Community//

“5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry” With Billy Goldberg, President of The Buckeye Group

Spreading good ideas is not just good for the community, it is good business.The more you give, the more you are likely to receive. Additionally, the perception is created that you have something of value to give beyond what you are giving away. “Hey, this person has this wisdom that they are willing to dole […]

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!

Spreading good ideas is not just good for the community, it is good business.The more you give, the more you are likely to receive. Additionally, the perception is created that you have something of value to give beyond what you are giving away. “Hey, this person has this wisdom that they are willing to dole out for free. I wonder what beyond this useful nugget that they charge for that I might benefit from.” The truth is, even if you have boiled something down into something digestible for the reader, it is much more difficult to put it into practice. As a result, the giver of the advice is understood to have expertise in living that advise and can share that mastery further.


I had the pleasure to interview Billy Goldberg. Leading The Buckeye Group the last 10 years, Billy has had one mission: helping companies create new revenue streams through meaningful strategic partnerships. This combination of outside perspective, industry knowledge, and deep networks has enabled him to create opportunities that set a clear course for growth. Establishing partnerships for new product-creation, licensing and sponsorship has allowed for fluency in a variety of deal types and structures, across a wide reach of industry. A results-driven advisor, Billy brings imagination and drive, envisioning and delivering relationships that spark growth and create enduring value. Billy is known for finding “white space” — a company’s unrealized areas of opportunity and growth — connecting the right partners and creating the optimal conditions for conversation. At The Buckeye Group, he has generated more than $50 million in new revenue for clients such as The Miss America Organization and DirecTV. Both as an advisor and wing-COO, he is a trusted resource for entrepreneurs and growing companies who need goal-specific support in the C Suite. Billy also works with world-class/fortune 500 companies designing programming, delivering leadership and management programs, creating productive, real world offerings for off-site meetings and retreats, and facilitating meetings. Prior to founding The Buckeye Group, Billy was a TV agent at the William Morris Agency, VP and President’s Club Member at Bank of America, sales manager at highschoolsports.net who grew revenue by 400%, and account executive for the Tennis Channel. In each role, he delivered clients and managed relationships with companies including Nike, Gatorade, Universal Pictures, The US Army National Guard, Lexus, Land Rover, Paramount Pictures, Acura, Franklin Templeton, Uber and eHarmony. Billy studied international business in London, received his bachelor of science in business administration from The Ohio State University and has a Financial Analytics certificate from Babson College. Billy is an angel investor and served as Co-chairman of Melissa’s House. He has written for HuffPost, performed stand-up at the Improv in Hollywood, and speaks at universities about business and leadership.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Billy! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I grew up in Columbus, OH and went to Ohio State and studied business. With the exceptions of summers away and a semester in London, that was what I knew. 27 years ago I came to California on vacation — saw two dolphins peaking their heads out of the water in Malibu, flew home and loaded the car and drove to Los Angeles four weeks later. If I had thought about it, I never would’ve done it.

Shortly after arriving, I became an agent at the William Morris Agency. I enjoyed being around smart, creative people but culturally it was not a fit and after five years, I left. I had stints in banking, sports media and digital media after that and ten years ago I started The Buckeye Group that combined my backgrounds and it has been non-stop helping clients and high-performers get results and service their relationships better than they thought was possible.

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

Over the past twenty-seven years, I have done deals of all shapes and sizes for companies in a variety of industries and not once did I think I was dealing with a company, organization or entity. I was dealing with people. As a result, I have interacted with many different types of people and have seen what it takes to create a life that you want.

The keys:

• Building Rapport

• Finding out what Matters to Each Party

• Creating Individual Solutions to Achieve Results

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

A media company I was working for was acquired by a major news publication. I wasn’t interested in selling media for that publication so I left. Five months later a big deal that I closed was mentioned IN that publication.

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?

