The 11 World Leaders 20-Somethings Admire The Most

nelson mandela millennial leader (1)
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Written by: Greg Rollett | November 19

If you listened to pop media you’d think it was the Kardashians. But it turns out, we are smarter and more insightful than the media gives us credit for.

Global Shapers talked to 1,000 millennials from 125 different countries and asked them things like their most pressing concerns (social & economic inequality), their trust of their governments (11%), their trust of the news (10%), if they vote (85% in national elections), and if they are more likely to shop local (75% yes) than with a big brand, amongst other questions.

They also compiled the 11 leaders 20-somethings most admire. The list might surprise you (but remember, they are from young people from more than 125 countries).

1. Nelson Mandela

The guy who’s name means “to pull a branch off a tree” and “troublemaker” was and still is the biggest global inspiration for young people around the world. While most of us don’t need to spend 27 years in prison, we can channel his ideas and principles to make the world a better place than it seems to be right now.


2. Pope Francis

The guy took the US by storm, or more like a Category 5 hurricane. One of his biggest secrets, he doesn’t turn on the TV and hasn’t since 1990. That alone is something to admire.


3. Elon Musk

Electric cars and plans to go to Mars. Yup, he is the living breathing Tony Stark.


4. Mahatma Ghandi

The world needs more leaders like Ghandi. Young people everywhere should strive to make such an impact that they have a funeral procession that goes on for 8 kilometers, instead of a Facebook post saying RIP.


5. Bill Gates

Cooler than Steve Jobs? Yup. Microsoft is a global power and his philanthropic work echoes far beyond the 50 states, which puts him 3 spots over Mr. Apple.


6. Barack Obama

Even though his approval numbers are dipping month after month, what he has accomplished gives young people around the world hope that one day, they too can do something as influential as be sworn in as POTUS.


7. Richard Branson

Branson sweats out cool. From the Rolling Stones to airplanes to Necker Island, Mr. Virgin wakes up everyday to bring more fun into the world.


8. Steve Jobs

The iPhone. Nuff said.


9. Muhammad Yunus

How do you help people around the world that do not have access to banks and big bank loans start a business? You give them a microloan. Today that’s possible thanks to Muhammad.


10. Narendra Modi

The leader of more than 1 billion people in India. The rest of the world had better watch their back.


11. Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett

The guy (and his companies) have more than $55 BILLION in cash and cash equivalents. Yea, that inspires me because it means I can do it too. Why the hell not?


Want to see young people changing the world? Check out the 20-somethings Vanity Fair named to their New Establishment List. 

Want to be a stronger leader yourself? Maybe it’s time for a career change? Watch this video to help you get inspired to pull your very own Jerry Maguire moment.

This post was written by Greg Rollett and he isn’t shocked by this list at all. In fact, it gives him hope that this younger generation will become the great leaders that this list has inspired us to become. Follow more of his antics and travels on Instagram.

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Greg Rollett

Greg is the CEO of and writes most of his posts while eating burritos for lunch or drinking Mexican beers or island rum outside with his laptop and a pair of Beats headphones over his ears, listening to good ol 2000's hip-hop like Master P or Jay-Z (before Tidal). Follow his ambitious antics on Twitter, @gregrollett

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