Community//

5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry, With Rick Cottrell

Becoming a thought leader helps the CEO and his/her company expand its center of influence. The firm becomes more well-known as an innovator, a business others should follow. It provides the thought leader with greater opportunities to be quoted in key publications, trade journals and on TV if applicable. It creates a platform for the […]

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!

Becoming a thought leader helps the CEO and his/her company expand its center of influence. The firm becomes more well-known as an innovator, a business others should follow. It provides the thought leader with greater opportunities to be quoted in key publications, trade journals and on TV if applicable. It creates a platform for the CEO to gain special appearances and media opportunities to launch new products and services. Other CEOs are more likely to form a relationship or partnership with a firm seen as a leader in its industry. The CEO can gain a high-level persona that can elevate the company’s stock price and attract more and better recruits to the firm.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Cottrell. Rick Cottrell, CEO of BizResults.com uses his significant entrepreneurial experience and extensive research about the science of business to help entrepreneurial business owners and their leadership teams “supercharge” their businesses. He helps them break through the ceiling and get to the next level. He is the developer of the original SalesForce.com, and has spoken and presented, internationally, on numerous topics related to business acceleration and growth. He has experience in numerous industries including manufacturing, automotive, e-commerce, hospitality, aerospace, construction, logistics, retail, printing, financial services, and more. Rick is an Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) Implementer whose firm delivers proven systems with simple, practical tools to help companies become more profitable, scalable and create more value.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

I created the original Salesforce.com. I have developed platforms for many startups and companies to succeed. I have owned multi-million dollar businesses and have successfully sold several. I am also recognized as one of the top authorities in business performance modeling and analytics.

I have been highlighted in the Wall Street Journal, HBR and CEO for my work in the Customer Experience/CX space

I have also spoken and presented, internationally, on numerous topics related to business acceleration and growth

Finally I have many years of experience in numerous industries including manufacturing, automotive, e-commerce, hospitality, aerospace, construction, logistics, retail, printing, financial services, and more.

Currently I am passionate about building a company that uses innovation coupled with proven business systems, disciplines and tools to help Entrepreneurial Business Owners and their Leadership Teams optimize their performance and maximize their potential. One of those systems is the entrepreneurial operating system or EOS, currently helping over 6,000 companies to reach the next level.

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

Back in the early 1990’s, I was helping companies develop their customer contact handling/complaint procedures. I realized that nobody was doing a great job keeping their customers satisfied. As part of a pioneering research project that measured the effects of a regular communication strategy between company and customer, we realized that an ROI can be developed when you keep customers happy and communicate with them on a regular basis. It sounds obvious, but, nobody was doing it. It is amazing to me that an industry was created out of that research.

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?

Lesson learned — employees make up 85% of a company’s issues. With employees, I have made thousands of mistakes. One day I jokingly told one of my managers to put a list together of excuses employees had for missing work. I was just joking, but, she put it together. The funniest one was an employee that missed 3 separate days in a two week period because they had Chinese food and contracted food poisoning (3 separate days at the same restaurant). You can’t make this stuff up.

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?

A thought leader is on the leading edge of his/her industry. They are looked upon as an authority on their business segment or business practices in general. A thought leader is often quoted in publications and related articles regarding new products and services that impact their industry. This differs from a typical leader who may have influence over their own company wherein a thought leader has influence over an entire industry. Thought Leaders are forward looking thinkers able to analyze current economic trends and develop an innovative plan for the future, not only for their own company but what they envision for the industry as a whole. Thought Leaders are also different than influencers in that they actually practice what they preach and instill many of their business practices into their own companies. An influencer may be known for one thing or another but often lacks the depth and knowledge to accurately forecast future trends in their industry.

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?

There are many reasons why it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into thought leadership. First it elevates the brand of the CEO and their company. It establishes the CEO as a center of influence in his/her industry, one held in high esteem. It builds awareness and momentum for the company casting the business leader in a special light that can have a very positive impact on sales and revenue and attract new business opportunities. A highly thought-of CEO can have a positive impact on the company’s stock price. It also helps with recruiting as a highly sought after thought leader attracts a higher level of job applicants who wish to work with a forward thinking company, on the leading edge of its industry.

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?

Becoming a thought leader helps the CEO and his/her company expand its center of influence. The firm becomes more well-known as an innovator, a business others should follow. It provides the thought leader with greater opportunities to be quoted in key publications, trade journals and on TV if applicable. It creates a platform for the CEO to gain special appearances and media opportunities to launch new products and services. Other CEOs are more likely to form a relationship or partnership with a firm seen as a leader in its industry. The CEO can gain a high-level persona that can elevate the company’s stock price and attract more and better recruits to the firm.

