Community//

“5 things you should do if you want to become a thought leader in your industry”, with Ivo Grossi

By becoming someone whom people listen to, you create a platform. That is a very valuable asset in our information-based society. The level of your thought in terms of quality and aim can shape many other thoughts, one way or another. It is a big responsibility in my view. The main benefit is the capability […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

By becoming someone whom people listen to, you create a platform. That is a very valuable asset in our information-based society. The level of your thought in terms of quality and aim can shape many other thoughts, one way or another. It is a big responsibility in my view. The main benefit is the capability to create inspirational behaviors from many actors that can shape a broader and better reality for everyone. Our success as human beings is directly correlated to how many lives we help improve. There’s nothing more worthwhile than this.


I had the pleasure to interview Ivo Grossi. Ivo the former CEO of SportsArt, has 25 years of North American and international executive experience in the fitness, health & wellness industry. He is an agent of change for the organizations he works with and believes in the triple bottom line approach to business: People, Profit and Planet. He has a B.S. in business economics from University L. Bocconi in Milan — Italy. Over the last 18 years Ivo has been studying, teaching and integrating Yoga, Meditation and Shamanism into his life work. He writes about mindfulness, leadership and conscious business on his blog at www.ivogrossi.com.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Ivo has 25 years of North American and international executive experience in the fitness, health & wellness industry. He is an agent of change for the organizations he works with and believes in the triple bottom line approach to business: People, Profit and Planet. He has a B.S. in business economics from University L. Bocconi in Milan — Italy. Over the last 19 years Ivo has been studying, teaching and integrating Yoga, Meditation and Shamanism into his life work. He writes about mindfulness, leadership and conscious business on his blog at www.ivogrossi.com.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

Well, first off, I don’t think of myself as an authority. Zen mind, beginner’s mind. My first goal as a leader is to constantly pursue a journey of personal mastery. In other words, I strive to keep my shit together so that I don’t offload it onto others “just because I can”. That is conscious leadership 101, and as basic as is, if we had more people in position of power trying to practice it, the entire human race would be exponentially better off. I believe you cannot be a thought leader without being a conscious leader. In fact, we cannot truly guide or inspire others to bring their best selves in service of a purpose-driven goal if we don’t do our own inner work first. Self-mastery is the real key to thought-leadership. Power, or influence, over people without self-mastery inevitably ends up in failure. Manipulation of reality to blind will or knowledge doesn’t last. Any short-term results eventually achieved under that predicament produce counter forces of greater effect. Nowadays we are seeing this happening all over the business, societal and political realms.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I still remember the quizzical stares I was getting from my teams when I openly started practicing yoga and meditation on business trips and at corporate events. This was over 15 years ago. Eventually that initial reaction melted away when the realization dawned on everyone that the odd stuff I was doing wasn’t making me a weaker leader — actually, quite the opposite. The excellent top and bottom line numbers generated over a streak of several years were only matched by the increase in passion, engagement and accountability from the team. Neuroscience research over the last 10 years has brought to light the positive and lasting effects of mindfulness on mind, body and emotional response.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, when I started with Technogym in North America at the end of 1999, the question I was getting from customers when I was presenting the company was “Excuse me, Techno who?”. When I left in 2013, we had established the most prominent brand in the industry. I have learned a lot in the process, especially from my mistakes.

Here a condensed version of that wisdom:

  • Customers buy the company first, then the products. Meaning that even if you have a great product but lack the infrastructure to properly support it (education, installation, service) they are not going to take the vertical leap of faith necessary to initiate the relationship. Growth goes as operations go.
  • In the fitness industry, what works in the US in terms of new products, technologies and services, works also elsewhere in the world. The opposite is not necessarily true all the time. This is something very important to keep in mind when developing new products/technologies/services for this market and the global market.
  • To create a brand, start with few, selected customers, possibly representative of each segment of the market space. Focus all your efforts in serving their specific needs, speaking the specific language of the segment and making a difference in their members’ experience. Sales will follow.
  • Make technology, service, warranties and financing an integral part of your product offering. Turn key, simple, streamlined and easy.
  • Ultimately though, if you don’t hire the right people, who are the people who share the passion for the products and solutions you want to build and bring to market, you can forget all of the above. In B2B people buy from people.