I was asked what kind of license fee our client received for a particular type of deal. It was the first time I had interacted with anyone in person for this client and was not expecting the negotiation to happen in the room. I threw out a number and the three other executives at the table almost fell out of their chairs. They said they had never heard a number so high for something like this. We settled at a number half of what I suggested, then I called my client to confirm they were ok closing the deal at that rate. It turned out to be 25% higher than anything they had received for a fee like that in the past.

Unless you are doing surgery, there is no such thing as a mistake. It is all in how you react to things. Being fearless and exemplifying courage in the face of ignorance. Don’t overthink. Success is a mindset. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for more.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. 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?

Thought leaders impact mindsets. Traditional leaders impact actions.

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?

Spreading good ideas is not just good for the community, it is good business.The more you give, the more you are likely to receive. Additionally, the perception is created that you have something of value to give beyond what you are giving away. “Hey, this person has this wisdom that they are willing to dole out for free. I wonder what beyond this useful nugget that they charge for that I might benefit from.” The truth is, even if you have boiled something down into something digestible for the reader, it is much more difficult to put it into practice. As a result, the giver of the advice is understood to have expertise in living that advise and can share that mastery further.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

As previously mentioned, I was fearless in presenting a high number in a sale. The result was achieving 25% higher than anything my client had received for a fee like that in the past. Lead with confidence and high intentions for yourself and for others.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. 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.

  1. Speak from your heart. Use your head to refine the topic, but don’t guard against what is first released.
  2. Know your lane. You may not want to talk about managing diabetes if you are a successful ice cream entrepreneur.
  3. Remember that vulnerability is a strength. Let people in.
  4. There is an art to expressing yourself. Do not force something to be “blue” because today is the day you are supposed to be “blue.”
  5. Smile — Everything is better when you smile.

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.

Richard Branson — his ability to grow businesses and put the right team in place so that he can build something else is incredibly impressive. He couldn’t do any of it if he didn’t participate in activities that feed his soul. He is often sharing fun he is having or good that he is doing. This fuels his ability to be a builder of businesses.

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

Anything can be interpreted. It’s how you want to interpret them. Call yourself whatever you are comfortable calling yourself and don’t look back.

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

Be mindful. There is no prize for the busiest.

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. 🙂

Education is the key. Every person — child and adult — deserves to have their world opened up by learning. Whether it’s learning a new skill, concept, or being introduced to a life-changing book, I’m determined to discover unique and out-of-the-box ways to offer high access to education.

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

I am happy to share this quote from Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography — it is long, but a very impactful one for me. It reminds us that chemistry, alchemy, timing and vibrations conspire to create magic. All it takes is belief in such a thing then you create the space/environment/team/culture to allow the magic to present itself.

“The primary math of the real world is one and one equals two. The layman (as, often, do I) swings that every day. He goes to the job, does his work, pays his bills and comes home. One plus one equals two. It keeps the world spinning. But artists, musicians, con men, poets, mystics and such are paid to turn that math on its head, to rub two sticks together and bring forth fire. Everybody performs this alchemy somewhere in their life, but it’s hard to hold on to and easy to forget. People don’t come to rock shows to learn something. They come to be reminded of something they already know and feel deep down in their gut. That when the world is at its best, when we are at our best, when life feels fullest, one and one equals three. It’s the essential equation of love, art, rock ’n’ roll and rock ’n’ roll bands. It’s the reason the universe will never be fully comprehensible, love will continue to be ecstatic, confounding, and true rock ’n’ roll will never die.”

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. 🙂

Bruce Springsteen — The believer in magic and the magic that people create when they come together for a common cause united in alchemy.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@billygoldberg on Instagram and Twitter

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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//

“Protect The Family” 5 Leadership Lessons With Billy Polson, Founder of DIAKADI

by Terry Kushner
Community//

Rube Goldberg Granddaughter Fashion Designer Jennifer George: “How we can use the zeitgeist of Rube Goldberg to engage more young people in STEM”

by Penny Bauder, Founder of Green Kid Crafts

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.