Forbes has just published its annual "World's Most Powerful People" list, and the big news is that Barack Obama (No. 2) has been knocked off the top spot by his Russian foe Vladimir Putin (No. 1). According to Forbes, while embarrassing messes like this year's government shutdown have pushed Obama into a "lame duck" position, Putin has only solidified his control over Russia. "Anyone watching this year's chess match over Syria and NSA leaks has a clear idea of the shifting individual power dynamics," concluded Forbes.
At least Obama made it on there, which is more than most of us can say. But despair no more. Having looked at the list, there are four obvious strategies to follow in order to make the cut next year. All you have to do is emulate the men who made it on there — and it really is men, with only two women in the top 20 — and you'll have achieved global domination in no time:
1. Get loaded, or at least gain control over other people's money
One of the ways Forbes picks its winners is by assessing how much wealth they control:
- For heads of state, like Chinese leader Xi Jinping (No. 3), that means being in control of a large GDP: In his case, that figure is a whopping $8.2 trillion — so, more than enough, really.
- If you can't make it as president, then the next step is to control a company's financial resources by becoming CEO. Like Jeff Bezos (No. 15), the founder of Amazon.com, which saw $61 billion in sales last year.
- Of course, you can also just be really, really rich. Say, rich like Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu (No. 12), who is the second wealthiest person in the world and has a net worth of $69 billion. Not too shabby.
2. Become the leader of a lot of people
Obviously the more people you can influence — and, crucially, order about at will — then the more powerful you will be.
- If you're quite business-minded, then it's probably a good idea to go the route of the CEO. Michael Duke (No. 10) made it onto the list because he runs Wal-Mart Stores, which puts him in charge of two million people.
- But if your talents lie in spiritual guidance, then you'll have to become pope. That's what Pope Francis (No. 4) did, and he now leads a 1/6 of the world's population. For Forbes, that's a solid amount.
3. Remember to actually use the power when you have it
Coming back to Obama vs. Putin, it's clearly no longer enough to be president of a massive country. To really impress Forbes, you have to actively use your power. That's why the Russian president came out on top, said Forbes: "[B]ecause he so frequently shows his strength — like when he jails protestors." Behaving like an autocrat may make some people squeamish, but it obviously gets results.
4. Gain power in multiple spheres
This is for the show-offs. Not only will you be a billionaire, but you'll also be a media magnate, a major philanthropist, and a politician to boot. Sounds demanding — but then again, money, politics, and media power do go well together. Think Michael Bloomberg (No. 29): The departing New York mayor has political power — though not for much longer — a personal fortune of $31 billion, owns 88 percent of financial data firm Bloomberg LP, and has given $2.8 billion worth of charitable donations so far. Yes, this is probably the toughest of the four strategies to emulate.
So there we have it. Achieve success in just one of these categories, and you'll be able to nab one of the 72 slots on the list. Remember: With 7.1 billion people on the planet, that would officially make you one in 100 million.