99 Thought Leaders Share the 5 Most Important Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader

A “Thought Leader” is someone who is more than simply an expert. It is someone who is an “expert among experts” within a particular…

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A “Thought Leader” is someone who is more than simply an expert. It is someone who is an “expert among experts” within a particular industry. It is someone who people within an industry turn to for guidance, ideas and inspiration. How does one one become a thought leader within a particular industry?

I turned to more than 99 leaders from a very wide range of industries and asked them to share the “5 most important things needed to become a thought leader”. Here are the ideas that they were kind enough to share with me.

Rhonda Vetere, Chief Technology Officer, Estee Lauder

Here is My Background:

Rhonda Vetere is the Chief Technology at Estée Lauder Companies, whose role includes global leadership across 162 countries and running the technology and operations team.

At ELC, she spearheaded the transformation of the IT capabilities foundation into a digital environment at a record industry pace, without business disruption, around the world.

She is responsible for the Company’s global technology, insourcing and outsourcing infrastructure, strategy, mobility, enterprise architecture and security. During her career, she has led 21 successful global mergers, and her ability to consistently deliver global results has earned her over 12 Industry awards including Top 100 STEM, Global Top 150 for business transformation, Global 100 Industry Leaders for innovation and leadership along with Stevie awards for global business leadership. She has worked across Industry sectors from telecommunications, network, financial services, fin tech, service management, outsourcing, insourcing, insurance, retail to prestige beauty.

As a results-oriented, client-focused executive, Rhonda drives value by delivering technology that improves cost and performance to drive the right business outcomes.

She has a tremendous social following, most recently won the prestigious Gold Medal Stevie Award focused on transformation/innovation, and was named by SWAAY magazine as one of the most “”prominent female voices in tech.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1 — Be informed and ahead of the curve. It is so important to be cutting edge in a thought leadership position.

2 — The ability to communicate with folks of all background effectively — be technical, business savvy and speak at a language no matter who your audience is. Speak as though your parents can understand what you are saying.

3 — Anticipate changes in the business and work in a proactive manner, rather than a reactive if possible.

4 — Challenge others by setting the bar high and lifting everyone around them. Treat people the way they like to be treated. Share in the results. Be sure that people are rewarded for their hard work.

5 — Used informed decision making skills to better the business and assist in streamlining processes

6 — The ability to captivate and audience with your ideas.

7 — Adapt quickly.

8 — Listen and be actionable.


Emily Tisch Sussman, Campaign Director, Center for American Progress (CAP)

Here is My Background:

For more than a decade, Emily Tisch Sussman has been at the forefront of executing strategy for the progressive movement in America. She is a leading democratic political strategist, appearing regularly on FOX News, CNN, HLN, and MSNBC, and her views have been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Politico, and Bloomberg News, among other news outlets.

Emily is currently Campaign Director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP), the largest progressive think tank in Washington, DC where she leads a team to create and execute issue campaigns to impact policies at the national and state levels. Following the 2016 presidential election, Emily shaped key strategies at CAP to assist 180 progressive groups across the country resist the Trump Administration’s toxic policies. She helped put a face to the Repeal and Replace debate by gathering and sharing stories from Americans whose lives were saved by Obamacare — an effort that was instrumental in killing Republican efforts to take healthcare away from millions of Americans.

At CAP, Emily managed the confirmation of Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, partnered with the White House in 2013 to help enroll Americans in healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, and is extensively involved in the Center’s youth outreach arm, cultivating young activists through Generation Progress. She also worked to establish a Gun Violence Prevention Network.

Before joining CAP, Emily was the executive director of Young Democrats of America (YDA), leading a team that generated record-breaking youth participation in the 2012 election cycle. Prior to YDA, Emily oversaw a national campaign strategy to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)and conceived of and executed more than 100 simultaneous DADT repeal celebration events. She also founded Think Blue, a political organization for young professional Democrats and managed Voter Protection Coordination in Pennsylvania during the 2008 Obama for America campaign.

Emily is a member of the New York Bar and earned her J.D. from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she graduated with cum laude honors and specialized in constitutional and matrimonial law. Recognitions include the Cardozo Law Gates Award, the Extraordinary Contribution toward Advancing the Truman Democratic World View award, the inaugural list of “40 under 40 Emerging Leaders in Politics” by the New Leaders Council, and “40 Under 40” from Washington Life Magazine, among others. Emily is a NY Giants fan and a life-long musical theater fan and resides in Washington D.C.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Evaluate how you are a leader among your peers and lean into that.

It is easy, especially as a woman; to try and mirror other leaders you see vs uncovering your own leadership style. If you want to stand out, you first have to go inside yourself to find out what you are good at that is unique to you. Be authentic. One of my key leadership skills is my ability to synthesize overwhelming information into digestible actions. This leads to people feeling empowered vs confused when it comes to our current political landscape.

2) Do the work. Don’t just talk to inspire, make sure you are connected and doing the work.

In order to be a thought leader, you have to do the work. The work is where you begin to understand why, in my case, democrats/liberals believe what we believe. The work is where you understand how abstract policy debates translate into reality. The best way to be an authentic thought leader is to demonstrate that you are not above the actual work of making change.

3) Don’t let that fear and doubt hold you back from speaking up.

There is always something that makes you feel like you aren’t good enough, or don’t know enough. Be bold. Too many times women have experiences a mediocre straight, white man who knows less but is saying it louder. Fear and doubt aren’t reasons to remain silent.

4) Raise up the marginalized voices — especially among your peers.

Speak on what you know, but help put a spotlight on people who don’t normally get the spotlight. We have too many people who get drowned out and as a woman in the progressive movement I want to make sure all my sisters are heard. There are people doing incredible work in the world and if you are fortunate enough to have a platform you also have a responsibility to help people’s voices be amplified.

5) Be vulnerable.

This is counterintuitive, but the reality is if you want to be a respected thought leaders you have to admit when you have doubts, even in your own arguments. Any real thought leader knows that the issues that face us in business, entertainment and certainly in politics are not black and white but very nuanced. The greatest tragedy is not trying at all because we can’t admit we don’t always know the answers.


Julia Cheek, CEO & Founder, EverlyWell

Here is My Background:

Julia is the CEO and Founder of EverlyWell, the next-generation health testing platform empowering consumers to order, self-collect, and understand lab tests. Based in Austin, TX, EverlyWell has raised $5 million to date and is one of the fastest-growing consumer healthcare startups in recent history. They’ve reached millions in sales in just one year after launching in beta. The company has 17 employees and thousands of customers around the country. Julia was also named the number one female entrepreneur to watch by CIO magazine for 2017.

Prior to founding EverlyWell in 2015, Julia was the Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy at MoneyGram International, a public financial services company that operates in 200 countries. As the youngest VP in the company, she worked for MoneyGram’s CFO for several years, leading corporate transactions, restructuring projects, and special projects for the CEO.

After attending Vanderbilt, Julia started her career in management consulting at Deloitte and went on to earn her MBA from the Harvard Business School, where she graduated as a Baker Scholar with high distinction. She also is a former multiple World Champion equestrian, officially retiring in 2009. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Trust your gut and create your own opportunities. As a startup founder it is important to listen to your instincts and go with your gut when the path is unknown. It takes just as much effort to go after a game-changing opportunity as a small partnership or PR splash.

2. Go after the really big wins — and ration your availability. This will help with your own burnout and the perception of your brand and business. If you have a unique angle, capitalize on it! As a female founder, I’ve been afforded a lot of speaking opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I fit the mold. I choose to embrace those opportunities, because it’s hard enough to be a woman in tech. Let it differentiate you and your business.

3. Hold your principles. “”It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time”” — said Clayton Christensen, one of my professors from business school. To me this holds true in life and in entrepreneurship. As a founder, you set the standard for the company and the team. Your name and reputation are all you have, and while many decisions will be hard, you can always choose to do the right thing even in tough situations. When you go the extra mile or do something you didn’t have to, it often won’t be reciprocated — but it’s still worth doing!

4. You know your business better than anyone else. Listen to feedback from advisors and investors, but ultimately remember that you know your business best, and you are the one building it with your team! If you hear a consistent theme, figure out how to address it. But if you take every piece of feedback seriously, you’ll never be able to move forward. You have to have a healthy amount of confidence in your business and path forward to be able to stay focused and incorporate advice sparingly.

5. Your business is your #1 priority. I am a pretty transparent person, so when asked how I maintain a work life balance — the reality is that I don’t — and I do not have a goal to achieve that balance. At this stage, my business is a 24/7 job, and from every founder I’ve talked to, that does not get any better with time and scale — the challenges are just different!

Although I certainly believe that other early stage founders should structure their lives in whatever way makes them fulfilled and happy — I really love to work and believe that you have to commit fully to one thing to be excellent at it. So far it has paid off!


Peter Arvai, Co-Founder and CEO, Prezi

Here is My Background:

Peter has spent the last 10 years building products that help people make better decisions. As CEO and co-founder of Prezi, a fast-growing startup based in San Francisco and Budapest with over 85 million users and 300 employees worldwide. Prezi’s community is challenging the status quo of how to be understood and remembered in a world that is increasingly crowded with data but lacking insight. Prezi’s platforms are specifically designed to help improve communication and understanding between a presenter and the audience.

Peter is also very involved with establishing organizations that promote entrepreneurship and diversity in Hungary and beyond. For example, Peter is the chairman and co-founder of Bridge Budapest, an organization that has shared 5 million stories of inspiration every year. The “We Are Open” initiative, co-founded by Peter, has built a community of nearly 1000 companies that are now committed to diversity and openness in the workplace.

Peter has won numerous awards since founding the company, including European Web Entrepreneur of the Year and the Europas European Tech Startups award for Best Startup Co-Founders. He was ranked number 14 on the 2017 OUTstanding & Financial Times Leading LGBT Executives List of 100.

In his spare time, Peter enjoys prodding fellow colleagues to join him at yoga and meditation classes. Additionally, he’s the go-to cultural translator at Prezi, having lived and worked in Japan, Sweden, Hungary, Singapore and US.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

At Prezi we believe in the transformative power of great ideas. And we know that great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. So we strive to create a tool that anyone can use to share their ideas in a way that will have a lasting and meaningful impact on the world.” To be an effective thought leader, you must have:

Edge (to stand out) — a thought leader has to have something new to say which also makes them controversial (and worthy) enough to be discussed. We came into a market dominated by Microsoft, Google and Apple. They all provide presentation tools with slides and we said “slides obstruct the story and make it hard for presenter and audiences to connect dots.” Our approach was successful — Harvard researchers confirmed that Prezi’s spatial approach helps people 25% more effective in their communication compared to slides.

Grit (to stick with it) — Not all thought leaders are immediately recognized, many are disregarded at first. Many of our greatest inventions encountered strong resistance before mass adoption. Apple started working on Newton in 1993 and stuck with its vision — ultimately succeeding with the introduction of its tablet in 2010. Great thought leaders have the fortitude to keep moving forward in the face of adversity because they see the value their product can bring to society in the long run.

Inspiration (for action) — This might seem like a no-brainer, but thought leaders need to be able to inspire their team, their investors, their industry and their customers to take an action.

Cause (worth standing up for) — is the deeper motivation driving the thought leader forward. With Prezi, we’re wanting to build a movement for better visual communication, as we believe that our imagination and our ability for collaboration sets the potential for humanity. Great visual communication is essential so for us to imagine new things and better engage with our audiences. At Prezi, we often say, “We won’t put a woman on Mars, cure cancer or make peace in Syria” but working with our users, Prezi can contribute to all that. We believe that because we can see that Prezi is being used for all of these big goals!

Reading (the coming times) — ability to understand and predict the Zeitgeist is a key skill to make a thought leaders’ message relevant. As my co-founder was an architect, we built Prezi using a visual spatial metaphor. Our idea eventually became adopted by over 85 million users worldwide who have created over 325 million presentations. That trend has continued, with AR and VR the most recent technical manifestations of people wanting more spatially immersive experiences.


Dr. Joel N. Myers, Founder, President and Chairman, AccuWeather

Here is My Background:

“Dr. Joel N. Myers, Founder, Chairman and President of AccuWeather, has been recognized in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurs book as one of the greatest entrepreneurs in American history. He is a proven visionary leader, founding the company in 1962 and successfully establishing AccuWeather as the largest and fastest growing source of weather forecasts and warnings as well as a global leader in digital media and big data.

AccuWeather, with global headquarters in State College, PA, now reaches nearly 2 billion people worldwide through smart phones, tablets, wired and mobile Internet sites, radio, television, newspapers and the AccuWeather Network cable channel. Further, AccuWeather serves 245 of Fortune 500 companies as well as thousands of other businesses and government agencies worldwide. Recognized as the most accurate source of highly localized weather forecasts and warnings everywhere in the world, AccuWeather saves tens of thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars in property losses throughits well-documented record of Superior AccuracyTM.

Dr. Myers is considered the “father of modern commercial meteorology” and the nation’s most respected source on the business of meteorology, having been named “the most accurate man in weather” by The New York Times. He has published papers that have appeared in leading scientific journals, and he has made hundreds of TV and network appearances, including most recently on CNBC, FOX and CBC. Dr. Myers has been quoted in Scientific American and The Journal of Applied Meteorology, and he has also frequently appeared on national programs, such as ABC Nightly News. His comments have appeared in Time, USA Today, Inc., Businessweek and thousands of other publications.

Dr. Myers is a futurist and sought-out expert in international business and digital media. He has written and delivered hundreds of scientific papers and speeches over a range of subjects, including a recent TED Talk, and has been hailed for achievements in the U.S., China, Japan, and many other countries. He has been an invited lecturer at The New York Academy of Sciences and many scientific, leadership, and charitable organizations. He was recently appointed to the Committee for Economic Development of the Conference Board and he is a Fellow of the Nantucket Project. Dr. Myers has also been an important force on the Penn State Board of Trustees for 33 years and continues to serve as an Emeritus Trustee, demonstrating his lifelong commitment to education, and was recently awarded Penn State’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Dr. Myers donates his time and resources and is committed to giving back, including a multi-million dollar gift to Penn State for The Joel N. Myers Weather Center, a state-of-the-art teaching facility. In addition, he founded the Parents’ Resource Center located in Centre County PA, supports the American Cancer Society and many additional causes. A successful, inspiring leader, Dr. Myers continues to champion global business growth at AccuWeather while helping others.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

True thought leadership is entrepreneurism in action. Anyone can become a thought leader with a little coaching and a lot of practice. Embrace a pattern of behavior that is singular in focus and then drive, drive to succeed. Entrepreneurial thinking needs to become a way of being. It is what keeps you up at night and is always entering your thoughts, so you are always focused on achieving your goals. And never, ever take “”no”” for an answer. There is always a pathway to success. It may take extraordinary dedication, focus and motivation, but the path is there to discover.

1. Develop your own style — You have personal strengths, experiences, personality and insights. Use them. In building AccuWeather, I knew I wanted to combine my love of weather with my dreams of being an entrepreneur. People told me it could not be done, because I would be competing with a government agency with 5,000 employees that gave its forecasts away for free, but I knew they were wrong, and I drove myself to prove that I could succeed.

2. Take ownership- Take an idea and drive it to success; own it every single minute of every day. Evaluate and minimize the risks and prioritize your opportunities with planning and preparation.

3. Seize opportunity- Ideas are fast moving, and chances are, if you don’t act, someone else will, so it is not just enough to innovate and incubate creativity, it is vital to act on it too. And act quickly.

4. Be creative — Consider how something might be done differently to produce a better result. What is the angle or approach no one has thought of? Be curious and stubborn. When I started AccuWeather I faced a lot of adversity because no one believed business or the media would pay for weather forecasts because they were available for free. What I offered had to be better and more accurate and offer more information and more value. If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.

5. Decide and act — Listen to the input of others, consider what they have to say, but ultimately follow your gut. Outside advice can be useful, but it is critical to believe in your own voice. Know your business and stay focused. Great thinking has no value if it remains an idea. Above all, start now and don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit.


Heather Kernahan, President, North America, Hotwire

Here is My Background:

Heather Kernahan is a global marketing expert and business leader that has been featured in Fast Company, Fortune, Biz Women, PR Week and Ad Week. She currently serves as the President of North America at Hotwire, an award-winning global communications agency.

Kernahan joined Hotwire in 2013. In her role as President, she has been the driving force behind Hotwire’s business processes and has been part of the global leadership team — developing the current three-year strategic plan to grow the business. Kernahan has challenged the status quo for Hotwire and has allowed the firm to think farther into the future of what they want to accomplish.

Prior to Hotwire, Kernahan held senior marketing and leadership roles at Enphase Energy and Autodesk. She has focused on integrated brand communications strategies including campaign development, corporate marketing, product marketing, IPO and M&A communications strategy.

Kernahan consistently offers her knowledge and expertise to her community. She is a strategic advisor to many women run startups, such as Women’s Startup Lab and The Mother Rising, and is recognized as an expert in the field of clean-tech.

She is a sought after speaker on marketing and business leadership topics. Kernahan was recently a presenter at the Holmes Report Global PR Summit and was the keynote speaker at Tech in Motion, a workshop speaker for the Healthcare Business Women’s Association.

Kernahan received her Masters in Business Administration in Sustainable Enterprise from the Dominican University of California — taking six years to complete by taking both night and weekend classes along with having a family and full time job. Kernahan is truly an inspiration when it comes to work and life. She has banned the word balance from her vocabulary and instead focuses on ambition. She is ambitious in all of these aspects and consistently offers advice on how to achieve a healthy and productive lifestyle.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Be bold and have a POV

People look to thought leaders for a reason… because they don’t always say what everyone else is saying. Be bold. Have a POV. Get behind what you’re saying and say it with conviction. It’s okay to be a little controversial.

Understand micro-moments

Technology has turned us into headline-junkies. We’re constantly checking our phones to consume content. Crafting short, pithy and shareable statements are now an essential part of the thought leader repertoire.

Grow a supportive network

Having 500+ connections on LinkedIn means nothing if they’re not engaging with your posts. Understand your audience and develop content that your network will be interested in and share as if they’re your own team of brand ambassadors.

React in real-time

Saying something great is only great if people are around to hear it. In other words, don’t miss the window of opportunity. Whether it’s an event, a news headline, or a social trend, contribute while the topic is hot. Don’t expect to get the same response talking about something two weeks after it’s over.

Put yourself out there

A lot of professionals look at thought leaders and wonder how they got the recognition and status as industry leaders. They started behaving like a thought leader — writing, speaking, expressing their POV, entering themselves for awards, attending industry events and reaching out to others in the industry. It is scary to put yourself out there and everyone has doubt about their abilities (hello impostor syndrome!) but be scared and do it anyway.


Trisha Trixie, Sprinkler of Fabulousness

Here is My Background:

In the past I thought being a thought leader meant sharing fabulous quotes and encouraging and inspiring others to take action in their lives. As I have grown into being a thought leader it is really about inciting others by a single word, action or deed to do something in their life. I desire to inspire, encourage, uplift and leave a legacy of love. I do this by being real, raw, authentic and vulnerable. In showing of myself and my true nature I feel I have a more engaging impact on those who follow me by allowing them to see the real me and showing them that I truly have empathy for what they have been through therefore as a person of knowledge in the situation can best guide and direct them to the path or direction they may desire to go.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1-Vulnerability. Being real, raw and authentic helps others to see that I too have walked a mile in their shoes and by understanding what they have gone through, I can effectively incite change in their hearts.

2-Exposure. Be out in the open, be online, do speaking gigs, write a blog, network, have one on ones, be out there in the world. If they can’t see you, how can they follow you?

3-Stay true to the brand. First you have to have your niche, your thing, the “je ne se quois” that makes you who you are. What are you known for? How do people think of you? I am known as the Sprinkler of Fabulousness. I sprinkle fabulous wherever I go. I am also known as the Overcomer, the Reinvention Queen and a few other titles. All of them sum up to one main point. No matter what I have gone through I always find the silver lining, I excel to overcome the trial or adversity, I remain positive while still being real and vulnerable.

4-Connection. Connect with other like-minded individuals. Grok. find your tribe or create it if you must, but it is imperative and highly essential that you are influenced by other like you.

5-Dare to be different. Disrupt the status quo. Don’t just regurgitate what Tony Robbins said, say your own daring thing. Show others you think differently and show them how thinking differently can change the world. Be a unicorn. Stand out. You were not born to fit in.”


Lilia Stoyanov, CEO, Transformify

Here is My Background:

Lilia Stoyanov has an impressive background with more than 10 years in the C-Suite, including time at the European Division of Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Skrill, the second largest payment services provider in the world. Among her many accomplishments, she is also a chartered accountant in the UK, an Oxford grad, and recently won the 2017 First Women Award in the UK.

Stoyanov’s background in finance and management has led her to start two businesses: management advisory company, Service Optimizer; and remote job platform, Transformify. Stoyanov currently serves as CEO of Transformify, which describes its mission as, “Connecting awesome people with exciting jobs.” Yet the company’s core values run much deeper: diversity and financial inclusion, bridging the digital skills gap, and corporate social responsibility. Among other things, Transformify offers payment options for workers who struggle with access to the normal banking system, like refugees who cannot legally open a bank account for months or sometimes years.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Have an in-depth expertise in your field, follow the latest developments daily and connect with the top experts ( if not yet one of them).

Be one step ahead of your time. Can you predict the future trends or at least the impact of the latest developments? That’s what the audience wants to hear.

Your problem solving skills are key. If there is an industry problem, provide a solution or at least share your point of view.

Read a lot. The daily industry news, analysis, scientific research, anything and everything that’s related to your field.

Listen to your team, readers, and peers. That different perspective is extremely valuable when it comes to new concepts and ideas. “


Peter Gold

Here is My Background:

“Peter “Gold” Ezugwu was born to lead. He is an innovative pioneer dedicated in his relentless drive to teach those around him how to empower themselves to exceed their goals and dreams. A former professional athlete, Peter is more than his achievements on the court.

After more than a decade as a professional basketball player across Europe, Peter began a new journey as an entrepreneur. In the seven years since entering the business world, Peter has established himself as a successful executive, establishing and leading multiple 7-figure companies in the education, technology and real estate space. One of his first start-ups was Future Stars, which he took from launch to sale. Today, he continues to oversee the company’s success as the CEO.

At PowerVision, Peter is focused on public speaking, empowerment, leadership and coaching business leaders and entrepreneurs on how to chart their vision. He draws upon the many lessons he has learned during his transition from professional athlete to successful entrepreneur and executive, all while continuing to grow and develop himself as a leader and business person. He spends much of his time focused on taking clients through intensive PowerSessions, inspiring audiences with his motivational and dynamic keynote presentations, and driving results for his clients with his Mastermind groups.

Peter continues to make a significant impact on the global community as a powerful speaker, advocate for youth, and the underserved. Peter has his BS from Eastern Michigan University, and is fluent in five languages.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Humility — to be a thought leader you must be humble enough to give and share freely. If you are unable to be approached or always act, or worse believe that you know everything there is to know, then who will want to follow you? It is an honor to be considered a thought leader, one I am not sure I have earned yet. If someone is coming to me for advice and mentoring, I work to be welcoming and approachable. This is not to be confused with frank and honest in my opinions and feedback. Growth and advancement doesn’t come easy and I won’t sugar coat the hard work that is necessary to achieve goals.

Willingness to Listen — Before you can lead and teach others, share your thoughts and provide worthwhile advice, you must be quiet and listen. A true thought leader takes the time to understand a situation fully, listen to all sides and allow their knowledge to come from personal insight.

Ability to Apply What Your Learn — The best thought leaders are able to apply what they know from the past to the future, and continue to evolve every day with new information so that the same mistakes are not repeated.

Adaptability — As an athlete and an entrepreneur, adaptability is by and far one of the best talents I possess. Being able to see a situation, and then use past insights to adapt to new challenges is what allows me to continue to succeed.

Passion for Motivation and Teaching Others — finally, you must want to, no love to, share your knowledge with others and inspire them to continue to learn and give that passion to learn to the next generation. True leadership ignites a fire in those around you.


Heather DeSantis Public Relations

Here is My Background:

“Heather DeSantis Top Millennial To Follow In 2018/ Known For Publicity For Good and Miss Ohio International 2018. With only being 28 Heather is just getting started and is the girl behind many of the top thought leaders taking their brand from online to offline getting them on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.

Heather DeSantis is an internationally recognized PR expert who helps mission driven entrepreneurs and organizations get major exposure, impact millions, and turn that influence into business growth. After 3 years of working for a PR firm, she branched out and started The Influencer Revolution to help her clients to land dozens of high level media appearances on outlets like ABC, Fox, CBS, CNN, Adult Swim, BBC, The AP, VICE iHeart Media, Forbes, Business Insider, Forbes, Yahoo, CNBC, Marie Claire, and many more.

Heather loves being able to help people spread their message and grow their business at the same time using proven methods to land tons of media opportunities and result in raving fans and new customers. Her relationships with producers span across different industries and chances are if you want IN on a certain outlet, she knows the right person to reach out to.

In addition, Heather is currently serving as Miss Ohio International 2018.

Heather is often seen creating cause marketing campaigns that garner millions of media impressions for causes that includes Human Trafficking Awareness, Prison Reform, Alzheimer’s amongst many other important issues.

A little bit more about me….

– I have been a handler for 2 NFL Players and secured millions of media impressions for our client with top sports media outlets that include ESPN, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports

– I managed the PR for Panera Bread for 62 cafes in 4 cities managing all of their cause marketing cafes, seasonal menu changes and openings

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Be Humble And Realize That You Do Not Know It All & That Others Before You Have So Much Knowledge

2) Be In The Know With Your Industry! Set Google Alerts & Constantly Follow The News! Often Times As Entrepreneurs We Get So Focused On The Day To Day And The Online World That We Never Know What’s Going On In Our Industry. By Setting Up Google Alerts For Trending Topics It Will Help You Stay Ahead Of The Game.

3) Realize To Build A Lasting Legacy You Need To Take Your Brand From Online To Offline. Many Online Entrepreneurs Do Not Realize How Much They Are Missing Out By Not Allowing Themselves To Speak Locally, Do Local Press and Step Away From Their Computer

4) Allow Yourself To Be Different And Don’t Be Afraid Of Losing Fans & Customers! Always Follow Your Intuition And Realize That You Are Exactly Where You Need To Be

5) Realize That Rome Was Not Built In A Day! Two Female Founders That I Truly Look Up To Are Kara Goldin of Hint and Sara Blakely of SPANX And From Following Their Journey It’s Sobering And Refreshing To Realize Their Legacies Took Time And Dedication And That They Were Able To Have It All… Big Company That Impacts Millions…. Big Family and Amazing Husband. I Have Realized That All Good Things Take Time And That Each Moment And Year Of Our Life Is For A Different Focus.


Manish Chandra, Founder & CEO at Poshmark

Here is My Background:

Manish Chandra is the founder and CEO of Poshmark, driving the vision, strategy and growth for the company. Manish became an entrepreneur at a young age; everywhere he looked, he saw things he could change and improve, which sparked his drive to fix things and help people. Both of the companies he founded have had a simple focus: to change something that is hard or impossible to do, and by doing that, help millions of people achieve their goals. Manish’s background is in technology, and has applied his 20+ years experience building and scaling companies to build a new class of fashion marketplace where the deep connections between users fuels massive engagement and growth. After receiving a BTech from IIT Kanpur, an MS from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MBA from Haas School of Business, Manish held executive positions at Versant (NASDAQ: VSNT), Versata (IPO 2000, acquired by Trilogy), and Sybase (IPO 1991, acquired by SAP) before going on to found his first company, Kaboodle, which pioneered the concept of social shopping. He sold Kaboodle to Hearst in 2007, and set off to build a community-centric platform that combined a social network with a robust marketplace, where anyone could turn their unique style into a boutique. Manish was introduced to his co-founder, Tracy Sun, through their first investor, Mayfield, who knew their interests and perspectives would be complementary. They combined Tracy’s fashion experience with Manish’s product and business vision, recruited technology superstars — Poshmark’s co-founders Gautam Golwala and Chetan Pungaliya with whom Manish also worked with at Kaboodle — and launched Poshmark in 2011 from Manish’s garage. Together, they took a huge bet to build an end-to-end fashion marketplace entirely inside an easy to use mobile app with two simple guiding principles: buying and selling on Poshmark should be simple and fun. Under Manish’s leadership, the company has grown to become the largest social marketplace for fashion in the U.S.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1)Be authentic. Authentic thought leadership is the most powerful tool for your brand, your company and your audience. Be true to yourself and drive new ideas. Share your beliefs even if they run contrary to popular beliefs. 2) Have credibility. Credibility doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s about becoming knowledgeable in various areas and building confidence that will allow you to lead. Display credibility through your direct and indirect experience, and people will listen. We took a huge bet when building Poshmark as a mobile-first platform and at the time, everyone thought we were crazy. But being one of the first to do this gave us credibility in the industry, and we’re the leader in the space as a result. 3) Communicate evocatively. When communicating an idea, tell it in the form of a story that people can connect to. Whether it’s a story from your personal life or professional work, the story allows you to illustrate the idea in a way for people to visualize it. 4) Simplify. It’s difficult for complex thoughts to be conveyed. How clearly you communicate depends on how successfully you can simplify it. When we came up with the idea of Poshmark, we kept our idea simple and concise: a platform that allows for people to easily buy and sell fashion The simpler you can make it, the better one can understand your thoughts. 5) Be consistent. Your messages must be consistent with your belief system over time and connected to what is going on in the world today. When your messages are consistent over time, people are able to relate to and understand your ideas and vision. When we first introduced the idea of #PoshLove, it was received with skepticism, but through our consistent actions to lead with love, it has become one of our core values that is recognized and embraced everyday.


Grant Findlay-Shirras and Parkbench.com

Here is My Background:

Grant Findlay-Shirras built a million dollar company with no investors and is a thought leader for company culture, first time tech start up founders and running a company with your significant other. Grant was also recently 30 Under 30 for Epic Impact.

At Parkbench all new employees actually are interviewed by their employees and it’s a collective decision of who their company hires.

Parkbench.com was founded by a realtor and her fiancé when they found success with their hyper local website for their target area. They used the website as a medium to go talk to business owners to increase their sphere of influence.

As you know real estate is a local business and they already spent a lot of money building this amazing technology. They came up with the idea of giving the same platform to other realtors in North America.

Today, Parkbench.com is one of the fastest growing real estate startups in North America. We are 1000+ realtors strong.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Specialization. In order to be a thought leader, you need to specialize. You only have so much time in the day to study, practice, and teach, therefore, you must focus your energies on certain topics like: sales, real estate, digital marketing. And if the market is saturated with lots of wannabe influencers and thought leaders, then you need to go more specific like: inside sales, residential real estate, and facebook advertising.

2) Uniqueness. You need to bring some new thoughts to the table! There are so many people who just regurgitate the same stuff that has been said by others. Therefore, if you’re going to be a thought leader, you need to bring new content, which can be a completely new concept, or an adaptation on old content based on the changes in people and the world.

3) Consistency. You need to “be a thought leader” consistently. This means, whatever methods you’re using to demonstrate your expertise in an area (e.g. blogging, video, speaking, podcast), you need to do it consistently. For example, the person who write 52 blogs in 1 year is more of an expert than the person who writes 52 blogs in one month.

4) Social Proof. You need to have other people call you a thought leader! There is no such thing as a self proclaimed thought leader. Period. And you can’t pay for the acknowledgements. People must organically view your content, have an experience with you, and by their own accord, tell people that you’re an expert in.

5) Polarity. You need people who LOVE you, and you also need people who HATE you if you’re going to be a thought leader. The reason is, you can’t have a massively positive impact on people and the world, if you don’t create massive friction with some people and ideologies. And because this is true, when the haters and trolls come, it’s a great day!


Emily Lyons, CEO and founder, Femme Fatale Media Group

Here is My Background:

With humble beginnings as an entrepreneur in Toronto, Emily Lyons is now the CEO — and founder — of 4 influential companies, including the event staffing and experiential marketing agency Femme Fatale Media Group. A savvy entrepreneur who gained her business acumen by plunging into the midst of the fiercely competitive industries of cosmetics and event production, Emily is also a dedicated philanthropist committed to eradicating cystic fibrosis (which took the life of her sister in 2011).

Born in Stratford, in Ontario, Emily worked for several years as a promotional model in her very early 20s. Then, after reading Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields, she decided to go all out in pursuit of her entrepreneurial ambitions. First, she assembled a team of dependable models she had worked with, forged a modelling and event staffing firm, and began networking intensely to land her first clients. Within a few short years, Emily’s nascent agency had won prestigious accounts like Warner Bros., UFC, and GUESS.

Her agency — Femme Fatale Media Group — only continued to expand in size, profits, and capabilities. Under her leadership, it won multiple awards for its event staffing prowess — and built a talent roster consisting of over 4,000 individuals across North America.

