Imagine: "Musk, Bezos, Nadella, Zuckberberg, and Ma."

It might sound like the law firm from hell. But, actually, it's order in which Hired, a job search site, said this week that 3,600 employees ranked the tech entrepreneurs they find most inspiring. Here's the whole list:

  1. Elon Musk
  2. Jeff Bezos
  3. Satya Nadella
  4. Mark Zuckerberg
  5. Jack Ma
  6. Sheryl Sandberg
  7. Reed Hastings
  8. Susan Wojcicki
  9. Marissa Mayer
  10. Ann Wojcicki

Right... Let's not dig too deeply into why Musk is supposedly a bit more inspiring than Bezos -- to say nothing of why, in 2019, Zuckerberg, Sandberg and Mayer landed the slots the did.  

(But kudos to the Wojcicki sisters, for sure. And to their mom.)

Instead, let's talk about lists. The Hired report from which this list came has a lot more of them: 

  • World's top public and private brands (They say it's Airbnb, SpaceX and Hulu on the private side; Google, Netflix and Apple among those that have gone public).
  • Top 5 reasons tech workers actually don't want to work remotely
  • 8 ways tech talent learn about company announcements and initiatives

They're not alone -- not even alone in my email in-box over the last couple of days. For example, Glassdoor this week released its list of the 25 highest paying jobs in the U.S. for 2019.

Physicians are still number one, with a median base salary of $193,415. As for the highest paying companies, Palo Alto Networks takes the top spot by offering a median $170,929 salary.

I get why we organize information this way. In fact, I've written a few listicles myself, over seven years and 1,000 articles here at Inc.com. Favorites include:

Now, I think there are 7 key reasons why lists like these grab people's attention.

(Kidding. We've had enough listicles in this story.)

But that the fact that people respond to lists like this is instructive. In a completely different context, I was meeting with a very smart CEO yesterday about a possible business deal, and he said something that made me think of this. 

(Aside: If you're reading this, Mr. Unnamed CEO, we should definitely do the deal.)

We were talking about the wide array of options that customers are faced with constantly. He summarized the issue in a single sentence: "People like choices, but they hate decisions."

Oh man, I thought. That quote is definitely going to wind up in one of my Inc.com columns.

Human beings are inundated with information. We respond when it's organized, coupled with a promise of digestible authority.

To tie this all back together, I don't know if Elon Musk is more inspiring than Jeff Bezos.

I do know, however, that if you've read this far, maybe it's worth thinking about the way people process information like this.

And then copy it the next time your business has an important message to convey.

Close your eyes. Count to 10. And start communicating.

Published on: Sep 20, 2019
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The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.