Although I helped come up with the idea for the TIME 100 (along with the slightly less popular Get 100 Famous People to Draw Turkey Hands for Thanksgiving), the editors of this magazine have never let me sit in on one single TIME 100 meeting, ever. This is likely due to a deep-seated prejudice against having someone interrupt every debate over a world leader’s relative influence with “Let’s ask him for a turkey hand!”
So I’ve moved on to a more important task: guessing next year’s TIME 100. TIME, after all, can use its global reporting team and well-connected, handsome essayists to find the influencers bubbling toward the top for next year.
At first, trying to guess the 2018 TIME 100 was hard, since not only has 2018 not happened, but I haven’t been paying much attention to 2017. I started my list (which you can read at time.com/Joel2018) by jotting down the obvious, like Anthony Weiner, who is definitely not done messing stuff up with selfies of his private parts. Also, Bernd Lembcke, the managing director of Mar-a-Lago, who will decide which diners get to see secret intelligence reports, some of which involve the whereabouts of the vowels in his name. Jared Kushner is on the list because he will be the richest person in the world, depending on the exchange rate of the ruble. I included Tim Ferriss because once the idea of being on the TIME 100 is in his head, I know he will do anything to accomplish this goal–as long as it doesn’t take more than four hours a week.
The Leaders section was even easier, since it’s always the same: the Pope, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Narendra Modi. The President of the United States is on the list without fail, so for 2018 I wrote Mike Pence. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon got on, since putting the final nail in the coffin of the British Empire has got to be influential. I put down King Charles of England because that’s got to happen eventually, right? Majority whip Steve Scalise will also be influential in 2018, since it will be the year he finds out there’s a calculator function on his smartphone that he can use to count votes.
The first person I put down under Icons was Frederick Douglass, because he is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice. Also on the list are Beyoncé’s twins, who–based on a formula that takes Suri Cruise, multiplies her by two and squares it by Beyoncé–will be the most covered celebrities on earth.
For Titans, I included Vivek Sankaran, the president of Frito-Lay, since California voted to legalize marijuana. The list almost always has one or two chefs on it. This is because TIME editors travel and need reservations, so I chose the wildly innovative, brilliant chef Massimo Bottura and the wildly innovative, brilliant chef Daniel Humm, since I travel and need reservations.
In the Artists section, I threw on Yue Minjun, since Chinese art is not only a thing, but the kind of thing TIME editors can’t resist saying they know about. Also Michael Chabon, since TIME editors think people still read novels.
The Pioneers section is by far the hardest, since it includes people who actually do things. I did a search for Harvard scientists and had to scroll through, like, 11 professors until I got to someone who had never been in the TIME 100 and wasn’t dead. Which is how I came up with Melissa Franklin, who better figure out something new about the quark in the next 12 months.
So use my 100 picks for 2018’s influencers to argue with your friends or as a guest list to a swanky party with major corporate sponsors. Only if you do, please invite me. Not everyone does. I promise not to talk about turkey hands this time.
This appears in the May 01, 2017 issue of TIME.