Emily went on to build three other successful companies, including True Glue — creator and purveyor of all-organic makeup products. A thought leader in the spaces of entrepreneurship, modern marketing, and feminism, Emily has spoken at the University of Toronto and has been recognized as a Woman of Influence. She has published pieces in Huffington Post Canada and Narcity, and appeared on the popular Canadian investment show, Dragons’ Den — winning an investment for one of her companies. This young business innovator has also been featured in media like Forbes and Maxim, to name a few.

Emily is currently focused on steering all of her companies towards industry leadership, and continues to make her mark as an incisive thought leader.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

It is my view that the following 5 traits are necessary to be a compelling thought leader who creates an impact:

1. A thought leader must have a spirit of earnest inquiry and curiosity — Thought leaders are curious about their field, about the world around them, and are always asking questions — both of themselves and others.

2. A thought leader must have the capacity for carrying out meaningful research — You won’t become a thought leader if you can’t execute in-depth research about your field. This research is necessary because it exposes you to new ideas and insights — and these are the building blocks for creating a deeply original, effective, and inspiring vision.

3. A thought leader must make new discoveries and provide new ideas — Thought leadership is all about becoming a leader in the realm of new ideas and new directions — instead of piggybacking off of others.

4. A thought leader must take action — Thought leaders are those who have the boldness to not only identify new directions, but to pursue those directions — to take action on original ideas and bring them to fruition.

5. A thought leader must have the ability to engage people with new insights — A signature trait of thought leaders is their ability to move others with their viewpoints and visions, empowering those around them to take action on new ideas themselves.

Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, M.D.,

Here is My Background:

“Shoshana is a physician, philanthropist, writer and activist for End Well Project and Ungerleider Palliative Care Education Fund. She believes that ending well is a human issue, not just a medical one. All people deserve an end of life experience that matches their goals and values of how they live their lives.

As a writer and speaker, Shoshana has spoken at The Schwartz Center’s Compassion in Action Healthcare Conference, Columbia University’s Narrative Medicine Rounds and Stanford University’s School of Medicine. In addition to an Academy Award and Emmy nominated documentary film executive producer, Shoshana’s forthcoming short documentary, End Game, by Academy Award winning directors Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein was acquired by Netflix and will premiere at Sundance Film Festival. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

(1) Recognizing that doing something groundbreaking and making systemic change is always hard and there will always be resistance because many people are benefiting from the status quo.

(2) Never take ‘no’ for an answer

(3) It’s easy to get derailed. Think about your end goal often and make sure that everything you are spending time on gets you closer to meeting that end goal.

(4) Failure is good — failing fast and then moving on to the next project is the best way to learn and grow.

(5) Sometimes there is loneliness in leadership, that’s ok.


Andrew Medal, CEO & Founder, BLENDAR

Here is My Background:

Andrew Medal; ex-convict and self-made entrepreneur, angel investor, columnist for Entrepreneur, Inc. and Forbes, and Entrepreneur’s latest video show host for his series called Action & Ambition that is shared through their 14.5m monthly viewership network. He’s been featured in TIME, The Next Web, WSJ, FastCo, Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, and many other outlets.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Thought leadership has become a somewhat cliche term, and an easily “”hackable”” task through clever branding and social media.

However, true thought leaders have sustainability and can differentiate themselves from the rest of the noise.

The top 5 things needed are:

1. Real expertise. If you’re an expert share your knowledge to show your understanding of your domain.

2. Distribution. In order to be recognized for your expertise, you must have a channel to share it. Distribution is key to spreading your knowledge and validating your skills.

3. Following. Assuming you’ve done the above two, you will have a following. That following empowers you to get more credibility and recognition.

4. Continued development. Especially in tech, in order to continue your established expertise, you must constantly evolve and grow.

5. Clever branding. In order to truly stand out, assuming the above 4 points are established, there must be some unique differentiating factor. It can be anything from a slogan, to a logo, to your backstory.


Akshay Bansal, founder, Heuro — the social media of intellectuals!

Here is My Background:

“My name is Akshay Bansal, credited with an engineering and MBA degree, most of the time i research and absorb by following my curiosity and which lead me to the intellectual output which you can call thought leadership, my focus is on social media, intellectualism, universal basic income, artificial intelligence,

I am a founder of a social media platform heuro( launching soon), Heuro is designed for only intellectuals and creatives, as all the features are designed for user’s intellectual needs, and our vision is to make the world more intellectual.

Some of my ideas:

Innovation equation:

Design + marketing + invention.

Business model of today:

Impossible philosophical vision + tinkering with trends to serve the vision + always maintain the cash flow.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Follow your curiosity: curiosity is the most important characteristic of an individual, by following the curiosity the individual will never goes out of the learning path and rather than focus on the trends an individual must focus on his own curiosity to be a thought leader!

2) listen listen listen: if you have your thoughts to share to the world then you are an opinionator, but by listening to all the thoughts of other people and think over them deeply will make you a better thought leader

3) Multi source courses and literature: always focus on strengthing your knowledge and skills by various courses across the world related to your field of curiosity.

4) Always listen to your negative feedback: and always think twice for them rather than active your defensive mode.

5) See the biggest picture and have the creator’s mindset: to have the deep knowledge about the field along with execution part of it!

Yuri Kruman, CEO/Founder, MasterTheTalk.com

Here is My Background:

“Yuri Kruman is an experienced executive and management consultant for the Fortune 500 (Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Fortress Investment Group, el al.) and top VC-backed startups (Maxwell Health, Liazon) focused on delivering a transformative customer experience and personal development experience through every step of the process for corporate and executive clients.

A Forbes Coaches Council member and Forbes contributor, Yuri has been featured in Inc., Fast Co., Time, Mashable, BBC, PBS, numerous top blogs and podcasts. He is likewise an Advisory Board member at the Customer Experience (CX) Program at Rutgers Center for Innovation Education.

Yuri’s consulting, advising and coaching portfolio includes speaking engagements, workshops and advisory work on personal + professional development, plus customer experience, PR/Media and business strategy, impacting thousands of Fortune 500 and startup executives.

His expertise has landed him on numerous panels, conducting workshops and keynotes at top tech companies (The Muse, General Assembly) and universities (UPenn, Columbia, NYU) and top-rated podcasts (Entrepreneur on Fire, Conscious Millionaire,The Blind Entrepreneur and others), as well as in top publications, TV and radio.

A Fortune 500 consultant and startup exec, Yuri now trains clients on ways to maximize their customer experience and talent retention and development using storytelling, branding and proprietary personal development strategies.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ Becoming a thought leader has never been more accessible. Here are the top 5 things I’ve done to become one in a matter of months, not decades: 1) have a clear personal and professional brand. What speciality do you want to be known for? Be consistent in the way you present yourself online, whether on LinkedIN and other social media or to journalists; 2) publish your writing on your favorite subjects as often and as much as you can on Quora/Reddit, then easier-to-access platforms like Thrive Global and Lifehack.org, then top blogs with high leaderships, then move to pitching top pubs like Forbes, Inc., Fast Co., etc. 3) Be persistent and be consistent. Make writing and outreach to other influencers and thought leaders a part of your daily routine. Follow up always and follow directions carefully. 4) Use HARO daily to answer calls for specific articles in top pubs. Get into the Influencer Inc. and similar groups on FB. Find where other thought leaders and influencers interact and be active there. 5) Do things worth writing about — help others in every way you can, get your message out any way you can. And to become a successful thought leader, learn and implement lessons from the paths taken by other successful thought leaders before you.

Jane Willmott — Coach For Entrepreneurs

Here is My Background:

Jane Willmott is a successful coach for entrepreneurs, she helps them make impact while celebrating consistent 10k+ months with ease and in total flow!

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ “Number 1 has to be vision, you have to know what you stand for, you have to have a clear vision as to what it is you stand for, what are you going to be a leader in? What difference are you going to make?

2 — Don’t be afraid to just say it! You’re never going to be seen as a thought leader unless you just say what’s on your mind and be ok with people disagreeing with you, you’ve got to be ok with just saying it, with sharing what you want. At the end of the day you’ll never please everyone, so don’t try!

3 — Be you! Don’t try and be someone you’re not, don’t try and talk in a way that isn’t natural to you. You want people in your audience who totally vibe with you and essentially love your every word, but for that to happen you’ve got to be yourself it simply doesn’t work otherwise.

4 — See past the beginning! Just stick with it, the reality is you’re unlikely to wake up tomorrow morning and be seen as a thought leader straight away, you’re not going to have thousands of views at a click of a finger. But that’s where you need to see past the beginning, you need to see past where you are now and step into where you desire to be. Share your thoughts, record your videos and be the leader you desire to be even if only 1 person is watching in the beginning!

5 — The ability to question your own fears! Whether we like it or not fear has a role in our lives, sometimes a positive role but sometimes it’s a total pain. If you desire to be a thought leader you have to know that your fear is going to try and stop you, to shut you up. So you have to be able to question it, question your stories, question the words, question your excuses.

Micah Green, Founder, President, and CEO, Maidbot

Here is My Background:

“Maidbot is Micah’s dream come true.

Micah Estis Green is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Maidbot — a robotics company building Rosie — the world’s very first housekeeping robot for hotels. Rosie is a safe and cost-efficient automated solution for the hospitality industry which decreases the time to clean rooms and public spaces while reducing work-related injuries and improving the room attendant and guest experiences. Rosie also acts as an indoor mobile data platform to empower management with actionable information.

Green manages the company and product vision, sales strategy, cash flows, investor relations, and team development. Over the past decade, he has been a serial entrepreneur starting multiple businesses including two successful smartphone applications. Green strongly follows the words of Abraham Lincoln, “”the best way to predict the future is to create it.””

Outside of Maidbot, Green enjoys long boarding, windsurfing, and producing electronic music. While currently taking a leave from pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Administration — with a concentration in Entrepreneurship — at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, he is focused on enhancing guest satisfaction for hotel companies while helping them increase efficiencies. Micah is a 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient as well as one of 25 2017 Thiel Fellows — a fellowship program founded by Peter Thiel (Paypal founder) that supports young entrepreneurs who leave college to pursue their passion.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ “Being a thought leader doesn’t require grey hair or even a college degree. That said, there are several key traits and behaviors someone must do to truly be considered a thought leader:

1) Network like there’s no tomorrow — thought leaders focus on building communities around them rather than just a product or service.

2) Addicted to learning — there are no experts of the future, but thought leaders do a great job at asking tons of questions to consolidate information from their network and external sources to connect the dots — or innovate — in ways never thought possible.

3) Persistence — being a thought leader means leading the charge and hearing ‘No’ enough times to give up, but giving up is not in a thought leader’s vocabulary or option book.

4) Disobey the norm — thought leaders constantly strive to deviate from the path and question the way things are as much as possible.

5) Chief Excitement Officer — whether their title is CEO or something else, thought leaders are in charge of generating excitement around a category and act as the charismatic cheerleaders that the skeptics can turn to when they need a little more nudge to join the revolution.”

Matt Schroeder, CEO, Shelly Cove, LLC

Here is My Background:

“My name is Matt, the 22 year old founder of Shelly Cove, LLC, an apparel company that has generated 7 figures in revenue, and has donated 6 figures to various charities to help Sea Turtle conservation. I started Shelly Cove with my family wen I was in college, about 2 and a half years ago. I have the belief that businesses are way more efficient at earning money than individuals, and because of that, businesses should be inherently more charitable than individuals.

Along with owning Shelly Cove, I also graduated from Covenant college in 2017, and work as a Data forecaster at a power company. I do marketing consulting on the side, and am an investor in various Blockchain technologies”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Confidence — nobody will listen to you if you are not confident in your beliefs. That being said, your confidence needs to be backed my tangible evidence or personal experiences. If you are lying to people, the masses have a way of fleshing that out

2. Humility — nobody likes a stuck up person. Eventually, if you toot your own horn enough, people will get annoyed. There is a fine line between confidence and pride.

3. Ability to listen — when others confront you with opposing views on topics, listening can often help you learn a good deal more about said topic. Closing off and refusing to listen hurts your relationships, and your opportunity to lean

4. Drive to learn — if you have no desire to become the best, and the most knowledgeable person on a topic, then why would others look up to you as a thought leader? Show that you have the itch… others will respect that and listen because you’ve put in the work.

5. Be Helpful — being a leader comes with responsibilities. The way I’ve found that people view me as knowledgeable, is when anyone has a question, I try to answer and help them as best I can. Be the go-to guy on certain topics.

Dr. Marlene Caroselli, Author

Here is My Background:

“After earning her doctorate in education at the University of Rochester, Marlene Caroselli left the public classroom and her native New York State in 1980 and headed to the West Coast. She soon began working as a manager for Trizec Properties, Inc. and as an adjunct professor for UCLA and National University. (She has also conducted programs for Clemson University, University of Rochester, Michigan State University, and Southwest Missouri State University.) Her university work led to training contracts with the Department of Defense and with such Fortune 100 firms as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, TRW, Hughes Aircraft, and Allied-Signal.

In 1984, she founded the Center for Professional Development and began adding books to her list of professional achievements. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was chosen a main selection by Newbridge’s Executive Development book club. Since that publication, she has written sixty additional books. (See Amazon.com.) A recent book, Principled Persuasion: Influence with Integrity, Sell with Standards, was named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club. Her latest book, One-to-One for Managers, has been selected by Barnes and Noble for an on-line course.

In addition to books, Dr. Caroselli has contributed to Stephen Covey’s Executive Excellence, Lakewood’s many LPR publications, and the National Business Employment Weekly, and numerous other print and electronic publications.

She has conducted training in more than half the states in the United States and has presented programs as well in Guam, Singapore, Montreal and Sao Paolo, Brazil. Her corporate clients include Eastman Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, Mobil, Chevron, Rockwell, Hughes Aircraft and Magnavox. Numbered among the federal agencies with which she has worked are the Departments of Defense, Labor, Transportation, Agriculture, Interior, the General Services Administration, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Further, she makes presentations for organizations such as Vistage International, Delta Kappa Gamma, the Mortgage Bankers Association, The Institute for International Research, the American Society for Training and Development, Public Relations Society of America, Professional Secretaries International, and a variety of other associations.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Thought leaders, above all else, must understand the simplest and clearest definition of leadership — namely, to effect positive change. In order to do this, they, ideally, are open to the ways to positively change the thoughts of others.

Those ways include:

1) Asking questions. To quote Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management Science: “”Leaders know how to ask questions….the right questions.””

2) Building bridges. Thought leaders understand the need to synthesize the difference between opposing thoughts, opposing interests, et cetera.

3) Understanding the big picture. Our government’s Office of Personnel Management lists as its top qualification for Senior Executive Service, the possession of “”external vision.”” To quote a well-respected CEO, Jack Welch, “”When the rate of change outside the organization is greater than the rate of change inside the organization, then we are looking at the beginning of the end.

4) Communicating well. The former head of the American Management Association once observed that leaders who are inarticulate make us all uneasy. The thought leader who cannot articulate important thoughts can not be considered a true thought leader.

5) Viewing situations from both a convergent and a divergent point of view. Embracing the chaos of collective creative thought and then, after a sufficient period of incubation, emerging with a well-crafted course of action is what leaders do. The new course of action that results is, essentially, positive change.”


Dr. Pritesh Kumar, CEO, KYDS LLC

Here is My Background:

“Dr. Pritesh Kumar earned his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology, with a focus in cannabinoid (cannabis) pharmacology, from the University of Louisville, Kentucky USA. Previously, Dr. Kumar conducted pharmacological testing of FDA- approved drugs as potential ligands for the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) and investigated the pharmacology of cannabinoids.

Dr. Kumar is the CEO of KYDS LLC (Kentucky Distillation Services), a contract manufacturing company which offers process development services associated with industrial scale distillation / purification, refining process chemistry, contract formulation, and optimization pertaining to the purification of unrefined/crude industrial hemp extracts (i.e. oil) via a proprietary platform for Licensed Producers.

Dr. Kumar is the Senior Managing Director and previous CEO of PhytoSciences, an international organization comprised of 40+ scientists based in India, Canada, Africa, Latin America, and the USA. The company consults in the areas clinical trial solutions, novel drug delivery technology development, industrial scale manufacturing, analytical testing, and commercial bioprocessing.

Dr. Kumar is the Chairman & Chief Scientific Officer of CERESLabs Advisory Board, an established group of Wall Street executives to key health leaders / scientific professionals dedicated to becoming the global leader in analytical cannabis testing.

Dr. Kumar is currently the Scientific Advisor for Addis Ababa University, School of Pharmacy (SoP) in Ethiopia. In this role, Dr. Kumar facilitates advancements in graduate student education, promotes the interest of the SoP, and develops relationships between the SoP and the private sector.

He has received numerous honors and awards including Best Oral Presentation from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS) Conference in Vancouver and fellowships from Drug Discovery and Target in Boston and Integrated Programs in Biomedical Sciences (IPIBS) as well as travel awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and University of Louisville School of Medicine for his presentations in the U.S., Canada, Italy, and Germany. Dr. Kumar has been published in numerous scientific journals including the European Journal of Pharmacology, Pharmacology and Physiology, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science and Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Thought leaders drive and “lead” innovation in any given industry through by introducing new ideas or methods to solve problems. There is no graduate school where one can “become” a thought leader nor is there a certificate one can earn that confers this title. In my experience, there are several things one can do to unleash their inner thought leader persona.

Step 1: Establish Credibility

Become an recognized expert or authority in your sector. Go and get that advanced degree you have always dreamed of. Go and get that certification that intrigues you and gives your credibility. No matter what sector you are in, building credibility is vital to your success.

Step 2: Drive Novel Ideas

Seek to deliver new ideas / solutions that disrupt traditional methods and will shift the conversation. Drive value to businesses in your sector. Do not be afraid and offended if you are initially not well received. This means you might be on the right track.

Step 3: Lay the Foundation & Establish Personal Brand

Becoming a thought leader is a natural extension of your ability to build a reputation. As such, it is critical to lay the foundation in this step that will drive your brand value. Take charge and do not let others establish or create your brand. Begin be making simple modifications to your social media profiles (outline your credentials / accomplishments). Then, develop your own blog or begin blogging on your company’s site on a frequent basis.

Step 4: Publish and Network

My recommendation would be to be published as often as possible. For example, if you are in the pharmaceutical or scientific sector, publishing in top-ranking medical / research journals provides a level of credibility and is one way to identify yourself as an expert among your peers. In addition, let people know of your credentials / advanced degrees and why they should consider you an expert. If you are speaking to a scientific sector, let people know you have a PhD in a scientific discipline! Attend conferences as an invited or guest speaker, network with influencers both inside and outside of your sector.

Step 5: Continue to Deliver VERY Bold Claims and Drive Innovation

Now that are you recognized as a thought leader, continue to drive change in your business and publicize those efforts. Make bold, but warranted, predictions about your sector and the future of your sector.

Matt C. Pinsker, Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Here is My Background:

Professor Matt C. Pinsker is a leading expert in the fields of national security and criminal justice. A citizen-soldier serving in the US Army Reserves, he holds a JD and an LLM in National Security & US Foreign Relations and was hired at the age of 25 as an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). A prolific writer, Professor Pinsker has authored a textbook in national security as well as multiple articles. In addition to his academic and military credentials, Professor Pinsker has also served the public in the criminal justice system as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and magistrate. In addition to his responsibilities of training both law enforcement and civil rights advocates, he is also frequently sought by the media (Forbes, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, etc.) for his expert commentary on current issues.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ To be a thought leader, you only need 2 things. First, you must be perceived to know what you are talking about. Most commonly, we think of real-world experience or academic credentials denoting expertise in a particular field. Other times, it is does not involve any actual background, experience, or any actual knowledge about a topic, but simply a good public relations image, such as actor Matt Damon lecturing on education or George Clooney testifying before Congress on Sudan’s civil war.

The second thing you need, to be considered a thought leader, you must have an audience who is receptive to your message. It may be a very large and public audience, such as celebrities who have many followers on Twitter. It could also be not public, but much more low key such as an advisor to public officials on certain issues, or a quiet but respected member of a community or religious organization. Once you have your perceived or actual expertise and an audience which wants to hear your thoughts, you have become a thought leader.

Akemi Fisher, CEO, Love and Launch

Here is My Background:

Amazon millionaire, author and business coach, Akemi Sue Fisher, has helped thousands of Amazon sellers scale and grow their businesses to six, seven and eight figures. She has quickly become one of the most trusted and sought after E-commerce consultants in the world. With hundreds of thousands of followers, Akemi shares every aspect of not only her entrepreneurial journey but her personal journeys as well. Recently, she shared her journey of removing her breast implants from Breast Implant Illness. Her heartfelt story of how her implants were making her sick has impacted thousands of women.

In only two and a half years, her agency, Love & Launch, has helped her clients achieve over one billion dollars in sales through Amazon, Ebay and other e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Her entrepreneurial spirit and direct approach continues to help elevate not only her success, but the success of her clients which range from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Since 2011, Akemi has been a trailblazer within the influencer and social media marketing niche. She continues to create new and innovative models and proprietary softwares to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of online marketing. She is currently in the process of starting a non-profit to help women with Breast Implant Illness fund their surgeries for removal as well as to bring awareness of health risks involved with getting implants. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ “1. Create a Visible Personal Brand- Visible today is Video! Youtube, InstaStories or even a FB live will start to create your visible brand and people will start connecting with you by seeing your day to day and listening to you speak. I’ve personally grown my Instagram by using Instastories daily to document what I am doing- using hashtags of course!

2. Content is King- Well, for me it’s Queen but if you are not creating content daily on social media then you are already being forgotten about. The key to successful and viral content: share something valuable! My inspiration for daily content is what am I addressing in my business that day.

3. Be Authentic- People resonate with those who are true to who they are and to those who speak their truth. BE VULNERABLE. Don’t just share the wins, share the losses too.

4. Network- Whether it’s at live events, a DM or a an Instagram comment, STALK those people who you think can not only have an influence on your business, but share the same passion. When I am traveling to different cities, I reach out to influential people in those cities and very bodly let them know: I think we need to meet for coffee while I am in town because I believe collaboratively we can do something big together.

5. Stay Niche- Your vibe attracts your tribe. Find what you are truly passionate about and continue talking about it. Focus on the one thing! For me, it’s Amazon baby!”


Joshua Feinberg is Chief Thought Leader, Vice President, and Co-Founder of SP Home Run Inc.

Here is My Background:

Joshua Feinberg helps CEOs identify revenue growth opportunities that their marketing and sales teams are currently missing. With a deep specialization in the cloud services, data center, and hosting industries, he has presented educational sessions at HostingCon, Data Center World, and DatacenterDynamics. He has written for Data Center Knowledge, served on the HostingCon Advisory Board, and is on the board of the local AFCOM chapter. In the managed services space, Joshua literally wrote the book for Microsoft Press on building a recurring client base around Microsoft’s small business platform. With over two decades in technology marketing and sales enablement, Joshua helps clients differentiate, get found earlier in the sales cycle, achieve trusted advisor status, and command premium pricing power to drive sustained, profitable, revenue growth.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Focus your thought leadership content on one or two buyer personas where you can learn exactly what their biggest problems, plans, and goals are. This research process, which should be renewed annually, should provide you with at least 10–20 high-priority questions that your buyer personas want/need the answer to. For the highest relevance, always try to anchor every piece of thought leadership content that you publish to a particular buyer persona and buyer’s journey stage.

2. Publish thought leadership content on a regular basis including eBooks, special reports, white papers, blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, and webinars. Look for opportunities to extend your thought leadership with co-marketing opportunities including guest blogging, being a guest on other thought leaders’ podcasts, creating videos with other thought leaders, and hosting webinars with other thought leaders.

3. Speak at related industry events, conferences, seminars, trade shows, and joint webinars on the topic of your particular thought leadership. For annual events, build a calendar and keep track of submission deadlines. Also, consider sponsoring your own events even if on a small scale initially. (Bonus Tip: Record your speaking engagements whenever possible. No matter how many people see you present live in-person, there are always at least 10x more that should’ve been in the room and would want to watch/hear the recording of your thought leadership. And recordings can make producing derivative thought leadership content very straightforward; for example, excepting two or three blog posts from a one-hour conference breakout session.)

4. Engage with the media both proactively and reactively. Befriend bloggers, editors, freelance writers, podcasters, and vloggers that are in and around your niche. Make their jobs easy by sharing your best, most helpful thought leadership insight. Look for ways to build these relationships and add value before you ask for anything in return. For example, add insightful comments to their content, share their content on your social media profiles, and meet up in person for a few minutes at industry events.

5. Make your job title crystal clear (for example: Joshua Feinberg is Chief Thought Leader, Vice President, and Co-Founder of SP Home Run Inc.). And along the same lines, use the words “Thought Leader” in your LinkedIn headline and email signature, and on your business card.”


Jaime Kulaga, Owner, Dr. Jaime, Inc.

Here is My Background:

“Dr. Jaime Kulaga is a licensed mental health counselor and life coach. She is the Author and Founder of the International book The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment published in over 10 countries over 4 continents. She is host of The Dr. Jaime Show which empowers people to live more happy, healthy and successful. Dr. Jaime is a motivational speaker and the go to keynote for companies, associations and organizations when it comes to work-life balance, fulfillment and success. With her engaging personality, sense of humor and tone, audiences are inspired and motivated to use the content in order to enhance their lives.

Dr. Jaime has taught and worked with hundreds of people empowering them to overcome barriers, discover their own greatness, and in turn, create a loving and gratifying environment for all those in their lives. Through teaching at the University level, coaching and counseling individuals, couples, and businesses, she educates women, men, military personnel and families to make better lifestyle decisions, steer the course of their lives, and use practical tools for overall health and success.

Dr. Jaime is a frequent mental health expert and coach on national TV and radio for her expertise in work-life balance and life fulfillment. She is also a thought leader contributor to Forbes, Maria Shriver, and various other major national and international outlets. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“A thought leader is someone whose views and inputs influence other people. To be a thought leader there are five key components.

1. They Have an Open Mind

Thought leaders are open to learning new things, seeing ideas and concepts from different perspectives and often engage in research which consists more than just a quick “Google” search. Thought leaders educate people on topics, ideas and theories. These concepts can be found in research, shared among cultures or are based on multiple experiences and perceptions of others. Thought leaders often talk about more than solely just their “own” perceptions, ideas and concepts. To go beyond your personal and basic scope of understanding, you must be open minded to new experiences and thoughts.

2. They Have Integrity

Integrity falls along the lines of three things: doing what you say you will do, acting right even when no one is looking and practicing what you preach. The more integrity you have as a thought leader, the more respect you earn from people. As respect increases, people begin to want to follow you and read more of your work. They begin to trust you as a resource. As you begin to become more and more of a trusted resource, you (and society) quickly find yourself as a stronger thought leader.

3. They are Consistent

Thought leaders are consistent in sharing their views. They post their content frequently and according to a schedule that they can keep up with. This consistency leads to an increased trust and following.

4. They Have a Strong Following

Thought leaders have a strong following on social media and in the public. People choose to follow thought leaders because the they are a trusted resource and are consistent in posting or discussing their content. People want to follow thought leaders and thus this raises their overall following, tremendously.

5. They Have Confidence

In order to take some of the risks and adhere to the commitment it takes to be a thought leader, a thought leader has confidence. This confidence keeps them growing, developing, thinking outside of the box and ultimately, providing content to people. The thought leader’s confidence often empowers and inspires others, which makes them more influential and thus keeps them a thought leader. “


Bob Eschino

Here is My Background:

Bob Eschino is the Founder and President of Medically Correct, LLC, which is best known for its trusted brand incredibles, the number one cannabis infused edible producer in Colorado. As an expert in the packaging industry, Bob partnered with food expert and serial entrepreneur, Rick Scarpello to form Medically Correct, LLC in 2010.

Spending most of his life in Colorado, Bob fully immersed himself in the culture. He graduated from Colorado State University with a double major in business, then went on to work in the packaging industry. One of his first jobs while attending school was as a Sushi Chef, although his first love was music as a drummer. Eventually Bob started his own business, a packaging distribution company that became the largest independent distributor in the state.

Bob’s continued success is evident in his current venture with Medically Correct, LLC and incredibles’ sales, marketing, business development, and national expansion. Outside of his career, Bob enjoys playing and coaching hockey, skiing, golfing, and fly-fishing.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Top 5 Things to become a thought leader (in the cannabis industry!)

1) ADVOCATE: Willingness to ‘open’n your operations to regulators, advocates and others to educate regulators and researchers from across the world about how a well-regulated cannabis business can lead to — safe products — economics growth, tax revenues and employment — lack of $ to criminals — safe access to alternative medicine for this who need it the most like medical refugees

2) BELIEVE IN YOUR MISSION: Strong conviction and knowledge of t he subject matter. In Bob’s case the company (incredibles) was founded after Bob’s saw his grandmother suffering at the end of her life and see real benefits from using cannabis edibles as medicine. He has then made it his life’s mission to use his ‘mainstream’ business development and sales skillset in order to build the must trusted brand in cannabis.

3) USE TOOLS TO SPREAK THE WORD: Social Media and authentic influencer presence

4) GIVE BACK: Donating and giving back time to the causes you care about (we’re always supporting patients and grass roots legalization efforts)

5) GO MAINSTREAM; ‘if you don’t stand up for your principles when they’re tested, they’re just hobbies’. incredibles is speaking with its actions- we believe that cannabis is a right, the people and have spoken and know that every aspect of your business is compliance. We are not afraid and will expand across the US in 2018!

Pot Barons Bio: Bob Eschino- Incredibles
Bob Eschino is the owner and president of the infused edible company, Incredibles.www.msnbc.com

Tom Buckland, Founder, Ghost Marketing

Here is My Background:

“My career in digital marketing started in 2009, built on a foundation of 3-years in depth study in the field. Many people work in marketing positions and take that route toward considering themselves experts in the field — but I take a different stance.

Rather than deliver marketing expertise from a position of just theoretical learning — I have built my own successful businesses on the principles I advocate and use with my paid marketing consultancy clients.

I am yet to launch a business that works and operates smoothly from the initial launch. I don’t believe that companies should strive for perfection before opening their doors — and as such, I’ve learned vital lessons from every hurdle I’ve faced. I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and face the realities that my customers also face.

Each of these hurdles has further informed my practice. I’m not a guru that’s brought into a business to help with the marketing — I’m someone who works alongside existing businesses, drawing on my own experience and knowledge to support them toward their goals.

The theory that underpins my practice isn’t found elsewhere, it’s come from years of my own application and refinement. When I sit down with a company, I don’t plagiarize and hope for the best, I present solutions that I have written, practices that I have implemented, mistakes that I have made and successes I have enjoyed.

Unlike many marketing agencies, I don’t take clients on without some understanding of their business and what they hope to do. I do not believe in one size fits all strategies for companies — no two organisations are the same, therefore their marketing strategies should consider the business, it’s products and it’s people at their core.

As a result, I have dozens of happy clients that add millions of pounds to their turnover with the expertise that I deliver and inspire.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Lead from the front

Your peers should see you as someone who’s doing — as well as telling. Without your own experience, you’re no more use than a well written article or book. Honesty here is key, people can’t empathise with perfect — so luckily for you you’re not perfect. Share your failures as well as your successes to prove you’ve spent your fair share of time at the coal face.

You are your brand

You should be the thing that people are investing in — a personal brand that’s built from key principles. A thought leader doesn’t just stamp their authority on a business, they help that business to build their own authoritative brand from the principles that matter to them.

Exceptional knowledge

Being a thought leader isn’t about regurgitating information with your logo in the corner. It’s about absorbing the most pertinent information from a huge variety of sources — before casting an extremely critical eye and testing it to failure. Take the theory, push it to its limits — then rewrite this theory based on your experience.

Be people smart — as well as theory smart

If you’re going to be acknowledge as a thought leader, you need to understand how to engage people with those thoughts. Understanding your field of work is one thing — but without the buy in of the people you’re working for, you’re just an individual in a room talking into a void.

A thought leader presents ideas wrapped in a context that gets people excited about the application. Every individual’s reason for engaging with you is different — and as such, the best thought leaders will have genuine person-centred strategies that aid that buy-in process regardless of who makes up their audience.

Represent a solid return on investment

Businesses do not pay their staff with ideas. If your ideas are going to contribute, they need to do so in a way that clearly represents a bottom line contribution. A thought leader doesn’t just feed the top of the funnel, ideas are seen all the way through — right down to the money hitting the bank. “

Desiree Wiercyski, MS, MBA. Life Coach

Here is My Background:

“With an MS in Applied Psychology and an MBA, Desiree is taking the self-help world by storm and challenging many of its core ideas. Desiree is the creator of the Sugar+Spikes podcast and has recently been featured in publications such as Brit+Co, Bustle, Thriveworks, and WebMD. Desiree’s goal is to give young women everywhere access to self-improvement tools rooted in evidence based practices rather than one-off ideas so they can not only live the life they want but live it in a sustainable and manageable manner.

