American, b. 1938
Before every single thing this guy has ever done, advisors told him that it was the worst idea ever and that he would surely fail. Inherited a bankrupt billboard company at 24 when his father killed himself, and built one of the biggest media properties in the world. I have never met him and he is, by most accounts, a man so independent of thought and deed, and so outspoken in opinion, that it would be difficult to be friends with him. When I gave my opinions to a friend who worked closely with him for years, he told me, "Yeah, but those are just the ideas you hear about. You should hear some of the shit we have to talk him out of."
And, as if he needed any other plaudits, he won the America's Cup. When it was competed for by gentlemen, in a gentlemanly manner. Less celebrated but perhaps the greater feat as a leader of men, he raced in the 1979 Fastnet race. Of 303 boats starting, 194 retired (dropped out), 24 were abandoned at sea and/or sank, and 15 men died. Ted Turner and his boat Tenacious finished the race, and won.