The benefits of becoming a thought leader are numerous. Your influence and respect among others grow exponentially. A thought leader can work with stealth behind the scenes striking important matters with ease, as easily as they can bring about change by expression of thought, ideas, and new construct from the stage or in a one-to-one scenario, setting the wheels in motion to move way beyond mere goals or targets. It takes time, to become a thought leader, so my advice is to become a life-long-learner, read and develop mind-blowing ideas and thoughts, which inspire and engage across the spectrum of your audience and your interests. Remember, timing is everything, so a great thought leader will share precisely when needed, and always within the context and with clarity. Another point I think worthy of mention, is to know your audience, because, one should not assume that everyone will get your point. The framing of ideas as a thought leader is so vital and adds priceless value to your brand as well as market visibility.
A technology entrepreneur and spiritual mentor with nearly 20 years of experience, UK-based Preet Dev stands at the intersection of both. She marries the synergistic and innovative nature of entrepreneurship to create win-win outcomes and the spiritual world’s ability to tap into authenticity, self-power and unique genius. She is also Head of Global Alliances with One and Done, a business services and experience start-up and a first of its kind venture to truly connect travel, trade, commerce, and finance. Berny Dohrmann, Chairman, CEO Space International, describes it as the “Amazon of travel and beyond.” Dev also has a knack of drawing out the “inner entrepreneur” and helping people to apply spirituality to their personal and professional lives. She has an MBA from the University of West London, UK.
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?
My cultural upbringing is totally in contrast to the life I am living today. I reflect, with a smile in the heart, on the obstacles I have had to endure and overcome, but I am sure, like others, we have all had those moments of despair. I grew up in a culture where I was not only doubted every single day of my life (at home and school) but also systematically put down, forced to follow socio-cultural norms and rules blindly and, which are not always in our best interest. When you are young, you really don’t know any better and continue accepting the status quo day after day, until it becomes a habit. I felt confined and yet, my soul wanted to be unbound, yearning for openness and abundance.
My inner voice rattled so loud sometimes that I could hear it above the voice of others. It was shouting at me, saying, “This is not normal; don’t accept this as your reality.” Life is beautiful, abundant and I have the ability to create anything I want in life. Just keep working through it. I mean no offense to customs and rituals, but, as they say, the context must be understood. We supposedly live in a world of openness and trust and yet, how can one be bought or owned like any other possession merely to be squashed and derelict at the command of others. Even today, some parents and elders go on about their children’s wedding, as something routine to go through, keeping up with society’s expectations but not necessarily in the best interest of their children.
I treasure my unique qualities and inner resourcefulness. It is my right to be heard; otherwise, why did God give us two ears? So, I am hugely proud of my resolve today, where I overcame ignorance and created my remedial path to happiness.
I got married young. Well, that is a story in itself. Abuse, narcissism, mental torture. As you can imagine, I thought this was the norm and something I was familiar with while growing up as a child.
For fifteen years, along with academic study, I spent time reading books on various religions. What I realized is that “I believe,” is one of those phrases which each of us wraps ourselves in; we peddle variations of belief according to our experiences and what is considered through our societal norms. In developing countries, freedom of expression is granted only by the predisposition of accepting what others say or force upon you.
Setting the context, I was raised in a small town in India. I had to face a lot of challenges. Culturally a girl child was considered to be a huge liability, rather than an asset. Living every second of my life was very heavy on my heart. I had to face a lot of discrimination at home… in my school … extended family…as a matter of fact, wherever I went.
Then came the time when I got married and packed off to the UK with a husband I did not know well at all. It was never a honeymoon period for me; I was treated like a slave from day one of the marriage. My former husband was already in a relationship with another woman and married me out of compulsion and family pressure.
And I kept questioning myself? Is there more to life than this? However, despite the situation, I never left hope and faith in the higher being. And the answer I got was a resounding “Yes, TRUST IN ME.” After one particularly harsh episode of abusive behavior from my husband, I found inner courage and decided to pack my bags and leave for good. And it was such a sense of relief — I realized I had a choice!
This was the beginning of a new me, who believed in herself. Who was now ready to show the world that she is more than just a liability. This was the moment where I had to define myself. I first had to tell myself and then show the world what I am truly capable of doing.
FALLING DOWN IS A PART OF LIFE; GETTING UP IS LIVING. I worked many jobs in London, which gave me deep experiential knowledge about the work environment and certainly, how to attain balance in any company. It was during my working period that a sense of realization arose engulfing me with a desire to support others in a more positive and fundamentally higher way. I also wished to help those women who go through a similar situation to what I went through. Listening to various audiobooks written by various greats like Napolean Hill, Stephen Covey, Les Brown, Jim Rohn, James Allen, Bob Proctor, Sadhguru, Deepak Chopra et al. enhanced my knowledge towards enormous subjects. I now sought a path encompassing spiritualism, towards meditation and towards enriching my power of intuition.
It’s so amazing that on reflection, the very things that I allowed to break me are the very things that now empower me. Coming through so much and my personal understanding and familiarity with the feeling of self- destruction at the hands of others, I decided I had to stand up and become the difference for other women too. It’s what’s lead to me becoming a spiritual guide and entrepreneur combined or a spiritreneur, coined by renowned author and motivational speaker, Laurie Beth Jones. The term describes me perfectly.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I am an authority not as a textbook expert but as a person whose fabric in life has been re-stitched many times by her own trials and tribulations. I have experienced turmoil, lived through it, transcended it and learned from it. I am true to myself because I understand who I am, and more importantly, because I believe deeply that I matter (and so does every single person).