Unlike many, she is open and honest in teaching clients that it’s true they can have it all, it’s just that sometimes having it all means having to deal with the ugly pieces such as stress, uncertainty, and strained relationship, and gives clients and followers tools to manage those pieces as well.

Before becoming a life coach, Desiree spent nearly 8 years concurrently working in the mental health field while completing her BA in Psychology and Social Work as well as graduate studies. Desiree also completed two academically competitive fellowships by the National Institute on Drug Abuse; one at The University of Pennsylvania and one at The University of Minnesota.

After shifting focuses in grad school, she spent a few years working in marketing within the Financial Technology industry before returning to her love of connecting with people and helping them facilitate real, sustainable life change. In 2017 she launched The Sugar+Spikes podcast, a podcast that takes on the real and complicated pieces of the self-help industry while offering listeners actionable skills to see real change.

Desiree is always looking for new ways to combine her love of science and evidence based strategies with allowing room for intuition and appreciation of spiritual elements to help clients live their own versions of an extraordinary life — whatever that may look like. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:


Thought leaders are like whistle blowers — we’ll step up and say things we know to be true and things we believe even if it goes against the grain of our industry. Recently, I completed a podcast calling out one of the biggest trends and ideas in the self-help space as potentially dangerous. It’s about stepping up and calling for a shift in thinking rather that waiting to the shift to happen. And sometimes, it’s going to make some folks not very happy.


You can’t lead when you don’t know what you’re leading people to or from. Expertise doesn’t have to come in the form of a degree, but industry you’re working in inside and out. If you try to be a thought leader without having a deep understanding of the industry and its current strengths and challenges, people will see right through it.


Rising as a thought leader doesn’t happen overnight. People need to trust that you’re going to be around, they need to see that you are committed and invested in your industry. By putting content out regularly and consistently, no matter the engagement level, people will start to know and trust you. When I started my podcast, I would get anything I could up there so people would know I committed. Once I had a consistent pattern, then I started refining it.


Earning respect as a thought leader is hard and thankless work. Having a true passion for the subject is what will help you keep going in the beginning stages, when it feels like no one is listening (though they are!). Passion is also going to give you a voice different from others in the industry and will let you be heard in your own way. As soon as people hear a real, fresh, passionate perspective, they listen.

5.Your platform of choice

People need to know where to consistently find you. Pick one platform such as blogging, blogging, or podcasting, and show up there first and show up regularly. When folks talk about you, they want a quick reference point rather than trying to list off everything you do. Saying “ oh she write this really great blog” has much more punch than “she blogs occasionally, does the impromptu video stream, and podcasts every now and then.” Make it easy for people to talk about you!”

YOU HAVE TO MEET THIS BADASS! Desiree Wiercyski is a women on a mission and she’s not letting anyone step on her vibe…badasserymag.com

Jared Hecht, Co-founder and CEO, Fundera and former GroupMe Co-founder

Here is My Background:

Jared Hecht is a co-founder and the CEO at Fundera, an online marketplace that matches small business owners to the best possible lender. He started Fundera after his cousin experienced the frustration and lack of transparency of applying for a small business loan. Previously, Jared co-founded GroupMe, a group messaging service that in August 2011 was acquired by Skype, which was subsequently acquired by Microsoft in October 2011. Prior to GroupMe, he led Business Development at Tumblr where he focused on international expansion and strategic partnerships. Jared currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Columbia University Entrepreneurship Organization and is an investor in startups such as TransferWise, Sweetgreen, and Flatiron. Jared received his BA in Political Science from Columbia University where he served as the publisher and managing director of Inside New York. He regularly writes columns with tips for small businesses for Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur, and Huffington Post.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

No matter what field you’re in, there are countless experts who weigh in on the news of the day and share their thoughts to shape the discussion. So what does it take to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack?

Offer a unique perspective. Focus on what you bring to the table that others don’t. How is your contribution adding something to the conversation taking place? Whether it’s a tip based on experience, or new twist or angle on a topic that’s being discussed, it’s important to make sure that your contribution is different and adds value for your readers.

Develop a personal brand/voice. Choose the news outlets and social channels that most efficiently target your audience/community. Make sure you’re using the resources available to you to make your voice heard, and make sure that your writing style and voice is consistent and most effective for those channels.

Create high quality content. Craft your content to be as structured, well-written, and succinct as possible. Topics should always be relevant to what your community wants to read about, whether it’s actionable tips for your readers or new perspectives that are relevant to their questions, challenges, or news of the day.

And publish it often. The cadence of your content is just as important as the quality. To become a true thought leader, you need to weigh in frequently on the issues of the day, and remain a source of interesting content for readers who trust and value your perspective.

Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Thought leadership req ires that you take your contributions seriously, and that means having the confidence to pitch yourself to the media and push your content out on social channels. Never sell yourself short and try to get your content out there any way you can!

Jared Hecht — Fundera
Fundera CEO Jared Hecht on Helping Small Business Owners Secure Financingcheddar.com

Andrew Pearson, President of Intelligencia

Here is My Background:

“ANDREW PEARSON was born in Pakistan, grew up in Singapore and was educated in England and America. With a degree in psychology from UCLA, Pearson has had a varied career in IT, marketing, mobile technology, social media, analytics, and entertainment.

Pearson is currently the managing director of Intelligencia Limited, a leading implementer of BI, CI, data warehousing, data modeling, predictive analytics, data visualization, digital marketing, mobile, social media and cloud solutions for the gaming, finance, telco, hospitality, sports betting, and retail industries.

Pearson is currently working on projects in countries such as Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, the Philippines, Mexico, and Australia. Pearson has also leveraged Intelligencia’s expertise to implement software solutions from such vendors as SAS, HDS, SAP, Pentaho, Tableau, and Qlik, at some of the world’s biggest casino operators, lottery companies, and sports books.

In 2009, two books that Mr. Pearson wrote or edited appeared in print; the first in the Double Down on your Data series, Clive Pearson’s How Analytics is Revolutionizing the Casino Industry and Santiago Maggi’s Investment Strategies for Uncertain Markets, a book about the financial markets that presciently predicted the 2007 global financial meltdown.

In 2010, Pearson also wrote The Mobile Revolution and it was published by Qualex Publishing. In 2013, Pearson was invited to write a chapter in Global Mobile: Applications and Innovations for the Worldwide Mobile Ecosystem, a book on mobile technology. The book, which was co-authored by several of the mobile industry’s leading figures, was published in July 2013.

In 2017, Pearson published The Predictive Casino, a book about how analytics should be used in the casino industry. In 2018, Pearson followed that book up with The Predictive Retailer, a book that details how retailers can use technology such as AI, ML, IoT, edge analytics, and social to personalize customer marketing and increase loyalty, thereby raising the company’s ROI.

Pearson is also a noted columnist, writing on topics such as mobile media, social media, predictive analytics and cloud technology for such publications as ComputerWorld HK, The Journal of Mobile and Social Media Marketing and The Mobile Marketer. Pearson is also president of the Advanced Analytics Association of Macau and Grow uP eSports, an association created to produce esports events in China and around the world.

An avid traveler, Pearson is a sought-after speaker, lecturing on such disparate topics as casino and mobile marketing, data analytics, social media and interactivity. If he’s not pounding the pavements of Hollywood, he’s probably meandering through the labyrinthine streets of Hong Kong’s Lang Kwai Fong, or tearing up useless betting slips at Happy Valley (perhaps the most perfectly named racecourse in the world (for some)), or dining at a hawker center in Singapore, or wading through the tall safari grass of a South African Serengeti, or perhaps doubling down at the gaming tables in Macau. Basically, Pearson is trying to find the next great story that the world doesn’t yet know that it desperately wants to see.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ “First and foremost, a thought leader needs to be a powerful storyteller. Audiences respond to content that connects with something deep and visceral within them and within our collective unconscious. My background as a screenwriter in Hollywood has helped me create several books and articles that, although they tackle complicated concepts and difficult subject matter — prescriptive analytics is about as complicated as it gets in the standard business world — presents them in highly understandable chunks that build one on top of the other, while also creating a singular whole.

Clarity: I write quite a lot of books, proposals, and articles and the one thing my audience repeatedly tells me is that my content is very easy to understand. Having . The novelist of a book I optioned many years ago once told me that when someone reads your work, they are creating a mental image of your story in their mind and any grammatical error or unclear storyline collapses that created world and snaps them back into reality, something they don’t want because this reduces comprehension and destroys any emotional connection.

Passion and the ability to sell that passion: the great thought leaders are not only passionate about what they teach but also can sell that passion to others. A great thought leader will not only keep your enthralled about his subject matter but also know it so intimately and intriguingly that an audience member watching a presentation will want to because they also love what they teach. Passion means you’ll take the time to understand a subject beyond

Language: Since 90% of the human information is taken in visually, it’s important to be skilled in language, whether that language is visual, verbal, or emotional. Language is the key to understanding. I tend to use Prezi in my client and speaking presentations and that content system has the ability to zoom in and out of a large canvas, so a presenter has the ability to visually point out to an audience that certain aspects of the presentation need their undivided attention.

Experience: This might be a given, but I haven’t spoken with the subject matter authority I should have in past. However, over the past six years I’ve written five books and countless articles on a multitude of subjects and I do consider myself an expert on several of them. “


Avery Blank, Impact Strategist

Here is My Background:

“Avery Blank strategizes with individuals and organizations worldwide to help them attain their business, leadership, career, and policy goals. Bloomberg Law, Stanford Law, the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the Maryland Daily Record have recognized Blank for her work in strategy, women’s leadership, and policy.

She has worked in the public sector at all levels of government including experience at the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the private sector at Johnson & Johnson, and non-profit consulting with the University of Maryland Center for Health & Homeland Security.

Blank’s writing has appeared in journals and publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, TIME, Fortune, The World Economic Forum, Fast Company, LeanIn.Org, and Levo League. She speaks on many issues, including women’s leadership and equality, business impact, millennial engagement, strategic positioning and thought leadership, career advancement, social media presence and influence, gender policy, and political engagement. Blank has spoken at the U.S. Department of State, Oxford University’s Power Shift Forum, Women in Strategy Summit, the National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, and Propelify Innovation Festival, as well as for the American Bar Association and Harvard Law School.

She is a Board Member with the American Bar Association’s Legal Career Central and a member of the Editorial Board of the Public Lawyer. Blank sits on the Advisory Council with The Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project. She is a Tribeca Disruptor Innovation Fellow, Aspen Ideas Festival Scholar, and SheSource Expert with the Women’s Media Center.

Blank graduated as a Rose Zetzer Fellow with a J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law and holds a B.A. in English and Spanish from Colgate University.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“1. Know your passion.

People want to be excited, so thought leaders must demonstrate a level of excitement in their writing and speaking. Excitement naturally derives from your passion. Thought leadership is not limited to a particular topic, but it is limited to what you are passionate about. If you are not enthusiastic about something, others will not be excited by or about you.

2. Understand your experience or story.

The best thought leaders are relatable. Your story helps others to understand your human experience, the lens in which you see the world and why you are focusing on a particular idea. Sharing your experience will help bring others along with you. YOUR EXPERIENCE NEED NOT BE DRAMATIC, BUT IT MUST BE YOURS. Your story is what makes you unique and authentic.

3. Realize your expertise.

People are interested in listening to thought leaders because they bring deep insights into subjects of interest. They help you think about things in a different way and demonstrate confidence in the thoughts they express. Your expertise is the area or topic that you have developed most from your experience. Expertise is relative. To be a thought leader, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING, BUT IT MUST BE THE SUBJECT YOU KNOW BEST AND THAT YOU KNOW MORE THAN MOST OTHERS.

4. Consider your organization and professional community.

Understand your relationship with your organization or company and the context in which it operates. Your affiliation shapes you and where you are perceived to have expertise. It can add credibility if it aligns with your focus. To be relevant, you must also consider your professional community, a community broader than your organization. You will be seen as a more credible thought leader if your focus aligns with the interests of your professional community. Your affiliations can make or break you. If you want your colleagues to see you as a thought leader and follow you, it is critical that you consider your role in the world.

5. Leverage world events.

If you want to be relevant, you need to keep your pulse on what is going on in society. To lead a discussion, there must be something to inspire a discussion. When you have a sense of what is going on in the world, know where your voice can add value. Your voice will be heard if you choose the right discussions to contribute to.


Caroline Klatt, CEO of Headliner Labs

Here is My Background:

“Caroline Klatt is the Co-founder and CEO of Headliner Labs, the leading AI and mobile messaging company specializing in ecommerce, retail and entertainment chatbots. As CEO, Klatt guides the company’s growth and innovation, expanding business lines across fashion, beauty, luxury, hospitality and media. Headliner’s customers span established brands from Cole Haan, to cult favorites like Ouai Haircare, as well as institutions including the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), New York Fashion Week, and National Retail Federation. Klatt is a trusted advisor to the C-suite and innovation leaders at leading retail brands, and a regular columnist and speaker on the topics of digital sales, mobile marketing and machine learning. She was recently named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list of today’s leading U.S. change-makers and innovators.

Klatt honed her expertise in digital marketing and e-commerce at leading retailers including Fab.com, Ralph Lauren and Collective Brands, and as a Management Consultant for Fortune 500 companies at McKinsey & Co. in New York, focusing on growth strategy. Klatt graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Build Your Network: The key to being a thought leader — someone who’s driving innovation forward in their industry — is not only to have noteworthy insight, but to have a network to share it with. The bigger your network, the more influence you’ll have.

Lend Your Voice: Lending your voice to conferences, events, even local meet-ups will help establish you as a leader in your industry and in your community. Whenever available, give your ideas a platform to be heard. In addition to events, weighing in on timely, relevant news in newspapers, magazines, websites or TV and radio can increase your clout and position you as a thought leader.

Become a Contributor: Going hand and hand with lending your voice, if you have insight on a timely subject, try sharing it with a relevant outlet that will publish your work. Providing high-quality content written by you is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader and interact with others who share the same interests.

Be a Thought ‘Partner’ to Peers and Customers: Before you become a thought leader of an industry, it’s important for you to establish yourself as a thought ‘partner.’ This means that individuals trust you and your insight and come to you in real life as opposed to being an online follower. In this digital age, having someone to meet you or pick up the phone to get your valuable input goes a long way. These real-life people can grow your thought leadership through word of mouth, and endorsement — and it ensures that your thoughts are relevant, up to date and truly delivering value.

Get Social: While it might seem obvious, maintaining a social media presence is essential to building your network and connecting with influencers in your industry. However, it’s very important to be someone that people actually want to follow. What this means is if you’re being too self-promotional and only sharing your updates and what’s going on with your own company, you likely won’t garner as large a following as you’d like. Be sure to share relevant articles, adding your opinion and expertise to the subject. Also, in addition to sharing articles that include you, applaud others in your field for their work by sharing their articles or reposting their work. Be a team player that’s trying to better your industry — that’s what a thought leader does.


Agnes Kowalski, Wealth Therapist

Here is My Background:

Agnes Kowalski is the accidental tycoon. An immigrant who went from poverty mindset maxing out at $40,000 per year to consistent 6 figures as a wealth therapist. She now shows entrepreneurs, artists, creatives and service providers how to tap into their subconscious programming around money so they can give themselves Permission to Prosper ™ in every area of their lives and businesses. Agnes has been featured in Forbes, CEO World Magazine, YFS Magazine and Huffington Post. She is a mother of two who loves dancing, 90’s hiphop and warm tropical beaches.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Top 5 things needed to be a thought leader

1 — Trust. You have to be able to stand by your thoughts and opinions no matter how unpopular they are. When everyone was in the bitcoin buying frenzy I told my audience to pause and make sure they were buying in for the right reasons mindset-wise and not just out of desperation or fomo. It wasn’t the trendy thing to say, but it was true to my beliefs around money mindset.

2 — Persistence. It’s not just about saying something important or thinking differently, it’s about dedicating your life to that mission. I have dedicated my life to showing people how they are stopping themselves from making the money they want, because I believe money is the currency of your energetic field and it is YOURS to control, no one else’s. But I can’t say that and not show up tomorrow saying the same thing. I have to be the 24 hour donut shop, always open, always serving.

3 — Risk. You have to be willing to do what no one else is doing. If I see everyone is running fb ads, I go to Youtube. If I see everyone on IG I go work on a book. Take the path less travelled so that you can stand out. Don’t always do what is comfortable, putting yourself out there means you can now capture an audience, taking a risk allows them to do the same in their own lives.

4 — Study. I think this essentially means try everything in and around what interests you. Get to a level of mastery in what you want to represent and offer. Don’t be satisfied with the beginning, so what happens with more exploration, more inspiration.

5 — Conviction. The only way others will follow you is if you are living your truth all.the.way. If you are wishy washy about your results, about what you know, about who you are — you are bound to get the same out of your audience.


Michael McDonnell, High Performance Mindset Coach, Michael McDonnell International.

Here is My Background:

“Michael McDonnell is someone who suffers with cystic fibrosis and diabetes, but doesn’t let it stop him! He realized years ago that his health conditions have actually helped him as he’s trained his mind to be resilient and persistent with his health. This has helped him get to where he is today in business and as an award winning mindset coach.

He hasn’t always been a high performance mindset coach; he has been on a coaching journey from sport, coaching tennis at his local David Lloyd club to children and adults and personal training at a PureGym fitness facility. As he pursued his passion for helping others, he noticed that there “must be more to it;” there must be more to helping people, because he would often have conversations with his clients about their thoughts and feelings instead of how to exercise and eat. After noticing this about the people he worked with, he went on a mission to learn more about human behavior and mindset and how that influences the results people achieved with health and weight loss.

Michael got to a point where he started to share his own story and saw that business owners and entrepreneurs started to relate to it and liked the fact that he not only advises and coaches people, but also practices what he preaches! He’s a true leader to the people he relates to and helps others make their mark on the world through the power of mindset.

In 2017, Michael won Young Entrepreneur Of The Year at the f2n Business Awards and in 2018 he’ll be continuing his work helping entrepreneurs unleash the winner within! Michael is the rounder and editor of “The ROAR Show” which is a podcast that interviews and shares the raw and real journey of fellow inspiring entrepreneurs. In the future, Michael wants to nurture the future generations of amazing individuals by opening his own school!”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Thought leaders are truly changing the world we live in and making the world a better place.

They practice what they preach when it comes down to being someone others want to follow and take advice from. Others respect and value someone that has an element of their own teachings in their lives.

Behind the thought leader is a person, a unique story; more and more it’s becoming important that they share their “human” side so they can be more relatable to their audience as they can quite often seem superhuman in the way they do things compared to others.

Being able to connect and relate with your community is made easier when you listen as well as talk. The ability to balance talking with listening so you can impact people in a positive way can be described as an art.

Thought leaders use their knowledge, experience and insights to benefit others. Being seen as a thought leader tends to be directly related to how much you’ve influenced them in a positive way.

Making a difference, changing the world, impacting the lives of others… this is the angle thought leaders take with the time they spend on this planet; income increases as a result of the impact they’re making. They both feed on each other until they allow the thought leader to positively impact the world in a positive way with every action they take.”

Kurt Uhlir, Entrepreneur, Product Visionary, and Inventor at Uhlir Ventures

Here is My Background:

“Kurt is a serial entrepreneur and business leader. He has generated over $10 billion in value for investors and clients as a serial entrepreneur, product visionary and angel investor. Kurt has built and run businesses from start-up to over $500M annual revenue, assembled teams across six continents, an IPO ($880M), and multiple acquisitions. He is the lead inventor of disruptive technologies in 5 industries, with 13 granted patents, and has been asked to advise thousands of leaders, from startup founders to the President of the United States, on innovation and leadership in high-growth environments.

Kurt has particular expertise in driving product experience and technology vision, increasing the customer base while lowering acquisition cost, reducing monthly churn, and increasing ARPU and lifetime value. He is the lead inventor of disruptive technologies in 5 industries, including being recognized by leading publications such as TechCrunch for three foundational patents covering Waze, check-in/location services (e.g. Foursquare, Facebook, etc.), and location based advertising. In addition, Kurt co-founded Sideqik — one of the first influencer marketing platforms.

As a Keynote Speaker, Kurt has spoken to thousands of people at both private and public events. He speaks all over the world at conferences, corporate retreats, and professional associations on topics such as “”Thriving in the Age of Industry Disruption and Technology””, “”Increasing Your Cadence as an Entrepreneur””, “”Thriving in the Influence Economy””, Influencer Marketing, Autonomous Vehicles and more. Conferences consistently rank him in the top 10% of all speakers.

Toss in a history of dozens of outside and internal startups/skunkworks, some fun outside hobbies and a strong bent for serving to know more of why he jumps out of bed every morning.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“1) Focus on your expertise and niche. Some people have been rock stars in multiple industries and had successes in lots of different areas, but if you look back at their careers, they typically started with a strong focus on one area, and they branched out from there. Identify the area you know the best and go “”all in””. Learn everything you can about the topic, know the details about the positions you agree with and those opposed to yours. Then, take a position on where the topic/industry is going.

2) Be authentic. I’ve always found that people want to know the real you. There are always some people that will gain a spike in influence from a marketing stunt or persona but over time, most people, especially in business, will see the pattern of your life. If you’re quirky, bold, shy, or whatever, embrace it, and let it show in your message.

3) Work with influencers, especially micro influencers. Get to know and interact with the influencers in your area. When people believe in and value your opinions, they’ll be more willing to share it with those who follow them. I’ve always found that smaller influencers have the biggest impact over time. Find the micro influencer, the person with 500–50,000 followers in your space and start a relationship with them. Look for ways you can help them in their mission.

4) Network, network, network. The founders and leaders I’ve watched move into the “”thought leader”” role are almost always networks by nature that have a system for staying in touch. Start a series of lists of specific people you’d like to meet, who you know that could introduce you, and then work your system for introductions. Be proactive and look for ways you can add value.

5) Steward a portion of your time to help others. Success is great but very few people have made it by themselves. I’m thankful for a number of people that really set aside a portion of their time over years to help me grow. I believe that we all have some area where we can help others and that we’re called to do so. Plus, you never know where it may lead. Some of my best friends have come from the time we’ve set aside to help others, as well as opportunities to speak at conferences and sit on several boards. “


Grayson Lafrenz, CEO, Power Digital Marketing

Here is My Background:

“CEO of Power Digital Marketing, an Elite Digital Marketing Agency. I specialize in executive leadership, marketing strategy, team building and business development. I have a decade of experience working with organizations ranging from Fortune 500’s to startups. I possess an extensive sales, marketing and management background with a focus on developing scalable distribution models and marketing programs to help take organizations to the next level.

As CEO of Power Digital Marketing, I have helped grow the Power Digital team over the past five years from a team of three to a team of 50+. I have great pride in our people, work, mission and Power Digital’s recognition as finalist for the San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 San Diego’s Healthiest Company, San Diego’s Fastest Growing Company and Top Places to Work Awards, Inc. Magazine #361 Fastest Growing Company and Top 50 Best Places to Work.

Personally, I received acknowledgement from San Diego Metro Magazine in 2015 as an awardee for the 40 Under 40, a competitive annual recognition of the top 40 San Diego-based business people under the age of 40 as well as San Diego Business Journal Most Admired CEO’s 2017. I am also a member of Entrepreneur Organization San Diego, a prestigious global network of business owners that serves as a platform for growth and development amongst its members and have been a features presenter at nationally recognized conferences and universities. I received the CEO of the Year Award from the SD Entrepreneur Organization Chapter for 2016 / 2017 year.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

One of the first things you need to be a thought leader is a real point of view or opinion on things. It’s key to do more than just regurgitate what’s in the news and what’s trending, but to provide a unique viewpoint on these trends and matters in which you take a bit of a chance that may not appeal to everyone.

The second would be, success. Way too often in industries we see the “”thought leaders”” as fakers to an extent and I think that true thought leaders should have had huge success in their industries and core areas otherwise you naturally won’t be taken seriously. It’s one thing to write about things, it’s another to live it.

The third would be that you have to be willing to share your experiences with the public, both experiences that were very positive and also failures and what you learned from those things.

The fourth necessity would be that you have to be able to influencer those around you in how you think and act. This can happen on many scales from influencing employees or coworkers, to clientele, to industry peers. This influence doesn’t come from a place of power where they must listen to you, but a place of respect where they believe in you and want to listen to you.

Lastly, you need a personality and tone that people gravitate towards and an entertaining style where you can make sometimes boring subjects interesting and dynamic.

Grayson Lafrenz — Power Digital Marketing — Stay Wealthy San Diego
As marketing trends rapidly change and evolve, it can be challenging to keep up. But the reward for making marketing a…www.staywealthysandiego.com

Andrew Selepak, Professor, University of Florida

Here is My Background:

Andrew Selepak is the Director of the Master of Arts in Mass Communication Program with a specialization in Social Media at the University of Florida in the College of Journalism and Communications. He also teaches courses in the Department of Telecommunication at the University of Florida. Andrew holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia in American History, a M.A. from George Mason University in Communications, and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Mass Communications. His research interests include political communication, and online and social media including video games, music, television, and websites. Specifically, he has researched extremist groups and their use of the Internet and various forms of media to recruit and spread their message, examined how police dramas impact our views on race and crime, and done research on how social media impacts political partisanship. Andrew has appeared numerous times on CNBC, and been quoted in Huff Post, ESPN, USA Today, Reader’s Digest, and other media outlets.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Thought Leaders must (1) Be a trusted source of information. This comes from having an accreditation to their name other than simply saying, “I am an expert” and expecting people to listen. (2) Keep informed of the latest trends and changes in various industries and not just concentrate on any one industry and not just rehash what once was important to know. (3) Be personable. Any type of leader must be dynamic or they give little reason for people to pay attention to them. (4) Have a following. While different industries have different levels of popularity, to be a thought leader means people in that industry must find what you have to say to be of value to listen to and learn from. (5) Have a desire to be a thought leader. It is only possible to be a thought leader if you are willing to respond to questions, interviews, and inquiries. This means you have to want to be asked these questions and be in the spotlight.

Positives about social media greatly outweigh negatives: University of Florida professor
Andrew Selepak, University of Florida director of social media masters program, and CNBC Contributor Herb Greenberg…www.cnbc.com

Shlomo Zalman Bregman: CEO, Bregman Success LLC

Here is My Background:

“Shlomo Zalman Bregman is the most followed young Rabbi in the world.

He is an internationally recognized Torah scholar, best-selling author, matchmaker, entrepreneur, attorney, and media personality.

Shlomo’s hallmark is the ability to transmit 4,000 years of ancient Jewish wisdom with stunning depth and simplicity. His clear teaching inspire individuals to achieve breakthroughs and transform their lives in the spheres of success, spirituality, personal development, love, dating, and marriage.

Shlomo has been featured hundreds of times in major media publications such as Forbes, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Success, Fast Company, Yahoo!, Bloomberg Radio, Readers Digest, MSN.com, and also by America Express, Microsoft, the United States Air Force Academy, and more.

He is a regular Contributor and Columnist for The Jerusalem Post, which is the world’s #1 media outlet covering Israel and Jewish affairs worldwide.

Shlomo is also in the Top 3 Most Followed Jewish Religion Public Figures on Facebook in the world.

Shlomo’s energetic and empowering messages have touched millions of lives, and currently reach over 500,000 people per week in over 40 countries around the globe.

Owing to his global impact, the mainstream media regularly refer to Shlomo as “the Jewish Tony Robbins.”

A graduate of the Emory University School of Law, his colorful background includes conducting medical research at Harvard, a stint on Capitol Hill, and serving as Campus Rabbi at the University of Miami and Columbia University.

At his core, Shlomo regards himself as a “professional developer of human potential,” and he’s obsessed with adding value to people’s lives and seeing them happy, fulfilled, and enjoying the success they’ve always craved.

Shlomo and his family live in the New York City area.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“In my experience, the term “”thought leader”” can be a bit amorphous, and means different things to different people. The varying definitions notwithstanding, I believe that all thought leaders share these five elements in common:

(1) Their articulated views on their subject of expertise are regarded as being authoritative, influential, and worthy of pause and analysis.

(2) A thought leader is viewed as a visible, deeply-knowledgeable authority in their niche, with an appreciable degree of brand equity and separation between them and the vast majority of their peers.

(3) A true thought leader is trusted, and has a large following with whom they hold sway. Moreover, their base of support is highly motivated to take their ideas and teachings and bring them to the sphere of practical action.

(4) They are generous with their wisdom, and freely create blueprints for others to follow or borrow from — in part or in whole — which enables others to become co-creators and fellow agents of change.

(5) A thought leader need not actively seek to make waves; however, he or she must be unafraid to be unconventional if needed. The willingness to be fearlessly innovative and offer fresh, outside-of-the-box solutions to old problems, is the hallmark of every true thought leader. “


Paul A. Dillon, President and CEO, Dillon Consulting Services LLC

Here is My Background:

Paul A. Dillon is a Certified Management Consultant with more than 42 years of experience in the professional services industry. He is the president and CEO of Dillon Consulting Services LLC (http://www.dillonconsult.com), a U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs certified Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, based in Durham, NC and Chicago, IL. Paul is the creator of the concept for a veteran startup incubator in Chicago, called Bunker Labs (http://www.bunkerlabs.com), as well as the creator of the concept for a veteran entrepreneur support organization in North Carolina, called VetStart, which was recently rebranded as Bunker RDU.

Paul represents the nation’s veteran community on the Kennedy Forum on Mental Health (http://www.thekennedyforum.org), and is a member of the Leadership Council of the Kennedy Forum Illinois (http://www.thekennedyforumillinois.org/).

His articles and quotes on veterans’ issues have appeared in Forbes, HuffPost, Crain’s Chicago Business, the National Federation of Independent Businesses newsletter, eLearners.com, We Are The Mighty, and USAA Magazine. He is a sought after commentator on national veteran matters on numerous radio programs and podcasts.

Paul holds an A.B. degree from John Carroll University (Cleveland, OH), a M.S. from Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL), and has served as an adjunct professor or visiting lecturer at Governors State University (University Park, IL), the University of Illinois at Chicago, and, most recently, at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, where he created and co-taught the first course in the history of the University of Chicago on veterans issues. He is a former trustee of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and a former Public Member and Commissioner of the national Commission for Case Manager Certification.

A U.S. Army Reserve veteran, he served in Vietnam as a 1st Lieutenant, and was awarded 2 Bronze Star Medals.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Make sure that you really are a “thought leader”, if that is how you market yourself. Are you certain that you’re the originator of your idea? When it doubt, you better check it out.

You need some substance behind you, and need to communicate why you are a “thought leader”. You just can’t say that you are. You need to give examples of why you are an idea leader in your industry or discipline.

“Thought leadership can play a significant role in a brand marketing, but only if it is legitimate. I have found that many people and companies who bill themselves as “thought leaders”, really aren’t. Someone has come up with their idea before. They just don’t know it, or aren’t aware of it.””

S5:E2 Paul Dillon, Dillon Consulting Services – Minimizing Your Mistakes | Advisor.TV
Paul Dillon of Dillon Consulting Services, started his career as a veteran during the Vietnam war. From there, his time…advisor.tv

Khalid Saleh, CEO, Invesp

Here is My Background:

“Best-Selling Author, Successful Entrepreneur, Authority on Marketing Optimization

With over 18 years of entrepreneurial and marketing experience, Khalid took his consulting business, Invesp, from a one-man shop to a global consulting brand that helps companies increase online sales. His clients include eBay, 3M, the Special Olympics, DISH Network, Discovery and many more. Prior to that, Khalid led the ecommerce implementation for some of the world’s most well-known brands like American Express, Motorola, Levelor and GoToWebinar.

In 2016, Khalid cofounded FigPii, an all-in-one growth hacking platform. His new startup leveraged the success of Invesp as well as the growth hacking methods he had deployed across some of the leading brands to solve marketers most pressing problems.

He is an Amazon.com best-selling author of “”Conversion Optimization: The Art and Science of Converting Prospects into Customers.” In his book, he offers companies a methodology for capturing more customers by creating a fully integrated marketing strategy that has a lasting impact on any organization.

Khalid is a recognized expert of marketing strategy, Khalid has been a frequent guest in key media outlets, including CNN, BBC, SKY, France 24, MSNBC, New York Times, National Public Radio, and more. He is an in-demand speaker who has presented at marketing conferences across the globe. He has inspired audiences to rethink their approach to marketing, and his work has helped hundreds of businesses to increase sales and growth. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“It takes years to invest in your personal brand until you reach the status of Thought Leader. But there are a few key things that if you focus on them, you can eventually get to that point:

1. Be the expert you claim to be: it’s all nice and dandy to claim you are an expert in an area, but getting the status of Thought Leader means you have years and a ton of experience under your belt. It means that you’ve worked with all types of companies in this area and they’ve attested to your expertise. You can’t fake being a thought leader. It comes through when someone talks to you about the area you claim to be an expert in. It comes through when someone asks you about the client’s you’ve had and the evidence that supports you’ve reached that status. Know your shit and keep growing in your area because nothing stays stagnant.