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.

Number one is to make sure your own company is firing on all cylinders. If you are going to create a persona as a thought leader you need to have your own house in order. This includes optimizing your employees, sales and business operations for strategic and steady growth. It is difficult to sell the thought leader idea if your company is not profitable or leaking water internally. In my world the use of EOS integrated all of the moving parts of our businesses accelerating our success.

Two is to analyze your strengths and weaknesses. Some CEOs are good speakers and have the knack to make a highly positive impression. Some do not. It is important to focus on what you are good at and amplify those opportunities, whether it’s writing, speaking or media interviews. You can also seek out training to help overcome any weakness you may have so you are able to take advantage of any opportunity that may come your way. I learned that taking speaking lessons, getting in front of anyone and adding humor helped develop my skills.

Third is to publish content on a regular basis. This can be thought leadership articles or blogs or even videos. Also play an active role on social media. The objective is to establish awareness by being consistent and developing content in line with your objectives. Being a visionary (EOS terminology) let me know that I needed someone to take a concept and flesh it out. There are many resources out to help someone develop appropriate content, you just have to ask for help.

Four is to write a book. Many thought leaders have written at least one book, some many more. It is easier to develop a persona as a thought leader with the words “the author of…” every time your name is mentioned. Ideally finding a publisher works best. A self-published book can also serve this purpose.

Five is to make yourself more available by appearing at various events and making connections with other key leaders in your industry. This enables you to make new connections, setup a coffee or lunch to pick the brain of other thought leaders and see what they are doing to reach their objective, and can also put you on equal or elevated ground with important contacts to assist with your own thought leadership program.

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.

Elon Musk who created Tesla. Musk is not without flaws but has developed a persona as a leader in electric cars, transportation for the future, energy conservation, and now space exploration, even colonizing Mars. He is a good quote and interview. Tesla has become a media darling drawing a premium price in the stock market well ahead of projected earnings. Musk has 27 million followers on Twitter. Some lessons to be learned are to develop your own personal style, learn to give interviews that can be fun as well as informational, don’t be afraid to comment on something that can be a little controversial, and back your actions with actual products, services and ideas people in your industry can easily relate with.

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

I don’t believe it is overused. Thought Leadership is actually a segment of branding or public relations to help elevate the brand of the CEO and his/her company. When people become known as “thought leaders” they help themselves and their firms reach higher levels of awareness and acceptance. In all it can create multiple business opportunities for both the business leader and their company.

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

In order to thrive and avoid burnout, leaders should work on what is important to them first and push less important items and distractions to the side or delegate them. Establish a goal of what is important to you and then setup a program for work/life balance. Key must finish projects should take priority. Minor less important meetings and other items can be put off or scheduled for times when a leader is not in a time crunch. This can help avoid bringing home needless stress from the office which can negatively impact your family and children. A work/life balance plan will also provide you with the time you need to refresh and participate in personal activities whether it be running, yoga, boating, traveling, fishing, martial arts, reading or other activity.

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 am finding that entrepreneurial leaders and their leadership teams, for the most part, are not developing themselves personally or professionally and that is a real shame. I ask a simple question at events where I speak and with the leadership teams of my clients — when was the last time you listened to or read something that improved you professionally or personally this week? Not many hands go up and it frustrates me. There are so many learnings out there that are just a “click” away that will improve your situation either personally and/or professionally — people just don’t get it. I have started forcing the issue with my clients and am seeing some movement, but, this is a major area of opportunity for businesses today.

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

I have a few, but, Jim Rohn’s quote “Everyone must choose one of two pains: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”

To me it means that you are on earth for a short time, it is critically important to be “in the moment” always. Always laser focused on achieving your goals, no matter how impossible they may seem. Giving up is not an option.

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. 🙂

I would like to sit down with Warren Buffett for breakfast to be able to listen and soak up his perspectives and philosophies on life and business. That would be a special day for me.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rickcottrell/

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//

“Stay focused.” With Charlie Katz & Rick Cottrell

by Charlie Katz
Community//

“5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry” With Ann Noder

by Yitzi Weiner
Community//

“5 Things You Should Do To Become a Thought Leader In Your Industry” With Waylon Ian Chin

by Yitzi Weiner

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.