry and his friend Sergey did with Google what most people would never have considered possible – allow people to find anything they want on the web. Its that resolve and willingness on his behalf to think big coupled with his stubborn relentlessness that make him such a powerful innovator.


Maria Bashir – Prosecutor General

As hard as being prosecutor general can be, doing it in Afghanistan where the rule of law is borderline non-existent is much worse than that. Maria, however, in spite of being the only female prosecutor general in the country, refuses to bow to the death threats and corrupt law enforcement but rather presses on in her fight for justice in Afghanistan.


El General – Tunisian Rapper

His song “Rais Lebled” became the anthem of revolution across the Arab world, inspiring young people, and becoming a driving force in the overthrow of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.


V.S. Ramachandran – Brain Mapper

He has been sometimes described as the Marco Polo of neuroscience and his discoveries have led to a much deeper understanding of that mysterious mass within our heads that we call our brain.


Kathi Giusti – Research Advocate

At 37 years old Kathi learned that she only had 3 years left to live after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Drawing on her previous experience from working in the pharmaceutical industry and with her 18 month old daughter as her motivation, she started the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. 13 years later she is still going strong and pushing for more efficiency in the world of pharmaceutical research.


Barack Obama – World Leader

As the first black president Obama has already proven that goals we may once have thought to be impossible are in fact attainable. Although his presidency has drawn both praise and criticism he has undeniably been responsible for leading a world which has become ever so complicated both politically and economically.


Katsunobu Sakurai – Boat Rocker

Although being a Japanese politician usually involves being as tame and moderate as possible, after the nuclear crisis threatened the town of Minami Soma Mayor Sakurai forsook the status quo as he posted a 10 minute video to Youtube lashing out against the national government for ignoring the pleas of his village while they starved to death. Not surprisingly, the world took notice.


Peter Vesterbacka – Game Developer

If you are not addicted to destroying pig infested fortifications with flightless, angry birds then consider yourself lucky, because it is a hard addiction to break. And if you are, blame Peter, he’s the mastermind behind the mayhem.


Amy Chua – Tough Love Mom

After releasing her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Amy Chua struck a chord with American parents everywhere. In it she details her own experience raising her daughters and how she moved away from the traditional, strict Chinese approach. It drew much criticism and praise, forcing parents everywhere to consider their own methods.


Ahmed Pasha – Intelligence Chief

Mere weeks after assuming leadership of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the 2008 bombings in Mumbai brought US-Pakistani relations to a new low. With his country becoming more fundamentalist, nationalistic, and weary of American policies, Pasha has his work cut out for him as he tries to reconcile two opposing forces.


Takeshi Kanno – Doctor

When the tsunami hit Japan Takeshi was on the front line, refusing to be evacuated until all of his patients had been taken to safety. He didn’t make it back home until three days after the earthquake, just in time for his second boy to be born, whom they named Rei. In English it implies “beam of light” and in Japanese, “wisdom to overcome hardship.”


Saad Mohseni – Media Mogul

As one of the most influential people in Afghan media, Saad plays an important role in helping to form public opinion within the country. His willingness to speak out against the Karzai government and show women on television (something the Taliban never allowed) has certainly drawn a lot of attention to himself. Of course, he shows no sign of relenting.