2. Don’t stop writing: part of building your personal brand is telling people about it. And what better way to showcase it through a blog, writing articles, getting published, and more. Of course, it’s not enough to just write all the great information you have but marketing that content is critical in order to become recognized amongst peers and colleagues and a though leader in that area.

3. Network with likeminds: Getting to know people within your industry is critical in order to establish yourself as a thought leader. When people in my industry of digital marketing think CRO, there mind goes directly to me because I’ve established myself as a writer first, speaker next, and eventually a thought-leader. You maybe the greatest expert in an area, but if you’ve never mingled with others, heard their thoughts and ideas about your expertise, then you can’t possibly be considered a thought-leader. You need to be challenged and challenge others.

4. Don’t stop reading: reading about your area of expertise, but additionally other fiction and not fiction books keeps your mind moving. It keeps you thinking about different angles and perspectives. It brings more depth to what you have to say and the way you conduct yourself and your business.

5. Innovate: Thought leaders don’t just replicate what others do, but they think outside the box to innovate within their areas of expertise and take things to the next level. Thought leaders are the ones that disrupt. “


Jan Bednar, CEO, ShipMonk

Here is My Background:

Jan moved to the U.S. from the Czech Republic at 16 to pursue the American dream. In the past three years, he’s grown his ecommerce logistics and fulfillment business into a $10 million (revenues) company. Recently selected as one of Forbes 30 Under 30, he and ShipMonk came from humble beginnings. He founded the company back in 2014 as part of the Tech Runway accelerator program at Florida Atlantic University, and used the proceeds from a pair of business plan victories to proper ShipMonk to what it is today.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

You need to have a passion for your field, first and foremost. Without that passion, your authority will fail to resonate with your audience. You also need to be accessible. Leadership transcends mere knowledge, and the “smartest person in the room” is seldom the most followed. Be humble and accessible to your followers. You must also be engaging. Great thought leadership enrolls your audience and engages them on a path to come to the same conclusion you have come to. Lead your audience on the path, but also be sure that you provide them a way to build on your conclusions. Thought leaders must also be prolific. If you write often on all things covering your industry, your opinion will be expected. Your audience may hold off on forming opinions of a trend until you have weighed in. Finally, utilize new media. Whether it is ephemeral media, live video, or podcasts, you want to ensure that you are taking advantage of every channel available to you to spread your gospel. This is how you can become a thought leader.


Kean Graham, CEO, MonetizeMore

Here is My Background:

“Kean is the Founder & CEO of MonetizeMore. He started MonetizeMore in 2010 with the goal to build a bootstrap business that would dramatically increase ad revenues for publishers. Over the years, Kean has perfected the proprietary MonetizeMore ad optimization model and now increases ad revenues for hundreds of publisher networks in over 40 countries.

Kean is an avid sport enthusiast and an even more passionate guy about traveling. He lives his dream of traveling the world and growing MonetizeMore. Kean believes that everyone on the MonetizeMore team should have location and time freedom. This means each team member has the ability to set their own schedules and work from anywhere in the world. This is the lifestyle Kean has created for himself and he believes each team member deserves a similar work lifestyle.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“We have been creating thought leadership content in the ad optimization industry for 8 years now. It takes consistent thought leadership via multiple channels to establish this level of authority in an industry including the below:

1. Inbound Content: To be a thought leader, you must publish high quality unique content. It’s best to create content via multiple channels like video, blog, podcast and social media.

2. Interact with Other Thought Leaders: To be a leader, you must interact with the other leaders. Authorities tend to interact with other authorities. It’s tough to get your foot in the door sometimes but once you get your break, you can borrow from the others’ authority status.

3. Public Speaking: Speaking in conferences gives you immediate credibility. The bigger the conference, the greater you will boost your credibility. It’s no easy task to get a speaking gig at big conferences but you can start with webinars and grow your audience and legitimacy from there.

4. Disrupt: Thought leaders don’t become thought leaders by agreeing with everyone else. You must establish yourself as a thought leader with original thought. This usually means you should disrupt conventional thinking in your industry.

5. Make a Difference: Some thought leaders achieve their status solely via expressing their opinions, however, it is much more powerful by making a difference. Making a difference could involve building technology that disrupts an industry, achieving unique success stories and/or exemplifying core beliefs via actions and success.

Becoming a thought leader in an industry is one of the most powerful tools for a company. It’s no easy task but following the above guidelines will enable you to achieve this status over time. It has definitely worked for MonetizeMore!”

Extreme telecommuting and 3 ways to approach the boss about going mobile
Statistics suggest that the global remote workforce will reach 1 billion in less than 20 years, yet some large…www.huffingtonpost.com

Robbie Blinkoff, Chief Anthropologist, idfive

Here is My Background:

“As Chief Anthropologist at Baltimore-based integrated marketing firm, Robbie is a strategist, ethnographer, and innovation catalyst. He helps lead, structure, guide, and facilitate all of the thinking parts of idfive’s processes to drive marketing strategy for clients — a full throttle cultural anthropologist and strategy designer. Before idfive, Robbie worked as an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Director of The Pocket Anthropologist at Goucher College, in Baltimore. He holds a B.S. in Psychology from Union College, as well as a M.S. from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Rutgers University. Blinkoff was awarded Fast Company’s Fast 50 and has served as an expert commentator for CBS News, Inc., Wire, The New York Times, and Newsweek.

Robbie brings a unique perspective to the industry as an anthropologist. Having a financial planner talk about financial planning is boring — a thought leader should not only be thoughtful, but also be an unexpected messenger with a resonating but unique voice.

idfive is an award winning integrated, interactive advertising, web design, and brand consulting agency. Founded in 2005, the Baltimore-based agency creates working solutions for clients throughout the United States. Specializing in strategic marketing and web solutions for clients in the fields of higher education, not-for-profit and anyone else whose mission is to do good, idfive brings an unparalleled level of expertise in cutting edge technologies and informed design to its marketing strategies. idfive utilizes the principles of informed design to focus real knowledge of market, audience, competitiveness, design, and technology to create strategies that work best for their clients.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Find deeper insights:

The word most know is ethnography, which came from cultural anthropology, and is a technique based on the idea that directly observing and interacting with people and cultures is the best way to learn why people do what they do. Robbie uses his background in anthropology to discover key insights from his audience, and takes those insights to create the most effective messages.

2. Discover what people really want:

95% of our decisions are subconscious, so marketers need to go beyond listening to what their customers are saying and understand what they’re actually doing. Ethnography is sometimes summed up as walking a mile in a customer’s shoes. It gets you to what people actually want versus what they think they want. What CEO would not like to have that kind of insight in their discovery process?

3. Connect cultural values to consumers:

A thought leader needs to be thoughtful yet unique when it comes to getting his or her message across. As a cultural anthropologist, Robbie helps internalize the fact that consumer motivation has its roots in cultural behavior. When you start to see the world this way, you start to see the larger underlying architecture that guides people’s life choices, which in turn, helps guide overall strategic planning.

4. Go beyond surveys and focus groups:

Traditional tools can be time and cost intensive. Robbie’s use of ethnography is possible in much shorter time frames — it’s even possible to use mobile to get the job done, as idfive frequently implements.

5. Build better relationships:

The business world has found big-data, but it takes more than analytics to build relationships with his audience. As a thought leader, Robbie uses enthography’s ability to provide intimacy and empathy for people’s everyday lives to create genuine trust and lasting relationships.”


Dr. Sunnie Giles, President, Quantum Leadership Group

Here is My Background:

“Dr. Sunnie Giles is a new generation expert on radical innovation who takes the mystery out of what radical innovation is, and how to consistently produce it. By combining her unique expertise in advanced neuroscience, complex systems approach, quantum mechanics, psychology and business, she has produced a breakthrough program called Quantum Leadership.

A former executive at Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Samsung and Accenture, Dr. Giles is a Professionally-Certified Executive Coach, Leadership Development Consultant and Organizational Scientist. She earned her MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business, and a Ph.D. in Systemic Psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy) from Brigham Young University.

Dr. Giles’ approaches to leadership development solves many issues plaguing business: (1) a lack of quantifiable results that tie to the bottom line, (2) temporary change (90% of the learning is lost within one year!), and (3) internally-focused goals that blind organizations to the macro level change in the industry. Her program catalyzes leaders to produce radical innovation, fundamentally changing how the game is played in the industry and producing dramatic, permanent results, often leading to 10x improvements.

Dr. Giles’ methodology has helped hundreds of leaders with tangible tools and frameworks to catalyze radical innovation and transform the organization. She quickly identifies the core issues that hold the highest potential, on the basis of self-discovery, psychological safety, connection among the team, and profuse learning that leads to dramatic, permanent change.

Dr. Giles is the author of the upcoming book, The New Science of Radical Innovation: The Six Competencies Leaders Need to Win in a Complex World (April, 2018). In this book, Dr. Giles reveals a groundbreaking, science-based approach to leadership that harnesses VUCA and decodes the DNA of what makes Silicon Valley giants so successful to produce radical innovation.

She also is a sought-after columnist and expert source, having been published and quoted in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., as well as leading media in Africa, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Spain and Thailand.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Identify a consistent pattern that cuts across multiple disciplines.

For example, you hear your teenager arranging a party to watch a Netflix original show premiere at home. Then you realize what Netflix is doing: bypassing production and distribution companies to go direct to consumers (channel disintermediation), while solving their pain points (wanting to talk with friends, and stay at home while watching a new-release movie). Later, a colleague tells you he is going to Australia and will save 30 percent on transportation costs by taking Uber instead of a cab. Then you realize what Uber is doing: bypassing taxi companies, to connect drivers and consumers directly (channel disintermediation), while solving their pain points (having to handle payments, and the inability to predict when you will get a taxi).

With these two data points, you see a trend.

2. Form a hypothesis.

Your hypothesis is that channel disintermediation is a trend. Then ask yourself, “What conditions have to be true for this hypothesis to be true?” You determine:

1. Mature industry — people are comfortable using it.

2. Technology makes it easy to search alternatives.

3. The product/service category has been around a long time.

4. There’s a relatively high margin (>30 percent) of existing players.

3. Test your hypothesis in your industry.

Determine if these conditions are satisfied in an industry of interest. For example, you research and discover that the eyeglass industry satisfies all conditions, with Luxottica having 80 percent market share (i.e., high margin) on design, manufacture, and distribution of eyeglasses. This is how of an eyeglass industry newcomer Warby Parker, whose founders dropped out of Wharton’s MBA program, created $1.2 billion in market capitalization after five years, by going directly to the consumer.

4. Project to the future — Become a systems thinker.

When you see this working in your industry, you can project how it could work in other industries using systems thinking. Systems thinking doesn’t just look at one side of the equation, but multiple layers several steps ahead. Then you project into the future.

5. Publish your thoughts!

It’s never been easier to publish your thoughts in this ubiquitous social media age. Many platforms are available, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As you build your following, media outlets will notice you and ask for your contributions.

So, you see, everything starts with an observation from a serendipitous experience.


Sharon Rowe, CEO and Founder, Eco-Bags Products, Inc.

Here is My Background:

Sharon Rowe is the CEO and Founder of Eco-Bags Products, Inc. ECOBAGS® is the original reusable bag brand, sold worldwide, recognized as “Best for The World” by Bcorporation for social and environmental commitments and standards.

Sharon is recognized as a thought leader in social innovation, sustainable and responsible, clean supply chain production since 1989. Her brand, ECOBAGS, is recognized as sparking and leading the conversation around the negative impact of single use plastic bags, reframing the conversation with reusable, responsibly made bags.

She speaks regularly on building profitable, mission & value aligned businesses, believing that business can be a force for good, a currency for ideas that shape culture. Her speaking engagements are varied, taking her wide and far, from Yale University to Sing-Sing Prison, the Nairobi Center for Innovation in Kenya to Social Venture Institute conference in the Hudson Valley.

She has been featured in Time Magazine, Glamour Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, on NPR — Air America and, in the award winning documentary, “BagIt” ECOBAGS® were featured on Oprah’s first dedicated Earth Day Show.

Sharon has received numerous awards, including National Enterprising Woman, CBS Radio Women’s Achievement, Westchester Business Council Entrepreneur of the Year, 914Inc-Westcheser Magazine Most Accomplished Women, the Women’s Enterprise Development Center’s Lilian Vernon Award and The Westchester Collaborative Theatre’s Most Valuable Player.

Sharon is the author of, The “Magic Of Tiny Business,” which illustrates how an intentional business can serve the community, a big idea and the person creating it. Seth Godin, the author of Linchpin, has endorsed Sharon’s Book: “”This is a powerful book — Tiny is mighty. Sharon Rowe’s simple shift in thinking is a profound idea, precisely what we need to hear.””

Tiny business focuses on creating a right sized, profitable business, whether it’s a million or multi-million dollar business, and uses the Eco-Bags Products story. The book is due in May 2018 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, with worldwide distribution through Penguin Random House.

Sharon is an active member of the Social Venture Network, the Women’s President’s Organization, has served on The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater board and is on the Westchester Collaborative Theatre board. Eco-Bags Products is a certified BCorporation.

Sharon lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband Blake, a musician and teacher. Her two grown children, Eva and Julian are living out of state, pursuing their interests. Eva, a civil engineer is focused on sustainable design. Julian, a cartoonist is published in The New Yorker Magazine and has contributed to her book.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“I did Stand-Up at an author’s/thought leader’s retreat, recently. When the invite opened for the “talent night” I didn’t hesitate. I put my name on the sign-up sheet in bold, black magic marker and wrote “stand up.” Then I sat down and started to shake. I didn’t sleep well for two nights. What did I get myself into? What could I possibly have to say that would be relevant and funny! It was my first time doing stand-up.

With a few ideas jotted down, I launched into what makes a thought leader. The first few laughs were polite… encouraging, like having mom there. I found my stride, ripping through material getting guffaws, girgles and giggles. I made the connection. I was on for about eight minutes.

What are the top 5 things necessary or needed to become a thought leader? With a thirty year “mission based” business plus a one night doing stand-up here are my thoughts. They all require practice.

1. Boldness: This is the ability to step into places and spaces where you may have fear but you understand how to get out the way of yourself to serve the bigger idea.

2. Persistence: Believing in the big idea is only the start. You need to engage and bring others into your ideas to make them come alive. You need to connect with the idea. Listening to rejections, seeing opportunities in closed doors, leveraging open doors and forming tribes…that’s persistence. Knowing when to stop, reboot, reframe or push on…that’s persistence.

3. Optimism: It’s not about you. The big idea is about something much bigger than you. It is transformational. You have to practice optimism daily. You cannot impose it on anyone else. And, you have to breathe.

4. Failure: You will never completely “know” how to fail so you need to experience failing. If you’re failing, it means you’re trying new ideas. You can fail small or fail big. The key is you fail and then you learn from why you failed and then you continue on.

5. Listening: You need to know how to listen and not just for the answer you want. You need to know how to listen to yourself and listen to others. Listening is about connection. This takes a lot of practice.


Joshua Hunt, CEO and founder, TRELORA

Here is My Background:


Joshua Hunt knows the real estate industry. With two decades of residential real estate experience, Joshua has experience with every piece of the process, for both buying and selling real estate. He knows the real estate market inside and out and used his expertise to found a real estate business that is unlike all the rest.


Joshua recognized a need for a different type of real estate company. A company focused on the best interests of the customer, that would provide first class service and guidance through an often complicated process. A real estate company that would save the homeowner money and protect their home equity. Joshua combined his real estate experience and expertise with the desire for change and founded TRELORA Real Estate in 2011. TRELORA is a true game changer in the industry, providing commission-free real estate to buyers and sellers.


Joshua also strongly believes in spreading the wealth. TRELORA launched The Green Pigs, a separate non-profit dedicated to giving back to the community in 2014. The Green Pigs find creative ways to “Pig It Forward”, including paying the monthly mortgage of at least one deserving homeowner a month. TRELORA also encourages its clients to consider giving some of what they saved through commission-free real estate back into the community. Joshua also volunteers with Denver Rescue Mission and other organizations through Colorado. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Leadership is one’s ability to get others to not only follow, but participate in the journey while seeing the same destination with great enthusiasm and joy.

You must have strong courage. When embarking on new roads many times you are faced with big, complicated obstacles that can be frightening and overwhelming. It is the commitment to find strength in times of pain or grief.

You must dwell in curiosity. Always keeping an open mind and willingness to ask questions without having a predetermined judgment, answer or solution. It is the commitment to live in curiosity and never judgment.

You must have the ability to persist. Too often in life the opportunity to give up when times get hard presents itself, and we take the easy way out, quit or give up. If you start, you must finish. It is the commitment to persist without exception.

You must live in gratitude. It is easy to lose sight of all the great things that surround us in times of confusion or challenge. There is always greatness and wonder all around us, we must always seek it. It is the commitment to greet each day with a grateful heart.

You must always forgive. So often we get caught up in how we have been wronged by another and then allow that to hold us back. Many times the person who needs the forgiveness the most is ourselves. It the commitment to live with a forgiving spirit.

And a bonus..

You must LOVE.. Love is a big scary word, especially in business. More can be done if we seek to look at one another with a high level of compassion. Everyone wants to know they matter and who they are is important. It is the commitment to love people for who they are and where they stand.”

Dr. Philip J. Miller

Here is My Background:

Dr. Philip J. Miller is a NYC based Facial Plastic Surgeon who launched Gotham Plastic Surgery in 201o as it married two surgical disciplines into one.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Knowledge on the subject matter

2) At least 10,000 hours of experience

3) Followership, not just leadership. People may listen to you because they have to, but if they follow you, that’s thought leadership and

4) Ladder of credibility — being recognized by your peers and reputable third party resources

5) Being a good person and doing the right thing. It’s important to be a thought leader, but what you do with it is what counts.


Linsey McNew, Boss, Communications Consultant

Here is My Background:

“As an independent communications strategist, Linsey works with agencies and organizations as a seamless extension of the team providing scalable strategies as projects and time demand. With deep experience designing and executing socially integrated global marketing campaigns, Linsey specializes in telling stories that matter. Over the last 15 years, she has creatively crafted and managed programs such as new company launches and product news as well as gained market momentum for clients at events like ACL, SXSW, Web Summit, F.ounders, CES, RSA, HIMSS and Mobile World Congress.

When Linsey’s not connecting sources and storytellers, she’s traveling with her daughter and husband who is an independent stage manager and backline tech for bands and brands”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

(1) perspective on a topic relevant to the current news cycle; (2) strong perspective on a controversial topic; (3) clear perspective on making something negative or challenging, positive; (4) relevant experience — action that backs you up; (5) supportive, thriving community willing to share what you serve

Dr. Jodi Ashbrook, Founder, The Yoga Movement, ZenLeader & Elevate Higher Ed

Here is My Background:

“Dr. Jodi Ashbrook is a Speaker, Author, Yoga Teacher & Entrepreneur, owning & operating ventures that offer holistic wellness education and professional development: The Be Brand®, ZenLeader®, The Yoga Movement, and Elevate Higher Ed.

The Be Brand® is an inspirational retail line tied to The Yoga Movement, Ashbrook’s global non-profit mission to deliver wellness tools to businesses, institutions, and studios. Ashbrook is endorsed as a Kulae DiploMAT Ambassador, driving their “Real Good Karma” corporate mission to create a more sustainable world. ZenLeader, Ashbrook’s educational platform launching in 2018, will help everyday people find their calm in the corporate chaos through virtual and live workshop offerings.

As Co-Founder of Elevate Higher Ed, Ashbrook offers consulting services that help institutions advance in academics, student support, enrollment growth and improve the overall student journey.

Ashbrook has published Looking at Life through the Lesson Lenses, and will be releasing her newest book later this year: Breaking through the Box — which inspires people to follow their dreams and embrace their own unique, purpose-filled life journey, as an alternative to the conventional “beaten path”.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Identify Your Purpose: In order to become a thought leader, you must first identify your topic, recognize why you’re passionate, and uncover your purpose that is tied to that subject matter accordingly.

2) Be Authentic: Once you’ve uncovered your passion and purpose, you should develop your own unique personal brand that is authentic to who you really are. Why do you care so deeply for this topic and what are you hoping to accomplish as a thought leader? Set your intention, map out your strengths & differentiators as a leader, and streamline your communication accordingly.

3) Understand Your Audience: Once you’ve identified your purpose and what you represent, you will need to get educated on the audience you’re trying to connect with. How will your platform drive value and resonate with those who share your passion? Where does your audience generally prefer to consume content on this topic? Your answers will dictate how to best network accordingly so you can expand your reach and build your brand.

4) Share Your Story: Once you’ve decided which platforms you’ll leverage to deliver your authentic message, it’s time to get active. Share your story across those platforms on a regular basis that you’ve nailed down as most effective, whether it be through blogging, social media dialogue, live events, podcasts, video, etc. and create and repurpose your customized content accordingly.

5) Establish Credibility: It’s unrealistic to expect that you will become a thought leader overnight. Establishing credibility takes time, meaningful connections, and expertise. If you’re not a Marketing or PR guru, I suggest you align with one who can guide you through the process of media outreach and speaker submissions so you can gain as much visibility as possible and share your passion with the world.

Mikko Honkanen, Co-Founder, Vainu.io

Here is My Background:

“Before launching Vainu, Mikko Honkanen was a multi-national director for global media monitoring company Meltwater. He gained experience across the Nordics as an area director and country director for Finland and grew the company and a team in Silicon Valley as regional director for the North America West division.

Through his experience working in the media landscape and with Big Data, Honkanen and his business partners realized a need for a broader B2B service that allowed business development professionals from many different industries the kinds of targeted insights and triggers they need to make smart, efficient prospecting decisions. The company’s three co-founders began immediately bootstrapping in 2014, developing a pitch for their SaaS product Vainu, a data-driven lead and prospecting platform. The company now includes five offices in two continents and does more than $1 million in monthly sales and bookings.

The word Vainu is Finnish and roughly translates to “scent on the hunt.” The name captured the impact the product would have on sales people — offering them insights as sharp as a dog’s nose that let them know when to approach prospects — the best times and places to be “on the hunt” for new business.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Here are my top five tips for becoming a thought leader.

– Focus on something you’re really good at. For me, that’s providing valuable information about B2B sales processes and software solutions. This is where I’ve spent my entire professional career and it is something I’m completely passionate about. Find your niche and focus on that.

– Read, watch and listen to other thought leaders. The best writers are voracious readers. The most equipped thought leaders soak in useful knowledge from a variety of sources to refine their viewpoints and published materials.

-Have a point of view that’s uniquely yours. While thought leaders are definitely inspired by others, the best ultimately come to their own conclusions and create unique and insightful content that informs and awakens their target audience. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain if you feel strong enough about your viewpoint. The best thought leaders are oftentimes pioneers.

– Challenge yourself frequently. Thought leaders need to challenge their own assumptions, learn to think critically and be willing to adapt as needed. Thought leaders need to, in many ways, be one step ahead of the present moment with their understanding of their core areas. This means that they need to never settle and always remain active learners.

-Practice being a thought leader. Of course, you know the saying: Practice makes perfect. This is true when it comes to thought leadership. Start small: Work on a weekly blog, make some presentations within a smaller organization or community and continue to spread out from there. You will learn to be more comfortable and confident as a thought leader.


Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation

Here is My Background:

“As CEO of MyCorporation.com, Deborah Sweeney is an advocate for protecting personal and business assets for business owners and entrepreneurs. With her extensive experience in the field of corporate and intellectual property law, Deborah can provide insightful commentary on the benefits, barriers and who should consider incorporation and trademark registration. She also has extensive experience in the start-up and entrepreneurial industry as she has been involved in the formation of hundreds of thousands of MyCorporation.com’s customers.

Ms. Sweeney joined MyCorporation in 2003 after serving as outside general counsel for 5 years. She received her Juris Doctor and Masters in Business Administration degrees from Pepperdine University and is a member of the American Bar Association. She also serves on the Board of Regents at California Lutheran University and is a founding member of Partners of Pepperdine.

Deborah has served as an adjunct professor at the University of West Los Angeles and San Fernando School of Law in the area of corporate and intellectual property law. Because of her extensive knowledge, Sweeney has long served as a speaker and panelist on legal issues affecting new to the world and growing businesses.

Ms. Sweeney is also well-recognized for her written work online as a contributing writer with some of the top business and entrepreneurial blogging sites. Her account with Forbes has featured articles with upward to 286,000 views and she also regularly contributes to The Huffington Post, Social Media Today, Business.com, and has articles featured on American Express, Business Insider, and Fox Business, among other sites.

In her ‘free’ time, Deborah enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, Benjamin and Christopher. Deborah believes in the importance of family and credits the entrepreneurial business model for giving her the flexibility to enjoy both a career and motherhood. Connect with her on Google+ and follow Deborah on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

I would say that thought leadership has to involve a background in a particular subject or topic area. Often, education is a good starting point. Then, experience in the industry or field (usually several years’ worth) is important, along with having diverse experience. For example, if a particular thought leader has business and legal experience, then having educational background is a strong starting point. Then, experience, for example, in the legal world and the business world would help to add some good perspective. Also, having unique experience — corporate and entrepreneurial experience — is valuable. The deeper the perspective, the more varied and diverse you have, the better you can add thought leadership. One other key element to being a thought leader is to be a good communicator. Many thought leaders are writers or speakers who must share their narrative with a wide audience and be able to successfully reach them exactly where they are. As a thought leader, you should be able to communicate your story in a way that really resonates with others regardless of their career path. Often, this is done by sharing stories of successes or failures — particularly mistakes made and how you would do it differently knowing what you know now.

Skyler Ditchfield, CEO, GeoLinks

Here is My Background:

Skyler Ditchfield is the Co-Founder and CEO of GeoLinks, the №1 fastest growing fixed wireless ISP in the country, and Inc. Magazine’s 2017 №5 Fastest Growing Telecommunications Company in America. Under his leadership, Ditchfield has led the company to record more than 100% growth for six years straight and is on track for its seventh. Aside from evolving what began as a two-person operation in 2011, into what is now a 65 employee (and quickly growing) 8-figure company, Ditchfield is passionate about cultivating the best company culture around — one that combines respect, collaboration and a “best idea wins mantra.” In 2017, he was recognized as a “Top Innovator in Diversity and Inclusion”, in addition to “World’s Top 5 Best Businessmen of 2017” alongside Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

With a clear passion and dedication to providing affordable broadband to Anchor Institutions across the country, Skyler was a featured speaker at the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition’s (SHLB) 7th Annual National Convention in June of 2017. He took the stage addressing how and why GeoLinks’ fixed wireless technology, ClearFiber™, is a viable solution when looking to close the digital divide in United States’ rural communities. Following his address, GeoLinks was officially inducted into SHLB membership where Ditchfield currently sits on the fundraising council.

Futher recognizing him as an industry innovator and thought-leader, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai formally appointed Ditchfield to the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group in August of 2017. Shortly thereafter, Ditchfield was recruited to serve on a variety of national and local boards such as the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA). This fall, Skyler presented as a headlining speaker at the Telecom Council’s TC3 Summit in Silicon Valley, a global round-up of telcos, vendors, VCs, and startups from every corner of the ecosystem gather to discover the latest innovations in telecom, where he took the stage to address “Closing the Digital Divide”.

Past the stage and appointments, Ditchfield has grown a prominent following on Twitter provoking Public and Political discussions revolving the digital divide, net neutrality, and all things telecom.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. First and foremost, you must have a comprehensive understanding of the industry.

2. Furthermore, it’s vital to understand the regulatory and governmental landscape that impacts your industry.

3. You have to be capable of designing a new solution, and then know how to articulate it both in layman’s terms and to the technical expert.

4. You have to be a problem solver, and publically present viable solutions for the issue you are addressing.

5. Finally, you must be able to have difficult debates publically with someone on the other side of your opinion or stance. While complete resolution isn’t always feasible, it’s important that a thought leader be able to articulate their opinion in a competent, consistent, and persuasive manner.

To be a “Thought Leader”, you need to not only be an expert on the technical aspects of your topic but you also need to see the path forward to creating a better environment, situation or solution. For example, in my space, telecom, not only do I understand all the technical and business aspects but I also am cognizant of the government policy and regulatory landscape that impacts my field. I consistently analyze what needs to change in order to create the best “end product” or solution. Moreover, you need to do more than just “talk the talk”. I actively contribute and participate in any way I can to the efforts that will ultimately accomplish the solutions that I present.

Rural service is key to bridging the digital divide
Of the more than 30 million people in the United States without access to the internet, some 6 million of them are…www.rcrwireless.com

Natalie Sexton, Director of Marketing, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company

Here is My Background:

Natalie Sexton is one of the foremost experts on clean label juice and namesake of one of the most successful line of juices in the country: Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company.

In 1990, Sexton’s mother, Marygrace, started Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company, and named it after her newborn daughter. Young Natalie’s journey to the top ranks of the family company started when she was just an infant. Twenty-seven years later, Sexton is using her expertise to raise awareness on the many misconceptions about “healthy” food and juices, particularly in the areas of processing, labeling, and shelf-life.

Sexton’s lifelong passion for health and fitness dovetails the company’s mission to provide the freshest, most nutritious juices in the industry. She has developed some of Natalie’s most popular juices using superfoods for maximum nutrition, touting a long list of health benefits.

Her strong commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of individuals and communities around the world has been ongoing. In college, she traveled the world serving underprivileged communities in over 11 different countries. At Natalie’s, she has spearheaded many of the company’s philanthropic initiatives, benefiting women in need of medical care, educating children on the importance of nutrition, and feeding the homeless in the local community.

Sexton graduated from Rollins College in 2011 with a degree in Economics.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

o Be Passionate — In order to be an authentic thought leader, you will need to be passionate, if not obsessed, with the industry topic or cause you chose to champion. So chose your area of expertise carefully. It’s okay if it’s niche. Just make sure it’s something you really care about, so that your passion, which is contagious by the way, will catch on with others.

o Be Vocal — It’s one thing to come up with thought-provoking insights about your industry but quite another to get these viewpoints shared with others. To do so, you’ll need to leverage any and all communication platforms available to you. This means spreading the word across your social media channels, online blogs (both internal to your company and external), your LinkedIn network and with any interviews you do with the press. Initially, you’ll need to broadcast far and wide in order to build-up a following.

o Be Knowledgeable — To be an effective thought leader, it’s important to have in-depth knowledge of the cause, position or topic you stand for or believe in. You need to be able to defend your position to the naysayers in your industry who will, regrettably, discourage any agent of change that threatens their status quo. Effective disruptors need to know their industry inside and out, before they can initiate real change.

o Be Relatable — Understand your audience and know that some of the new thoughts you present may be totally foreign, and sometimes off-putting, to the general masses. That’s why it’s one of your jobs as a successfully thought leader to present this groundbreaking information in a relatable way, so that it becomes easier to understand and adopt as a viable position. Do so by presenting in an authoritative, but affable, non-confrontational manner.

o Be Present — Become a recognized persona not only online, but when you’re on the ground at industry events such as trade shows and conferences. Look for opportunities to speak or join an expert’s panel at these events — so that your views can get an audience with a larger network of peers. Then be sure to engage with those whom your message has resonated and add them to your network.

Bri Seeley, Coach, Author + Speaker at Bri Seeley

Here is My Background:

Bri Seeley is an inspirational woman who supports women around the world to bring their visions to life. Bri is motivated by a deeply-held belief that every woman deserves to live a life that inspires her, and her work reflects this deep remembering that our desires are ultimately inevitable. A catalyst, speaker, and best-selling author of Permission to Leap, Bri is a regular contributor for The Huffington Post and Influencive and is known around the world for her compassionate, yet tell-it-like-it-is guidance that creates massive and epic changes in every woman she encounters. You may have seen her on NBC’s The TODAY Show, Forbes, Inc, Medium, PBS, and Free Enterprise.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. In order to be a thought leader, you have to know who you are, who you are leading and why, the ins and outs of your opinions, and truly connect with your passion for the subject. You need to know yourself before you can lead anyone else. Take time and energy to examine your beliefs, passions and values. It will serve you in developing longevity as a thought leader.

2. Have you ever noticed thought leaders don’t waver? They don’t have inflections in their speech? They don’t second guess themselves? Confidence is a key component for thought leadership. This encompasses not only how you communicate verbally and your body language, but also how you react to opposition. Not everyone is going to agree with you, so prepare yourself now and learn to embody the confidence to look past what you can’t control.

3. Being a thought leader isn’t about you. It’s about ushering in a new perspective, consciousness and understanding into the world. Remember that your thought leadership is a gift and you are simply the messenger. The more you can get out of the way and allow the message to come through you, the more success you will experience. Develop a vision which encompasses more than just you so you are able to truly serve as altruistically and powerfully as possible.

