The Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ Hustle

Some say the accolade is ‘better than Harvard.’ Others say the spectacle around it makes them want to ‘throw up.’ How a 102-year-old magazine publisher created a frenzy among millennials eager to make its annual list.

Illustration by Danielle Davis
Illustration by Danielle Davis
Sept. 25, 2019 7:00 AM PDT

Han Jin was in a panic. It was 2017 and the 29-year-old tech entrepreneur was saying goodbye to the final months of his third decade—and with them his dream of ever being selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.  

In the days before online nominations for the list closed, Jin and the co-founders of his company—a virtual reality camera maker called Lucid—quizzed past honorees for tips on how to make the list. He begged as many as 30 people, including family members, to nominate him. The process was such a singular obsession that Jin made the phrase “Forbes 30 Under 30” the password for various online accounts around the office (he has since changed them).