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Marshall McLuhan.
The Godfather of media studies. He understood that the "medium is the message", that media extends the senses -- and that, by doing so, they change the way we perceive -- which changes the way we think. I was lucky enough to study with him when I did my Master's Degree at The University of Toronto.

Peter Drucker.
The management guru. He invented the modern concept of management in business. He predicted the future brilliantly, focusing on the "knowledge worker" as the driving force in the Global economy. He declared our world a "post-Capitalist" society and worried about the dangerous social consequences of the increased wealth generated by "the idiocy" of tying executive pay to short-term increases in stock prices. I was privileged to spend time with Drucker. We often discussed McLuhan who had been his lifelong friend.

Alvin and Heidi Toffler.
The futurists. Their three seminal books anticipated what was happening at least 20 years before "news" media and businesses woke up to the changes. Future Shock predicted the effects of Speed Up and OverChoice. The Third Wave anticipated telecommuting. We are still living out Power Shift, which showed how information would become more powerful than money.

Thomas Kuhns.
The Paradigm shifter. In his short, brilliant book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhns focused on paradigm shifts. These disruptive forces nearly always come from the outside. Most major scientific breakthroughs were made by those outside the "mainstream". In other words, most people (and businesses) accept "traditional" explanations about what's really going on. And then, get blindsided by change. It's why I seldom trust the popular thinking at any time -- it usually misses the paradigm shift.

David Ogilvy.
The sophisticated advertising thinker. A master of positioning and a great writer, his work stands the test of time. His respect for the customer is missing in much advertising today.

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Malcolm Gladwell.
The observer. An elegant essayist who combines careful study with lucid writing, he often reconstructs our point of view by forcing us to think about a slightly different way of filtering our perceptions. Although he's not always right about the cause of a "tip", The Tipping Point is one of the important books of our generation.

Philippe Denichaud.
The growth expert. The smartest, practical management consultant I have ever known. His focus on Strategic Thinking, The Growth Curve, Social Styles and Personality bias is the essence of understanding how business grows or fails.

Neil Postman.
Heavily influenced by McLuhan, he anticipated the way that television would reshape our perceptions of politics, resulting in a manipulative, shallow world of "sound bites" and false promises. His book "Amusing Ourselves to Death" is more important now than when he wrote it over 20 years ago.