How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Marissa Mayer's unprecedented amazing trifecta

November 21, 2013: 12:16 PM ET

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and six other star powerful women make Fortune's Businessperson of the Year list.

Elon Musk, one of the greatest disruptors in tech since Steve Jobs, is Fortune's 2013 Businessperson of the Year, announced this morning. Musk is the innovator behind three major startups: Tesla Motors (TSLA), SpaceEx and SolarCity (SCTY). An audacious, tenacious triple threat. But another technology exec scores a trifecta that no one else in Fortune history ever has: Marissa Mayer is the only person ever to make the Businessperson of the Year list (No. 10), Fortune's Most Powerful Women rankings (at No. 8), and our 40 Under 40. (No. 1).Mayer

The Yahoo (YHOO) CEO rates x3 because she is the first CEO in a parade of bosses to produce a turnaround strategy that appears to be working. Since joining Yahoo from Google (GOOG) in July of 2012, the 38-year-old engineer has bought two dozen startups (including Tumblr for $1.1 billion), recast the corporate culture, and lifted Yahoo's user base to 800 million--while doubling Yahoo's stock.

Besides Mayer, six other Fortune MPW earned a place on the Businessperson of the Year list. Burberry (BURBY) chief Angela Ahrendts, who is moving to Apple (AAPL) next year, is No. 4. TJX (TJX) CEO Carol Meyrowitz ranks No. 17. Harriet Green, who saved British-based Thomas Cook (TCKGY) from the brink, is No. 23. Carolyn McCall, CEO of low-cost European airline EasyJet (ESYJD), is No. 30. DuPont (DD) CEO Ellen Kullman ranks No. 43. And self-made Chinese real-estate mogul Zhang Xin is No. 46.

Meanwhile, we had some fun ranking the 25 Most Powerful Female TV Characters--applying the Fortune MPW ranking criteria to the stars of hits like Scandal and Nashville and Mad Men. Which of Sterling Cooper's femme fatales, Peggy Olson or Joan Holloway, possesses more power? Fortune tells.

  • How Yahoo CEO Mayer fixed 1,000 problems

    Besides acquiring 24 startups and reformulating her team at the top, Marissa Mayer has done something else key to doubling Yahoo's stock price. She has fixed a load of little problems to transform the corporate culture.

    FORTUNE -- When Marissa Mayer landed at Yahoo (YHOO) as its new CEO 15 months ago, some employees told her, "There are 1,000 things you need to fix."

    "It's really overwhelming when people come up and MORE

    - Oct 22, 2013 10:33 AM ET
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  • More from Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit

    Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about ideas shared and lessons learned at last week's Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit.

    First up, tomorrow: Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer, who talked about how she's turning around Yahoo—and so far more than doubled the stock price.

    You'll find Fortune's 2013 MPW list and stories from the current issue here, MPW Summit coverage at and the video playlist of main-stage MPW Summit MORE

    - Oct 21, 2013 3:02 PM ET
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  • Yahoo CEO Mayer on "the elephant in the room"

    Here's the image that Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer put up on the screen yesterday when she talked publicly for the first time about the HR policy that brought her worldwide controversy.

    "I need to talk about the elephant in the room," Mayer said at the Great Place to Work conference in Los Angeles. In case you don't get her joke, the "WFH" on the pachyderm's back is the CEO's code MORE

    - Apr 19, 2013 5:34 PM ET
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  • While Sheryl Sandberg Leans in, Marissa Mayer lies low

    A look at Silicon Valley's two most powerful women from a journalist who has known both for nearly a decade--and offers news about Mayer's controversial HR policy and nursery at Yahoo

    Never in the history of book marketing has there been a crusade quite like Sheryl Sandberg's. Last Thursday in New York, the Facebook (FB) COO hobnobbed with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, film director George Lucas and Barbara Walters MORE

    - Mar 11, 2013 3:37 PM ET
  • Yahoo's new work policy: bold move, bad delivery

    FORTUNE -- Marissa Mayer made a global splash last summer for landing the Yahoo (YHOO) CEO job while six months pregnant.

    Then she grabbed the spotlight for starting a cultural revolution at the dozing tech giant—using perks like free smartphones and her so-called PB&J initiative to un-stick innovation.

    Today, with Mayer making the front page of the New York Times (above the fold, no less) for her decision to require employees to MORE

    - Feb 26, 2013 3:23 PM ET
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  • Yahoo CEO Mayer's "God" and "baby is easy" quotes go viral

    "Marissa Mayer on God, Family & Yahoo" turned out to be's No. 1 story on Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn (LNKD) last week--and one of the most-read stories of 2012.

    When I sat on stage with Mayer last Tuesday at Fortune's Most Powerful Women dinner in Palo Alto--for the first interview that the Yahoo (YHOO) CEO has done since taking the job in July--I had no clue that her comments MORE

    - Dec 3, 2012 2:34 PM ET
  • Watch: Full interview with Yahoo's Marissa Mayer

    Here is Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer talking with me Tuesday evening in her first interview since she joined the troubled web giant from Google (GOOG) in July.

    At the Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in Palo Alto, California, she covered the gamut: turnaround plans, mobile strategy, acquisition outlook...and baby Macallister.


    More Most Powerful Women coverage

    - Nov 28, 2012 1:22 PM ET
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  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer talks...and sticks around

    FORTUNE -- Marissa Mayer did her first interview since becoming CEO of Yahoo (YHOO) last night. She sat down with me at the Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in Palo Alto, California.

    Here's my colleague Michal Lev-Ram's story about the interview.

    And here are two clips of my interview with Mayer:

    > >

    By the way, even though Mayer was heading home to her two-month-old baby, Macallister, and bound for Washington early this morning to meet MORE

    - Nov 28, 2012 11:42 AM ET
  • Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer talks at last

    The Yahoo chief will sit for her first interview since taking the helm.

    FORTUNE -- Where will Marissa Mayer take Yahoo? I'll be asking Yahoo's new CEO tonight, on stage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in Palo Alto.

    This will be Mayer's first interview since she moved to Yahoo (YHOO) from Google (GOOG) last July. You can watch it tomorrow right here on Postcards.

    There are lots of topics we could MORE

    - Nov 27, 2012 7:00 AM ET
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MPWomen go Global

The Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership brings rising-star women from countries around the world to the U.S. for three-week mentorships with participants of the annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit - among them Ursula Burns of Xerox, Laura Lang of Time Inc., Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, and Tory Burch.

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