Thought leadership. Has it really been defined? How do you know if it’s successful? Here’s my definition, for what it’s worth:
Thought leaders lead others to take appropriate actions that put those thoughts into action. How? By thinking differently and making sense. I look for people who inspire me to think differently and change the way I frame a problem because the most important step in solving a creative problem is to frame the problem correctly. When a client, colleague or, dare I say even life itself, presents me with a knotted mess of a problem, considering the problem in a new way usually leads to a better solution. At least it makes it more interesting and fun to approach.
There are the obvious people who remind me to consider the not-so-obvious– the Malcolm Gladwells and Edward De Bonos of the world. But more immediately, there’s Rory Sutherland at Ogilvy, where I happen to work these days. Every single conversation with Rory seems to run overtime and pull in seemingly random tangential conversation threads that always seem to come together in a cohesive conclusion at the end. Without such stimulation, life gets awfully boring. Here’s a recent talk he gave at TED. An unabashed free market capitalist and advertising evangelist captivating an audience like that is worth watching. Enjoy.