Taylor Swift was the top-ranking woman in Fortune magazine's annual list of World’s Greatest Leaders this year, while Apple CEO Tim Cook took the top slot overall.
"There’s no denying that positioning Swift in front of established leaders such as GM’s Mary Barra, philanthropist Melinda Gates, and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a controversial move," the magazine wrote this week. "But while haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate), the case for Swift is actually pretty impressive."
that above all else, leaders are only leaders if they have followers — and Swift has cultivated 125 million on Twitter and Facebook alone. That's roughly the same amount as President Barack Obama (who didn't make the list at all). Unlike Miley Cyrus' "twerking" fame, Swift has not only honed a loyal following, but "she’s done it without resorting to dumbed-down salacious gimmickry."
Beyond her massive following, Swift has also proven to be a very savvy businessperson, and is currently the highest-paid woman in the music industry.
Last November, she pulled her entire catalog of music from streaming music service Spotify because she feels they don't compensate artists fairly. That move could not only bolster her negotiating power when it comes to selling her music, but could also improve pay for other artists.
She's also been highly protective of her brand image in a good way. Just this month, Swift scooped up a slew of new website domain names that could've been used against her — such as TaylorSwift.adult and TaylorSwift.porn — and is likely to leave them blank. Just a few months before that, she trademarked a number of her lyrics, including "this sick beat," so she'll be the only one who can make related merchandise.
Last but certainly not least, Swift is a serious philanthropist. She made a $50,000 donation to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia last summer, and regularly sends gift and care packages to her most dedicated fans. In one care package, she cut a $1,989-check (a play on her album "1989" — the year of her birth) to help pay off one fan's student loans.
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