50 Most Fascinating People of 2008

02/02/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This year of 2008 has been amazing and fulfilling in my business, political and spiritual life.

I have had the great good fortune of volunteering all year on the Obama for President Campaign -- starting last year in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa through the final speech in Manassas, Virginia. I met Barack Obama in Iowa again after initially meeting at an Illinois Inaugural function when he was just a senator! I minored in African American Studies at Northwestern and studied apartheid. Never in my life did I think we'd have a Black man in the White House.

Working with Craig Newmark of craigslist changed my life. In terms of his approach to "doing well by doing good" and creating social responsibility ties (or as he claims, "giving people a break") -- I was inspired. I was able to meet people at Sunshine Foundation, Personal Democracy Forum, and press freedom groups. I hope to operate more like Craig in my dealings with people and organizations. Craig and I travelled all over the US as we worked on the Tech, Media and Telecomm group for Obama. One week over eight days, we did editorial boards in L.A., Columbus, Detroit and New York City. I met tech gurus like Julius Genachowski, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, Mike Nelson at Georgetown, and other luminaries.

Seeing and hearing Bishop Desmond Tutu who called our times now a "Mandela Moment" was a spiritual inspiration. Other "God Moments" happened this year in the knowing of one's purpose at almost age 50. Another spiritual inspiration to me has been Eric Hodge, a management consultant at Huron.

I was also given the chance to work with Crispin, Porter + Bogusky ad agency, the hottest shop in the world. CP+B has just won agency of the year from Ad Age, Adweek and Marketing News, a hat trick. They also won advertising campaign of the year. Thanks to my friends in neuromarketing, I was able to interface with Nielsen and meet the top management team. This lead to introductions at the New York Times, Universal McCann, CP+B, Kraft, Coke, P&G, and other CPG companies. I was happy for the exposure to the brand managers and researchers.

Political World

Barack Obama

Howard Dean

Mark Warner

David Axelrod

Terry McAuliffe

Tim Kaine

Hollywood Activists

Anne Hathaway

Dana Delaney

Richard Schiff

Matthew Modine

Obama Campaign Directors

Samir Randolph, Iowa

Jen Pilat, Michigan

Jen Arnold, Traveling Press

Alec Ross, Tech, Media & Telecomm (TMT)

Bill Burton, Press Secretary

New Clients

Susan Fulton, Financial Planner and charitable giver to environmental causes

Alecia O'Brien, dna13 and twitter princess

Casey Golden, Small Acts charitable social network

Manoj Ramnani, DubMeNow

Bob Sommer and Waldo Tibbetts, New York Observer media group

Rebecca Sellers, Clear Orbit

Paul Helmick, StateNewsLines

Tech Gurus

Craig Newmark, craigslist

Brian O'Shaugnessy, Skype

Adam Kovacevich, Google

Reid Hoffman, Ellen Levy, LinkedIn

Ariana Huffington, Huffington Post (and editors of this column plus "Off the Bus" features)

International Dignataries

Jennifer Friedman at (Madeleine) Albright & Assoc.

Madame Sec. Albright

Editorial Boards

Bill Keller, and NY Times Ed Board

Jennifer 8 Lee, NY Times Tech Blogger

Jeffrey in research at NY Times

Len Downie, and Washington Post Ed Board

Kim Hart, Tech Business at Washington Post

LA Times Ed Board

Columbus Dispatch Ed Board

Adam Pasick, Reuters, (and my campaign video blog column "Inside the Tent")

Jim VandeHei, Politico

The Hill Ed Board

Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

Alex Bogusky

Chuck Porter

Ryan Skubic, account manager for our AFTV program

Jeff Benjamin, interactive guru


David Calhoun, CEO

Jon Mandell

Dr. AK Pradeep, CEO of NeuroFocus

Caroline Winnett, CMO of NeuroFocus

PR Execs

Arthur Yann, PRSA

Rose Gordon, PRWeek news ed and "yogi"

Doug and Susan Kohl, Sierra in SF

These are my "Top 50" most interesting people of 2008. I sent about 200 Christmas or Holiday Cards this year so that is roughly equivalent to how many folks I met in my network. All of them interesting for their own reasons. Happy New Year!