4. Whether you believe your dreams are possible or you believe your dreams are impossible, you’re right. Holding onto fears or hesitations about being visible in the public eye or using your voice to speak your message will not allow you to create the impact you desire. It is crucial that you heal any fears around visibility because holding onto them will continually drag you down and prevent you from being the thought leader you are meant to be.

5. On the path of becoming a thought leader, you will face more ups, downs, twists and turns than the most monstrous roller coaster. And on the days when you experience the downs, it’s imperative you maintain your hope, vision and tenacity. The willingness to do whatever it takes in pursuit of your goal is what has allowed me to weather a decade of entrepreneurship.”


Shade Adu, Brand Strategist, Savvy Solutions Consulting

Here is My Background:

Shadé Y. Adu, a personal brand strategist, international speaker, bestselling author, and founder of Savvy Solutions Consulting, LLC. Shade helps women entrepreneurs use the power of social media and live streaming to brand, build, and monetize digital programs, products, and services. Shadé has been featured in Hello Beautiful, Black Enterprise, The Network Journal, and the Rachel Ray Show. Shadé has spoken at and facilitated numerous workshops in Kazakhstan, Ghana, and universities, high schools, and institutions throughout the United States.

In addition to being a full-time entrepreneur, Shadé is a full-time doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the recipient of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship. Shadé attributes her success to a network of mentors and spiritual favor. With a sincere passion for her line of work and a tenacious drive to succeed, Shadé is sure to make even more colossal changes in the world around her.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Thought Leaders must be recognized experts that people exactly pay attention to. You can’t just call yourself I thought leader. It is a designation that is given to you.

Thought Leaders are industry disruptors and innovators. They go against the grain the think outside of the box.

Thought Leaders understand that their contribution to their world is all about making a highly level connect and making deep impact in the world. Thought leaders inspire people.

Thought Leaders create content. They are Googleable and express their content freely on and online.

Thought Leaders understand their higher calling and are okay with being a visible influencer.

Thought Leaders are human and we must not forget that they are not perfect.


Joel Klein, IMBC President and Founder of a Jewish “Shark Tank” Style Platform

Here is My Background:

“I was born, raised and currently am a part of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, the “Haredi” community. In this community, our education system is mainly focused on Torah and Talmudic studies, so I really had to find and make my own way when it came to pursuing a career outside of Jewish studies. I started off as a Rabbi, and through my passion for the business world as well as helping others, I learned about my ability to help business owners succeed by coaching them and strategically connecting them to the right people.

Being a self-made coach and consultant without any formal business education, I always felt that I needed to receive a business certification in order to be legitimized and to gain more professional insight. After extensive research, I finally found the certification that fit my needs. However, it took me several years to work up the courage to sign up because I wasn’t sure how I would be received outside my community. As an ultra-Orthodox Jew, I have many religious and cultural restrictions and requirements that can make it difficult to fit in and to be accommodated. Not many people in my community receive formal business training outside of my community, and I had to drive 6 hours from Brooklyn to Syracuse just to attend the training program. Luckily, I had the support of my family, as well as my study partner, who pushed me to take the final steps and commit to the long drive and temporary leave from my community in order to pursue my dreams.

Going to Syracuse and attending the program also came with a lot of challenges for me. I had to explain my background and restrictions, such as my practicing of Shabbos, my need for kosher dining and my inability to shake hands with the opposite gender, to the President of the Association with the hopes that he would make exceptions for me. Being the only ultra-orthodox Jewish person in attendance, I knew that this was a lot to ask of the President and was grateful to see how accommodating everyone was. They switched around the training dates and times in order to accommodate my holiday and religious schedule. There was no kosher food in the area, so we shipped food from Brooklyn for the time I was training. This willingness on their part to understand the community I am a part of and help me uphold my values while studying elsewhere, sparked something in me. I realized the importance of bringing outside investors and business people and introducing them to our Haredi community, in order to better connect the Haredi business people with professionals who can help them grow further — despite the cultural barriers.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Don’t be afraid of your past — I think I used to pretend that I didn’t go through the challenges that I did, that somehow those pitching me or asking for help wouldn’t trust my advice if they knew I struggled. Turns out, it’s quite the opposite, when I started explaining where I came from, and what it took for me to get where I am, I realized that it was more of an advantage rather than disadvantage.

Not being an expert can be an advantage — Being able to come off genuine and approachable is key, and for that reason, when I get pitched on a product that I am not familiar with the industry, I use my honesty and genuine curiosity to learn more from the person pitching us.

Never stop networking — I try to continue relationships with all those who I have helped, emailing or talking on the phone on a monthly basis, checking in to see how they are doing. I do this simply because I am interested in how they are doing, and I know that this relationship could benefit one of us or both of us in the future.

Step outside your comfort zone — It’s easy to get caught up in our own success thinking that it will last forever. However, comfort in business can lead to complacency. That is why it’s critical to step outside your comfort zone to try something new. Are your skills up to speed? Should you go back to school? Are you current with the latest trends in digital marketing? Do you need to network more? By constantly refreshing and challenging ourselves, we can identify new opportunities and stay one-step ahead of the competition.

Study more — Learning is central to Judaism, and business. Yet running a business can be all-consuming, leaving very little time for intellectual pursuits unrelated to your company. Whether it’s studying Torah, reading books about your favorite period of history or taking art classes — learning new things keeps your mind sharper and more productive and opens up new perspectives to apply to your business. When you see learning as a business objective, you’ll find the time for it.”


Jesse J Garnier, Founder and CEO of FreedomTraxx25 ltd, Co-Founder of JGL Productions inc, Business consultant, Mindset Coach, Visionary.

Here is My Background:

“Growing up in a small heavy industrial town in Alberta, Canada, I had an interesting childhood, some would call it fortunate, some would look at it as a disaster with a happy ending.

Parents divorced at a young age, both re-married, which brought in more influencers into my life. My Mom, the most wonderful lady in the entire world (my idol for most of my life), passed away from circumstances still undetermined when I was only 20 years old. This tore me apart.

My dad, one of the most genuine people you could ever meet, was all for job security, always pushing me to just get a secure job, with a steady shift, income and benefits.

My step dad who owned his own trucking company in the oil and gas industry always taught me the value of hard work into something you believe in can result in much greater rewards both financially and if done right can provide the life you could ever desire.

I was always torn, but you need to understand, when I make a decision, I go all in on it. My wife and I started dating when we were only 15, and from that moment, I knew I was going to marry her and spend my entire life with her. Work, I go in with intent that I will own that business one day. Even when I start from the bottom.

I worked a few different careers straight out of high school. All in hopes of achieving the end goal of becoming my own boss. 2 out of 3 of the jobs almost resulted in me buying the companies I worked for before I was even 24 years old.

Deals fell through for multiple reasons, first one being that it was not my dream vision, and the second, the owner at the time became greedy at the last minute and wanted too much for the business. At the time, disappointment set in, looking back, I am grateful for every single event that has taken place in my life.

The third major job I had was one that I never enjoyed at all, so I was always keeping an eye out for new opportunity. I found a group of mentors willing to show me the ropes into the online business world. I jumped on it. While working up to 16 hours per day, and trying to have a family life with my 1.5 year old son and my wife who was pregnant with our second child, a baby girl, trying to juggle it all was busy, but worth it.

I was able to get to the top and broke many records, but the thing is that if you are not consistently building yourself up and learning, then you will start to go into a downward spiral.

As I realized I was going downhill, I started researching into mindset training, and started investing heavily into different mindset courses, seminars, events, coaching, and more. I became addicted to growth, and even more to the fact that by changing the way you think, you can start to create whatever reality you want for yourself. I was able to get back up to and beyond where I was business wise, and much further in my mindset. I have become unstoppable.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“1. In my opinion a thought leader needs to understand that no matter what, as a society, we will never be as efficient as possible. We need to continually be learning and growing in order to keep up with this quickly evolving and changing world. Too many people give in to society and just accept the idea that life is what it is, when in fact if we all collectively come together and work as a team, we could start to overcome any problem any size.

2. Do not worry about what others think about your thoughts. Leaders do not waste their thoughts on wondering what others will think about them. Most of the time that you spend worrying about others thoughts about you are made up thoughts within your own mind anyways. It is none of your business what others think about you. Leaders do as they feel is necessary in order to achieve the result they are chasing.

3. Speak your mind. Learn to speak about your thoughts no matter how hard it can be. You could have some of the greatest ideas or thoughts in your mind, but if you do not speak about them, then you will take them to the grave. Learn to express them with the proper people and maybe then these thoughts will become revolutionary.

4. Take action. An idea or thought that is not spoken about or not brought to action is nothing at the end of the day. Think about where this world could be if every single person out there actually spoke about their thoughts? We could be much further ahead in many different areas, however most people with great ideas hold them in, and never share or never take action.

5. Most importantly, invest in yourself. I don’t mean purely financially. Do not be afraid to invest into different courses, training, coaching, mentorship, because at the end of the day, you can learn how to get inside their heads. Figure out how their brains work, study and learn to get on the same wavelength as some of the most powerful minds in the world. Invest your time into reading their books, and learning anything you can. The best place to invest your time or money is in your own brain, because if you learn it, nobody can ever take it from you.


Vicki Mayo, CEO & Co-Founder, The TouchPoint Solution

Here is My Background:

Entrepreneur, public servant, child advocate, wife, mother… Suffice it to say that Vicki Mayo has been on a mission of making a difference in the lives of a broad spectrum of people. That mission has led her to a cofound The Touchpoint SolutionTM, a cutting edge tech company that brings TouchPointsTM to the masses.

Prior to starting TouchPointTM, Mayo served in variety of roles for Arizona State Government as Chief Transformation Officer and Deputy Assistant Director for the Department of Economic Security. She had previously been appointed Deputy Director of the AZ Department of Child Safety by Governor Doug Ducey.

Mayo has enjoyed a successful entrepreneurial business career. Prior to her appointment by the Governor, she assisted in growing Valor Global into an international company with approx 1,000 employees in three continents. Valor Global is a leading Managed IT Services, Call Center and Service Desk Provider for SMBs and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to Valor Global, Mayo started and owned a national hotel management company, Mayo Hotel Management, LLC.

Mayo has over 15 years of experience in various roles in child welfare, such as supporting the efforts of the Court Appointed Special Advocate program (CASA) as well as creating a camp for foster siblings and Co-founding the Keys to Success Program which focuses on foster youth aging out of the system. Previous to that, Mayo was a foster parent of two boys who had been abandoned by their parents. “

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Have a passion. If you don’t know what you like, you can’t be a leader in the field.

2. Be inquisitive and learn on your own. Did you know most Ted talks aren’t’ done by people that are the most knowledgeable in the field? They are done by the people who are passionate about the field. By asking questions and keeping an open mind, you are setting yourself up to be a thought leader.

3. Understand Omni-channel branding. Thought leaders know that when they are doing and sharing a message on Instagram versus a blog post, the way in which they position and share the same message changes. Without an intimate understanding of each platform and how to leverage it, you can’t be a thought leader.

4. Know that’s it OK to give someone a “Napster moment”. A napster moment is when someone who has no business being in business get’s in your business and may put you out of business. I.e Napster and Sean parker. Or take Vicki Mayo and TouchPoints — an entrepreneur with no background in manufacturing building a wearable device and an app in 12 months, and quickly dominating the wearables market.

5. Don’t doubt yourself. Thought leaders aren’t afraid to take risks and sometimes those risks turn out to be wrong. But the risks make you uniquely you. Wisdom never came from never making a mistake.”


Ashkan Kouchak, CEO, Spectrums Inc.

Here is My Background:

Ashkan Kouchak is a serial entrepreneur from Toronto, Canada. He’s successfully started and managed companies in various industries, including retail, mobile and app development, advertising and Real Estate. Ashkan continuously is seeking out new ways to disrupt the status quo, and Spectrums, a new app available on iOS and Android, is his latest venture.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

The first two most important things are to be able to listen and learn constantly. Paradigms are shifting in both tech and business so quickly, that it’s important, if you want to be truly effective, if you want people to resonate with the knowledge you wish to share, to listen to what’s happening and to learn new ways of working, collaborating and communicating effectively with ever more savvy audiences. Then, you need to go out and “do”. Show by doing, show your work and how effective your methods are by putting them into practice. The fourth thing a thought leader needs to remember to do, to be effective, is to know when to re-calibrate and refine their methods. There’s always a better way to do something! Don’t be afraid to adapt! Finally, don’t forget to keep building your relationships by seeking out synergies with other thought leaders that may have slightly different approaches. As long as you’re always communicating with your peers and your community, and remaining open to new ideas and change, your audience will continue to be receptive to your methods and approach.

Areiel Wolanow, Managing Director, Finserv Experts

Here is My Background:

Areiel Wolanow is the managing director of Finserv Experts, an independent consultancy that provides both advisory and solution delivery expertise in blockchain, machine learning, and financial inclusion.

Areiel is a recognized international thought leader in emerging technologies for financial services. In the blockchain space, Areiel has advised central banks on blockchain adoption and led both the design and delivery of trade finance solutions for major global banks, as Bank of America and HSBC. In the machine learning space, Areiel led the implementation of a machine learning-based credit scoring system that uses Keyna’s world-leading mPesa mobile payments platform as a data source, and has addressed the G20 on the ability of machine learning to radically transform our ability to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in some of the world’s poorest regions.

Areiel is currently working with the Lloyd’s of London global insurance market to lead the design of a blockchain-enabled claims and settlement solution for all of their post-placement processing. He is a US citizen, a UK permanent resident, and has successfully led and delivered projects in over 40 countries around the world.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. The ability to see a problem

A current problem, by definition, is one somebody hasn’t solved yet. A good thought leader understands a problem’s causes in a way that isn’t already universally understood. Some accomplish this with amazing intellect, others with profound empathy for how people experience the problem. Both can articulate the it in a new way; one that makes it easier for people recognize and understand.

2. The ability to synthesize a new solution

Good thought leaders need to do more than identify problems, they need to solve them. Almost always, this requires the ability to apply ideas, techniques, and experiences from other domains. A deep expert in a single field can optimize existing processes and solutions, but genuine change or disruption usually requires as broad a frame of reference as possible. The world’s leading disruptors invariably have wide and diverse interests; consider the likes of Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk.

3. The ability to be taken seriously

Even the best new ideas will go nowhere if the person who thought of it cannot get other people to take them seriously — good thought leaders need good communication skills and strong personal credibility. This doesn’t’ necessarily mean decades of experience, but whether drawing on a lifetime of expertise or a single moment’s epiphany, you need to be able to pitch your idea in a compelling way if you want it to change the world.

4. A well-developed network

If you understand the problem, have a good solution, and know how to get people to believe in it, the next thing you need is someone to tell. Some invest time and effort to grow such networks themselves; some depend on the networking skills of others. Either way, successful thought leaders spend as much time thinking systematically about their networks of influence as they do thinking about the ideas themselves.

5. Willingness to execute

Having an idea or selling it successfully doesn’t count for much if its implementation fails. This doesn’t mean that every thought leader needs to be a competent delivery leader. Most would find it dreadfully boring, and want to move on quickly to the next big idea. But regardless of personal interest or aptitude in delivering their ideas, a good thought leader understands the need to remain engaged in the implementation of their solution, and stay involved enough to help guide it to successful delivery.

Ray Higdon, Co-Founder, Higdon Group

Here is My Background:

Ray Higdon is the co-founder of the Higdon Group and was recognized recently on the Inc. 5000 list as well as the Entrepreneur 360 list for innovation, impact and growth. He is a two time best selling author and is married with three kids and lives in Southwest Florida.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Know who you are talking to. When I say know them I mean for you to know what obstacles they have, know why they toss and turn at night and know what they TRULY crave in life, not just what they may tell someone in a cosmetically pleasing manner.

2. Immerse yourself in you arena. You aren’t going to become a thought leader overnight. In Mark Cuban’s book, “How to win at the sport of business”, he describes going to trade shows and being the smartest one there simply because he read the trade magazines and the other vendors didn’t. MOST of your competition is NOT going to immerse into education, they are going to focus on how to make money NOT knowing their craft inside and out.

3. Move forward imperfectly. Every year thousands of could be thought leaders PLAN their perfect plan but never actually make a move. Brendon Burchard says it best that version 1.0 is infinitely better than 0.0. Our first version of about everything we have ever done was wrought with flaws, but, we got em out there and improved along the way.

4. Don’t have be a thought leader as your goal. To have a goal to be a thought leader is honestly a little strange. Instead, have a goal to make an impact, make a difference, heck, even make money and IF you serve your people well enough, they will naturally elect you as a thought leader.

5. Be Consistent. There were days I didn’t want to work but my vision made me. IF you aren’t consistent in showing up in your business, it is most likely because you lack a vision of who you want to become. Whether you feel like it or not, SHOW UP and show up consistently. Your next raving fan may have missed all your last videos or books, pretend that each day you have the opportunity to find that next big fan that is going to connect you to your break-though connection.”


Dr. Chip R. Bell, Senior Partner, The Chip Bell Group

Here is My Background:

Dr. Chip R. Bell is founder and senior partner with The Chip Bell Group and manages the office near Atlanta. A renowned keynote speaker, his consulting firm focuses on helping organizations create a culture that supports long-term customer loyalty and service innovation.

Prior to starting CBG in the 1980s, he was Director of Management and Organization Development for NCNB (now Bank of America). Dr. Bell holds graduate degrees from Vanderbilt University, and the George Washington University. Additionally, he was a highly decorated infantry unit commander in Vietnam with the elite 82nd Airborne and a guerilla tactics instructor at the Army Infantry School.

Chip is the author or co-author of several national and international best-selling books including Managers as Mentors with Marshall Goldsmith; The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service; Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service; Take Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers; Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do about it with John Patterson (winner of a 2012 Axiom Business Book Award as well as a 2011 IPPY Book Award), Magnetic Service (winner of the Benjamin Franklin Book Award); and Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service.

His newest book is Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles (winner of American Book Fest’s Best Book Award for Marketing).

He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, ABC, Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, NPR; his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, Inc. Magazine, CEO Magazine, Fast Company and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Global Gurus has ranked Dr. Bell among the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service for three of the past four years, including two years in the top slot.

The Chip Bell Group was in 2014 ranked #6 in North America among mid-sized consulting firms for leadership development.

Chip logs over 100,000 miles a year speaking to organizations on long-term customer loyalty and innovative service.

He has served as a consultant or trainer to such major brands as GE, Microsoft, USAA, Exxon/Mobil, Cadillac, Duke Energy, KeyBank, Ritz-Carlton Hotels, IBM, Marriott, Fidelity Investments, Caterpillar, True-Value, McDonald’s, Shell Oil, Harley-Davidson, Dole, Universal Studios, Accenture, Lockheed-Martin, Pfizer, Allstate and Verizon Wireless.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

It is a funny phrase — thought leader. Animating the label implies humorous images of big thoughts sitting around in a meeting waiting for direction; or minor thoughts working in tiny cubicles hoping to be recognized for their value. It is a label given to subject matter experts who are generally very smart. But, using the ones I have personally known as specimens for analysis, their influence comes from features other than their intellect.

1. Thought Leaders Value Grounding

In times of massive change, people need a constant they can count on. That constant must be compelling and relevant; a foundation for everything. Grounding nurtures an internal flame that keeps others armed with a sense of purpose and calling. Thought leaders know the key to keeping that flame burning is to give everyone a match!

2. Thought Leaders Are Connected

“You can pretend to care; you cannot pretend to be there,” wrote Texas Bix Bender describing a vital feature of thought leadership: command presence. People who spend time in the military know command presence is the power and practice of effective leaders — focused, attentive, and engaged. Command presence is not about control, it is about connection; it is not about power, it is about partnership.

3. Thought Leaders Keep Relationships Democratic

Power-free is the essence of effective leadership. Thought leaders focus on support, not subservience; on commitment, not compliance. They enlist others as alliance builders working for the greater good of creating distinctive products, superior solutions, and loyal customers. Their approach encourages others to shift their focus from “all about me” to “all about us.”

4. Thought Leaders Are Worthy of Trust

Trust is born out of authenticity. We trust another when we perceive his or her motives are unadulterated, pure and credible. Thought leaders communicate an enthusiasm for the privilege of being of service to others. They are about realness, not role-ness. They know humility bolsters trust. So, they are unimpressed with the trappings of supremacy.

5. Thought Leaders Are Happy

Thought leaders are ambassadors of happy. They look for ways to shake up the place with quirky events and celebrative occasions. They seek the means, moments and methods to convey gratitude and encouragement for excellence. “Thank you” is not simply testimony to an occurrence but the conveyance of a feeling. It means communicating gratitude in a fashion that makes associates feel leader authenticity.


Peter Karpinski, Co-Founder of Sage Restaurant Group and Partner at Sage Hospitality

Here is My Background:

“Peter Karpinski is the creative entrepreneurial force behind both Sage Restaurant Group and Sage Hospitality. SRG is a successful Denver-based enterprise developing independent restaurants that break the mold of traditional hotel dining, while Sage Hospitality is one of the country’s largest hotel management and development companies with a specialization in lifestyle and luxury properties. Through Karpinski’s bold thought leadership, he has launched 11 award-winning Sage Restaurant Group concepts, all located adjacent to Sage Hospitality properties.

In both roles, Karpinski leads lifestyle-focused real estate development projects and curates overall brand development, ownership, and management platforms. His entrepreneurship, unrivaled hospitality experience, and business ethics intertwine and pave the way for the continued growth and success of each property.

2017 was proven to be Sages’ most significant year yet, as Karpinski launched new, unique concepts and duplicated core brands in key markets. He led the company’s Dairy Block project in downtown Denver, introducing a full city block redevelopment featuring The Maven, a new urban upscale hotel brand, a second location of Kachina Southwestern Grill, a bar called Poka Lola Social Club, and Class A office and retail space. Denver also welcomed the fourth location of SRG’s modern steakhouse brand, Urban Farmer. In late 2017, Karpinski and his team launched three highly anticipated concepts; Magic Rat Live Music, Bower Bird Coffee, and The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market in Fort Collins, CO. The team will also open Bower Bird Coffee and The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market in Savannah, GA in early 2018.

An alum of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Karpinski has gained national praise from prominent hospitality-based publications such as Food & Wines’ “40 Big Food Thinkers, 40 and Under”, Nation’s Restaurant News’ “Power List”, and Restaurant Hospitality’s “25 Most Powerful Multi-Concept Restaurant Groups”. Karpinski has also been recognized by influential business media including Hotel Executive, Forbes, Market Watch, CNN Money, and Denver Business Journal’s “40 Under 40 Top Business Professionals”, and has appeared on Food Network’s “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell”.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“1. Self Confidence. Be comfortable in your own skin, and try not to let any insecurities show. Be the leader people need and can look up to; one that is confident and consistent. Do not be afraid to stand alone and stand up for what you believe in. This is not to say to be arrogant — keeping an open mind and saying ‘yes’ is seriously underrated within leadership. It is important to always be a student of life and others, and it’s okay for your beliefs to be influenced over time by what other people believe.

2. Go with your gut. Always, always, always go with your gut. Take into consideration what both your head and your heart tell you, but allow your gut to have a say. When in doubt, default to instinct.

3. True Grit. I say that in the sense of both never giving up, always driving forward, and positively looking for solutions for everything that comes across as a challenge. This is where consistency comes in, and behaving in a consistently repetitive manner can make a large impact. Often what thought leaders believe in and know so clearly within themselves, is not the case with others. Leaders need to reiterate their beliefs over and over again to make an impact. Sometimes at nauseam.

4. Love what you do and be exceptional at it. These two things are not mutually exclusive with any effective leader. Get narrow and deep into your area of expertise, and get out bed each morning excited and looking forward to working on your chosen craft. Having a high level of intelligence in the area that you want to be very god at is important here.

5. Put yourself out there. It’s impossible to be a true thought leader if you don’t work to make your voice heard. It takes initiative, hard work, and diligence — day in and day out. “


Dr. Amy Serin

Here is My Background:

Leading clinical neuropsychologist, co-founder and Chief Science Officer of The Touchpoint SolutionTM, Dr. Amy Serin specializes in the evaluation, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and behavioral brain-based issues.

Valedictorian at Arizona State University, Dr. Serin obtained her doctoral degree at Santa Barbara, California’s Fielding Graduate University and in 2007 established The Serin Center, one of Arizona’s leading multidisciplinary clinics.

Dr. Amy Serin’s work in therapy and applied neuroscience led to the discovery that the Bi-Lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) component of a successful Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment could be used as a stand-alone product for general stress.

Archival clinical data, electroencephalogram data, and existing neuroscience research demonstrated BLAST technology’s efficacy in just seconds for stress management, performance enhancement, relaxation, sleep, and the ability to cope with sensory stimuli.

Dr. Amy Serin recognized that this patent-pending method was too powerful a treatment to be confined to doctors’ offices due to its effectiveness and simplicity and partnered with long-time friend and child advocate Vicki Mayo to bring TouchPointsTM to the market.

Dr. Serin is also a sought after keynote speaker for national and international conferences for autism, giftedness, parenting, applied neuroscience, education, and performance enhancement.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Be fearless. Being a thought leader means risking peer rejection and disbelief from people invested in maintaining the status quo. Thought leadership often requires professional blind leaps as you challenge widely held beliefs and communicate paradigm shifting ideas.

Remember who you are. When challenged, it’s sometimes easier to give up your passion or mission for paths that are safer or easier. If you always remember who you are and how your unique contribution is necessar for important societal advances — you’l stay true to yourself.

Turn bricks into thorns. Obstacles, negative people, and other challenges can fulfill a bag of bricks that weigh you down as you climb your mountain. Staying focused on the negatives can make the weight you feel unbearable. Staying positive, healthy, and emotionally centered can make those bricks feel more like thorns — annoying, but not so overwhelming that you’re tempted to stop climbing.

Stay open minded and flexible. Staying open minded and flexible can ensure you don’t make the mistake of becoming rigid and stagnant in your thought process. Being willing to admit when your ideas may be wrong or need modification is key to evolving wisdon.

Create empty space and time. Don’t busy yourself so much under the illusion that your time is always best running and doing and thinking and executing. I once got bumped from an oversea flight and was entirely frustrated at having “missed” a day of work. In the airport lounge I spoke to a man and told him about my company. He ended up investing the biggest portion of our Series B round of funding at my last company. Allow space for balancing your space and for the unexpected.


Fran Griesing, Founder, Griesing Law

Here is My Background:

“Fran Griesing is the founder of Griesing Law, LLC, a women-owned and operated law firm based in Philadelphia. In January 2010, during one of the roughest economic downturns across all sectors, Fran launched Griesing Law with only a handful of clients out of a small sublet space. Today, the original three-person team has grown into a 20-plus person team, in a high-rise building in Philadelphia.

Fran exemplifies a strong, ambitious and compassionate female leader in not only what she says, but in her actions. In addition to being widely regarded as a litigator, arbitrator and mediator, she has been a champion for women both within and outside the legal field for over three decades, and has earned the respect and admiration of her male and female peers in the process. Fran embodies the phrase, “a rising tides lift all boats”, as both a colleague and leader who believes that helping and supporting others is the best method for success, which she has demonstrated throughout her career. Colleagues and friends of Fran describe her as “tenacious and bold, generous and supportive as a mentor and a leader, a woman lawyer who proactively supports and encourages other women to achieve success in their careers and their personal lives.” In addition to launching and growing her firm over the past eight years, Fran continues to set the groundwork for women in leadership as an attorney and as an entrepreneur, inspiring the next generation of women leaders to come.

At the beginning of her career, Fran practiced law at top tier firms in New York and Philadelphia and also served as Chair of Litigation of Philadelphia’s City Solicitor’s Office under former Mayor Edward G. Rendell, who later served as Governor of Pennsylvania. As the City’s top trial lawyer, Griesing advised the Mayor, ranking administration officials and City Council on cutting-edge legal issues.

Her mission for Griesing Law was to break that mold and be a place where attorneys could attend to their personal needs and still have successful careers. Over the past eight years, the firm has become known for its unique and open culture, serving the needs of its diverse team of attorneys, the majority of which are women. Fran believes that the success of any one employee means overall greater success of the entire firm. Everything done at the Firm is to further Fran’s mission to provide the highest caliber of legal services economically while creating an environment where women do not have to choose between thriving in their careers and having a fulfilling personal life.

Anyone who knows or has interacted with Fran cannot deny her devotion and passion for the enhancement of women in the workplace. She has opened doors for countless professional women through mentoring and introductions.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1) Identify your areas of expertise, which could be even broader than you think. Your knowledge may expand beyond your specific industry so it’s important to think outside the box. For example, I’ve worked as a lawyer for over 35 years, but then was frequently approached to share my experience as a female entrepreneur. I then realized that I had valuable insights to share not just from a legal perspective, but also as a business owner. You can also ask people in your network who you respect what they think you are known for professionally — this can be illuminating.

2) Establish your voice and share your story through as many avenues as you can. As the saying goes, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it even make a sound?” You may have a unique bed of information, but it must be shared in order to educate others and make a broader impact. Be proactive about conveying your message through writing articles, doing speaking engagements and joining organizations that are respected within your industry. If you’re just starting off, putting together a blog which you contribute to consistently is an effective way to disperse your message and begin to build a following.

3) Amplify your voice using social media and your extended network. I have always advocated that professionals, especially women, build their own personal brand to be successful. Part of this is utilizing the people you know and meet to share your message. Social media is ubiquitous for any thought leader as you are able to stay connected with those you meet, blast your message out to a wider audience and interact with new contacts and organizations that are relevant to your field.

4) Give thanks to your teachers and mentors, and acknowledge those coming up behind you. A key to thought leadership is setting an example for others and a large part of that is giving credit where credit is due. Use your influence to shine light on others who have taught or shaped you along the way, and promote information and resources from other sources which could be beneficial to your audience. The more information is exchanged, the more we all benefit.

5) Act with integrity and humility. Be truthful about your experience and expertise but also acknowledge your trials and tribulations along the way. There is nothing wrong with celebrating your efforts and successes, however, it is just as valuable to disclose your mistakes as well. Being authentic about who you are and where you’ve come from is what will resonate most and offer the greatest lessons.


Phillip Cohen, CEO, Cohen Architectural Woodworking

Here is My Background:

Phillip Cohen is CEO and Founder of Cohen Architectural Woodworking in St. James, MO. Well known in his industry Cohen built a company from scratch into a $12 million enterprise with some 80 employees. Cohen Woodworking is a millwork and custom cabinetry firm with clients nationwide in healthcare, education, government and more. Under Phil’s leadership Cohen has averaged a 46% sales increase annually for the past 13 years. Phillip was recently awarded the 2017 Small Business Person of the Year for Missouri by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The firm has also received many accolades such as a Top Family Owned Business by St. Louis Small Business Monthly in July 2016; Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) Award of Excellence for the Wichita Airport project (4th AWI Award of Excellence for Cohen); and 2016 Small Business of the Year award by Rolla Chamber of Commerce. Growing up in violent neighborhoods in Chicago and an abusive household and later overcoming drug use/addiction and manic depression, Phillip is deeply committed to creating a healthy company culture. He and his team have created an infrastructure for success where those willing to work hard and overcome any obstacle, regardless of their background, can thrive and grow both personally and professionally.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Hands on experience. It is one thing to talk about excelling in your profession and another to actually do it. Thought Leaders should have a track record in helping to grow and add value to their company and industry.

2. Steering the ship in both good and bad times. Over time, most businesses will have their share of ups and downs as the economy fluctuates. Thought Leaders should have a history of dealing with these various business cycles and be able to relate how they helped keep the ship afloat through times of turbulence as well as abundance.

3. Proof of leadership. Thought Leaders should be able to document their successes as they have grown over time. They should also be able to document and discuss their failures as learning guideposts for others.

4. Industry leadership. A thought leader should not only be recognized for success in managing his or her own company but be recognized as a leader throughout their industry. This can include serving on various committees and organizations and receiving many industry awards for outstanding performance.

5. Strong Communication Skills. Great leaders are also great communicators. They are able to motivate others through both the spoken and written word. A Thought Leader should be able to detail their thoughts and experiences in writing whether through books, articles or blogs. The goal is to impart their knowledge to serve as a guide for others to follow.

Imagine a Better St. Louis: Giving those with a checkered past a second chance
The owner of Cohen Architectural Woodworking is committed to giving people a second chancewww.kmov.com

Tenzin Seldon, CEO and Co-Founder

Here is My Background:

Tenzin was raised as a refugee in the Indian Himalayas, her family having fled there from Tibet. She immigrated to the United States as an adolescent. Tenzin graduated with honors from Stanford University, followed by University of Oxford, where she was the first Tibetan-American Rhodes Scholar. Tenzin has spent her career advocating for disenfranchised communities, leading Climate Justice League chapters around the US, working on negotiations with Israel and Palestine, and, most recently, at the United Nations Regional Office of Asia and the Pacific. At the UN, Tenzin witnessed many young migrants experiencing hardships assimilating to a new country. She was a visiting lecturer at Rangsit University and Univesity of California, Berkeley. Tenzin’s work has been recognized around the world: as a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, Fobes Under 30×100 “Most Likely to Impact the Next 100 Years,” World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a Harry S. Truman Scholar, and one of OZY Magazine’s “5 Civil-Rights Leaders for a New Generation.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“1. Always speak from of a place of professional or personal power. In a saturated market of endless media commentary, it is all the more essential to speak about your issue with texture and depth. Increasingly, people are becoming more skeptical of receiving information from different sources so writing and speaking on content that speaks to your truth will distinguish you. An audience can immediately tell and resonate when a thought leader speaks from a place of truth, rather than just to get more likes or hits.

