The 2009 TIME 100
The World’s Most Influential People
April 30, 2009
In our annual TIME 100 issue, we do the impossible: name the people who most affect our world
Builders & Titans
#28 Suze Orman
By Suzy Welch
Let me tell you what it’s like to be named Suzy, no matter how you spell it. People expect you to be perky. “Suzy Sunshine” they call you, as if you might like it, or worse, “Suzy Cream Cheese.” People expect you to be frivolous, frothy and not particularly smart. They expect you to be, well, ordinary. Suze Orman, 57, is none of those things.
Take ordinary. Oh, please! Here is a woman who sleeps four hours a night because she thinks the world is too exciting to turn off. Here is a woman whose idea of relaxation is watching the surf in front of her Florida home while listening to stock-market reports.
Frivolous? Frothy? Again, no. Suze Orman can’t let a stranger walk by — and I have seen this firsthand — without asking, “Do you have credit-card debt?” She needs to know so she can help. So she can change a life. And not later or a little bit. But now, profoundly. And as for not particularly smart — look, you do not become the personal financial adviser to the world by giving stupid advice.
Which leaves perky, and all right, maybe Suze Orman is perky. But she’s perky with an edge. Her optimism comes from a belief that all of us have the power within us to improve how we save and spend our money and thus the power to forge lives that are better, fuller and richer in every way.
So call Suze Orman Suze if you must. Just know that her name hardly does her justice at all.
#29 Lauren Zalaznick
By Martha Stewart
I first met Lauren Zalaznick at FORTUNE’s Most Powerful Women Summit. I love Top Chef, one of Lauren’s hit shows on Bravo, and had heard a lot about her, so it was nice to have the opportunity to meet face to face. It didn’t take much time for me to recognize qualities that I admire. Here was a businesswoman with a keen sense of how to build a brand, a woman with a sharp sense of humor, who’s as tall as I am and as strong as I am and very, very cool. We bonded.
When you’re building a brand, you have to know exactly what that brand stands for. I know the terrain around Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart. Lauren has that same kind of intuitive knowledge when it comes to the meaning of her brands. Her programs are filled with creative, talented and real people. Her shows, and those on them, don’t make any apologies for being themselves. Lauren, 46, has transformed that network so that you can now recognize a Bravo show at a distance. To do that kind of work in a very crowded field takes more than a producer — it takes a visionary.
I have a saying: Women in business don’t cry. I’ve never told Lauren that, but I can’t see Lauren crying. She’s tough and very funny, but most of all, she has undeniably excellent taste, and that’s an extension of her personality. She’s natural. She doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, yet she looks really good. She’s completely committed to her family. She’s never contrived. She’s always optimistic. I like so much that she sees the best in people and that, like millions of others, I get to watch her vision.
Artists & Entertainers
#56 Tina Fey
By Alec Baldwin
Smart, funny, beautiful. Smart, funny, beautiful. It had gotten to the point where I was simply going to buy Tina some monogrammed towels that read SFB.
Tina is all of those things, as everyone now knows. But when you work with someone and are around her a lot, other things come to the fore. I’ve met her brother and her dad. Tina’s dad is one of those guys you just automatically trust. Gary Cooper would play him in the movies. Or Gary Sinise. Someone with buckets of integrity. There is a similar quality about Tina that comes from him.
Tina’s husband Jeff Richmond is the music supervisor on 30 Rock. He and Tina have known each other for a long time and have worked together for years. It’s almost as if Tina paused several years ago and thought, Music is going to play an integral role in some of the work I may do in the future, and this Jeff fella is funny and smart and musically talented. Tina is smart, funny, beautiful and not at all musically talented. When they first played the proposed theme song for the show, I didn’t know what to think because I wasn’t quite sure what the show was yet. Now I can’t imagine 30 Rock without it or any of Jeff’s other contributions. Tina has good taste in men.
Tina, 39, is a mom. Her daughter Alice looks like a Hummel figurine: she is so beautiful, she doesn’t look real. Tina works long days. Take your long day times two — that’s how long her days can be. Write, produce, act, promote. And she finds time to mother this child. “Just write her into the show!” I keep suggesting. Tina hasn’t bought that idea yet. Tina is hardworking.
Our writers are all devoted to and admiring of their head writer. The show has won all the writing prizes. Twice. Tina is respected.
Smart, funny, beautiful. Devoted, tough, respected. Now if she’d only work on her posture.
#58 Jay Leno
By Jimmy Fallon
When I started as the host of Late Night, someone passed along a great nugget of comedic advice that’s been handed down from generations of successful late-night hosts: “You’ll use everything you know.” Very wise words, as it took me about four shows to do that. Here’s one thing I didn’t know: this job is hard, man. You have to give it everything you have. You need a work ethic that is second to none. And when I think of work ethic, I think of Jay Leno.
He may not call himself the hardest-working man in show business, but trust me — he is. The job of a late-night host is a grind. To pull it off, you have to give it 120% every night. If you don’t, it will show. You can tell that Jay gives it 120% every night because you never notice that he’s not. And after his work is done on the Tonight Show, he still does stand-up every weekend.
The thing about Jay — and one of the things I most admire about him — is that it’s so obvious that he just loves what he’s doing. He loves making people laugh. He loves talking to people. Every night. It’s what he is and what he does. And now that he’s moving from late night to prime time — 10 p.m. E.T., five nights a week — an even bigger audience will have a chance to enjoy him.
Jay, 59, has been nothing but generous with me regarding his time and advice. But nothing can substitute for the education that comes from just watching him: the way he conducts himself, the way he commands a crowd at a show and the love and effort he puts into it all. That can’t be taught — you can only admire it and hope to learn from it. And that’s what I aspire to do. Being able to pull off a 100% denim outfit like Jay would be totally awesome too.
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