Top 20 Most Famous Business People

Throughout history, the richest personalities in the world were also the most famous, since a great deal of wealth usually attracts a great deal of attention. The term “businessperson” has plenty of connotations, since it can very well be used to describe an oil industrialist as well as a successful retailer, for example. Whatever you want to call them, these highly successful individuals were also the ones that paved the way towards modernism in their respective fields, and most of them were known to be quite generous in their charitable endeavors. Here is our list of the 20 most famous business people in the world:

Enzo Ferrari

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

Scottish-American businessman, industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was born om November 25, 1835 and died on August 11, 1919. His major accomplishments include the founding of the Carnegie Steel Company that later merged with U.S. Steel, as well as the founding of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Due to his immense success, Andrew Carnegie is widely considered the second wealthiest man of all time after John D. Rockefeller. The legendary industrialist died of bronchial pneumonia and was buried at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in North Tarrytown, New York.

Cecil John Rhodes

Cecil John Rhodes

Born on July 5, 1853, Cecil Rhodes was a highly acclaimed politician and successful businessman of British descent that founded the De Beers diamond company. Due to his immense wealth, Rhodes could afford to formulate some very impressive plans that involved the founding of a secret society that would bring the entire world under British rule. He spent most of his life in South Africa and even became Prime minister of the Cape Colony.

Cecil strongly believed that the Anglo-Saxon race was the greatest and most powerful in the world, but aside from his somewhat racist and eccentric behavior, he was also a keen philanthropist, as he donated a big part of his fortune towards the creation of the Oxford University.

Conrad Hilton

Conrad Hilton

Conrad Hilton is the founder of the renowned Hilton Hotels chain, and he was born on December 25, 1887. Conrad was a great philanthropist and an accomplished businessman, but most of his generosity stemmed from his deep catholic roots. He believed that in order to become a successful hotelier, one must always be “digging for gold” and maintain the all-important “espirt de corps”, which signifies a group’s ability to display good morale in the face of hardship.

Conrad Hilton published his autobiography in 1957, and he fittingly named it “Be My Guest”. A copy of the book can now be found in each and every room at Hilton Hotels.

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari founded one of the world’s most acknowledged and appreciated automobile companies in the world. His passion for sports cars and racing allowed him to gather extensive knowledge regarding the manufacturing process and workings of powerful cars, but it was also his disposition towards innovation and progress that set him on a path towards greatness.

Enzo Ferrari was born on February 18, 1898 in Turin, and he founded the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix racing team for Alfa Romeo in 1929. It wasn’t until 1945 that he designed the first ever Ferrari vehicle. He lived a long and fruitful life until the age of 90.

Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis

As one of the most important personalities in U.S. History, Francis Lewis was one of many who signed the famous Declaration of Independence. A true patriot, Lewis was deeply in love with America even though he was originally born in Wales, and he was even a member of the Sons of Liberty group that fought against the oppression of the British Empire.

His political career eventually led him to be elected as a delegate in the First and Second Continental Congress. Francis Lewis spent the last years of his life in the loving company of his children and grandchildren before dying at the age of 89.

George Stephen

George Stephen

George Stephen was a Canadian/British banker and railway executive who became the very first president of Canadian Pacific Railway in 1880. Since building a railway was a very difficult and costly project at the time, Stephen was a perfect candidate to lead the project, especially due to his extensive financial expertise.

An exceptionally generous individual, George Stephen donated about $1 million throughout his life, and he specifically preferred to give his money away to hospitals. He became the first knighted Canadian when he received the title of Baronet of Montreal in the Province of Quebec in the Dominion of Canada.

Henry Ford

Henry  Ford

As the founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford left behind a very important legacy. His company paved the way for many other establishments in the automotive industry since it brought forward new and modern concepts that would guarantee cheap and high quality products for the consumers as well as generous salaries for the workers.

This concept was called “Fordism” and it transformed into a highly efficient system that was widely adopted around the world during the 1920s. As far as Henry Ford himself is concerned, his anti-Semitic views limited his overall popularity. Nonetheless, he is still known as one of the most successful American industrialists of all time.

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller was an American oil magnate born in Richford, New York on July 8, 1839. John had a business-orientated mentality ever since he was a young boy, and as he grew older, he gradually became the wealthiest and most respected businessmen in the world. As a devoted Baptist and philanthropist, Rockefeller donated a great deal of money during his life, money that helped eradicate diseases and found universities.

He retired 4 decades before his death and kept on funding numerous church-based institutions.

Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett was an advertizing genius as he created some of the most iconic advertizing campaigns in modern history. His creativity and ingenuity allowed him to create the legendary Marlboro Man, Tony the Tiger, Pillsbury Doughboy, Jolly Green Giant and many more. Apart from his legendary skills as an advertising executive, Leo Burnett was also a well-mannered, gentle and overall pleasant individual that was eventually honored with the title of “One of the 100 influential people of the 20th century” by Time Magazine.

Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt was passionate about weapons and technology at a young age, when he would dismantle ordinary gadgets found around his childhood home in order to figure out how they worked. However, despite his immense vision and industrial knowledge, Colt’s first business endeavors failed miserably, even though his “Revolver” handgun was clearly ahead of its time. Colt was inspired to create this iconic weapon by the steering wheel of a ship, but it wasn’t until the American war with Texas that he actually managed to sell his gun in the thousands.

Alexander Stewart

Alexander Stewart

Alexander Stewart was an Irish entrepreneur who eventually became one of the 20 wealthiest people in history. The reason behind Alexander’s success was his ingenuity and business-orientated thinking, which allowed him to create a dry goods empire that would make him famous and rich at the same time.

He started off humbly in 1823 with a small New York store that retailed linens and laces, but by 1848, he already had a marble-fronted store on Broadway. Accounting for inflation, his total wealth would sum up to about $90 billion in today’s money.

Charles M. Schwab

Charles M. Schwab

Charles M. Schwab was the president of a large steel manufacturing company named Bethlehem Steel. His revolutionary ideas encouraged the development of the wideflange steel beam, which allowed Bethlehem Steel to become a giant in the steel business during World War I. As far as his personality is concerned, Charles enjoyed living a luxurious and sometimes extravagant lifestyle, and he was also known to be quite manipulative. Nonetheless, he was a brilliant businessman with outstanding management skills, while his modern ideas definitely put him ahead of his time.

David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy was not born in a rich family nor was he successful in his early days, but through hard work and dedication, he eventually became known as the “Father of Advertizing”. During his career, he actively encouraged advertizing companies to implement new and innovative ways of commercializing their products. His creative and inspiring advertizing campaigns caught the eye of the press, which described him as “the most sought-after wizard in today’s advertising industry” in 1962. His book called “Confessions of an Advertising Man” was one of the best-selling books in history, which is why it was translated into 14 different languages.

H. L. Hunt

H. L. Hunt

As the founder of the Hunt Oil Company, Haroldson Lafayette Hunt became the largest independent oil producer in America. Due to his incredibly creative and innovative business techniques, Hunt became one of the wealthiest individuals in the country. The key to his success was branching out into several industries, including cosmetics, canned goods and health products. As one of the fiercest opponents of John F. Kennedy, H. L. Hunt was surrounded by controversy almost his adult entire life. However, his incredible success as a businessman is clearly unquestionable.

James J. Hill

James J. Hill

James J. Hill is a perfect example of how a well-managed company can avoid even the most impending disasters. His Great Northern Railway spanned 1,700 miles from Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington, and while other similar companies were dying out slowly under the weight of the 1893 Panic, his own firm survived and thrived.

Due to his great success and incredible leadership skills, James J. Hill was known as “The Empire Builder”.

Jay Gould

Jay Gould

Yet another filthy rich railroad developer was Jay Gould. However, he was well known for building his vast fortunes using unorthodox methods, which is why he was also known as one of the most dishonest “robber barons” in Capitalist America during the 19th century. By controlling the price of stocks, Gould managed to become the ninth richest American in history. His somewhat dishonest means of conducting business earned him other titles as well, including the one of “The eighth worst CEO of America of all time” and the “One of the shrewdest businessmen in American industry”.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Walt Disney was a master in the art of showbusiness and a true pioneer in the field of animation. He co-founded the Walt Disney Production company with his brother and created some of the most beloved animated characters in the world: Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck. He also had a great say in the designing and construction process of Disneyland, which became one of the most popular theme parks in the world.

J. P. Morgan

J. P. Morgan

Very few personalities actually contributed to the modernization of the American business sector as much as J. P. Morgan did. The American banker, financier and philanthropist was heavily involved in the management and mergers of several important steel manufacturers and electricity provides. He financed the creation of the Federal Steel Company before merging it in 1901 with the Carnegie Steel Company.

His incredible skills as a financer allowed him to successfully direct a banking coalition that put an end to the Panic of 1907.

Cornelius Vanderbilt

Cornelius Vanderbilt

Cornelius Vanderbilt became one of the richest individuals in American history through his railroad and shipping-related enterprises. Also an acknowledged philanthropist, Vanderbilt provided the first funds towards the creation of the Vanderbilt University. He first decided to go into the railroad business during the 1850s, when he was already on the board of directors of several railroad companies such as the New York and Harlem and the Erie Railway. His railroad-related businesses proved to be so successful that he retired out of the shipping industry in 1864, when he sold all of his vessels.

P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum

Also known as the “Shakespeare of advertising” or the “Great American Showman”, P. T. Barnum was a very successful businessman that built his fortunes on a circus empire. As an accomplished showman, Barnum knew exactly how to spark the imagination and intrigue of the crowd, and he is also known as the inventor of the three-ring circus.

His most extraordinary performances included all time classic tricks and pranks such as the “Tom Thumb’s Baby”, “The Feejee Mermaid” and the “Cardiff Giant”. He is remembered for his charitable endeavors and for his many books, including “The Life of P.T. Barnum” and the “Art of Money-Getting”.

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