CEO, Wal-Mart Stores
Wal-Mart's financial performance is often a barometer for consumer confidence in the country. By that standard, consumers must be feeling pretty good: In October, shares of the world's largest retailer rose to their highest ever price since the company went public in 1970. The retailer also pledged to focus more on e-commerce and in expanding small store formats to target new customers. To further boost sales, CEO Michael Duke has been cutting prices and has moved back the lucrative Black Friday sales to start at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. He's also raised membership prices for Sam's Club, the company's chain of warehouse clubs. --OA
He's a pro-customer, tightfisted risk-taker who is conditioning Wall Street to embrace his erratic earnings. If you're running a business with high margins - watch out.