If You Had to Work For Someone, Who Would It Be?


Who’s the absolute best boss you could have - if, for some crazy reason, you couldn’t work for yourself?

Richard Branson. By just three votes.

To win your vote as best boss, Branson had to defeat not just billionaire investor Warren Buffett, but one of the most notable entrepreneurs of our time: Steve Jobs. And Jobs certainly would have much to teach even the most accomplished investor. Let’s not forget that Jobs not only co-founded Apple, but in 1985, was summarily booted out of the company. He went on to co-found Pixar Animation Studios, before being called back to Apple and engineering one of the greatest turnarounds in corporate history. 

Working for Richard Branson, though, would have to be a lot more fun. You wouldn’t have to worry about being fired if you ran into your boss in an elevator, for one thing. Branson’s also the guy with a private island, several records in powerboat racing, and a talent for publicity stunts. Not to mention about 400 different brands under the Virgin umbrella, with a combined market cap of more than $13 billion.

A lot of Inc.com voters made that call, as it turned out. But only two made enough other right calls along the way to build up the total winning score of 54 points. Congratulations, winners. We’ll be getting in touch to send you your complimentary tickets the Inc. Leadership Forum in June..


Meet the Bosses
Mom She is your mother.
Dad He is your father.
Jack Welch CEO, GE. He's not called Neutron Jack for nothing. But plenty of talented leadership came out of GE under his watch.
Warren Buffett Investor. The Oracle of Omaha's down-home, folksy demeanor contrasts nicely with Berkshire Hathaway's $155,000 stock price and $256 billion market capitalization.
Meg Whitman CEO, Hewlett Packard. Whitman led eBay to glory, ran for governor of California, and is now trying to save the embattled HP.
Martha Stewart Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Housekeeping was boring before Stewart came along. Then it became a glamorous, upscale $273 million enterprise.
Jeff Bezos Founder, Amazon.com. From a simple start selling books online, Bezos is getting ever closer to living up to his promise to bring us the world.
Tony Hsieh Founder, Zappos. Yes, Hsieh continues to sell lots of shoes under the Amazon umbrella, but the company is really known for its heroic customer service.
Howard Schultz Co-founder, Starbucks. Built a $40 billion enterprise based largely on the premise that it's okay to spend $3 for a cup of coffee.
Hillary Clinton Former Secretary of State. Clinton's been described repeatedly as an 'enlightened' boss, but we can't think of anyone who works harder.
Russell Simmons Founder, Def Jam. Simmons has expanded his business from music to clothing, and is now thought to be the third-richest figure in hip-hop.
Oprah Winfrey Founder, CEO, chair, Harpo Productions. This media personality has been ranked both as the richest African American and the most influential woman in the world.
Bobbi Brown Founder, Bobbi Brown. A stylist who couldn't find the makeup she wanted to wear, she launched her own line. It's now in nearly 1,000 stores and more than 50 countries.
Tim Cook CEO, Apple. Tim Cook is a management guy, not an entrepreneur. On the other hand, his employees probably don't have to worry about getting fired in the elevator.
Richard Branson Founder, Virgin Group. Remember when Virgin was only a music company? We don't either. There are now more than 400 brands under the Virgin umbrella.
Bill Gates Co-founder, Microsoft. He changed the nature of information and collaboration. Then, as a philanthropist, he took that game-changing thinking to a different sphere.
Mark Zuckerberg Co-founder, Facebook. Facebook, at first only open to college students, has almost become an alternative Web in itself. Its IPO could be the largest U.S. offering ever.
Sheryl Sandberg COO, Facebook. Sandberg brings management cred to Zuckerberg's geek-driven empire. Her new book, Lean In, exhorts women to, essentially, work harder.
John Mackey Co-founder and CEO, Whole Foods. Aside from his entrepreneurial success, the Whole Foods co-founder and CEO is known for his outspoken manner-in his advocacy of both free markets and organic food.
Herb Kelleher Founder, Southwest Airlines. Kelleher made flying fun again, and continues to give it his best shot, with cheap fares and unassigned seats.
Barack Obama President. Work for our 44th President, and you'd get a front-row view of history and peerless networking opportunities. The flip side: Never a day off.
Abraham Lincoln Widely regarded as our greatest President -after all, how many of our leaders got us through a civil war, freed the slaves, and went on to win an Oscar?
Katharine Graham Publisher, Washington Post. Graham ran her family's newspaper for two decades, including the Watergate era. Her own memoir, Personal History, won a Pulitzer Prize.
Kathryn Bigelow Film director. The director of Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty has been breaking new ground in Hollywood with her distinctive documentary style.
Albus Dumbledore Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Notable not only for his efforts to defeat Lord Voldemort, but also for his unflinching defense of his employees, even at his own personal expense
Caterina Fake Co-founder, flickr and Hunch. Fake is known for her off-the-cuff work and management style.
Steve Jobs Co-founder and CEO, Apple and Pixar. The charismatic Jobs was widely regarded as brilliant, visionary -- and very, very prickly.
Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger Nothing says leadership like landing an airplane in the Hudson river. Except, of course, doing it with no loss of life.
Marissa Mayer CEO, Yahoo. First, she was Google's It Girl. At Yahoo, she's the CEO, the eradicator of work-from-home days and, generally, the haver-of-it-all. And Yahoo stock is up.
Magic Johnson Point guard, forward, AIDS activist, and entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he's probably best known for his ongoing efforts to reinvigorate Harlem.
Arianna Huffington Founder, Huffington Post. Huffington brought a new business model to online news and content generation, and is regularly cited on "most influential" lists.
Elon Musk Co-founder, PayPal. Arguably best known for starting PayPal, Musk is also the entrepreneur behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
To fill out Inc's Best Bosses brackets and potentially win valuable prizes, follow the link to Inc's Best Bosses Tournament homepage. Register with your name and email, and fill out the brackets just as you did your basketball brackets at the office, advancing the more impressive boss in each matchup to the next round. The voter whose picks most closely match the consensus picks of fellow gamers will win two free tickets to Inc's Leadership Conference on June 10th through the 12th in Carlsbad, Calif.