Benoit Mandelbrot – mathematician who invented Fractal Geometry, which explains reoccurring patterns in nature, and revolutionized geometry. Conventional wisdom long held that geometry was limited to measuring smooth things (squares, triangles, circles, etc.). He introduced the idea of measuring everything else (roughness), which made him an academic outcast, until they finally realized he was right! He authored the book The Fractal Geometry of Nature. He is famous for his Obama impressions; “I will create billions of jobs”.
Steve Jobs – co-founder of Apple, the company that has changed the way millions of people communicate, learn, etc. Conventional management wisdom says focus on what you know. Instead of focusing on computers, which is what he knew , under his leadership, Apple expanded into music, phones and retail. Oddly, his favorite fruit is not apples, but oranges; plus, he compares them, all the time!
Herb Kelleher – The wacky co-founder of Southwest Airlines, the most innovative airline in the industry with more than 35 years of profitability and a sense of humor. Breaking from conventional wisdom, Herb created a culture that is focused on satisfying employees rather than customers. Amazingly, he is a lawyer by training, yet I still like him… from a distance!
Albert Einstein - everyone recognizes E = mc2, but he introduced many other revolutionary theories, which the scientific establishment rejected at at first because they were so different from their established conventional ideas! He was famous for his bike stunts, which continue to inspire teenagers around the world.
Thomas Edison – inventor of the light bulb, record player, movies, etc. Some people say he even invented the internet! Wow!