2. Showing up when it matters and showing up in your full self. As a thought leader, you can pretend to care but you can never pretend to show up. Showing up means that you take full ownership of your public work. For any future thought leader, there will be moments of uncertainty and deep discomfort when audiences push back or simply disagree. In those moments, it’s critical to show up truthfully and engage the audience with humility. Either advocate for your viewpoints or accept a mistake and recalibrate. Long-term, this is what builds trust and loyalty between you and your audience.

3. Don’t just build a network, build a tribe. Networks can help spread your message fast and across in various mediums, however, your tribe will ultimately be the ones to sustain and deepen your message. Speaking to everyone may be a start but find your niche and say something provacative. The stronger the tribe of a thought leader, the more impact they have. And it takes time to establish a tribe so patience and strategy will have to be qualities you develop to become a notable thought leader.

4. Keep growing. No thought leader ever reaches the pinnacle without failing. Even Mandela and Gandhi continued learning during the height of their influence. The most effective thought leaders are ones that you can grow with, they are the ones that you can contemplate and think with. The more you put yourself in environments that are difficult and challenging, the more compelling your presentation, your speeches, your writings will be.

5. You may be the first, but make sure you are never the last. As a thought leader, many resources and and wisdom has been gifted and parted onto you. Therefore, honor those roots and pay it forward. It is your responsibility to remember those after you. Your legacy is not just being an expert in your field, your legacy is with each person your writings impact and with each interaction you have.”

Tenzin Seldon Is Creating The Next Generation Of Immigrant Opportunity
In the 30×100 series, the Under 30 listees deemed most likely to have a long-term impact talk about their vision for…www.forbes.com

Shel Horowitz primary author, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World

Here is My Background:

“For over a decade, Shel Horowitz, a/k/a “”The Transformpreneur (sm) has shown business how to go green affordably and effectively — and how to market that green commitment to win new customers, turn them into fans, and turn them into your ambassadors. He also shows consumers how to green their own lives while actually improving quality of life.

Inspired by his “”impossible”” success protecting a threatened local mountain forever, he’s recently expanded his focus to harness the profit motive as a powerful tool for turning hunger and poverty into abundance, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance — founding GoingBeyondSustainability.com (aimed at the corporate world) and ImpactWithProfit.com (for entrepreneurs). “”Enlightened self-interest can get it done, while guilt and shame fail,”” he says. He will happily help you reinvent your business to focus on helping society get beyond these seemingly intractable problems, and developing profitable products, services, and marketing that turns “”impossible”” into “”what are we waiting for? Let’s get it done!””

As a profitability/marketing consultant, trainer, speaker, and copywriter, he can help you:

• Identify opportunities to create new social transformation products and services that fit in well with your existing skills and customer/fan base, create new revenue streams, and address one or more of these big issues

• More effectively market your existing green and social change products and services

• Develop lucrative win-win partnerships with businesses, nonprofits/NGOs, govenment agencies, and community organizations that open up new markets, revenue streams, and credibility for your company

Shel has spoken in cities as far-flung as Davos, Istanbul, and Honolulu. His most popular talks are “”Impossible is Not a Fact — It’s a Dare”” and “”Making Green Sexy.”” He’s the author of ten books, including the long-running category bestseller Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green (New York: Wiley, 2010) and his latest, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (New York: Morgan James, 2016) both co-authored with the late, legendary Jay Conrad Levinson, creator of the Guerrilla Marketing band.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Think MUCH bigger. For the last few years, I’ve been focusing on how business can turn hunger and poverty into abundance, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance — not through guilt and shame, but by creating and marketing *profitable* products and services that address these issues. On a recent vacation in Mexico, I started thinking even bigger than that. I’m working on a letter to some of the top funders of social and environmental change to create a massive, replicable public-private partnership to solarize economically disadvantaged places with lots of sun but little solar penetration, such as Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.

2. Look for ways to accomplish multiple goals with a single stroke. Think of all the capabilities you carry within your smartphone — replacing a whole backpack full of tools with one device. Regenerativity pioneer Amory Lovins built an essentially net-zero-energy luxury house in the early 1980s. A single arch in that house accomplishes 12 different functions.

3. Work backwards from the goal. Steve jobs didn’t tell his engineers, “build me a better Walkman.” He said “I want to fit 1000 songs in a pocket.” Nelson Mandela didn’t think about how to make incremental changes in post-apartheid South Africa. He looked for ways to unify people who’d been at war with each other and create a new society out of the ashes, from building a championship integrated rugby team to crating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

4. Don’t be the world’s best-kept secret. Actively promote your ideas. I speak and write regularly on the topics I’m passionate about, and leverage these in many ways (for example, when I do a new interview, I post highlights on social media and my own newsletter).

5. Partner with others who can spread your ideas, and make it win-win. I’ve done two books with the late Jay Conrad Levinson, founder of the Guerrilla Marketing brand. By doing first Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green and then Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, I got to be part of the most successful marketing series in history, and he got credibility in the green/social entrepreneurship space, where he wasn’t widely known.


Paul Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer, BrightFarms

Here is My Background:

Paul is the CEO of BrightFarms, the №1 brand of locally grown salads for supermarkets. The company finances, builds, and operates greenhouse farms that deliver local produce to supermarkets within 24 hours of harvest. With greenhouses in close proximity to large cities, the company is able to meet the growing consumer demand for local produce while eliminating time, distance, and costs from the food supply chain. The company forges strong partnerships with retailers, local governments, capital sources, and vendors and is quickly scaling its model across the nation. Each of its greenhouses are designed to use significantly less energy, land and water than conventional agriculture.

Fast Company named Paul to its list of 1,000 Most Creative People in Business in 2014. He has also been recognized by Chain Store Age magazine as a “”Rising Star in Retail”” in their annual 40 Under 40 awards, and was the 2011 winner of the Young President’s Organization CSR Award for Environmental Sustainable Business Practices.

Paul has spoken at a myriad of conferences about supply chain revolution, including TEDxManhattan, Agriculture 2.0, Canadian Grocers Association, Food Industry Sustainability Summit, and the Toronto Urban Agriculture Summit.

Under Paul’s leadership, BrightFarms was recognized on Inc. 500’s fastest growing companies list in America this past year. Inc. 500 also recognized BrightFarms as one of the top ten startups.

For Paul, the BrightFarms’ mission extends beyond the company. As a healthy and sustainable food zealot, he eats and feeds his own family a fresh, mostly vegetarian diet. Even on a small scale, Paul breathes efficiency — in fact, his license plate reads: EFISHENT. By combining his personal passion for health with his business goals, Paul works towards improving the health of society and the planet.

Paul is an active member of YPO and is the Education Chair of the Sustainable Business Network of YPO. He is also Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Brennan Center for Justice. Paul earned his B.A. from Lehigh and his J.D. from Fordham Law.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Being a thought leader is more than sharing information — it’s about being a role model and taking seriously that responsibility. It takes passion, failure, disruption, education and a humble understanding that you can learn from anyone.

Passion is necessary. If you’re not passionate about the subjects you’re speaking to, why should anyone else be? Passion has driven me to change the way the U.S. grows produce. When I followed my passion for health into the food industry, I dug into the produce supply chain and encountered a system at odds with itself. I realized we grow huge quantities of produce for travel but not for taste — and thus the idea for BrightFarms was born.

As a thought leader you need to fail. In fact, I encourage everyone at BrightFarms to try new ideas even when there is a risk that the idea will fail. To succeed we must be willing to fail well and learn from our experiences to create better products. Failing well means reviewing the results early and often and ultimately changing course if the new idea does not work. At BrightFarms, we experiment by growing new types of produce in our greenhouses all the time. When it succeeds, we have new produce for consumers.

You must also be ready to disrupt the norm. Thought leaders dare to be different and are brave enough to voice potentially unpopular opinions. Change occurs when someone is willing to stand up and voice a contrarian point of view.

While thought leaders are knowledgeable about the topics they speak to, they more importantly value continued education. I learn from my predecessors and competitors. I read as much as possible to see what is happening in my industry and those around it.

But you also need to accept that you don’t know everything. Be willing to listen and learn from everyone no matter the level and background they come from. At BrightFarms, we have an internal communications channel built directly for sharing ideas and thoughts. No judgement — simply a channel for sharing knowledge all the way from my fellow executive team down to the growers working with the produce everyday. Thought leaders can learn just as much from a naive expert than a fellow CEO.”


Austin McChord, CEO & Founder, Datto, Inc.

Here is My Background:

Austin McChord is the 32-year-old founder and CEO of Datto Inc., a unicorn data protection and disaster recovery company based in Norwalk, CT. Last month Austin sold his company for north of $1.5 billion to a private equity firm, Vista Equity Partners, but will remain CEO of the newly formed entity.

Austin started Datto ten years ago, a C student from RIT with no job prospects, he bootstrapped the company in his parent’s basement, soon maxing out his credit cards. After changing his business model to sell through a network of channel partners, he captured the small business IT market and reached unicorn status in 2015.

Datto has made the coveted Inc. 500 for three consecutive years, in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The company has also received numerous industry awards, for company growth, product excellence and technical support.

McChord’s business success has earned him several honors and he holds numerous patents. He was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2015 as a leader in Enterprise Technology, and won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year New York Award in 2016.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

More than the accolades, Austin is proud to have created a unique culture at Datto; to always look ahead, exceed expectations, and keep Datto partners at the forefront of everything the company does.

Here are three examples of Austin’s unique leadership qualities:

Employee Trust: Austin believes that if he can’t trust his employees enough to let them drive his car, he can’t trust them with his company. So, he leaves the keys to his Tesla on his desk when he’s in meetings, with an open invitation for any employee to take it out for a spin.

Being a C Student with a Plan B: Being the kind of kid who’d rather tinker with a radio kit and repair TVs for spending money than study for a test, Austin was pretty sure he’d never make it very far in the highly competitive world of higher education, so he sat down and came up with a Plan B, applying to the Rochester Institute of Technology and using his education there to come up with the skill set he’d later use to start Datto. This kind of practical, entrepreneurial spirit isn’t taught in schools, but Austin preaches it to all his more than 600 employees. Coming full circle: a few days after the check cleared when he sold Datto, Austin gave a $50 million gift back to RIT for cyber security, AI, etc.

Staying Foolish: Even before Austin heard Steve Jobs’s now famous dictum, he was its embodiment: on weekends, this big-time CEO relaxes by infecting himself with ransomware and building and racing his own drones, which he often deliberately crashes into the ground. A joyous tinkerer who built his first real product in part out of Lego blocks, he approaches everything playfully and encourages his employees to do the same.


JJ DiGeronimo, Tech Savvy Women President

Here is My Background:

JJ DiGeronimo, the president of Tech Savvy Women, an international organization of experienced Women in tech careers and organizations, began her career designing datacenter infrastructures for Fortune 500 companies after graduating with a computer information systems degree in 1995. Prior to her recent work, JJ had a 20-year career in high tech, positioning new technology solutions to CIOs where she advanced into leadership positions within Silicon Valley-based technology companies including VMware and Inktomi.

Just releasing her second book, Accelerate Your Impact: Action-based Strategies to Pave Your Professional Path (Published by Smart Business Books) to accompany her first book The Working Woman’s GPS, she is recognized as a thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM. JJ works now to empower professional women and consults senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology. JJ is featured in many publications and TV shows including Forbes, Fox Business, ITWorld, Career-Intelligence and Rescue a CEO. She has shared her expertise with Amazon, Ingram Micro, RIT, Sears Holding Company, Clemson University, Symantec, VMware, IBM, KeyBank, and Cisco along with many other organizations.

Throughout her career, JJ has made a positive impact within the technology industry. Her accomplishments and contributions include the following:

• Top 10 Tech Evangelists in Northeast Ohio, 2017

• Award Winning Diversity Book for Women, Axiom — 2017

• Top 100 Women Visionary Leaders to Watch in 2016, Innov8tiv’s — 2016

• Initiated “What DO Women in STEM DO?” video channel — 2013

• Named to Top 25 People in Technology by Inside Business Cleveland

• Next Generation Indie Book Award for “The Working Woman’s GPS” — 2011

• Co-creator of Diversity Corporate Initiative Women on Purpose at VMware, to empower women in the technology industry and support career advancement– 2009

• Launched Tech Savvy Women, an experienced network of women in tech and STEM with over 2,500 members in three cities — 2008

• Innovation Award from the Small Business Network — 2005

• Entrepreneur Magazine featured her company, TechStudents, the largest database of technology graduates from 300 colleges and universities — 2004

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

My initial intention was to gain additional insight and implement proven practices. As the founder of Tech Savvy Women and a working woman, I saw there were noticeable gaps that kept professional women below their potential.

After hours of research, interviews, and discussions, my work to advance professional women in workplaces captured in books, blogs, and videos has taken me all over to share these strategies.

As I reflect on my work, as a thought-leader for professional women with a focus on women in tech and girls in STEM there are five things necessary to become a thought leader:

1. Be Curious about Problems You Encounter — As a woman in tech, I recognized challenges and pitfalls firsthand and wanted to learn more about the research and experiences to understand better how and why most women were in mid-level roles or lower in the Org. Chart.

2. Align Findings — Overtime, I started to identify trends and similarities in stories, examples, and research.

3. Share Data (Old & New) — Throughout the process of collecting data, I would ask for input, share ideas, and ask for advice on what to read or who to invite into a conversation. This situation created a nice following of people interested in the same topics. So when I found trends or created strategies to overcome known obstacles, I had a developed audience ready to engage in the data.

4. Discuss the Value — Leading with how people can benefit from the data or new strategy is always a sure way to get people to click. I have made a point to keep it positive. I find most people are over-committed and often want a summarized version or Cliffs Notes© with the option to read more.

5. Empower Others — I originally wanted to solve my problems but have learned that I can be an effective advocate for others to overcome similar hurdles. Providing people with tools and strategies that they can use or build upon is what keeps me motivated to continue this work!

The most invigorating aspect of my work are the unexpected phone calls, notes, reposts and comments that I have gathered over the years. The people that take the time to share how my work has impacted their lives is truly the reward!


David McNally, Founder, TransForm Corporation

Here is My Background:

“David McNally is an internationally recognized speaker, bestselling author, award-winning film producer and CEO of TransForm Corporation, an organization dedicated to developing purposeful leaders, inspired organizations and iconic brands.

David McNally has inspired millions of people from the stage, on film and in his best-selling books. He is described by a leading speakers’ bureau as one of the world’s Top 50 business speakers. His new book: MARK OF AN EAGLE — How Your Life Changes the World, was released in 2017.

As a professional speaker, David has presented to distinguished organizations including: IBM, 3M, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, Pulte Homes, Delta Air Lines, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and many more of the world’s most successful companies. He is among an elite group of people elected to the Speakers Hall of Fame by the National Speakers Association (NSA). This award is presented to speakers who have consistently received the highest accolades for excellence in content and presentation skills.

One of David’s core teachings is: “No-one escapes life!” No matter how motivated an individual might be, life will present many challenges along the way. In his early career, he was enormously successful and then lost everything — materially that is. In 2003, his wife of 33 years and mother to their five children, died of ovarian cancer. In 2010, David was diagnosed with cancer and experienced the debilitating effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In a small book called: My Sacred Journey Through Cancer, David documented this experience. The lessons learned during his treatment and recovery have brought comfort and hope to many others who have embarked on a similar journey.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“A thought leader has a global perspective, he sees the interconnectedness of all that happens in the world. A thought leader has the humility that comes from knowing that one’s expertise no matter how acclaimed, is in fact infinitesimal in the grander scheme of the universe. A thought leader possesses wisdom that only comes from having risked and failed. A thought leader has the courage of their convictions. which is gained from being in the trenches and paying their dues. A thought leader has in their DNA an insatiable curiosity, a hunger to learn that can only be fed by deeper insights, growth and learning. A thought leader understands the meaning of a Zen saying: “”Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.””

The five things needed to be a thought leader are summarized as follows:

A global perspective


Wisdom from failure

The courage of convictions

An insatiable curiosity


Michael Hansen, CEO of Cengage, a global education and technology company

Here is My Background:

Michael E. Hansen became CEO of Cengage, a global education and technology company, in September of 2012.

Under Michael’s leadership, Cengage has transformed from a print publisher to a company which today is creating some of the most highly rated digital learning products and platforms. Most recently, Michael led the company through the launch of a new, first-of-its-kind, Netflix-style subscription, Cengage Unlimited, that gives students access to all of the company’s digital higher education materials — a major disruption in the industry.

Michael has built a strong reputation for transforming businesses across many media and information sectors. Prior to joining Cengage, he served as CEO of Elsevier Health Sciences. During his tenure, he developed and implemented a successful print-to-digital transition and accelerated the development of new user-focused products. As President and CEO of Harcourt Assessment, Michael turned an unprofitable testing business into a growing and highly profitable enterprise. Michael has built a strong reputation for achieving results through a rapid strategic assessment, relentless focus on measurable execution, and a keen emphasis on cultural change, which drives sustainability.

Earlier in his career, Michael served as Executive Vice President of Operational Excellence at Bertelsmann leading the portfolio transformation of this $20 billion global media company. Michael spent the first 11 years of his career with the Boston Consulting Group in New York, ultimately becoming Partner and Co-Chairman of the e-Business and Media Practice.

Michael is currently a Board Member of John’s Hopkins Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), and ProPublica. Mr. Hansen holds a Master of Law degree from the University of Bonn in Germany and an MBA from Columbia University in New York.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Vision: Effective business leaders clearly define their vision and use it as a guiding light throughout the myriad of decisions they make. Consistently applying this vision to diverse aspects of the business, both internally and externally, will develop your credibility.

2. A Willingness to Disrupt: Thought leaders are at their core disruptors. They see the status quo and see what can lie beyond — from technology and business model innovation to market approach and strategy. They lead the thinking on key topics. You must be willing to put yourself out there — both in actions and words.

3. Confidence: For others to believe in you, you must believe in yourself. The more educated you are on a topic, the more confidently you will speak on the topic. Aim to be the most informed person in the room. Most of the time you won’t be but use this as a learning opportunity.

4. Passion & Authenticity: Practice what you preach and make sure you believe in it. When I share insight about industries or companies undergoing a transition to digital, I often use examples of Cengage’s transformation because I am passionate about it. I’m able to share lessons from both the challenges and the opportunities we have faced on our journey because they are real. I find that candidness builds trusts and credibility. I also believe that if you aren’t excited about something, it shows. How can you inspire others if you haven’t first found inspiration yourself?

5. Mix of Channel & Audiences: The way we consume content is constantly changing. Whether it is publishing on LinkedIn or being included in a news article, take a variety of opportunities to speak on topics you are passionate about and reach different audiences with tailored messages. Your passion for a subject will shine through regardless of the medium and your insight will help others become more knowledgeable on the topic.

Disrupting college education with a new model to buying textbooks similar to Netflix
Cengage CEO Michael Hansen discusses his new business model that provides a subscription service for college students…www.cnbc.com

Barbara Moran-Goodrich, CEO & Co-Founder, Moran Family of Brands

Here is My Background:

Barbara-Moran Goodrich is CEO and Co-Founder of Moran Family of Brands, one of the nation’s leading franchises of general automotive repair, transmission repair, window tinting and driver safety products. She has served in that role since 1999 and purchased the business from her father, Dennis, in 2010.

Barbara has served as a vocal thought leader in a variety of topics, including the automotive industry, franchising, leadership, and women in business. She has written articles that have appeared in Franchise World, Transmission Digest and Franchise Update. She has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Franchise Times and Women Entrepreneur.com. and has been a panelist on Fox Business Network. Barbara frequently hosts leadership workshops and speaks about industry topics at meetings and conferences. She brings a unique perspective of a female CEO in an industry typically dominated by men.“

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Possess knowledge about the subject or industry. A thought leader should obviously be well-versed on their field of commentary and bring a unique and experienced insight to the topic. They should be well-rounded in their knowledge of the subject and be prepared to address a wide range of issues related to that topic.

2. Offer knowledge of the subject beyond one’s own point of view. A good thought leader should bring a balanced insight to their commentary, sharing not only their own perspective but being aware of the general landscape of the industry and the issues facing all companies in a particular field.

3. Have credibility. What is the thought leader’s background and why are they qualified to speak on the topic? That person should be able to exhibit a wealth of knowledge and experience to demonstrate to the audience that they are a valuable resource of information.

4. Be well-connected. The thought leader should have a wide range of connections throughout the industry. They should be active in speaking at conferences, workshops and participating in panels. Good thought leaders use these opportunities to listen and gain insight from others and interact with their peers. This approach helps to further educate and broaden their perspective on the subject.

5. Be comfortable in sharing thoughts with others. Some people may not want to give their thoughts on a particular business topic for competitive reasons or for fear of revealing “inside knowledge”. That is fine, and being a thought leader may not be for everyone. But a thought leader must have a willingness and ability to share thoughts and ideas with others. They should be open and honest about the issues they are addressing and comfortable in expressing their opinions.

Sexism Behind Yahoo Telecommuting Uproar?
New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is getting a lot of flack for banning telecommuting. Do you think this would be the case if…www.cnbc.com

Ahmed ElHusseiny, Founder and Principal, AE Superlab

Here is My Background:

In 2014, Ahmed ElHusseiny founded AE Superlab, a collaborative design office, operating at the intersection of art, architecture, engineering, and technology. Based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, AE Superlab has grown to be an award-winning, cross-disciplinary creative design and development studio.

Prior to founding AE Superlab, Ahmed was Senior Designer and Senior Associate Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, one of the world’s leading international architectural practices, where he was responsible for the design and development of a broad range of mixed use, commercial, retail, and residential projects throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Key projects include Parc Du Millenaire Buildings 3 and 4 in Paris, Qiantan Center in Shanghai, Forum 66 Hang Lung Plaza in Shenyang, the H Residences in Cairo, as well as proposals for the supertall Tower 111 in Dubai and LG headquarters in New Jersey.

In less than four years, ElHusseiny and his team have secured an influx of new design work and a growing portfolio of successfully completed projects. These include the creative headquarters for One Kings Lane in New York City, and the redesign and renovation of an existing 1970’s era house in East Hampton, NY.

Ahmed received his Masters Degree in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where his studies focused on the interplay of architecture, technology, and narrative storytelling. He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being named by Wallpaper* Magazine among the “Worlds Best Young Architects” in 2008. More recently, AE Superlab has received and been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award for “”Totem””, the PinUP Emerging talent Jury award for “”Infinicities””, and the World Interior News Awards for “”The Diwani Chair.”” Ahmed teaches, lectures, and is a frequent visiting critic at a number of universities, including MIT, Harvard, Pratt Institute, Parsons, and NJIT.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

AE Superlab is a design office built around cross-disciplinary collaboration. We leverage our fluency in a multitude of fields, and our broad network of expert collaborators to provide our clients with intelligent, novel, and unique design solutions.

Challenge Convention:

Ask why things are done a certain way within your industry. Our clients and collaborators are consistently surprised by how much value we can add to their projects by interrogating the reasoning behind existing and often outmoded processes. Holding on to legacy systems and technologies beyond their useful lifespan may seem convenient in the short term but will inevitably dull your competitive advantage.

Reach across disciplines:

Look beyond your field of direct expertise/operation (comfort zone) for unexpected sources of information and inspiration. Truly innovative advances, such as Totem, an advanced distributed energy, and communications platform that we are developing for Totem Power Inc, require the seamless integration of fields as diverse as applied mathematics, biomimicry, electrical engineering, robotic fabrication, advanced material science and urban planning to develop a truly disruptive product. Ushering in tomorrow’s next big thing means being adept at bridging a multitude of disciplines.

Collaborate / Reject the Zero-Sum Paradigm: (a rising tide lifts all boats)

We know that competition and collaboration are not mutually exclusive. It may be tempting to try to protect ideas by insulating them within our “in-group”/organization; however, it’s inevitable that a larger, collaborative group that is pooling and sharing ideas and resources will achieve better results in a shorter timeframe. By honing our ability to perform within an environment that is both competitive and collaborative, we always remain ahead of the curve and trust that we will continue to be in demand as a leader within the design field.

Edit, Revise, Refine, Communicate / Adopt a minimalist approach to presenting ideas:

Learn how to effectively communicate your ideas in the most succinct possible way. This is a crucial skill in our age of microscopic attention spans, but more importantly is a test of whether an idea can stand on its own merit. If after you strip away all the superfluous adornments, buzzwords and jargon and still find a valuable kernel of truth, then you know you have something worth sharing.

Think of ideas as living things:

Let your ideas out into the real world knowing that not all of them will survive. Bad ideas will die out, good ones will thrive, evolve, and synthesize even better ideas down the “evolutionary” line.


Cat Berman, CEO, CNote

Here is My Background:

Cat Berman is 3x serial entrepreneur and frequent spokeswoman on women in entrepreneurship . She is currently running fintech startup, CNote, which was named “Top Innovation in Fintech” by South by Southwest. Prior to CNote, Cat was Managing Director at Charles Schwab where she helped spearhead the firm’s women investment strategy and served as Senior Vice President of Astia, a venture capital firm focused on women-led entrepreneurship. Cat founded the Women in Business network at University of Oxford and has spoken about women in business at forums including Stanford University, Oxford University, TEDx, Google, Microsoft and others.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Credibility

You can be the most brilliant speaker and innovator, but if no one believes you are credible, it will fall on deaf ears. If there is a subject you feel you can speak to thoughtfully and can lead the conversation in a transformational way, make sure it is clear to others “”how you got here”” and “”who else believes what you say”” before you present the big idea.

2. Passion

How deeply do you care about this issue? Intellect is important but it can fall flat if that’s all you have when presenting something new or something different. Be passionate about your topic — authentically and without apology.

3. Consistency

The best thought leaders are out there getting their voice heard on multiple channels. Writing a seminal piece and then hoping that it gets picked up is not enough. Hearing a thought leader in a variety of forums helps expand our understanding of their position and solidifies their name in our minds as someone knowledgeable about this topic.

4. Know Your Facts

Conjecture is nice but thought leaders who can easily share data points that showcase their mastery of a topic is a key part to credibility building (see point #1!). When a thought leader’s authority is rooted in both reality (facts) and what could be (new thinking) it creates a believable and inspirational dynamic.

5. The “”Woah”” Factor

I find the best thought leaders make you say “”woah”” to yourself. It could be “”woah, hold on, I don’t agree with you”” or “”woah, that’s wild if that’s correct”” or just “”woah, that blew my mind.”” The key here is they did something remarkably different — presented a new and possibly outrageous idea that made you question the status quo you walked in with.”

Opportunities in FinTech | Stanford eCorner
Catherine Berman, co-founder and CEO of CNote, discusses how fintech startups like hers are in a perfect position to…ecorner.stanford.edu

Jennifer Schwab, CEO & Founder of ENTITY

Here is My Background:

Jennifer Schwab is an outspoken entrepreneur, visionary and disrupter with one goal in mind: to inspire, support and empower all women, not through words, but ACTION. As a woman of color she knows what it’s like for women who have to work twice as hard to get half as much. Which is why in 2016 she founded ENTITY (www.entitymag.com), a media company dedicated entirely to equipping young women with the skills, knowledge, and resilience they need to succeed in today’s rapidly-changing career climate.

Through grassroots efforts ENTITY has become one of the fastest-growing women’s media companies over the past year. But it’s not just a publishing platform and social media juggernaut (15M monthly reach), it also encompasses the “ENTITY Women’s Leadership Academy”, which includes a rigorous curriculum based on leadership training and digital marketing, 27 speakers, and 18 activities — taking place over one summer in ENTITY’s Boyle Heights Headquarters.

ENTITY is not only about finding women jobs, but also guiding them into a life and career they are passionate about and have the skills to succeed in. It’s about creating #WomenThatDo.

Jennifer graduated with a B.S. in Accounting and started her career at Ernst & Young, Chicago office. She went on to study environmental design and sustainability at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Away from work, Jennifer follows design avidly and is a long time hobbyist pilot trained in high-performance multi-engine aircraft.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“To become a thought leader you need to first have a mission. If you are not working for something that you believe in, you are not going to get very far. For me, that part was easy. Being a woman in business, and seeing firsthand how hard it can be for women to advance, I knew I had to do something.

Next, you need passion and gusto. These two go hand in hand because not only do you have to truly enjoy what you are doing, but you have to be willing to go the extra mile — work through holidays to reach your goals, spend those late nights in the office to get the job done. It’s hard to match the boundless energy that is tapped when you answer your life’s calling. If you have that passion and gusto to achieve your goals, it will all be worth it. And it has been.

Mentorship is hugely important for me, and so I would say the fourth thing you need is a good and trusted mentor. I believe in it so strongly that I created the ENTITY Academy to make mentorship accessible to as many women as possible. It can be harder for women to advance as they are left out of golf games and boys’ club happy hours. So having a seasoned professional that up-and-coming women can turn to for advice and connections really can make all the difference.

Finally, to be a real thought leader you need to have training. If you’re going to command a room, you need the experience and expertise to do so. That’s why dedicating time to education, practice and networking is so important — because no matter what happens, no one can take those skills away from you.


Christina Russell, President of Camp Bow Wow

Here is My Background:

I started small and worked my way up. I left a successful career as a science writer for the physics division at Los Alamos National Laboratory because I had this wild idea that I wanted to open a business that would make a difference in people’s lives. I had no idea how to do that, but my husband suggested we start a franchise. I signed on with Curves International, which was the world’s largest fitness franchise. I started as a franchisee, owning four successful clubs, and worked my way through the system as a Business Mentor, Area Director, and ultimately as the Vice President of Operations for thousands of franchisees across the US and Canada. From there, I was recruited to lead Camp Bow Wow, which is world’s largest dog boarding and day care franchise. My focus has been on recharging our unit profitability, system growth, and positioning the brand to continue leading the sector through the next decade. I’m proud to say we’re having a banner year on all fronts.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

I’ve been hearing the term “thought leader” for years. I follow a lot of people I think of as thought leaders on social media, but it was humbling the first time I heard that term applied to me. I never really thought of myself that way, so how did I become one? I’m not sure, but here are five things that I have in common with the thought leaders I follow.

First, follow your bliss. Thought leaders tend to be people who actively push their lives, missions, and industries forward. Take risks, break through the barriers, make things happen, then share what you’ve learned to encourage others to find their stride. Talking about being stuck isn’t going to inspire anyone, so don’t sit around waiting for something to happen.

Second, be authentic. Don’t worry about what other people think. Put the real you out there. That’s easy to do with the good stuff, but you have to be open to sharing the challenges and failures, too. The reason people are fascinated by Mount Everest isn’t just the pretty pictures from the top. No one will care about your story if you got there by helicopter. It’s the climb that matters, so share the whole story, struggles, pain, tragedy, and all.

Third, stay curious. Even success can be a rut if you get stuck in the same game too long. Be an explorer in every aspect of your life. Be open to new ideas, new people, new experiences. Get to know people from different walks of life who have different perspectives from yours. That curiosity will help to challenge your beliefs, broaden your horizons, and hone your message.

Fourth, keep learning. Read everything. Seek mentors. Take classes. Get involved in peer groups with people smarter than you. It’s a lifelong journey, and it’s what keeps your message fresh. The alternative is stagnation, and no one wants to hear about that.

And finally, find your voice. You don’t have to write a viral essay to be a thought leader. Just share your story with whoever will listen in whatever format resonates with you. It could be words, but some of the most interesting thought leaders share in art, in comedy, in comic strips, or in photographs. It’s the sharing that matters, and the rest will follow.


Jeremy Adams, Founder Prestige Food Trucks , Co-Founder Of Unicorn Innovations & Unicorn IQ

Here is My Background:

Being one of Forbes’ & Influencive.com’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, Jeremy C. Adams is not timid to climb the ladder of ultimate success. Prior to turning 30, he’s launched multiple successful businesses and helped leading entrepreneurs and businesses with his sales and digital marketing background.

He launched his first startup, Prestige Food Trucks at the young age of 22 years old. Jeremy was able to quickly turn Prestige Food Trucks into the world’s leading custom food truck & trailer manufacturer. He garnered so much credibility in-fact, that he landed multi-truck deals with respected clients like the U.S. Army, The Salvation Army, Dunkin’ Donuts, Taco Bell and many more. Jeremy’s company has custom manufactured some of the best food trucks. Their prestigious work has been seen on many popular shows and TV channels like the Food Network, How It’s Made, West Texas Investors Club and many others.

