LinkedIn’s Influencers — an invite-only group of some of the top minds in business — have access to briefings, data and experts that the rest of us can only dream about. Luckily, they consider it part of the role to share what they’re hearing, how they're seeing the world and how they’re leading their companies because of it.
Every day, followers of Influencers get incredible takes on the state of the global economy, the future of work or how to solve some of the biggest issues facing business, higher education, nonprofits and more.
For the 2016 Top Voices list, we've sifted through the data, looking at factors as diverse as reader engagement (particularly comments and shares) and follower growth, to come up with the Influencers who have had the biggest impacts in 2016.
Here are the top 10 Influencers this year:
Mohamed El-Erian | Chief Economic Advisor, Allianz
What he writes about: There’s a reason El-Erian is at the top of this list; his incisive commentary on the global economy, financial markets and monetary policies — not to mention his short-form updates — have made him a must-read on LinkedIn for years. His favorite posts, he says, are those that look at “how companies, households and governments are having to deal with disruptions both from above and from below.” For example: He wrote about what the UK and EU may look like three years after Brexit; reflected on why low oil prices have gone from blessing to curse; and mused on the “Titanic risks” facing the retirement system.
It’s not all monetary policy: El-Erian writes memorable pieces based on his personal experiences, too. When he visited a restaurant and discovered that it charged 35 percent more for smoothies with only a single type of fruit, he gave readers a lesson in the economics of differential pricing.
What surprised him in 2016: “The extent of disconnect between relatively stable financial markets and increasingly uncertain fundamentals, be they economic, financial, institutional or political.”
Liz Ryan | Founder and CEO, Human Workplace
What she writes about: Ryan, who spent “eons” as a top human resources executive at Fortune 500 companies, now writes about ways to reinvent work. She coaches job-seekers on how to land that gig — and avoid disclosing their current salaries while doing so — and provides advice for managers and leaders on motivating teams and improving companies. “All of my posts echo the same theme: that work is more fun, more productive, more effective and more rewarding for everyone when it is more human and less mechanical,” she says.
Most-popular article of 2016: “Smart Answers To Stupid Interview Questions,” a primer on how to answer those dated queries like, “Why should we hire you over other applicants?" or the eye-roll-worthy, “What’s your greatest weakness?”
What most people don’t know: Ryan draws all of the original artwork that appears in her stories. She’s also an opera singer. “I hit the jackpot — all five of our kids are musicians,” she adds.
John Battelle | Founder, EIC, CEO, NewCo
What he writes about: Battelle, a veteran media entrepreneur, says his articles follow a narrative he loves — change in business. He’s written about driverless cars (and the hype surrounding them), one company’s plan to cure cancer (backed by Bill Gates) and the trends remaking business, based on his conversations around the world. He’s also published must-read long-form interviews with executives of companies like Airbnb, Box and AltSchool.
Favorite article: “The Biggest Industry in the World Just Got Served,” on the FDA’s new food labeling regulations (which more explicitly note added sugars), and their likely impact on the food industry. The piece garnered close to 460,000 views and nearly 600 comments. “It woke me up to the power of LinkedIn's writing platform,” he says.
Not on his LinkedIn profile: “I play drums in a garage band. And practice a LOT of yoga.”
Vivek Wadhwa | Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, Silicon Valley
What he writes about: “I research and teach the impact of exponentially advancing technologies — how these will enable us to solve humanity's grand challenges and disrupt entire industries along the way. We have the opportunity to build a Star Trek future about 300 years ahead of schedule. Or we could go the way of the dystopia of Mad Max. It is the choices that we make which will determine the outcome,” he says.
Favorite articles: Those that explore advances and opportunities in tech. Wadhwa has written repeatedly about Elon Musk, saying his “crazy plans for Tesla aren’t crazy,” and theorizing what could happen if Musk ran Apple. Wadhwa has also outlined that the distant future is here, and he’s taken on the implications of innovations, musing on what could happen as robots replace soldiers.
Something he thought would be big in 2016 but wasn’t: “Virtual reality. Still moving very slowly. [I] expected technologies such as Microsoft's Hololens and Magic Leap to be commercialized faster and better.”
Jill Schlesinger | Business Analyst, CBS News
What she writes about: “I write about the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign,” says Schlesinger. “My goal is to translate complicated business and economic news into understandable, relatable topics for everyone. I want to make it possible for people to get at the heart of what’s important for them to know, without the financial jargon.” This has included anything from analyzing the post-election stock market bump to a takedown of the jobs report.
Favorite articles: “It was a tie,” she says. Both “Is College Worth It” and “Brexit Blues: What Happens Next?” stood out among her many posts this year. The former for the number of great conversations it sparked, and the latter for the opportunity to help educate Americans on what it means for Britain to leave the European Union, she says.
The news story she found most interesting this year: “Election 2016 ... the economic underpinnings of the race were an instructive way to write and talk about economic inequality, the change in the American middle class and the effects of globalization on the workforce.”
Sallie Krawcheck | CEO and Co-Founder, Ellevest
What she writes about: Krawcheck, who launched the women-focused investment platform Ellevest earlier this year, writes extensively about women in the workplace and the issues they face as they try to develop their careers and save for a life beyond the office. She’s touched on issues like the gender investing gap, being OK without “having it all” and what it was like rising the ranks of Wall Street.
