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Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart on Nov. 22, 2012. (© Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
  • The eccentric Serbo-Croatian inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla contributed to a wide range of inventions but also became the model of a mad scientist. (© Getty Images)
  • Steve Jobs, former chief executive officer of Apple Inc. on June 6, 2011. (© David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
  • Martha Stewart on Nov. 22, 2012. (© Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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Martha Stewart

Home and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart has turned her knack for decorating into a multibillion-dollar company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO), through the kind of hard work and merciless commitment that can build and ruin nations.

Stewart is always — always — in control. Her list of personal (not professional) employees is in the dozens, from drivers to stable hands (for her many horses) to personal assistants. Countless women have struggled in vain to maintain the kind of focus and excellence that Stewart never deviates from. Even when she was in prison after her conviction on charges of securities fraud, Stewart (because sometimes the world is just filled with delights) went by the name "M. Diddy" and, according to some reports, created and ran a baked-goods black market.

Despite (or probably because of) her all-around perfection, Stewart is a terrifying boss. According to reports posted on Gawker and elsewhere, no ink colours other than red or black may be used in her offices, every employee's desk must be entirely clear at the end of each day, and desks may not be adorned with personal items such as, you know, coffee mugs or photos of loved ones.

The terror in the air hasn't produced stellar results for investors, mind you. Her company posted a $50.7 million loss in the third quarter on revenue of $43.5 million, a 17 per cent decline from a year earlier.

Martha Stewart's world revolves around the tastes and sensibilities of Martha Stewart, and Martha Stewart alone. That's how her operation works, and that's probably why it works.

* Bing: Martha Stewart’s net worth

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