It’s that bittersweet time of the year again when I shove Dale Carnegie to the side and lose friends trying to influence people. Our annual Power List issue ranks the 50 most influential people on Long Island, thereby forcibly diminishing the number of people who will take my call. Hopefully, the 50 people on the list find their bios flattering enough to take my call, though there are still some who will be dismayed at their position.
Those who know the Power List committee personally know well that the more they lobby for a spot on the list every year, the less likely they are to be chosen. Those who don’t know us well enough continue to lobby aimlessly every year wondering why their pleas seemingly go ignored. The reason for this is quite simple, actually. If you think about it, the truly powerful individual requires no lobbying efforts, as their actions throughout the year speak much louder than their words ever will.
Assembling the list is a daunting task because there are several Long Islanders who have global reach but do little for Long Island. Then there are big fish in our curiously small and incestuous pond who impact our lives on a daily basis. We strive to find a balance between billionaires and advocates, religious leaders and educators. All together, the list represents a broad cross section of passionate and hard-working “Type A” individuals who are relentless in their pursuits—whatever they may be.
The only firm guideline we have in choosing our Power Listers is that they live here. After that, the process is clearly subjective and there is always furious debate over who should be considered, and even more heated discussion about who makes the final cut. It’s more difficult than you might imagine. Several personal contacts and friends are cast aside for people we barely know. Further soul searching is done about perennial Power Listers who did great things but whose accomplishments were simply overshadowed this particular year by people who may be one-timers on the list. While we would love to include everyone who makes a difference, at the end of the day there are only 50 spots for 2.7 million of us.
The gauntlet we throw down to every Power List member is to view this honor as a challenge to continue the work they started, and not to see this as some sort of congratulatory culmination of career accomplishments. Because this is an annual list, it is a living, breathing and ever-changing ranking that could look very different in just a week from now. But for today, here they are. Warts and all.
Anyway, I’m off to see if James Dolan will take my call. Surely he must be looking to add a weekly newspaper to his collection of media companies…