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Agnes Muljadi: “Always give back and make a difference through what you do”

From my perspective, much, if not all, of the social media campaigns and speaking engagements I have participated in have come from the fact that people see me as a plant-based advocate/thought leader. Speaking engagements are some of the most fruitful opportunities — monetarily, yes, but also invigorating. It allows me to share my thoughts with those […]

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From my perspective, much, if not all, of the social media campaigns and speaking engagements I have participated in have come from the fact that people see me as a plant-based advocate/thought leader. Speaking engagements are some of the most fruitful opportunities — monetarily, yes, but also invigorating. It allows me to share my thoughts with those that are already open to new ideas, and also gives me an opportunity to meet new people, swap resources, and generally leave feeling inspired and motivated to continue growing.


As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Agnes Muljadi, a Los Angeles based vegan ballerina, holistic nutritionist, writer and speaker. Perhaps best known as social media influencer @artsyagnes with half a million followers on Instagram, Agnes’ plant-based journey began in 2014 shortly after she discovered a rapidly growing tumor on her breast. Within a year subsequent to her diagnosis, Agnes radically changed her diet and lifestyle to begin transforming her health from within. Through her holistic wellness platform Agnes continues to empower and educate people to take charge of their health and transform their lives by adopting a plant-based diet and sustainable lifestyle. Agnes has received extensive media coverage for her diverse talents, including features in numerous publications such as Dance Magazine, Huffington Post and SheKnows.


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

It is my pleasure to chat with you! I appreciate you taking the time for me. Well, I started my journey as a professional ballet dancer — I’m classically trained at Julia Bourlina Classical Ballet in Studio City, here in California — and one day decided to post a ballet image of myself on Instagram. The photo went viral and my social media presence kept growing from that point on. I suddenly realized that people still appreciated the art of ballet, and how that ties into healthy living. It’s awesome to have this platform of half a million people, to spread awareness about nutrition, exercise and a healthy mind and life in general. These days I spend the majority of my time with my wellness and life coaching clients as well as sharing what I love through my mastermind group. I love to teach and continue to learn from others as well. I never want to stop learning, and appreciating.

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

Through my wellness and life coaching practice I have the honor of practicing thought leadership everyday. I also run a Self-Mastery mastermind group that empowers participants to reach their best self.

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

I’d have to say having my Instagram photo ‘go viral’ was probably the most interesting and unexpected thing that has happened in my career. It cleared a path that I didn’t realize was there, and has opened doors for me to continue to do what I love, which is to focus on health and wellness. I’d say I’m lucky, but I have also worked very hard to make a life and a career out of what I love and want to do.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

A thought leader, in my humble opinion, is someone who’s considered an expert in their field — who doesn’t just regurgitate thoughts that they’ve heard from people who inspire them — rather, have unique, original ideas that can change the world. An influencer is someone who can influence or direct other people’s choices, including their purchases, without necessarily having that originality and innate ability to lead. Both positions are needed in this world, though thought leaders seem to have the knowledge and authority, and influencers can assist in spreading that message.

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

The biggest benefit of becoming a thought leader is you’re naturally in a position where you can help guide and empower people through your platform through the knowledge that one shares. It’s a key element to building a long term relationship with your audience.

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

From my perspective, much, if not all, of the social media campaigns and speaking engagements I have participated in have come from the fact that people see me as a plant-based advocate/thought leader. Speaking engagements are some of the most fruitful opportunities — monetarily, yes, but also invigorating. It allows me to share my thoughts with those that are already open to new ideas, and also gives me an opportunity to meet new people, swap resources, and generally leave feeling inspired and motivated to continue growing.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

1. Be Authentic. People want to relate to genuine people, so be real and authentic.

2. Make sure your content serves one or all of these purposes: educate, inspire and/or empower.

3. Consistency matters. Make sure you are consistent with what your putting out there.

4. Share high quality content only.

5. Always give back and make a difference through what you do.

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

I just finished Ray Dalio’s book, “Principles”, not too long ago. Ray is a well-known investor and entrepreneur; he’s achieved pretty significant success. In his book he shares principles that he’s developed that create unparalleled results in business and in life. They’re points that really any person can use to achieve their own goals. I would definitely consider him a thought leader. I think his ability to stay objective and continue to move forward is admirable.

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

I agree. I believe the term is egotistical by nature. Can someone come up with a better term? 🙂

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

Meditate, stay focused and organized, prioritize your health and wellness, have a weekly self-care routine, and remember that grace and ease can take you places where hustling can’t.

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

I would start a movement on ending homelessness, particularly youth homelessness. I’m happy to share that I just launched a fundraiser to help support LGBTQ youth homelessness: https://www.gofundme.com/f/end-lgbtq-homeless-youth. My friends and I will be using 100% of the funds raised to put together care packages filled with daily essentials (like feminine care products, socks, toothbrushes, tooth paste), and will deliver them directly to the LGBTQ youth living on the streets in Los Angeles. Donations will also be used to provide emergency housing for the youth. I’ve been working closely with a few extended-stay motels and tiny house developers in the area, to maximize the impact of the campaign. If this campaign inspires others to evaluate how they too can help the cause, then all the more better.

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

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. — Theodore Roosevelt

I have this quote pinned to my bulletin board to remind me to show up in the arena every day and to constantly ask myself how I can serve and empower others.

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

Ellen DeGeneres, Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/artsyagnes

Facebook: http://www.twitter.com/artsyagnes

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/artsyagnes

Website: http://www.artsyagnes.com

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

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