What makes a person powerful? Is it the amount of money in their checking account? The positions they hold within a huge company or a government institution? For the most influential people in the world, it's a combination of these things.
It's no secret that with great money comes advantages very few people have. You can influence the world around you in a much bigger way than the average white collar worker can. And combine that with a platform, say, as the leader of a large country, and the choices you make will be affecting millions of people.
That's power most of us will never experience. Sure, people have control over their own lives, and with hard work and luck the average person can even run a business or become CEO of a large company some day. But for most, even the greatest of personal and career achievements won't come close to the world leaders on this list.
Not that everyone would want the level of responsibility that comes with this power, though; it just seems like a lot of work. Most would probably rather sit at home and watch the power struggles of the world play out in the news. It's less stressful that way.
10 David Cameron
It comes as no surprise that the most powerful people is populated with political figures from across the globe. David Cameron, the tenth most powerful person in the world, is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
In September, Cameron risked losing some of the power when Scotland voted on whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom. Ultimately, however, the Scottish chose not to part with the U.K, and thus Cameron still has control over Scotland. Otherwise, his place on this list may have changed, at least slightly.
9 Sergey Brin/Larry Page
Yes, two people occupy the 9th spot for the World's Most Powerful Person, and the reason for that is because their power comes from the same source: Google. Brin now heads up the secretive Google X division, which focuses on more unusual projects, such as Google Glass, smart contact lenses and more.
Page, on the other hand, is still CEO of Google, the company he cofounded with Brin. Google, which dominates online search engines, has tens of thousands of employers in 40 different countries, and both men aren't faring so badly in the wealth department either.
8 Mario Draghi
Mario Draghi's nickname of “Super Mario” is no laughing matter when you consider he's in charge of not one, not two, but eighteen countries financial matters. Draghi is the president of the European Central Bank, which is obviously no small task.
In fact, Fortune magazine even mentions that he likely has one of the toughest and most significant jobs in the world, and this is one reason they voted him as the 2nd Greatest Leader in the World.
7 Bill Gates
Many of the people who follow on the list are heads of government or political figures, which should come as no surprise. The fact that Bill Gates ranks as high as some of them, well, that's no small feat. Especially since he's pretty much completely self-made, both in terms of power and money.
6 Janet Yellen
Having control of a lot of money can often do a lot to make someone more powerful. And in the case of Janet Yellen, the first woman to head the Federal Reserve of the United States, that's a whole lot of money.
With $4.5 trillion in assets, the Fed is considered one of the most influential central banks in the world, and Yellen is the one in charge of all that. What does Yellen intend to do with this power? Well, she claims she wants to “repair the American dream.”
5 Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel cemented her spot as the most powerful woman in the world as German chancellor. She's the first female in history to hold that position, as well as the longest-serving EU head of state elected to office. Both feats are impressive in and of themselves, but Merkel is making sure she uses her power to make a difference in the world around her.
4 Pope Francis
Pope Francis is a famously revolutionary leader of the Catholic church. At one time, the pope was considered one of the most powerful people in the world, if not the most powerful.
A lot has changed over the centuries, but one reason why Pope Francis in particular is catching the world's attention now is that he's trying to bring some of that change to the church itself. And considering he's the spiritual leader to 1.2 billion people in the world, that brings a lot of power in and of itself.
3 Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping is being called the most powerful Chinese ruler since Mao Zedong. Considering he's the president of the world's largest economy, it should come as no surprise that he's easily one of the most powerful people in the world. Jinping is expected to lead China into the next decade; he isn't ceding his place on the world's most powerful list any time soon.
2 Barack Obama
The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, may not be loved by everyone, but as the leader of a nation the size of the US, he does hold a lot of power in his hand.
Sure, there are checks and balances to make sure he doesn't have too much power or abuses that power (though some would argue he does that anyway, depending on who you ask). During Obama's second term in office, he's dealt with issues like the Ebola breakout, ISIS, the Ferguson, Missouri riots and more.
1 Vladimir Putin
Forbes got some flack last year for naming Putin as the most powerful person in the world last year, but it didn't stop them from doing the same this year. And well, they have a point.
Considering all that has happened with Russia and the Ukraine, and the $70 billion gas pipeline deal with China, it really looks like Russia (and its leader) is holding a lot of power on a world scale both logistically and financially.
Putin seems completely unconcerned with world opinion, and simply does whatever the heck he wants. As the leader of the biggest country in the world, he's both incredibly powerful, and extremely frightening when he wields that power irresponsibly.
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