It seems like just last month that we were lauding Theo Epstein as the world’s greatest leader. Oh, wait, that was last month. It stands to reason, then, that the Cubs’ baseball boss was a shoo-in for TIME’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. And good golly, that’s a mixed bag of different personalities.
Where the Fortune list skewed heavily toward pop culture and shiny object-ness, this TIME group is significantly more literal in its interpretation. The list isn’t ordered, but is divided into groups of Pioneers, Leaders, Artists, Titans, and Icons. Named among the Leaders, Epstein finds himself all glommed up with despots, politicians, Wikileakers, and religious figures. I think I even saw the White House Easter Bunny in there.
John Cusack provided the write-up for Epstein’s entry and, while it’s a little florid, it’s worth a quick read.
Theo Epstein has this weird hue around him. His vision helped end historic World Series droughts in both Chicago and Boston. But his power lies in a paradox, in the knowledge that the only way to keep power is to give it away. He knows Wrigley Field is a multigenerational secular church. Our families have been there a long, long time. We are all just renting—nobody owns this.
Theo may be a creature of destiny, but he recognizes that he’s also just another flawed human being, no better than anyone else. It’s an artful thing to thread that needle and wear it as a matter of common sense. He’s more Old World than old school. Words and deeds need to match. Trust is earned. He apologizes to no one for caring.
You can see it in the eyes of those he holds close. The relationships are far more personal and dignified than people crowding around a winner. When you mention someone he truly reveres, like the historian Howard Zinn, Theo’s poker face drops into a reverential smile.
Am I the only one who, upon reading that last paragraph, heard the strains of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes playing and pictured Cusack with a boombox held high overhead? I hope not, because I’d feel really weird if it was just me. Oh well.
If you were too lazy to click the link earlier, here’s a look at all 100 honorees in only 57 seconds:
And if you’re looking for a way to express your allegiance to the most influential leader this side of Chance the Rapper (who joins Epstein on both lists), we’ve got you covered. Literally.