Being ranked right behind Google’s Larry Page and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is a position any 37-year-old new mom would envy. For Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, it’s just the latest bit of remarkable news in a truly remarkable year.

The former Google exec is number three on Fortune magazine’s just-released “40 Under 40” hit list. For the accompanying sidebar profile, reporter Patricia Sellers talked to dozens of friends, colleagues and acquaintances about Yahoo’s fourth chief executive in five years (and youngest leader of any Fortune 500 company):

“When Marissa became captain of the pompom squad, she wasn’t in with that clique of girls, but she won them over in three ways,” recalls Abigail Garvey Wilson, Mayer’s best friend from childhood. “First, sheer talent. Marissa could choreograph a great routine. Second, hard work. She scheduled practices lasting hours to make sure everyone was synchronized. And third, fairness. With Marissa in charge, the best dancers made the team.”

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