Our pick of 20 young go-getters to keep your eye on this year. They’re under 35 and making big professional strides.
One of the best ways to make strides in your career is by watching others succeed, by making note of how they do it.
That’s why we’ve selected 20 young professionals to keep your eye on this year, go-getters under 35 who are pushing the envelope and influencing their industry — and sometimes even the world.
You may recognize a few of these names, but we made an effort to feature Millennials who aren’t regulars on watch lists, folks who are up-and-coming. Some are entrepreneurs, while others work for public companies, government or non-profits, often holding positions that are more senior than you’d expect for someone their age.
Many — but not all — have a strong personal brand. Most importantly, for each of the young people we’ve chosen, their best work is still ahead of them.
For future Brazen watch lists, we may implement a nomination process, but this list was compiled by us, the Brazen Life editors, incorporating suggestions from the Brazen community via our blog, Facebook and Twitter.
Of course, lots of young professionals are rockin’ it in one way or another, and it’s impossible to spotlight them all. But here’s our take on who will be influential in the coming year and beyond.
In random order, our picks for brazen young professionals to watch in 2012:
1. : As the director of editorial and outreach at JESS3, the company that makes awesome infographics for Google and Facebook, Owens represents a new breed of content marketer/journalist. And with , we think some of his most dynamic strategies are yet to come.
2. : A recent Harvard graduate, Yifan founded a mobile app that motivates you to work out; it launches nationally on Jan. 1. Yifan also founded , a nonprofit fashion organization.
3. : Instrumental in The Huffington Post’s social media efforts, Kanalley recently left that position to become ’ social media editor. Since NBC owns the rights to broadcast the London games, we’re betting he’ll bring that same energy to the 2012 Olympics.
4. : After shocking the publishing world with her , Amanda, who writes young-adult books, landed a multiple-book, multimillion-dollar deal with St. Martin’s Press. Her first traditionally published books will be released in 2012.
5. : He’s host and co-founder of , an audio show that features interviews with successful bloggers. The show recently landed its first partnership, so we’re expecting it to continue to grow next year.
6. : Life coach and former Google employee, Jenny Blake recently released her Make Sh*t Happen Course. A master of , she’s now throwing herself into solopreneurship.
7. : Though he’s been blogging for less than a year, this writer has already made a splash in the blogging-about-writing niche. He recently landed a for a book about finding your purpose, which is slated to come out in 2012.
8. : This Sawhorse Media VP oversees , which tracks journalists on Twitter. He’s also a staff writer for the social TV blog . We’re psyched to look on as he grows the , an Oscars for social media.
9. : Founder of She Takes on the World, a blog for career-minded and entrepreneurial women, Natalie is also the co-founder of digital media firm . She recently won an Emmy for her online , and plans to produce another digital movie in 2012.
10. : The pressure will be on Obama’s speechwriter this year as the president comes up for re-election. Wonder if he’ll pull out anything great like ?
11. : After serving a combat tour in Iraq, Alex of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs through his blog; now he as a new media specialist.
12. : This self-described accidental entrepreneur, who organizes unique, intended to help you meet new people (you’re encouraged to go solo), is rolling out more underground supper clubs and “fear experiments” in Chicago in 2012.
13. : A political strategist who works for North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor, Derwin helps social-sector institutions navigate the intersection of policy, press and advocacy. Next year could be big for him, as he’s gearing up for a possible senior management campaign role or a move to the national policy level.
14. : This author worked in policy-making at the State Department before becoming director of Google Ideas, a think/do tank. After asking because of its role in the Iranian protests, we’re eager to see what big ideas he’ll bring this year.
15. : A digital thinker, Kate’s creating a platform called , which connects brands with freelancers, including community managers. She’s also in the midst of expanding Australia-based , a what’s-happening guide to your city’s business, digital and creative communities, to various cities around the world.
16. : Founder and president of , Josh was recently named an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Next year is promising for YPFP under Josh’s leadership, and the organization expects to hit 10,000 members.
17. : The Savannah College of Art and Design master’s candidate is on a mission to revolutionize the way we carry stuff. He has exceeded his fundraising goal on , so maybe 2012 will be the year his unique hits stores.
18. : The 2003 Georgetown grad is one of the youngest COOs at finance firm Morgan Stanley. Judging from how quickly this marathon runner has made her way on the career track, the sky’s the limit.
19. : A , Chris co-founded , an online platform with a heavy Twitter component that connects both national and community volunteers. The site is in beta, so watch for improvements and growth in 2012.
20. Shama Kabani: As CEO and founder of The Marketing Zen Group, Shama leads 25 full-time virtual employees to deliver social media and digital PR services for clients. The second edition of her book about using social media marketing for business is due out in January.
To make it easy for you to follow these young professionals, we’ve created a that includes everyone with a handle.
and are co-managing editors of Brazen Life. Alexis, a journalist and social media strategist, blogs at , and Jaclyn, a journalist/media consultant, and about global health and media trends.