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As we have observed in the 26 years we have celebrated great business leaders through the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Program, joining the ranks of the world’s exceptional entrepreneurs requires a special combination of qualities.

  • One of these is boldness. Perpetually safe decisions and taking the well-trodden path won’t get you very far if your aim is growth. Successful entrepreneurs don’t shy away from risk and they know how to fail: they fail fast and ensure any misstep leads to improvement.
  • Another quality is persistence. Strong business leaders are willing to rethink a product, service or strategy until they get it right, and they will jettison ideas that just aren’t working.
  • And then there’s innovation. The companies leaping ahead embed creative thinking throughout their organizations. “Thinking outside the box” may be a cliché, but it is essential to continued and extraordinary growth.

The entrepreneurs featured in this issue of Exceptional embody all these characteristics and more. Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr., our cover star, may be best known for his prowess with a basketball, but he has also channeled his leadership on the court into an extensive business empire. We talk to him about the evolution of his career and why he decided to invest in the great American pastime: baseball.

In his 40 years at the helm of FedEx, founder Fred Smith has seen energy crises and recessions and nevertheless emerged triumphant. He tells us how.

We also speak to Arne Sorenson of Marriott International and Vinita Gupta of Lupin Pharmaceuticals, both of whom are leading family businesses in new directions.

And Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s king of innovation, talks about world-famous shoes, storytelling and Nike’s embrace of green technology.

If you enjoy what you read in this issue, or would like to offer suggestions on how we can make Exceptional even better, please take a few minutes to complete our reader survey for details.

Portrait of Herb Engert

Herb Engert
Americas Leader, Strategic Growth Markets, Ernst & Young LLP