Who's the top dog in your field?

Think of what you consider to be your professional calling. It needn’t be what you actually do to put beans on the table; it can be what you aspire to work at as well. Is there one living person, famous or otherwise, whom you consider the absolute tops? Someone you think of when you judge your own work? Someone whose level of skill you either aspire to reach or whom you think you can never rival, but nevertheless use as a benchmark?

Who is that person, and why?

This question should not be restricted to artists. Physicians, engineers, scientists, and even salesmen are as welcome to post as musicians, painters, and writers.

Answering my own question…

I make my living as a corporate drone, not a writer of fiction, but the latter is where my heart is. When I think of what effect I hope to have on my readers, I think of the novel A Recent Martyr, by Valerie Martin. There are endless numbers of writers who make more money than she, but none whom I look forward to reading more, and none I would rather emulate in artistic merit.

Anybody else?


Bill Goddard at CalTech probably

Walter Kohn for the lifetime achievement award, but mostly retired currently.



Field of one.

AFAIK, I am the only journalist dedicated exclusively to covering the area I cover.

I’m a management consultant/corporate manager so Michael Porter or James O. McKinsey I guess.

I’d say Peter Drucker.

Warren Buffet.

In my field of property and casualty actuarial practice, the pretty-much undisputed Big Kahuna is Sholom Feldblum. I’d be shocked if anyone else has heard of him.

Mike Leavitt, the Secretary of Health and Human Services

A Google search for the term “famous paralegals” turned up a total of four measly results.

I think I’m going to go find a less depressing thread.

I didn’t know his first name, but I’ve seen discussion on a few of his articles that are featured on upper level CAS exams.

This guy:

Atticus Finch

By that logic I should have written either Gabrielle of Potadeaia or Victor von Doom.

IMHO, it’s Daniel Wegner

There are a number of “gurus” in my field:


Winfield Hill

Paul Horowitz

Bob Pease

Don Lancaster

Carl Friedrich Gauss

Michael Faraday

Oliver Heaviside

Harold Stephen Black

Bob Sheppard

Most would probably say Bill Labov, but I’m more of a Walt Wolfram fan myself.

Social Worker.

Nelson Mandela. The level of professionalism and perseverance he demonstrated in the interest of social change is staggering. We should all be so knowledgeable, so dignified and so successful.

Michael Abrash, perhaps. It’s sort of hard to say since programmers are just worker bees for the most part, and it’s somewhat unclear how competent as engineers academics (like Donald Knuth) really are.

I am.

But it’s a very small field.