Our Runners-Up for 2013 SUCCESS Achiever of the Year

UPDATED: May 24, 2023
PUBLISHED: February 12, 2014

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The Blueprint: Jay-Z’s Path to the American Dream

Shawn Carter has never been shy about his rise from two-bit street hustler to business mogul. The rapper known as Jay-Z laid out things simply in 1996, on the debut album from his self-founded label Roc-A-Fella Records, rhyming “We used to fight for building blocks. Now we fight for blocks with buildings that make a killing.”

Today Carter is far more than an M.C., though 2013 was a banner year both on the microphone and in the boardroom. He received nine Grammy nominations for his latest album, Magna Carta… Holy Grail (more than any other artist), but also flipped his stake in the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets (the team he helped relocate from New Jersey to his hometown with the construction of a billion-dollar arena) to begin representing athletes at his full-service entertainment and branding company, Roc Nation. Within months he had lured some of the biggest names in sports and helped land Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano the third-largest contract in baseball history.

In 2013 he and superstar wife Beyoncé ranked No. 1 on Forbes’ annual list of the wealthiest celebrity couples, the pair taking in hundreds of millions from album sales, business partnerships, investments and real estate, yet also giving back a healthy portion of their earnings. The Shawn Carter Foundation provides scholarships and toys in neighborhoods like the one where he grew up, while serving as a reminder of what is possible for anyone who can see beyond his or her current circumstances, with an empire state of mind.

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Inspiration by Ive Pushes Apple Forward

Jonathan Ive is bringing Steve Jobs’ imagination to creation.

In 2013, as Apple surpassed Coca-Cola to become the world’s most valuable brand (according to a report by the brand consultancy Interbrand), Ive’s contributions took center stage. He’s the guy behind the iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPod, iPad, iPhone and the iOS 7 operating system. With 596 design and utility patents under his belt, he is today the creative heart and soul of Apple.

The Englishman (who was knighted in 2012) runs his own lab inside the company and is senior vice president of design, producing the aesthetically pleasing, clean products that are Apple’s trademark. Ive took his current title in 1996, inheriting as his first major assignment the iMac, which set new standards for the industrial design of computers and helped pave the way for future creations. Consumers now identify Apple products as minimalist and simple, yet also remarkable.

Also in 2013 he teamed up with fellow designer Marc Newson and U2 lead singer Bono to raise more than $26 million for the anti-HIV charity RED, putting his impeccable taste and risk-taking style to use in redesigning a series of everyday products for auction—and who better to do it than Ive?—one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

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Sheryl Sandberg: The Leaning Tower of Silicon Valley

How do you do it all? To many women, it is a demeaning question—one rarely asked of men. But after the global impact she made in 2013, it is perhaps the greatest lesson Sheryl Sandberg can teach.

The key, as Facebook’s chief operating officer explains in her 2013 best-seller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, is to realize and accept your own time and energy limitations, and focus on making the most of everything within those. Sandberg certainly did so in 2013, all but singlehandedly reviving the languishing feminist movement by defining the problems (both self-imposed and systematic) that continue to hold back women in business and leadership, while offering clear solutions with the power to shatter the glass ceiling.

Sandberg created more than a book. Lean In became a verifiable movement in 2013, spawning a huge network of support groups nationally to secure the Harvard grad and Google-ex’s place as an icon for her generation. The movement carries on through a vibrant website with a staff that keeps the advice, encouragement and conversation alive to help women everywhere lean in toward great futures.

As Sandberg encouraged others, she was parenting two children with her husband, tech CEO David Goldberg, and helping Facebook’s big rebound. She championed the tweaks that created more effective ads and new streams of revenue. Sandberg’s work helped push the company’s stock price from its valley below $18 per share in summer 2012 to heartily north of $50 by the end of 2013.

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Spielberg’s Latest Masterwork a Tribute to Self-Determinism

One of the most influential personalities in entertainment history, Steven Spielberg sets a goal with each project of nothing less than explaining the nature of humanity. In 2013 Spielberg himself became a symbol for the spirit of commitment, as he received just acclaim for his latest magnum opus, Lincoln, a labor of love for the filmmaker that took 13 long years of discussion, development and production.

A smash hit that earned more than $275 million internationally, Lincoln captured the hearts and minds of people across the globe and provided a beautifully detailed glimpse into one of the proudest achievements in American history: the 16th president’s push for an order to end slavery forever. In Lincoln, Spielberg defines what makes America great, reinforcing our most sacred values—freedom and equality. At the 85th Academy Awards, the film won two Oscars and was a nominee in 12 categories, the most of any movie, including Best Picture and Best Director for Spielberg.

In November Spielberg was also honored for Lincoln and other films by the National Archives of the United States, which awarded him a replica of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the document that fulfilled the promise of America’s founding by freeing all men and women from bondage forever. Independence and justice for all have been favorite themes of Spielberg, whose grand strokes have included Schindler's List and The Color Purple (among many others) in the years since he fell in love with film as a boy, worked at Universal Studios as an unpaid intern and left college to chase his dream.

And the 2013 SUCCESS Achiever of the Year is none other than… Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, who innovates to thrill consumers. Read the cover story, where he shares his lessons in staying ahead of the curve.

Josh Ellis is the former editor in chief for SUCCESS magazine. Before joining SUCCESS in 2012, he was an accomplished digital and print sportswriter, working for the Dallas Cowboys Star magazine, the team’s gameday program, and DallasCowboys.com. Originally from Longview, Texas, he began writing for his hometown newspaper at 16.