More recently, Jeremy was a founding partner of Quantum Media, with the original shark from Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington and Maxwell Finn. Quantum helps businesses of all sizes increase their conversion rates and grow their bottom line by leveraging re-targeting and automation technology. Quantum is known for producing Facebook ad campaigns that dramatically outperform previous client campaigns. Jeremy is proud to have helped so many clients with his experience in marketing to drive growth to their businesses.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Being a thought leader is a task that many attempt to achieve, with only a small percentage that come out successful. For me personally, I’ve always focused on building my businesses, and focus on personal development. With that constant dedication to success, there was a heavy increase in people reaching out to me for advice, partnership opportunities, paid consulting opportunities, and much more. If I had to put all of my experience into 5 steps…

1. Focus on providing value to everyone you connect with

2. Focus on constant self improvement and education

3. Always think very large and long term. Not small and short term

4. Abundance mindset > scarce mindset

5. Embrace the uncomfortable

Martha McCarthy Krueger, Co-Founder & CEO, The Social Lights

Here is My Background:

Martha McCarthy Kruger is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Social Lights®, a women-owned marketing agency that specializes in developing social media strategies and content for some of the world’s largest brands, including Chex Mix, Cheerios, Ford, and Mall of America. She is recognized in the industry as a leader focused on driving engagement for brands, products, services, and events.

Under Martha’s leadership, The Social Lights has grown to 27 full-time employees, each holding the shared purpose of inspiring and nurturing meaningful human connections. Together, The Social Lights revolutionizes the way clients develop relationships with their employees, partners, and most importantly, their customers.

Martha looks to contribute to the global knowledge bank through conferences, events, public speaking, and mentorship. She’s led panels and keynotes on topics that include “How to Plan Social Media Campaigns that Deliver ROI,” “How to Create a Highly Engaging Instagram Story,” “Social Media Trends”, “Turning Business Dreams Into Reality Without Going Broke,” “10 Shortcuts for Growing Any Brand on Social Media,” and more.

Martha is particularly active in the Minneapolis startup community, serving as a mentor for the entrepreneurship program at the University of St. Thomas, sponsoring Twin Cities Startup Week, and is constantly looking for opportunities to help the industry’s innovators, movers, and shakers.

Martha holds degrees in Entrepreneurship and Business Communications from The University of Saint Thomas, degrees that helped her and business partner Emily Pritchard structure The Social Lights in a scalable, profitable fashion from the beginning.

Martha has been quoted regularly on the topics of social media and entrepreneurship, including placements in: Finance & Commerce, FORBES, Twin Cities Business, and Fast Company.

When she’s not working, Martha can be found running, biking the Dakota Trail, brunching or antiquing. She likes a good challenge, and lately that’s been learning how to knit and gracefully use a Stand Up Paddleboard.

In the end, Martha holds true that you’ll only regret the chances you didn’t take. Too often, female entrepreneurs hold back, and fall short of realizing their true potential. In fact, only 2% of women-owned businesses break the $1 million mark, when those owned by men are 3.5x more likely to reach $1 million in revenues. Whether it’s fear of growth, fear of failure, or just setting the bar way too low, female entrepreneurs have some serious catching up to do. To close the gap, Martha helps emerging entrepreneurs push themselves to accomplish their stretch goals and realize their true potential.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Tip 1: Define the topic in which you can become an expert, and commit to never stop learning about that topic. Look to your passions. What makes you geek out? What can you simply not stop talking about? Define that obsession, and make that obsession known. Conversely, don’t try to be an expert everywhere. Stay in your lane with what your truly know, and be endlessly curious. New information is constantly being published. Stay curious and never stop learning on the subject.

Tip 2: Develop a strong point of view on the subject. The most interesting people at a party are the ones who not only know the ins and outs of various “worlds”, industries, and niches, but integrate their own thoughts and opinions on the matter. People look for strong personalities and points of view, especially those who confidently paint a vision of the future, as it helps reduce the feeling of chaos in the world.

Tip 3: Become a doer on the subject. Having a thorough understanding of a subject is great, but critical nuances can only be understood through practice. People gravitate towards leaders who can not only explain these nuances, but work through them as well. By developing a background of success in doing interesting things, you grow beyond a simple talking head and put authority behind your point of view.

Tip 4: Understand the people involved on the subject, and look for ways to solve their problems. If you’re not digging into issues and problems, you’re simply throwing words and opinions into the abyss. The most intriguing and engaging leaders are the ones who use their knowledge on a given topic to solve issues, both the everyday and complex.

Tip 5: Be opportunistic, and climb the ladder of notoriety. No one starts at the top of the mountain. Look for smaller publications, outlets, conversations, or events in which you can star. Use those to earn a spot at the next level, and keep climbing until you get to the top. With this, get used to feeling like a small fish in a big pond. Every time you advance up the ladder, you’ll find people with more experience and a broader knowledge bank. That brings us back to tip number one. Never stop learning.

Derek Lidow, Original Founder and CEO of iSuppli and Professor at Princeton University

Here is My Background:

Bestselling author Derek Lidow has long demonstrated the rare ability to operate successfully in corporate, entrepreneurial, and academic environments. He is an experienced and successful global CEO, a researcher, an innovator, and a startup coach. Today, teaching at Princeton University, he has inaugurated a campus-wide “design thinking” curriculum and works with Princeton’s aspiring entrepreneurs and their young companies. Prior to joining the Princeton faculty, he was founder and CEO of iSuppli, which he sold to IHS in 2010 for more than $100 million. Previously, he was CEO of global semiconductor company International Rectifier. He is widely known as one of the world’s top experts on the electronics industry, with contributions that range from patents to value chain applications that have improved companies as diverse as Sony, Samsung, Philips, Goldman Sachs, and IBM. He is also the author of two books on entrepreneurship: Building on Bedrock: What Sam Walton, Walt Disney, and Other Great Self-Made Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us About Building Valuable Companies which will come out later in January (Diversion Books; January 23, 2018; 978–1635761764) and Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises (Jossey-Bass; March 3, 2014; 978–1118697054). His perspective is also frequently sought by the media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, The Economist, Nikkei, Reuters, and Taipei Times.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Political scientists call them “opinion leaders.” Marketers call them “influencers.” In organizations, we call them “thought leaders.” They are the people to whom other people turn for ideas, inspiration, and innovation — regardless of their salary, job title, or other outward signs of importance. In my experience, their top five characteristics include:

1. Credibility. Their competence in their areas of expertise and the solidity of their experience are widely recognized. I’m not talking about old fogies who wield their resumes to bludgeon others into agreement. Rather it’s about making clear through words and deeds that they understand all facets of issues that matter to the people they want to influence.

2. Conciliation. Individuals and groups are bundles of inconsistencies, with thoughts, feelings, and actions that are often conflicted. Effective thought leaders are attuned to those differing forces and have the ability to reconcile them intellectually, emotionally, and practically. To an outsider that ability may seem manipulative, but to those who are being led to do what is in their best interests it comes as a great relief.

3. Usable originality. If someone were completely original we couldn’t understand them. Thought leaders must not only be able to frame their original ideas clearly, but also make sure that they are not so far out of the mainstream that they scare people. And when really pushing the envelope, they use metaphors grounded in contexts that the audience already understands and from which they can then make the leap to a new context.

4. Storytelling ability. Stories can be even more powerful than metaphors. Visionary stories have inspired the rise of nations, propagated religions, and led people to accomplish things they didn’t think possible. You don’t have to author a national epic or create a sacred text, but by illustrating your arguments with stories, you can create an emotional bond that brings your listeners into a shared space of experience from which to act.

5. The energy to enlist influential allies. Thought leaders fearlessly and tirelessly reach out to others, including other influencers, working with them one-on-one to demonstrate the value of an idea. These influential allies and their audiences then become “force multipliers” of the idea.

The good news for aspiring thought leaders is that just as with other traits of leadership these abilities can be acquired through study, coaching, and practice.

Video – Derek Lidow
Concordia University Irvine School of Business: Leadership vs. Ideas – Parts 1, 2, and 3dereklidow.com

Halelly Azulay, CEO and Leadership Development Strategist at TalentGrow LLC

Here is My Background:

Halelly Azulay is an author, speaker, facilitator, and leadership development strategist and an expert in leadership, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. She is the author of two books, Employee Development on a Shoestring (ATD Press) and Strength to Strength: How Working from Your Strengths Can Help You Lead a More Fulfilling Life. Her books, workshops and retreats build on her 20+ years of professional experience in communication and leadership development in corporate, government, nonprofit and academic organizations.

Halelly is the CEO and Founder of TalentGrow LLC, a consulting company focused on developing leaders and teams, especially for enterprises experiencing explosive growth or expansion. TalentGrow specializes in people leadership skills, which include communication skills, teambuilding, coaching and emotional intelligence. TalentGrow works with all organizational levels, including C-level leaders, frontline managers, and individual contributors.

Halelly is a sought after speaker at conferences and meetings and is a contributing author to numerous books, articles and blogs. She was described as a “Leadership Development Guru” by TD Magazine.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“The top 5 things needed to be a thought leader

1. Get clear on what you want to be known for. Ask yourself questions like:

• What do I do well and enjoy that seems to be challenging for others? (That’s a strength)

• What am I super-passionate about?

• What is something that I know or believe that many others don’t know or don’t agree with?

• What was I born to help others with?

2. Leverage and enhance your existing network and continue to build and expand it. Who do you know? Who do you need to know? How will you connect with them — is there someone who can make a wam introduction? Be strategic about networking — which I define as “building and maintaining long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.” Since mutual benefit means there’s give and take, I suggest you start with a lot of no-strings-attached giving. Have an abundance mentality and lead with generosity, the fruits will come even if you won’t always see them immediately or trace to directly.

3. Create value-adding content in a medium or media that complement your strengths and that you enjoy. Start blogging on LinkedIn, Medium, or your own blog site. Start a podcast — where you share your content solo or through conversations with others. Or start creating and uploading videos to YouTube or live-streaming on other social media platforms. You’ll become more recognized, you’ll add value through your content, and you’ll grow your tribe of followers and thus your ability to influence and make an impact.

4. Curate content and share with your tribe. In addition to original content, you can add tons of value and grow the number of people who see you as a thought leader by curating content created by others and sharing it. We all suffer from information-overload. So add your unique lens sharing links to blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, etc. via social media or a newsletter to your followers.

5. Be of service to your network and followers as well as to influencers you want to connect with. Comment, like, and share others’ content. Volunteer in a leadership capacity to get visibility, gain credibility, and find opportunities. And serve as host and connector to others by holding events, gatherings, Meet-ups, or other functions that bring people together in a thoughtful and value-adding way.”


Jimmy Tomczak, Founder, Wet Star, Author, Lakeside and Tide: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life Now

Here is My Background:

Jimmy Tomczak lives to inspire. As inventor, author, and speaker, Jimmy serves doers who want to do more. Jimmy founded Wet Star to help people with big ideas take massive action. He regularly consults with bold brands, startups, and individuals in the marketing, strategy, and innovation space to help them grow.

Jimmy’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, and CNN and other prominent media outlets. He’s also a Crain’s 20 in their 20’s honoree and Elks National Foundation Alum of the Year. Jimmy was selected to appear and taped for an episode of Shark Tank for his first invention.

His new book, “”Lakeside and Tide: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life Now””, hit #1 on Amazon. He’s given away over 5,000 digital copies and shared his story with audiences around the world.

Jimmy’s recent talks focus on teaching how anyone can self-actualize in the present and find a greater sense of peace today.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Thought leaders need to

Know their values and live by them.

Great leaders of all kinds know exactly what they value and why. They know who they want to spend their time with and how they want to spend their time. For people wanting to have a greater sense of the answers to these questions there are a lot of resources out there to help. Things like Clifton Strengths Finder. Meyers-Briggs. The Enneagram. Ask more questions and you’ll get more answers and also learn to ask better questions.

Persevere with relentless focus.

Thought leaders don’t quit. The win by investing in the day-to-day monotony and ups and downs that come along with being the best in the game. It’s not always trophies and victory laps. You’ve got to do the work.

Act out of love not fear.

The best leaders act from a place of grounded content. They are peaceful and present and they make decisions from a comfortable place. Though they may be tough decisions, thought-leaders make them anyway and it works out for the best.

Seek creativity and live everyday adventure.

Thought leaders have fun too. By seeking creative moments thought leaders learn. You can live everyday adventure by finding pleasure in the small things and sharing small wins with others. Ask someone how their day is going. Listen. Keep smiling but feel all your emotions too. Life’s an adventure that is lived richly when we embrace all aspects and all people.

Always be learning.

Invest in yourself. Instead of being focused on what others are doing, keep doing you. What if you didn’t read the comments or care about the likes? What if the reviews didn’t matter because you knew you were doing your best? Keep doing your best and always be looking for ways to learn how to do better. It’ll pay off in the long run. “


Kyle Sassi

Here is My Background:

“Kyle Sassi was 15 years of age, in high school when he first stumbled upon Soundcloud, discovering upcoming artists, adding their songs into playlists and sharing it with his friends. Roughly a year later and he decided to launch the music curation platform named EscapeTracks via YouTube when he was 16 years old to reach a wider audience, to shed light on artists who he felt deserved a lot more recognition than they were currently receiving. Going against the traditional record label grain by embracing a distribution, rather than licensing first business model. Since it’s founding in 2014, EscapeTracks has grown to more than 350,000 subscribers and has become one of if not the biggest and most impactful R&B platforms there is at the moment. Averaging just over 100,000 views per video on YouTube, it gives both upcoming and established artists the recognition they truly deserve. R&B as a genre has risen in popularity tremendously in the past several years and with numerous artists breaking out in the music category, it places curation platforms like EscapeTracks in a position to make a significant difference in the music industry long term. Digging deeper, one realizes that each music curation platform has a distinct business model, specific target audience and long term vision. “Having built up a very loyal and supporting R&B community throughout all of social media, it’s surreal to be helping artists further their career and have hundreds of thousands of people who genuinely love your taste in music. It’s bringing more attention to the genre and growing the culture exponentially” said Kyle. After achieving success at such an early age, Kyle’s determined to continue making an impact on the R&B culture and following through with his ideas he has planned for the future.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Visionary — Be someone who’s able to put words into actions and setting necessary goals for both short term and long term. Follow through with the right amount of execution to achieve what you desire.

Perspective — Have a big picture perspective, think differently and creatively. Be an individual who tries to be a problem solver, if you’re the problem, you’re the solution. Be aware of the needs of others who surround you.

Awareness — Listening to others, having an open mind, tossing your ego to the side and taking what others say and feel strongly into consideration, making sure you communicate well with others and get your ideas and thoughts across clearly.

Risk taking — Achieving success isn’t always an easy path, therefore you need to pursue it. It may lead you to numerous opportunities you once thought were never possible, it’s a great time to learn from your mistakes and grow as a person.

Energy — Staying positive and optimistic, even under the most harsh circumstances can lead to being fully in control of ones emotions. Creating an environment of comfort, trust and confidence can truly make all the difference.

Priyanka Mittal, Director, India Gate, KRBL Limited India

Here is My Background:

Priyanka Mittal has been a Whole Time Director at KRBL Limited since April 2001. In her current role, she oversees KRBL’s offices in UAE and USA as well as is responsible for international business, marketing and brand development of the KRBL product portfolio. She is also Head of Strategy, new product development and product diversification portfolio. She is the global spokesperson for the company and regularly talks on domestic and international forums. Along with her brand management role, she oversees legal matter pertaining to intellectual property. While at KRBL, she has spearheaded the development of the ‘India Gate’ brand, which accounts for over 80 per cent of the Company’s total revenue.

Priyanka is well-recognised and a prominent figure in the industry. She has represented KRBL at the World Economic Forum from 2013–2015. In 2004 she presented a paper to the Nigerian key heads of state from the agriculture and industry, on Nigeria’s path to self-sufficiency in collaboration with KBRL. She also represented the Indian Rice industry, in the Confederation Indian Industry delegation to Malaysia, for open market access on agriculture commodities from India. Priyanka put forward India’s interest to BERNAS — Malaysia’s Rice Board that controls domestic as well as imported rice into its country.

Given her keen interest in promoting women leadership, Priyanka was a Special Advisor to the ‘Women in Parliament’ — a European Parliament Initiative. She also is an advocate for food security & sustainability, hunger & malnutrition issues, supply chain management, food storage and wastage.

Priyanka is the Chairperson of the Agri Business and Food Processing Committee — PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and has been a member of several associations including YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India) and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry). She is also the Northern Region-Chairperson of FIEO (Federation of Indian Export Organisations), Ministry of Commerce, and the Government of India.

Priyanka holds a degree in Business Management from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, USA, and has graduated from Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management programme. She is on the board of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Thought leaders are constantly disrupting their organisation and industry by challenging the status quo either with process reengineering, people practises or innovation on products; because if they don’t their competition will.

Thought Leaders are well connected to every aspect of the value chain and always strive to create sustained growth for their organisation and the industry.

1. Stick to the core and be authentic: Recognise the organisation’s core value and develop strategies to reinforce it further. This can be achieved with authentic leadership and having candid conversations with all members of the team. Chasing fads and implementing latest hot trends may not result in buy in from employees and may only create disharmony.

2. Listen: Enough has been written about the power of listening. Thought leaders are proactive, strategic, and intuitive listeners. It requires active and passive listening to all members of the value chain, especially customers, to do better and be better.

3. Selecting change drivers: Typically new projects should not be driven by current process owners. While selecting a team for driving organisational change projects, one should look for candidates who have faced failure earlier as many projects may not culminate into fruitful revenue streams. Cross functional teams from diverse domains and geographies will create contraction and creative juices resulting in winner streak.

4. Partnership: Thought leaders realize early that external partnerships hasten the process of disseminating intent. A partner could be a knowledge expert, channel partner, vendor etc. Confluence of external and internal talent and ecosystem deliver holistic and sustainable outcomes for the organisation.

5. Precise planning: While preparing the budget, top leadership consensus and senior management involvement is utmost important. Thought leaders never drive processes alone, it is a team effort. Driving process with squeezed budget may result in early fatigue of the process or even before the prototyping stage.

Tamara Thorpe, The Millennials Mentor

Here is My Background:

Tamara Thorpe is the Millennials Mentor, the “go to” person for Millennials leadership development and professional advancement. Tamara works exclusively with millennial leaders and entrepreneurs who want to learn how to execute their vision, lead with confidence and competence, and challenge the status quo.

She regularly shares her expertise on top podcasts for millennials including Moving Millennials and Gen Y Success, and in publications like My Millennial Guide. Her leadership and entrepreneurial expertise has been featured by Tech.co and Albuquerque Business Journal, and shared in a TEDx talk.

Tamara offers a no hold barred approach to leadership, committed to developing a generation of leaders who value honesty, authenticity, and diversity of humanity, and are also able to lead change and make a difference. She has worked with millennial leaders from various industries, from grassroots community leaders to nuclear engineers at Kirtland Air Force Base. She uniquely recognizes the talent and ambition of this generation and is well recognized as a partner and advocate for millennials.

In addition to her coaching and training, Tamara delivers dynamic and passionately humorous keynotes at events and conferences across the globe. Her message crosses cultural boundaries and leaves her audiences hopeful and motivated to take action.

Tamara’s work is built on more than 15 years in organizational leadership and lessons learned from traveling to over 25 countries and ten years as an expat. She developed her first leadership program at the age of 15 and hasn’t looked back. That bold and audacious act has turned into a lifetime of leadership lessons that allowed her to excel in her career as a leadership expert, culture specialist, change maker, entrepreneur, and speaker.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“I had not set out to become a thought leader, but when the calls for interviews began to come in I realized that I had struck a nerve. Thought leaders are “informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise” according to the Thought Leadership Lab. I have become the “go to” person for talented and ambitious Millennials who want to be recognized for the value they are bringing to the workforce and make a difference. They want to know what I think about life, leadership, and effecting change in their organizations. Looking back, here are five steps I took that a potential thought leader needs to take:

#1. Identify your niche

After starting my consulting business in 2006, I quickly realized that I needed to pivot and focus in on my audience and message. Leadership is a broad field with an even broader audience so when I identified my niche working with millennials it made it much easier to take the next steps to thought leadership.

#2. Build your brand

Based upon the niche you have identified, build a brand that resonates with your audience. I worked with a small team of business and marketing experts who helped me officially become The Millennials Mentor.

#3. Pick your platform

There are an exceptional number of platforms available to reach your audience, ranging from newsletters to blogs to podcasts. Test and try various platforms then pick the one most suited to your strengths and audience.

#4. Continue to learn

In addition to educating your audience, thought leaders need to continue their own learning. Being a thought leader isn’t just about sharing your expertise, but also about innovating and bringing new ideas to the field. I’ve honed my craft by continuing to research and share my findings through talks, trainings, and publications. If research isn’t your thing, then read or attend conferences where you can learn from other thought leaders in your field.

#5. Provide value to your audience

Finally, as your brand and business began to grow provide value to your audience. I’ve began to build a suite of products and services that will help my clients reach their goals and excel in leadership. As a thought leader, you must be able to get your audience what they need and find new ways to share and monetize your knowledge.


Ted Price, Neuroscientist and Founder, Ted’s Pain Cream

Here is My Background:

“Theodore (Ted) Price completed his B.S. in Neuroscience at The University of Texas at Dallas in 1997 and then his PhD from UTHSCSA in 2003 where he worked on mechanisms of cannabinoid analgesia with Ken Hargreaves. He then went to McGIll University where he was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Fernando Cervero from 2004–2007. At McGill Ted worked on mechanisms of spinal pain amplification and developed an independent line of investigation on local translation control in nociceptors as a mechanism for rapid deployment of new gene expression to alter excitability. In 2007 Ted moved to The University of Arizona School of Medicine where he started his independent laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology. There he obtained funding from The Rita Allen Foundation and The National Institutes of health on diverse projects aimed at understanding molecular mechanisms that cause pain to become chronic. In 2014 Ted moved back to his hometown of Dallas, TX to the University of Texas at Dallas where he is the Director of the Systems Neuroscience Program in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. His lab continues to be interested in molecular mechanisms driving the transition to chronic pain with an increasing focus on drug development for chronic pain disease modification. He has won numerous awards including the John C Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award from the American Pain Society and The Patrick D. Wall Young Investigator Award from the International Association for the Study of Pain. Ted serves on editorial boards for leading pain and neuroscience journals and is a standing member of the Somatosensory and Pain Study Section for NIH.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

5 necessary things to become a thought leader

Be a thought follower

You can’t be an expert in everything, and that’s especially true in the sciences. Staying curious, staying on top of the best thinking in other fields has always been an enormous help to me in refining my thinking in my own field, neuroscience. Follow closely the work of others you admire and look for ways to apply their thinking to your own area of expertise.

Embrace pain

I guess that’s kind of an ironic suggestion, coming from a neuroscientist who has built a career on finding new ways to relieve pain. But you don’t make a name for yourself in any field without a whole lot of failure. And no matter what anyone says, failure hurts. The best you can do is make friends with it by failing early and often.


That goes without saying for us scientists, but it’s invaluable advice in any field. Playing it safe is a surefire way to be ignored. Try something, be honest about the results (especially when it doesn’t work — our first attempts at novel pain relief experiments all failed), repeat, repeat, and repeat again.


This one’s obvious, but harder than ever these days with all the things that compete for our attention. You have to actually schedule the time to think deeply

Scientists Develop New Drugs To Combat Opioid Crisis
In the middle of the nation’s opioid epidemic, scientists in Dallas are looking for long-term pain relief without the…www.nbcdfw.com

Patrik Hellstrand, CEO and President of Oath Pizza

Here is My Background:

“Patrik Hellstrand joined Oath Pizza as CEO and President in October 2016. Most recently, he served as the Corporate Group Vice President of Equinox, where he led strategic acquisition integrations, partnership deals and member experience projects. Prior, Patrik held executive roles at Seaborn, Cunard and Princess Cruise Lines, and Hilton’s Hotels & Resorts.

Having held executive roles with cruise, hotel, consulting and fitness brands, Patrik has an immense amount of expertise in customer experience optimization as well as the unique ability to innovate at the intersection of strategy, customer experience and technology for a brand.

Under Patrik’s leadership, Oath Pizza raised $7M in a series B funding round in June 2017, raising a total of $16M since inception in 2015. Since Patrik started with Oath Pizza, the company has opened six additional restaurants in the Boston area, a new restaurant in the DC area, and anticipates operating a total of 22 restaurants by the end of 2018 along the East Coast, including debuting in New York City.

Patrik holds an MBA from University of Liverpool.“

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Referencing his twenty plus years in business leadership roles, ranging from consulting, fitness, resort and luxury cruise industries, Patrik believes there are five necessary characteristics to becoming a thought leader.

1. The first is a love for your dedication, finding whatever it is about what you’re doing that gets your juices going.

2. Equally important is the courage to leave lucrative and comfortable endeavors in the spirit of learning and growing. Challenging opportunities allow people to learn new things and build their expertise, and it requires a certain courage to seek those opportunities.

3. Also necessary to becoming a thought leader is a certain level of humility, which is gained through perseverance through rough journeys.

4. While collaboration may seem antithetical to leadership, oftentimes more minds are better than one, which is why a true thought leader needs a certain level of empathy to connect and collaborate, whooping the behinds of solitary thinkers.

5. Finally, a thought leader needs wisdom. Unlike knowledge, which can be gained from reading a book or taking a class, wisdom is earned from contrasting experiences offering a broader aperture of the world.

This Additive-Free Pizza Company is Opening Stores in DC and NY
Patrik Hellstrand, Oath Pizza CEO, tells Cheddar what makes his pizza the only certified humane company in the US.www.newsday.com

Dan Schorr, Founder of Vice Cream

Here is My Background:

“Dan Schorr is a storyteller. Within five minutes of meeting the energetic founder of premium ice cream brand Vice Cream, you will find yourself regaled with a story. Schorr will tell you the story of how he was admitted to Tufts University by falling asleep in the admissions office during his interview. Or how he ran a 5:00 minute mile on the first day of baseball practice as a 12-year old, and the coach took him aside to tell him he was in the wrong sport. He went on to run a 4:17 mile his senior year of high school.

He will tell you a story of running an ice cream truck to pay for college. He will tell you the ultimate story of matching his running passion with his business acumen, joining the early team of PowerBar, creating the energy bar category. He will tell you his stories of his work at Saucony footwear, which later led him to join the PepsiCo team. At PepsiCo, he built the energy drink portfolio from the ground up, creating a $250M business in two years.

And he will tell you the story of his insight into the ice cream category, which remained undisrupted for 40 years, and created Vice Cream. Founded in 2016, Vice Cream has grown from 20 stores to 5,000 stores across the country. Sometimes the 5’7 Schorr says, “It is not the size of the dog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the dog.” He knows, because he will tell you the story of his Lymphoma diagnosis three years ago and was given 12 weeks to live. He beat it with the only weapon he had: humor. His blog “”Humor with Tumor”” has been read by over 10,000 Cancer patients and caregivers. So, when Schorr is asked, what’s next? He says, “There are more chapters in the story, but all of them have the same theme: Live Life.””

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Dan Schorr’s insight comes from years of brand building experience with consumer brands PowerBar, Saucony, PepsiCo and Vice Cream.

You need to have a “take.” You don’t need to be controversial, but you need to have something concrete to say. Ideally, the content you produce leaves an audience thinking differently. This requires authenticity. Don’t force it — trying to be authentic is an oxymoron. Do your homework. You need to know the latest in the subject you are a supposed expert in, otherwise you risk losing credibility. Know what success looks like. I speak to thousands of people about my story and my journey, and if I can reach one person in the audience, I consider it a success. You need to be passionate. Passion is mandatory in all areas of life, not just work. Lastly, humor is key. Humor never hurts.”

$25 Ice Cream Tastes Like Victory, Charity at NYC Scooper Bowl
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! And there was plenty to go around Saturday at the Scooper Bowl in…www.ny1.com

Demetri Argyropoulos, Founder and CEO, Avant Global

Here is My Background:

Demetri Argyropoulos is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Avant Global, the global business advisory firm known for building strategic relationships for its customers. The firm touts an impressive roster of individuals and companies, dozens of billionaires, fast-growing startups, Fortune 1000 companies, and high profile family businesses. Clients include one of the wealthiest business magnates in Mexico, the founding family of a well-known retail giant, and one of the largest holding companies in the world. In the role of CEO at Avant Global, Demetri leads strategy, performance, implementation and corporate governance of Avant Global. Since founding the company, Demetri and his partners have been involved in forging relationships, creating opportunities, and generating over $15 billion in value creation across a range of projects and businesses. Demetri has been the catalyst for successfully originating, co-founding, or seeding over 50 new companies. He is a co-founder of Owl BioMedical (acquired by German multinational Miltenyi Biotec), and he is on the advisory boards of Juggle Labs, Sword Diagnostics, bSpot, BloomThat and Ripple.com. He is an executive partner on the Board of Atigeo. Demetri graduated from Westmont College, and studied at the American University in Washington, D.C. He attended Georgetown University‘s American Government and Foreign Policy program. Demetri is also an alumni of Harvard Business School, where he graduated from the three year Owner/President Management program (OPM) and is a current member of the Harvard Business School Association of Southern California. He is a frequent resource on the topics of entrepreneurism, wealth trends, and family succession in businesses, and has been featured in various media outlets, including CNBC, The New York Times, Inc., Real Leaders, Forbes, Montecito Journal, and The National Herald. Demetri is a Business News Daily contributor. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

In the path to thought leadership, a unique set of skills and experiences can help tremendously. Don’t just sit in your office, hiding behind your phone and your computer screen, relying solely on your current client base. Go out and talk to thinkers and leaders outside of your industry, don’t limit your conversations to your client roster or boardroom. It’s expanding your personal world beyond four white walls that will nurture new ideas, or thread together ones you never realized had anything in common. Awareness is another helpful tool on the road to becoming a thought leader. It’s important to understand what is worrisome (and exciting) to people both inside and outside of your circle. By taking that into consideration, you’ll be able to be more relevant and relatable as a thought leader. While you may be the expert on a given topic, you’ll be a more successful thought leader if you’re engaging with your audience. Awareness enables you to do that. Earning the public’s trust is also pertinent to being a thought leader. If you stray too far from what you know, and try to be an expert on everything, your audience will sense it. Stay dedicated to your cause or industry.

David Lloyd, CEO and Founder, The Intern Group

Here is My Background:

David Lloyd is the CEO of The Intern Group (www.theinterngroup.com), an award-winning social enterprise that offers international internship programs year-round to students and graduates of all ages and in all career fields throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America. David studied at University College London and the London School of Economics. He previously lived in Argentina where he completed an internship at Rolex, perfected his Spanish and fell in love with the continent. Before setting up The Intern Group, he was a fixed income salesman on the Iberian desk for Merrill Lynch in London. He left Merrill to pursue his true dream — to promote international opportunities and give others fantastic experiences like he had along with advantages that last. The Intern Group now has programs across the world — Tokyo, Toronto, Shanghai, Dublin, Chicago, London, Hong Kong, Australia, Medellin, Colombia, Madrid, and New York City. The company has helped more than 5,000 students from 125 countries find internships abroad at leading companies, NGOs, and National Governments.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“ Credibility. The more you are seen as highly credible, the easier it is to have your thoughts taken seriously. Perhaps you worked at McKinsey. Perhaps you studied at Harvard. Perhaps you were featured regularly by CNN. Whatever ‘credibility indicator’ you have, leverage it. Success attracts success. The more you are perceived as successful, the more people will take note and listen to what you have to say.

-Stay on top of industry trends. Read voraciously on your industry, make sure to attend the most relevant industry events and meet with and build personal relationships with those doing extraordinary things in your space. It’s imperative to keep learning to keep your thoughts relevant.

-Don’t be afraid to take risks. There are no prizes in this world for shrinking violets. Make sure your opinions are clear and well-formed, and then express them authentically and with conviction even if you think they might be controversial. You are likely not doing anything of interest at all if you don’t upset at least some people occasionally. Put yourself out there. Publish your content, request interviews with journalists, speak at public events.

– Make sure everything you say has value. Content for content’s sake has no purpose. Quality beats quantity every time — make every word you say count.

– Understand the ‘Domino effect‘. It’s hardest to get noticed by the international press the very first time. However, if you get into a top-tier press publication once, you can and will get into others time and time again. This is because if the Financial Times, for example, sees you were published in the Wall Street Journal they will immediately take you seriously — humans often work on a ‘if its good enough for them, its good enough for me’ basis.”


Nathan Lustig, Managing Partner, Magma Partners

Here is My Background:

Lustig is currently the managing partner at Magma Partners, a seed stage venture capital fund based in Santiago, Chile and Los Angeles, CA.