In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

Well, first off, a “thought leader” is not necessarily a scholar. He has deep knowledge of the subject matter but has gone through a transformation of that knowledge into wisdom through practice, trials and errors. He’s a doer who shares with the world what he has learned and what he keeps learning. You can be a good executive without being a thought leader. You cannot be a real thought-leader without being an excellent executive/leader. A thought leader shares freely. He likes his ideas and practices to create positive ripple effects. An influencer sets trends for a return. When the trend is over he has to ride another wave.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?

By becoming someone whom people listen to, you create a platform. That is a very valuable asset in our information-based society. The level of your thought in terms of quality and aim can shape many other thoughts, one way or another. It is a big responsibility in my view. The main benefit is the capability to create inspirational behaviors from many actors that can shape a broader and better reality for everyone. Our success as human beings is directly correlated to how many lives we help improve. There’s nothing more worthwhile than this.

Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

  • Don’t just think. Do. Try stuff out in your organization and prove it. People will listen.
  • Be fearless. Blaze your own trail. Accept being criticized for new ideas. It’s a good sign.
  • Let your work speak for itself. Don’t talk about the work. No matter how much you have achieved.
  • Talk about the lessons you’ve learned in the journey. This is what people relate to and what inspires them.
  • Be vulnerable. Vulnerability doesn’t necessarily equate with Weakness. Be clear about what you know and also clear about what you don’t know.

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

This can be a controversial pick, but I go with Elon Musk. Controversy is part of blazing a new trail. Tesla’s travails give me cause for hope. They started an automotive company from scratch, based on an overarching vision, cutting edge design and technology. They created a blue-ocean opportunity from technology available to car manufacturers since the 80s, which they didn’t act upon or decided to ignore because couldn’t see the bigger picture. Now all are following suit with new electric models. Tesla though, is the standard-bearer in the space and will remain such as they scale up production, infrastructure and a unique distribution model.

I foresee a similar dynamic happening in the fitness industry with fewer troubles for SA because of the already proven manufacturing capability tested over the last three decades.

The perseverance with which Elon shows up to his vision and stays true to it is very remarkable.

I haven’t met him in person but from what I see, it seems that his approach can benefit from some more in depth, no safety-net inner work. He surely exhibits the courage to be able to do so.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

I am in agreement with the statement that “thought leader” is overused. In the internet era many “thought-leaders” are self appointed, which presets a whole set of pros and cons. In my opinion, we have to have many more thought-leaders that are know-well in their communities vs. thought-leaders who are well known by a multitude of people.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

Meditate.

Mindfulness is trending up in the Swiss Alps of Davos at the World Economic Forum. Harvard Business Review backs the hype with hard science in the recently published article, “Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain.”

Still, in the largest majority of C-suites, the “tough-it-out” mainstream credo frowns upon yoga as “woo-woo” and reduces mindfulness to a “palliative” for stress-reduction. So, the paradox is that while the US Marine Corps is employing meditation and yoga to make its troops even tougher, the largest majority of business leaders still seem to fear that embracing wisdom practices would turn them and their people into a bunch of happy-go-lucky hippies. Yoga and mindfulness are not for the meek. Every day I aspire to be a living billboard for it.

I have just recently released a guided meditation called Chakra Elements, which I would recommend to any person in position of leadership to start the day with.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I envision a “future of work” where time and skills are not merely exchanged for money. In that future, employees are not exclusively self-interested agents but are connected to a higher sense of purpose in line with their personal values. Companies are created around purpose driven missions to solve problems or optimize solutions aimed to increase the wellbeing of people and planet. Resources are distributed based on a holistic definition of ROI that takes into consideration negative externalities. Profit is seen as green energy, or as a means to create more social and planetary innovations and not as an end in itself. Work becomes an avenue for people to manifest their highest selves, regardless of the specific content and/or roles they play in the organizations they form and belong to. A universal basic income is part of the social fabric.

Can you please give us your favorite” Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The winds of grace are always blowing, it is for us to raise our sails” (Ramakrishna)

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Elon Musk.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can reach me on Linkedin, Facebook or Instagram.

I write about conscious leadership on my blog at www.ivogrossi.com.

I also teach a very unique workshop called Breath Medicine Ceremony™,

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“I’d like to start a movement to re-envision the future of work” With Ivo Grossi

by Yitzi Weiner
Community//

“It’s so important to continue educating yourself, both formally and informally, and continue pushing your comfort zones ”

by Yitzi Weiner
Community//

Dr. Steven Davidowitz: “Make yourself available”

by Ben Ari

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.