This year’s class of achievers have many varied accomplishments, but they all share one trait: They are smart forward-thinkers who will be driving the business for years to come.

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Rana el Kaliouby, Chief Science Officer, Affectiva

Rana el Kaliouby is revolutionizing marketing. Her facial-recognition technology helps computers analyze how people feel about ads and political speeches. The former MIT researcher, who originally developed the concept to help autistic children better communicate, has collected more than 7 billion emotional reactions from more than 2.5 million faces in 75 countries. “Emotionally engaged customers are good for business: Emotions are memory markers, and it is these emotions that influence consumer behavior such as sharing behavior, brand loyalty and purchase decisions,” said the Cairo native.

Q. Do you speak another language?

A. Arabic

Q. What app could you not live without?

A. Evernote! I am an obsessive-compulsive note taker.

Q. If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be…

A. Malcolm Gladwell. I am a huge fan of all his books. “Blink” has inspired many ideas in my research around mind-reading and how we infer emotions and mental states from nonverbal cues—in a blink! Outlier is another favorite of mine as I am a big believer of the 10,000 hours of practice rule (and use that with my two kids ALL THE TIME!). Would be fun to meet him in person.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

A. “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” This is a Chinese proverb that I came across a while ago and it really resonated with me. Entrepreneurs often run into a lot of naysayers—”oh that won’t work”, “you’ll never get funding”, “oh someone’s already done this!”—and it’s key not to be deterred.

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