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50 Most Fascinating People of 2008

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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

Nielsen
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!