Previously, he founded ExchangeHut during his sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin and ran it until his senior year, when ExchangeHut was acquired. After the acquisition, he worked on multiple businesses, including a consulting firm to help startups grow more quickly.

In 2008 he cofounded Entrustet, a service that allows people to create a list of digital assets and decide if they should be transferred or deleted when they die. In 2010, Lustig was part of the pilot program of Startup Chile and grew Entrustet to the market leader in the industry. In 2012, Entrustet was acquired by a European competitor.

Lustig is also the founder of Capital Entrepreneurs, an organization of high tech entrepreneurs in Madison, WI dedicated to making Madison a new startup hub.

After Entrustet was acquired, he returned to Santiago, Chile where he worked as the head of marketing for Welcu and taught entrepreneurship at multiple Chilean universities.

He also wrote Startup Chile 101, a book about everything you need to know about living, working and doing business in Chile.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Decide why you want to be a thought leader — To make yourself feel good? To be “famous”? To get invited to conferences to speak? To drive leads for your business? To start a consultancy? Something else? Pick your goal and work backward from there.

Have useful thoughts — It should go without saying, but thought leaders should provide useful content that helps people understand the world better. If you’re trying to be a thought leader simply regurgitating mealy mouthed, hedged thoughts of others, you’re likely a social media personality, not a thought leader.

Have a point of view — The best way to find an audience is to share your point of view with others and find the people who believe what you do or could be converted to your viewpoint. Stake out a position and create content around it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change your opinion when the facts change, but it does mean you should have a point of view.

Pick your medium & remix — Find out what kind of content you’re best at creating. Instagram and snapchat stories? Long for writing? Tweets? Cartoons? Video? Live video? Create your content on the platform where you feel most comfortable and then remix it across other platforms.

Consistency — There’s no such thing as an overnight sensation. Build a base, whether its a base of knowledge that took years to gain before you started creating content, or you use your content creation to become an expert. Be prepared to be in it for the long haul.

Ibrahim Ibrahim, Managing Director, Portland Design

Here is My Background:

“Ibrahim Ibrahim is an internationally sought-after speaker, writer, commentator, trends forecaster, and insights sharer who captivates audiences around the world with his provocative and dynamic approach to storytelling. He is the man behind the London-based retail design and strategy consultancy Portland Design, which is part of global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will. He is a bona fide savant in all things related to the business of designing experiential brands and businesses.

Ibrahim originally trained as an aeronautical engineer. He is a post-graduate of the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is also a regular speaker at conferences around the world, and a frequent contributor to journals and magazines, such as The Economist’s ‘Insights.’

During his 29 years in design consultancy, Ibrahim has worked with clients around the world, including Mondelez, Nestle, Diageo, Albert Heijn, Bugaboo, Pernod Ricard, Le Pain Quotidien, CNN, SSP, Heathrow Airport, Schiphol Airport, Dubai Airport, TfL, Inter Ikea, ECE, Corio, Hammerson, Mubadala, Nakheel, TDIC, JAFZA, Westfield, British Land, Coach, Lagadare, Wolford, David Clulow, Selfidges, Harrods, Luxottica, Travelex, Arcadia, ADNOC.

Portland Design, which was founded in 1987, is a leading international branding and retail design business. The firm works on a broad range of projects, including retail, F&B, consumer brands, shopping centres, airports, train stations, mixed use developments, and urban regeneration. Portland’s understanding of consumers’ relationships with brands, and their engagement with branded physical and digital environments, lies at the heart of the firm’s work. This understanding is built through research and insights on issues that drive future customer expectations. Portland places great emphasis on ‘future-proofing’ the customer offer.

Ibrahim has two children, and when he is not overseing the ‘ideas-fueled’ environment at Portland, he can be found with his family, mountain biking, making furniture, or managing a woodland while riding his tractor.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

1. Be Curious

The most important thing is to be insatiably curious. All the time. We should never stop wondering or questioning the world we live in, or the changes that are taking place around us every day. We should never cease to consider the impact of these changes on societal, consumer, environmental, and cultural landscapes. Curiosity, combined with understanding, will make a thought leader’s opinions far more interesting and more relevant. A real thought leaders should be worldly and not sector-specific.

2. Be Provocative

Don’t stay inside your comfort zone. A thought leader needs to take risks, challenge the status quo, and question “”received wisdom.”” (Remember, some people once thought the world was flat!) Have a strong point of view and do not be scared to reflect that point of view in your brand or your company’s brand. As a thought leader, you must be thoughtfully controversial. “”Safe”” is risky.

3. Be Succinct

Every conversation, whether in front of 1,000 people or in a simple catch-up with a colleague, needs to have a clear focus and narrative. Otherwise, everyone is just wasting their time. You only become a thought leader if you provide an interesting point of view, and you do it succinctly. Do not beat around the bush; run through it.

4. Read Wisely

We often hear on the news that people aren’t reading as much or as frequently as older generations did. I believe the opposite is true. With the proliferation of smart phones and the internet, more people are reading more content now than ever before. But the bigger issue is *what* they are reading. Information is similar to food: if you have a poor diet, then there will be consequences to your health. The same goes for information. As a thought leader, it is your responsibility to ensure the information you’re reading is ‘healthy’ and gives your brain energy.

5. Enjoy The Ride — There Are No Shortcuts

Great thought leaders succeed when they can provide a unique perspective to a common problem. ‘Thinking outside the box,’ as it were. My ability to ‘think outside the box’ stems from my personal and professional experiences — including, most importantly, my failures. I never had ‘that moment of enlightenment’ where the stars simply aligned and I knew I wanted to run a design agency. On the contrary, I jumped from subject to subject and from profession to profession, making any number of failures along the way. But I learned from every one of them. My journey has shaped my perspective. It has allowed me to have empathy, to understand others, and to rise from failures and problems. I gained my voice over time. There is no shortcut to becoming a ‘thought leader.’


Anthony James, Founder and CEO, Linux Academy and Cloud Assessments

Here is My Background:

Anthony is the Founder and CEO of Linux Academy and Cloud Assessments. He founded Linux Academy in 2012 to help him pass a Linux certification exam after struggling to learn through traditional training methods. His vision was to take the one-on-one attention of in-person training, and pair it with the affordability and accessibility of an online self-paced training — a category that didn’t exist yet. Working full time as a systems engineer, he spent nights and weekends building the learning platform, coursework and labs from scratch.

Next thing he knew, the site was helping tens of thousands of students pass certifications and improve their careers. Now, with the recent launch of Cloud Assessments, Anthony is leading the organization towards making training even more efficient than it ever has been through the use of technology and lean learning.

Anthony’s interest in software began at age 15, when he started learning about Linux and PHP and even began writing software. He switched focuses in college to study finance and economics, and accepted a job in accounting. Soon enough, he realized he missed working with technology and exercising his creativity.

He knew he wanted to create something that combined his passion for helping people, interest in business, admiration for teaching, and love of technology. Linux Academy was born with a mission to change lives through hands-on interactive training. What started with one employee and six videos, has grown into a company that serves over 65 countries, with 80+ employees, 5,200+ videos, and nearly 3.5 million hits per month in 2017.

Despite tremendous and continuous growth, Anthony remains steadfast in maintaining the company’s primary focus on the individual students’ success. He leads by example to foster this same passion throughout his team. As such, he continues to serve as one of the main instructors for some Linux, AWS and DevOps courses on the platform.

Outside of business and technology, Anthony is a family man with a beautiful, caring wife, and two adorable boys. He enjoys Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, riding his motorcycle, and Mexican food.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

As the founder and CEO of Linux Academy and Cloud Assessments, I’ve found that becoming a thought leader often rests in putting yourself out into your community — this can be as simple as actively contributing to existing projects and communities or as transformative as coming up with a whole new product or philosophy that shakes up the industry as a whole. Make yourself known by contributing to projects, talking at conferences, or attending meet-ups.

You also don’t want to settle for convention — leaders contribute, but they also look for ways to improve and change things, not just passively follow the status quo. Consider new approaches to solving common problems or think about how to use current tools and technology to improve current processes. Don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry for ideas, don’t be afraid to try something completely different, and don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is inevitable when pioneering new concepts, and there are lessons in failing that can never be learned if you only succeed.

As a thought leader, you also want to take the sum of your experiences (good and bad) and use them to teach those around you. Thought leaders are often expected to be experts in their field, and taking the time to show those new (or newer) to your industry the lessons you have learned affords you the chance to not just leave an impression in the present day, but contribute to the future of your field by lifting up those who will inevitably be leaders of it in the future.

Finally, it’s paramount that you practice what you preach — there’s a reason this is such a cliche. As you begin to cement your place as a leader in your industry, people will look not just at your words, but your actions. Leaders are very much expected to lead by example, and you might find yourself setting the tone of events or discussions even inadvertently. It’s important to see how your actions affect others and to learn how to be genuine and sincere while still putting your best self forward. “


Elizabeth Convery, Founder, VERY Real Esate

Here is My Background:

Life is too short to do anything less than what you love. My passions are real estate and hospitality. I have been fortunate to build a career dedicated to both. Working in multiple facets of the real estate industry, I have valued, financed, acquired or sold over $2 billion of properties since I graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 2005. My experience and dedication to client-service led me to study hospitality formally and further cultivate my skills as a real estate professional when I received my Master of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University.

I created VERY Real Estate to fill a need in the Philadelphia market, a city that has been home to my family for four generations. Dominated by large, franchised real estate firms, I wanted to build a business that focuses on quality of transactions, not quantity of transactions. The independent platform allows my team to be nimble enough to deliver the best possible personalized service for our clients in a timely and efficient manner. At VERY, we are not driven by monthly sales quotas or pre-established practices, but by building long-term relationships to serve your needs. Each client’s experience is individualized to deliver superior results. It’s the art of hospitality applied to real estate sales.

I have cultivated a team of highly qualified real estate professionals who share my values. Our extensive experience in the real estate industry will give you comfort in our abilities to execute on your behalf; but our creativity, attention to detail, genuine warmth and ability to laugh at any situation will make us your chosen real estate professionals for years to come.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“-Be passionate about your area of expertise.

As a licensed Real Estate Broker I take pride in the individual services that I provide to my clientele at my boutique Real Estate firm. In a big city like Philadelphia, neighborhood choice is key. I am a source of knowledge on demographics as well as shopping, dining and social aspects that go along with buying the perfect home. It’s common for me to take tours of several neighborhoods before turning the key and entering a property. Living in the city keeps me up to date on details first hand.

-Engage the help of others.

At college I majored in hospitality and earned my Masters in management hospitality. Pivoting to own a real estate agency naturally required many of my natural skills. However, creating a focused brand required the help of professionals. With growth came a quick turnover of information that needed to be converted in our 24/7 digital world. I work with a varied team of professionals who keep my message clear and concise. They manage my website and social media channels. In addition, I have a publicist who is constantly searching for mainstream media opportunities, speaking engagements, and award opportunities. Recently I reconnected with a branding and marketing professor from the university where I earned my Masters. He has influenced my new approach to elevate hospitality services in the real estate world for 2018.

-Be Authentic.

At VERY Real Estate, we don’t just want to sell a property and move on. No matter what you do, you have to believe in your craft, helping your customers make the best decisions. If you don’t tell the truth, people will know. Here at VERY we take every client’s needs personally, giving them the best advice and showing them their best options.

-Network in Person.

In the real estate world, there is never any time to stop networking. I use my spare time to test my knowledge in person with professionals in all fields. You have to be out on a regular basis to meet new people; face to face interaction is imperative. My business is almost 100% word of mouth referral. Every person I meet in person could lead to another customer.

-Maximize with technology.

Keep all of your social channels fresh and updated. Don’t forget to use video as a tool: a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth an interminable amount. If you can afford the help of professionals to keep everything updated, do it. Otherwise, make it a priority to keep LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and any other channels updated consistently.


Issa Asad, founder and CEO of Q Link Wireless

Here is My Background:

Issa Asad is founder and CEO of Q Link Wireless. The company supplies low-income individuals and families living in America with a free cell phone and free monthly service that includes free calling, free monthly data, and unlimited text messaging through the government-run Lifeline assistance program. The program was designed for Americans who might not otherwise have access to vital communication services, including the ability to make 9–1–1 calls. Asad has led Q Link Wireless from its founding. Today, Q Link is the third-largest Lifeline carrier in the country with nearly 2 million customers. It is an “Inc. 5000” company.

Issa Asad started venturing into the telecommunications and technology industries in 1996 when he offered prepaid phone cards in his convenience stores and gas stations. Issa Asad knew that there was potential in phone cards, so using his retail background, he envisioned real-time PIN electronic delivery of prepaid phone services.

In 2000, Issa Asad joined Reliable Telecard and i-Prepay, Inc. to develop his concept for a PIN electronic delivery system for prepaid products. Now, the electronic prepaid industry nets hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Since then, he has focused his attention to the prepaid, technology and telecommunications industries and has spent time in various companies to increase sales and develop his innovative products and services. He has received numerous accolades from various industry publications, including Intelecard News and the Prepaid Press.

Issa continues to transform the telecom industry with novel customer acquisition strategies and unique approaches to grow customer affinity and loyalty.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“The top trait of a thought leader is fearlessness. All thought leaders have experienced resistance, but that doesn’t mean they should stop pushing forward — that’s assuming they have clarity, another essential trait. Without clarity, you may end up overthinking your positioning (and agonizing over taking risks). Indecision is the death knell of vision and leadership. A lot of leaders fail the first few times — that’s why I learned to market fast and fail quickly. I learned what my mistakes were and started right back up again. With that kind of persistence, you will succeed.

Thought leaders need to keep learning, and this drive for self-improvement doesn’t need to be through formal channels. I originally didn’t work in the technology field, but now, our wireless phone company ranks on Inc.’s Top 5000 list. Today, I study programming and development, even though it may be challenging, and I have learned even more through meetings directly with Facebook and Google. No matter what, thought leaders need to have a niche in which to develop this knowledge and expertise.

Leaders need to use inspiration to drive their vision — I have implemented that in my office. In our space, where everything is housed under one roof, we have created interactive areas that support impromptu brainstorming sessions, new innovations, and, in my case, new patents. A thought leader’s space must be well-planned, and that’s why we have glass doors on all the private offices on the third floor. We use them as white board alternatives, with dry erase markers. It’s a fun way to have ideas “speak” to you during the creative process.

SoFlo Home Project: Dec 23, Part 1
Design expert, Martin Amado, comes down the chimney to redesign a meeting space for a group of deserving young girls.www.local10.com

Chris Kingman, Executive Coach

Here is My Background:

I’m Chris Kingman, a person who is passionate, dedicated, driven and motivated to helping others shatter their own ceilings. As someone who has struggled with my own hurdles and self-doubt I know what it’s like to think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals. Often, the individuals I work with feel their lack of adequate, formal education or experience inhibit or prevents their ability to achieve their desired success. I gain great satisfaction in helping executives and sellers hit numbers, grow their companies or even their capacity to connect with their teams. I have found I can create the greatest value in two ways; the first as a Sales Enablement leader and practitioner; I help organizations look across their businesses to break down silos and increase communication to drive production, revenue and have a positive impact on culture. As an Executive Coach, I work with young or up-and-coming executives, these are usually individuals whose companies have taken off but lack business structure and organization. I work with these individuals to develop their abilities to steer the business with strategic vision and tactical execution along with the personal skills often necessary to ensure prosperity. In both disciplines my focus is to align people, process and technology. My methods are grounded in my belief that people and culture are the foundation of every successful business. Because of my expertise I have been featured on Selling Power TV, the “Sales is King” Podcast, I serve as an advisor to LinkedIn and Forbes Business Development Council and am a monthly contributor to Forbes.com. I currently work for a Fortune 500 company running Sales Enablement globally.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Passion — to be a successful thought leader in your space you need to be passionate or borderline obsessed with it. This passion for your field will keep you connected and driven long after the initial luster has worn off. Individuals who has consistently been leaders in their fields maintain the same passion as when they started.

Reflection — to become a thought leader you need to be able to reflect on the current state on your field of interest. Once thing that separates the opinion of the thought leader from the casual observer is having the ability to overserve and reflect, calculate current trends, and determine influencing factors. Reflection demonstrates thought and concern for one’s field, not just opinions

Outspoken — you will need to be outspoken, after all you will need to be able to clearly communicate your thoughts. Being able to speak up is a key skill in being a thought leader and shows you’re willing to communicate your thoughts, not just keep them to yourself. Speaking up shows conviction and belief in your ideas

Inquisitive — As a thought leader you need to be constantly questioning your area of expertise. You should always be looking at it through a different lenses or perspective to try and gain different or deeper understandings. You should seek out information and opinions, even differing ones to help better inform your own. You should always try to stay as informed as possible

Authentic — You need to be authentic. You cannot be convincing if you do not actually believe in what you are talking about. Being authentic with your expertise means standing behind your view, even if it isn’t the majority opinion. Showing your true nature, your authentic self will only solidify your status as a thought leader.

Bryan Mattimore, Chief Idea Guy, Growth Engine Innovation Agency

Here is My Background:

“Bryan W. Mattimore is cofounder and “Chief Idea Guy” of the Growth Engine Company, www.growth-engine.com, a nineteen-year old innovation agency based in Norwalk, Connecticut.

In his innovation consulting career, Bryan has facilitated over a thousand brainstorming sessions, moderated over five hundred creative focus groups, and managed over two hundred successful innovation projects, leading to over $3 billion in new sales for a wide variety of Fortune 500 clients, including Kraft, Unilever, Ford, AT&T, BNY Mellon, LVMH, Merck, and Pepsi.

A cum laude graduate of Dartmouth, he has written three books on ideation and innovation process including Idea Stormers, How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs (Wiley Jossey-Bass) and 21 Days to a Big Idea, (Diversion Books).

In addition to being a marketing and innovation instructor at Caltech, Bryan is also the inventor of the creativity training game, Bright Ideas.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

I am an ideation (brainstorming) and innovation thought leader having written three best-selling books on the topic. The most recent book is 21 Days to a Big Idea.

Besides the obvious pre-requisite these days that a thought leader write and speak about their area of expertise, here are my five keys for becoming a thought leader:

1) Invent a New Process or Methodology: There must be original thoughts, insights, and/or a recommended “new way of looking at the world” — ideally accompanied by a recommend behavior change, for someone to be a true thought leader. In my world, in the past twenty-five years, I’ve helped invent and popularize dozens of new idea-generation techniques based on an empirical understanding of how new ideas are conceived in groups. Among the new group idea generation processes I have invented are such provocatively-named techniques as Triggered Brainwalking, Patent Prompts, and Disruptive War Gaming.

2) Conduct and Publicize Original Research: When thoughts leaders commission — or have access — to original research, it adds credibility to their ideas. Because I have personally designed and facilitated over 1,000 ideation sessions, I have been able to do original research on which techniques work best for different kinds of creative business challenges.

3) Create “Quotable Quotes”: Well-phrased quotes crystallize and make it easier for the public at large to understand a thought leader’s ideas. Here are a few of my quotes: “You don’t innovate by changing a company’s culture… You change the culture by innovating.” “If you’re having trouble creating a good idea, create a lot of bad ones.” “If you’re good at principle identification and transfer, you have what it takes to be a genius.” “It’s a paradox that specifics trigger more and better ideas than generalities.” “If you want more ideas, find more problems.”

4) Make Predictions About Your Industry: There’s a wonderful quote by William Gibson: “The future is already here… it’s just not evenly distributed.” So aspiring thought leaders can find “signals” in society that will reflect emerging trends. As the world was becoming “flatter,” and the cost of innovating with global teams began to rise, I accurately made the prediction (over 10 years ago) that Global Virtual Ideation and Expert Crowd-Souring would become an important new way for worldwide companies to generate ideas.

5) Identify and Popularize Intersections or “Mash-Ups” Between Different Disciplines: The 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago Economist who invented “Behavioral Economics”… which is at the intersection of economics and psychology. (Behavioral economics asserts the importance of SIF’s: Supposed Irrelevant human Factors, in developing more accurate economic models). By “mashing-up” economics with psychology, Thaler created an important new discipline. So, combine two or more different “fields of thought”… and watch your own thought-leading ideas begin to emerge.


Cara Silletto, President & Chief Retention Officer, Crescendo Strategies, LLC

Here is My Background:

“Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, works with organizations of all sizes to reduce unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making managers more effective in their roles. As a Millennial herself, she knows first-hand what it is like to have a heightened sense of entitlement, very little employee loyalty and a dependency on her smart phone. However, unlike many Millennials, Cara has figured out exactly how these attributes were cultivated during her formative years, and she now shares that story with leaders across the country, including teams at Toyota, UPS, Cintas and Humana.

Cara learned early in her career, from her Baby Boomer and GenX mentors, what “professionalism” meant to them, and absorbed critical information about management expectations during her first decade in the business world. She then went on to earn her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the top-ranked University of Louisville Entrepreneurship program, lived overseas teaching German executives about business practices in the U.S., and then started her consulting firm, Crescendo Strategies, in 2012.

Today at age 36, Cara is a highly-sought after national speaker, conducting 50 to 100 speaking engagements and training programs each year, where she serves as the “Voice of the New Workforce.” Recruiter.com included her on their “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch” list and Workforce Magazine in Chicago named Cara a “Game Changer” for her innovative approach to solving generational issues in the workplace. Cara’s retention advice has been published in Forbes, Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and beyond, plus more than 20,000 leaders have attended her programs on workforce issues. Her newest book, Staying Power: Why Your Employees Leave & How to Keep Them Longer, will be released by Silver Tree Publishing in March 2018.”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Based on my experience and work with other successful thought leaders in my field, here are the top 5 things that are essential characteristics of established thought leaders.

Thought Leaders are:

1. Curious — In order to offer new perspectives to their communities, thought leaders must delve deeper into topics than most of their peers. They ask questions to solve problems. Then ask questions to improve solutions. There are no accepted norms as thought leaders see the world. Knowledge is inexhaustible and exciting to them and they have a zeal to intensely study subjects far longer than most people think is necessary.

2. Observant — A good thought leader also needs the wisdom to focus their attention on relevant topics. Having observational skills is key for them to identify overarching trends and prioritize those having the greatest impact. An observant thought leader sees the large-scale patterns of society and is determined to find out where those patterns came from and whether they should be encouraged or criticized.

3. Creative — Curious and observant people are thoughtful, but not leaders. Those who can use their research to create their own original perspective have the potential to lead real change. Thought leaders not only have a subject they like to study, but they also have the desire to apply their findings to the people around them. That desire fuels the daunting task of creating original content to help shape a way forward for their communities.

4. Dynamic — There are researchers and then there are thought leaders. Is there a difference? Well, which one would you rather hear speak for three hours at your next conference? Both are experts in their fields, but thought leaders clearly prioritize HOW they present their message. They are winsome storytellers who put the time in to polish their content so it’s as inspirational as it is accurate. A successful thought leader attracts interested followers.

5.Perceptive — Finally, thought leaders who stick around are those who have the foresight to see what’s next. Their insights have longevity because they anticipate future shifts and are also tweaked or updated as social trends evolve. Thought leaders live in uncharted territory as they constantly think about the unknown future and forge what they believe is the way best path forward!”


Asher Rodriquez-Dunn, Founder, Studio DUNN

Here is My Background:

“Asher Dunn is the designer and founder of Studio DUNN — a small Rhode Island-based design and manufacturing firm creating contemporary pieces with a mid-century modern aesthetic. Since launching the brand at ICFF and receiving recognition as ‘Best New Designer’ in 2010, Asher has received numerous international, national, and local honors recognizing both his work and his ongoing contributions to the design field, including VOGUE’s ‘Ten Contemporary Designers to Collect Today’, Forbes ’30 under 30’, and New England Home’s ‘5 Under 40’. Accomplished in design and architecture, Asher was also recognized as an emerging designer and inducted into the Rhode Island Design Hall of Fame by RI x Design, in no small part owing to his continued dedication to the local arts community in the Ocean State. Asher further commits himself to the design field through various instructional roles, including courses in design and entrepreneurship at RISD and the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine.

With sustainable practices and respect for materials, Studio DUNN builds each and every product to the highest standards in their Rhode Island studio. Embracing the unique characteristics of the materials, respecting the strengths and weaknesses and subtle variations created during the handmade processes, each Studio DUNN creation becomes a one-of-a-kind piece and timeless heirloom. Paying homage to our natural resources, the reuse of materials and minimization of waste are at the forefront of their operations. The brand partners with local artisans, manufacturers, and suppliers in order to responsibly source their production methods. They believe this approach to design and manufacturing upholds the integrity of their products, supports the local economy, and cultivates respect for our natural resources.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

“Quality beats quantity — Thought leadership is about positioning yourself as an authority and providing value. This requires life experience and expertise to produce content that provides answers to specific problems. Having the answers makes you a resource and drives visitors to your website and gets your content shared by others. A constant stream of vague content becomes a nuisance, is eventually ignored, and drives customers away.

Contributing beats promoting — The goal of thought leadership is to build trust that in turn earns you loyal customers. Your customers can absolutely tell when you’re masking an advertisement. Thought leaders are influential because they contribute to their field. Rather than advertising try becoming a resource for your customer base and the industry. In addition to creating your own content, share other people’s content. Sharing relevant content benefits the content’s creator and reinforces your position as the ‘go-to’ resource.

Sharing beats possessing — You possess a wealth of information and it is a thought leader’s role to make observations and predictions rooted in this expert knowledge. After all, that’s what thought leadership is all about. If you’re an expert in your field and you see the field changing but say nothing, how are you leading? A successful thought leader takes risks and shares what they think is happening, forecasts where they believe it is leading, and backs it with their expert knowledge.

Humility beats egotism — Thought leadership is about being authentic and relatable. Don’t be afraid to show your audience that you’re human. You’re not the only one that hates Mondays, makes mistakes, or embarrasses yourself in one way or another. Your humanity makes you relatable and all that more trustworthy as a resource for your customers.

Learning beats flaunting — Thought leadership is not about telling the world you’re the best at something. Flaunting accolades does not make a leader. Experience and expertise are a thought leader’s foundation and you must stay current in your field, otherwise you become old news quickly no matter how many awards and honors you’ve received. Thought leaders are forever-students; always hungry, always listening, always up-to-date, seeking opportunities to further their understanding through networking, interviewing, and collaboration.


Greg Shepard, CTO of Pepperjam

Here is My Background:

“A driven entrepreneur, Greg’s passion for solving go-to-market challenges is fueled by his deep experience in the space. His former company, AffiliateTraction, was acquired by eBay Enterprise Marketing and later rebranded to Pepperjam — where he currently resides as Chief Technology Officer. Greg intimately understands the value third party technology plays in mapping a complicated customer journey — and recognizes how critical identifying the role each customer touchpoint plays.

While influencer marketing remains a buzzword, the industry struggles to define how best to attribute, incentivize and compensate influencers. As a response under Greg’s direction, Pepperjam launched their Dynamic Attribution Suite in mid-2017 — a model that provides advertisers greater revenue, cost savings and control — resulting in 509% growth for retailers. This quickly became the holy grail of Pepperjam’s offerings and is proven to solve challenging attribution problems.

Greg’s contagious passion for the performance marketing space brings refreshed thinking and strategy to Pepperjam’s business model. When he is not working, he enjoys exploring the Bay Area with his family and tackling new ways to make consumers tick.

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

As we enter 2018, New Year’s resolutions are top of mind for a variety of executives — get more sleep, eat heathier, and be more mindful. What I’ve learned throughout the thought leader development process is the value of finding daily inspiration to improve, evolve, and create excitement for myself and those around me. Below are the top five ways I’ve found valuable to achieve this:

Recognize the power of micro-moments

– The ways consumers operate have changed in the last five years. Consumption patterns have been replaced by constant, short bursts of digital activity all day — aptly named micro-moments. The success of startups like Blinkist and GetAbstract, Twitter’s text limit and influence of Instagram and Pinterest are prime examples of this shift. Successful thought leaders today need to recognize that consumers respond best with through succinct, positive, clever messaging that resonates directly with what is important to their audience.

Ensure that all your content is mobile-friendly

– This one is a no-brainer. According to ComScore data, users spend on average 69% of their media time on smartphones — slated to increase in 2018. Ensuring your content is transferable and aesthetically pleasing to folks reviewing on mobile is crucial.

Optimize the longevity of your content on social

– As consumers rapidly scroll through newsfeeds, it’s possible for your content to get lost at the bottom of a feed if it’s not optimized. The best way around this? Ensure your exec following stays strong. LinkedIn and Facebook have algorithms ensure that content from authors with the best following and engagement stays at the top of a newsfeed longer — which responds better from an SEO perspective.

Always be learning

– As a global leader, it’s my role to foster decision-making amongst my teams. By continuing to learn about industry updates, themes and major moves I can support others to make solid business choices and promote a culture that supports continued learning.

Hire folks bigger than you

– The grandfather of marketing, David Ogilvy stated, “””If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.’”” This concept is incredibly valuable. To remain a thought leader its vital to surround yourself with creative people who challenge, inspire and propel forward the company vision.


Pooja Krishna, Entrepreneur & Business Mentor, MaroonOak.com and WinThinks.com

Here is My Background:

Pooja Krishna believes that managing a business, mentoring and motherhood is a winning combo!

As an MBA, Entrepreneur & Business Mentor with 23+ years of business experience, she’s inspiring others to find their own paths to success.

Pooja is a Co-founder at Maroon Oak, a Business & Career Platform for Women and the Founder of Win Thinks Consulting, where she teaches and writes about strategy and brand building. A K-12 Classroom Mentor, she loves teaching students across the U.S. about job skills and entrepreneurship. Her short stories have been published in the Chicken Soup series of books, though she now blogs more about business and life.

She is deeply passionate about propeling women ahead in the professional arena. “I work with, advise, mentor and support women entrepreneurs and professionals, particularly those who face challenges on embracing technology or are being set back due to a skills gap in tech,” she says.

“”Women represent the largest pool of untapped workforce talent today. A key reason — most women, not just Moms, who’ve been away from the workplace, but also active professionals and entrepreneurs are losing out on the technology front.

Numerous women I work with believe that they can’t get jobs they deserve to be in, or grow their businesses the way they want to. And I want them to realize that they can.”

Pooja believes that tech can be our biggest ally as users and adopters too. Through Maroon Oak, her workshops, articles and social media groups, she shares knowledge and resources to share this.

Whether it’s work options for Moms, thanks to remote hiring and the success of virtual professionals, or creating collaborations for businesses, she helps build thriving networks between women who might never have met. She even motivates them to learn smarter, in new and fun way by asking questions and learning interactively. “There are tools for every one of us, from sparking your creative problem solving to ‘skilling-up’ on micro learning portals.”

Pooja is a passionate advocate of early work skills and has taught over a 1000 students in schools across the US. She focuses on encouraging growth mindset as well as an entrepreneurial focus and building soft skills. “Learning is not a spectator sport,” she says. “When they understand what to expect in the real world, students will have a clear direction to their efforts. They can enter the workforce or create businesses more well-informed. And I want to help them bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world!”

Here are 5 Things Needed to Become a Thought Leader:

Great thought leadership means making a decisive impact in your realm — it’s not always about the size of the change; what also counts is who benefits and how well!

My tips to be a changemaker:

Challenge the status quo — thought leaders are mindset innovators first. A big part of my mission is to constantly reiterate the role of tech in the business landscape and create a sense of urgency amongst my audience (even if they are comfortable with how things stand). Then I help them use and leverage it in usable, meaningful ways. I’m also always looking to create a ripple effect — by influencing peers, who will help share this message in turn.

Develop and demonstrate subject matter expertise — know your field, and what you don’t, learn and refine with experience. Importantly, walk the talk first. Proven credentials through education and experience matter, so build a strong brand and reinforce it online, through published work, a digital and video presence as well as audience testimonials.

Choose the right context, based on audience’s needs — as a virtual Student Mentor, I make a clear distinction in my messages. I focus on a different set of skills for kids who need to to find a job right after high school (for financial reasons) and those who want to work to broaden their experience. Similarly, technology has one meaning for creators and a completely different one for adopters. I address the needs of each in a unique way, to make the message more compelling.

Empathy towards others’ needs and problems — one person’s ‘simple’ is another’s nightmare! Through numerous workshops and conversations, I’ve seen so many professionals struggle with one or more aspects of their work. Once I understood the depth of their challenges and ways to focus on them, I was more effective in proving to entrepreneurs that making a business plan or outlining strategy was key, but didn’t have to be so daunting.

Even the best need to get better — be open to feedback or a counter viewpoint, no matter, how deep your knowledge or rich your learnings. Thought leaders have a ear to the ground — they listen, welcome critiques, to improve themselves and help others achieve their best too. I use open-ended interviews and discussions to learn more about women professionals. It has helped me set aside so many ideas that I believed were tried and true and embrace new ways instead.


Originally published at medium.com

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