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Tony Fernandes and Arianna Huffington Amongst 100 Most Creative People In Business

2nd June 2011

Entrepreneur Tony Fernandes; media mogul Arianna Huffington; facebook genius Chris Cox and happiness expert Tony Hsieh, are some of the top names on a list of the 100 Most Creative People In Business, compiled by industry magazine Fast Company.

Tony Fernandes's businesses have a simple mission - to serve the underserved. Since 2001, the Malaysian entrepreneur's budget airline AirAsia has flown more than 100 million passengers, many of whom couldn't afford the continent's legacy carriers, to far flung destinations. Fernandes is using AirAsia's web traffic to jump-start a fleet of follow-ups: Tune Hotels ("Five-star beds at one-star prices"), Tune Talk (cell phones), Tune Money (insurance, prepaid Visa cards), and Tune Tone (movies and music).

Arianna Huffington claims she is most inspired in her sleep. "There are many, many great ideas locked inside of us," she says. "We just need to close our eyes to see them." So there are three nap rooms in the offices of the Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington is in charge of everything editorial, including nearly 1,300 staffers who write and report (and snooze) for AOL's sites. One of those resources is, of course, Huffington herself, and her network of A-listers, from Twitter cofounder Biz Stone,  to Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

Self-confessed maths geek Chris Cox learned to program computers early and loved science fiction: "Yeah, I was that kid," Cox offers as explanation of how all roads inevitably led to his role as Facebook's product chief and keeper-creator of the social network's culture of relentless innovation. But it was his early studies of jazz piano and the attendant dives into theory, patterns, and abstraction that helped Cox see the world through the lens of cognitive mystery, not merely as an engineering challenge. "Math and music try to solve some of the same problems," he says. "I wanted to learn more about how it all worked in the brain."

When Facebook came calling, Cox initially declined. "I didn't think they were working on solving a serious problem." But after a series of meetings, a picture emerged in his mind. "I could see an unencumbered ability for people to communicate with each other," he says. "I saw it as a map - a modern form of cartography, but of relationships and people."

Tony Hsieh calls happiness a business model, and his book, Delivering Happiness, is a best seller. "There's power that comes from matching corporate values with personal values," says the Zappos CEO, whose fun, fresh employee culture helped turn the shoe commerce site into a billion-dollar brand. Hsieh has launched a motivational consultancy, also called Delivering Happiness, that will advise on company culture, as well as offer packaged experiences, such as pottery classes and helicopter lessons.

Others on the list include Oprah Winfrey, singer/songwriter Bruno Mars and writer Tina Fey.

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