The Arland Group is excited to announce the resurgence of our blog series. We’re getting a head start on 2018 by bringing to you a little TAG flavor in an effort to be closer with our readers and to provide you with an inside track on what is happening both inside our doors and our industry.
First up is a discussion on thought leadership. What exactly is a “thought leader?” At first thought (no pun intended), we look to the people who have blazed a trail in his or her respective industry to the point where people listen. Martha Stewart could be seen as a thought leader not only in the kitchen, but she has branched out to include home décor, television and media. Oprah has expanded her Harpo brand to include print publications, talk shows and acting. When Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos speak, people listen — at least I do because these thought leaders are incredibly rich. They must be doing something right.
Forbes says that a thought leader doesn’t necessarily have to be a single person. It can also be a firm that “prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.” The key takeaway here is that when this person or entity talks, it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. The entity has gained or earned the respect of its peers.
The second part of Forbes’ definition is that the thought leader profits from being a thought leader in and of itself. After all, these people or businesses don’t work for free, therefore why would they share their expertise and all they have learned for nothing? Thought leadership books, magazines, public appearances and even posts on LinkedIn all lead right back to the person’s brand. Basically, the person or company is happy to share knowledge — for a price. How did Jeff Bezos become the world’s richest person? It wasn’t by sharing his secrets or offering Amazon’s products for free.
So, can anyone who has made a buck and has something to say be a thought leader? We see the term thrown around pretty loosely these days, and while a thought leader can be any age, ethnicity, gender and come from almost any background, there needs to be some level of expertise and commitment to his or her brand. Thought Leadership Lab has simplified what it takes down to seven steps, ranging from building your influence to increasing credibility. In any event, thought leadership takes commitment, time and dedication to the respective industry in order to build trust with the masses.
We loved Forbes’ final thought on the subject: “Becoming a thought leader is about making money and making history.”