2005 Audience Award at Sundance; Outkast’s Andre Benjamin; and actor Michael Ealy. AGE: 38
WARNER MUSIC GROUP Kevin Liles Executive VP
Why he’s hot: Liles is considered the highest-ranking African American in the music world. He is on the executive team at Warner Music Group (a $3.29 billion giant) and owns a percentage of the company. He presides over a collection of the world’s best-known record labels, including Atlantic and Warner Bros., as well as the group’s distribution, marketing, and music publishing companies. Liles’ path to the top of the industry started in 1991 when he accepted an unpaid internship at Def Jam Recordings. In 1994, he replaced his boss as mid-Atlantic manager, and that same year he became general manager of promotions for the West Coast. In 1996, he was promoted to general manager and vice president of promotions. He became Def Jam Music Group’s first president in 1998 at the age of 30 and helped increase revenues from less than $100 million to more than $400 million. In 2002, he became the executive vice president of Island Def Jam Music Group. “We can no longer just have big dreams, we have to work hard and have big dreams. I was able to go from intern to president in seven years of my career because I simply worked harder than anybody else and I truly believe in that theory.” Liles recently published a book with Samantha Marshall called Make it Happen: The Hip Hop Generation Guide to Success (Atria Books; $24). AGE: 37
Elliott J. Lyons, Director, Severe Service Product Center & Global Defense and Export IINTERNATIONAL TRUCK AND ENGINE CORP.
Why he’s hot: Elliott Lyons is in the business of severe service trucks. What’s a severe service truck, you ask? “They’re heavy-duty trucks like the dump trucks and water tankers sent to New Orleans to help in the hurricane recovery cleanup,” Lyons explains. A director at International Truck and Engine Corp., Lyons says his role is to “develop creative solutions to solve any kind of problem.” And he and his team have been building a long list of happy clients. Over the last three years, company revenues have increased by 225%—from $550 million to $1.4 billion. He’s especially proud of one of his latest inventions—the CXT monster pickup truck with the tagline: The ultimate truck for extreme work and extreme play. The seven-ton, 21-foot-long consumer vehicle sits on wheels almost three feet high and sells for $120,000 to $150,000. Lyons says his success “hinges on showing the company that I can add value and deliver better than anybody.” His formula for success begins with valuing and empowering his team. “I give them the latitude to do what they do best and come to me when they need my assistance,” says Lyons. “I have become a very good listener, and I challenge the status quo. I truly believe that if you do these things, you’ll be successful.” AGE: 39
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, White House Correspondent CNN
Why she’s hot: Suzanne Malveaux has been giving cable