The 30 Under 30 Excellence Squad
When the Forbes 30 Under 30 list hits, the world notices—this year’s launch proved Twitter’s number one trending topic. And we notice all the notice. We spend the entire year working to ensure, as much as is possible when you unearth 600 largely fresh stories, that the quality of honorees matches the outsize attention. It’s a fourstep process, involving almost 200 people.
First, a team of two to three reporters for each of the 20 categories spends the year collecting names from the top sources and leaders in their respective fields and sifting through their cut of the more than 15,000 nominations we receive over the transom as well as those recommended by CEOs, senators and others trying valiantly but largely fruitlessly to put their finger on the scale.
Second, those reporting teams winnow their lists to 60 to 100 semifinalists per category, each with numbers and narratives attached. The third step: outside judging. We bring in legends and experts in each category as well as 30 Under 30 alumni. This year, for instance, featured Tory Burch (Art & Style) and Jean Case (Social Entrepreneurs) and Katrina Lake (Retail & E-commerce). All category judges review and debate each semifinalist, putting them all through the Forbes prism: entrepreneurship (founders over ladder-climbers), innovation, growth and diversity. Finally, after the lists of 30 have been chosen, we add in an extra layer of due diligence—we catch age-fudgers and revenue-exaggerators every year.
“Each list brings a new crop of stars,” says Steven Bertoni, who heads his full-time team of four that coordinates this massive editorial undertaking. “We’re able to surface people who might not be nationally famous for another year or two.”
The final result reinforces the continuing primacy of the American Dream: The vast majority of honorees have blazed their own path (this year 20% are immigrants and nearly 40% identify as first-generation residents). Once the U.S. spotlight shifts, our global team repeats the process in Europe, in Asia, in Africa and in a few dozen other markets, a perpetual exercise in excellence that gives you the ultimate peek into the ideas of tomorrow, today.