Top article of the year: “A Letter to Young Women, in the Age of Trump,” which takes a hard look at how women can battle subtle workplace bias and carve out their own success. The piece sparked a wide-reaching discussion, garnering more than 2,300 comments and 2,900 shares.
Her best career advice for women: “Men invest to a greater extent than women do, and it costs us. Indeed, I believe investing is the best career advice women aren’t getting. Think about it — are you more able to tell your boss to take this job and shove it if you have more money or less money?” wrote Krawcheck. “That’s what I thought. At the end of the day, money is the real key to gender equality.”
Ian Bremmer | President, Eurasia Group
What he writes about: Bremmer, who runs one of the leading global political risk research and consulting firms, writes about almost anything and everything affecting economies and governments around the world. His weekly series, “The World in 60 Seconds” and “#Winners and #Losers,” provide bite-size insights into issues like the Syrian conflict, the fate of climate change under Trump and Facebook’s fake news response.
Top article of the year: “President Trump enters the geopolitical recession.” A day after the U.S. presidential election, many were shocked that Trump won, including Bremmer. He looks at what the global ripple effects will be for a Trump presidency, which Bremmer says will likely be “long-term and chronic rather than acute.”
His prediction for global trade under Trump: “Unlike on defense policy, which can run more or less on autopilot, global trade requires a more proactive American leadership role to be effective. Especially in the context of an extremely active and state capitalist China, soon to be the world’s largest economy, which is prepared to spend money to create alternatives to U.S.-led trade architecture,” writes Bremmer. ”We’re likely to see much more rapid hedging from key American allies all over the world on economics under a Trump administration, with a more rapid overall fragmentation of the global trade environment.”
Jeff Selingo | Author, “There Is Life After College”
What he writes about: Selingo, who teaches at Arizona State University and has reported on colleges and universities for more than 17 years, writes about higher education and the broader economy. His articles on topics like declining scholarships and the future of manufacturing jobs help “educators, students, parents and employers understand the workforce of the future and the education and skills needed to succeed.”
Favorite article: “What happens when millions of jobs are lost because of automation?” Selingo dives into a core issue that affects all Americans: the fate of good jobs as technology gets more adept at replacing workers of all levels. “The future of work is worrisome for both [those with a college education and those without],” says Selingo. “In the long race between education and technology, education has always won. The question is whether that will still be true in a decade.”
The story he thought would be big in 2016 but wasn’t: “The need for lifelong education as an issue in the presidential campaign,” says Selingo “We are still too focused on getting 18- to 22-year-olds additional education (and too focused on the cost of that). But given how fast the world is moving, we need to figure out how to constantly provide a platform for education to workers throughout their careers.”
David Sable | Global CEO, Y&R
What he writes about: Sable, who oversees one of the world’s leading marketing companies, writes about the intersection of business and life and how technology influences the two, such as the surprising reason book sales grew and how social networks fail to understand real preferences. “A theme that consistently interests me is that while digital is everything, not everything is digital,” says Sable. “Trends like digital-first, mobile-first, cloud-first distract us from the real truth, which is that it is always people first.”
Favorite article: “What I learned from Muhammad Ali,” an “emotional response” to the passing of the legendary boxer. “It was based around the lessons I learned from him, significantly what motivates us changes with time, that experience evolves our thinking and that the world has an impact on our beliefs,” says Sable. “I was pleased to see how these lessons resonated among so many people around the world.”
Where he gets his best ideas: “I’m inspired 24/7. I read a lot. I listen. I converse with a broad, eclectic group of people. I talk to my grandchildren. I ask questions,” says Sable. “During the week, as topics hit me, I ask different people to think about those topics and do a little digging. By the time I sit down to write, I’ve usually chosen a topic. But until I get lost in the writing, I’m not 100 percent sure where it’s going to land. That’s the challenge and the fun of it. And then I revel in looking for the quote that I always like to add at the end of a post.”
Betty Liu | Founder & CEO, Radiate Inc.
What she writes about: Liu, an anchor on Bloomberg Television and an entrepreneur, regularly talks to the best and brightest in the business world — leaders like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk — and unlocks their insights on how to be better managers and leaders. She’s delved into the hard truth of being fired as a CEO, revealed the secret to gaining access to almost anyone and revealed what some of the most successful people do when they’re having a bad day.
Top article of the year: “This CEO’s trick to managing hundreds of emails a day is absolutely brilliant.” After too many days of 400-plus emails flooding his inbox, Tom Patterson, founder and CEO of Tommy John undershirts, developed this surprising approach: He stopped checking emails during working hours.
How she nabbed that first Buffett interview: “One of the things that helped in my mission to land an interview with Warren Buffett was sending him articles that could inform his everyday life. I knew that he was a voracious reader and consumer of information. So anytime I saw something that might strike his fancy — be it a piece about his favorite sports team or a report on the Chinese economy — I sent it along,” writes Liu. “After years of pursuing, Buffett finally agreed to an interview. I knew it would happen after he sent me a note by mail that he appreciated one of the stories I had sent him.”