There are nearly 7.4 billion humans on planet Earth, but these 74 men and women make the world turn. Forbes' annual ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People identifies one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most. 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 #5, is the spiritual leader of more than a billion Catholics. Doug McMillon (#27), is the CEO of the world's largest private employer, Wal-Mart Stores WMT +0.10%, with more than 2.3 million workers around the globe.
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 (#7), we also took that into consideration. In certain instances, like the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (#16), 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 74 slots on our list – one for approximately 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 (#21) has power in the auto business through Tesla Motors TSLA +1.53%, in the aerospace industry through SpaceX, because he's a billionaire, and because he's a highly respected tech visionary.
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