As a result, I have won the trust of people from all around the world. Many of my friends and colleagues today are well-established leaders globally, who engage with me, to learn, share and explore their own potential.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
There are many. But, I will share the one closest to my heart.
I always felt deprived of fatherly love and affection. My father and I just couldn’t bond on anything — period. There was nobody whom I even looked at as a father figure or felt safe to put my trust in or could fall back on or talk about things to. I wished for a Father like Napoleon Hill, the American author. I listened to his audiobooks, “Think and Grow Rich” and “Outwitting The Devil” at least fifty times and thought, “this is the kind of Daddy I would like to have.” I imagined Naploean as a hologram sitting right in front of me in such calmness and speaking directly to me. I took his writings as words of wisdom coming from my Father’s mouth.
Fast forward to 2018, at an International Coaching Conference, I got the privilege of meeting, BERNY DOHRMANN whose father (Alan Dohrmann) mentored Napoleon Hill, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and many, many other revered luminaries from around the globe and was affectionately known as the Leader’s Leader. We got the chance of meeting and greeting each other. Then it happened; there was a moment when Berny asked me, “What is it that you seek in life Preet?,”, and I went deep into a state of meditation as nobody had asked me this question before. “DADDY’S LOVE,” I replied as I felt deprived of it most of my life. It wasn’t me but a higher-self through me, who brought out the words. The word of encouragement that a father gives his children was never there in my life. Berny had tears in his eyes and said, ‘From now on, I am going to be your Daddy; and I am going to be a Good Daddy to you’.
It’s hard to express but this meant the world to me. Despite the emotion that I was deprived of in my life, suddenly at that moment, I could feel the gift of The Universe being offered to ME. A magnanimous feeling. Since then, I call him My Daddy. And, true to his word he does take care of me; sending messages and telling me how enormously proud he is of me. We have a beautiful relationship. He posts it online for everyone to see; thousands of members globally read his affection and care for a person he met through happenstance and universal laws.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons you learned from that?
Well, what is funny to me, may not be funny to you, but, I can chuckle at this now. About two years ago, I was invited to dinner with a global leader. We get to dinner and I am so proud — I had asked my two trusted colleagues to join, I was so on the form and my confidence was soaring. I wanted to prove I was capable of engaging with a senior global leader, and thought that it best to ask many questions. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t realize that all my responses had nothing to do with his original question. (think we’ve all been there at some point in our careers ).
So one of my colleagues, another senior global leader, decides to give me a hand but I cut him off in conversation. What makes it even funnier is when we finished dinner, I asked my colleagues how it went? The response was, “not great.” Oh dear, it took me three weeks to recover from the embarrassment of not being fully present.
The biggest lesson I learned was to be actually interested in the other person before being “interesting,” especially when their valuable time has been gifted to you (sorry Mr. B). If he reads this, I’m sure he will be chuckling. I also learned how to temper my enthusiasm, apply emotional intelligence, to listen before speaking and not to cut someone off mid-sentence while they are speaking.
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 leader drives from a mission and vision that they developed or are following and their main objective is to inspire action, often at a mass level, but also individually and in smaller groups. While a Thought Leader shares insights that strike a chord in a very large number of people, they are far-reaching in impact and create paradigm shifts in other people’s thinking, perspectives, and functioning.
A typical leader will lead their resources from the front, whereas a thought leader can create powerful change in one single swoop of an idea. They are highly influential and their construct and context is far-reaching and resonates at all levels and their deliberations set new activities in motion. Their expertise is not confined to systems thinking, but, is far wider and includes what others may overlook, leave behind and ignore or miss altogether.
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 benefits of becoming a thought leader are numerous. Your influence and respect among others grow exponentially. A thought leader can work with stealth behind the scenes striking important matters with ease, as easily as they can bring about change by expression of thought, ideas, and new construct from the stage or in a one-to-one scenario, setting the wheels in motion to move way beyond mere goals or targets.
It takes time, to become a thought leader, so my advice is to become a life-long-learner, read and develop mind-blowing ideas and thoughts, which inspire and engage across the spectrum of your audience and your interests. Remember, timing is everything, so a great thought leader will share precisely when needed, and always within the context and with clarity. Another point I think worthy of mention, is to know your audience, because, one should not assume that everyone will get your point. The framing of ideas as a thought leader is so vital and adds priceless value to your brand as well as market visibility.
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?
Thought leadership can powerfully shape a company’s brand, which also creates new collaboration opportunities. They also help connect the dots, which can create synergies for win-win outcomes.
I’ve witnessed Berny Dorman, share gifted insights that critically challenge, and reframe the minds of those he was presenting to, coaching and/or mentoring. The all-important actions taken post talk revealed the craft of mastery involved in speaking, engaging and inspiring an audience — it’s multi-factorial and takes patience and a lot of practice.
Sesh Sukhdeo, another revered and great global leader, inspires alternative thinking and manages to reach into our very own minds like a chess master predicting your next moves, to find solutions to challenges. The answers for which we already possess, but can’t quite grasp, formulate or pull into reality. Whilst we may have refrained — I have seen investment discussions result in huge positive feedback through the genius of their ideas, insightful context and the framing of ideas presented with such poise, that they strike at the heart of what matters.
A futurist can also be a thought leader, I’d be amiss not to mention the late, great Steve Jobs, to me was a brilliant thought leader (forgiving his human flaws), he set the stage for the future, and shared how technology would become respected, in so doing he positioned Apple as the leading innovative trusted brand to have to deliver that future. He used thought leadership as his differential strategy, and had huge waves of people, investors, and analysts on the side even after being ousted as CEO of the company he co-founded — what a comeback, a true king of innovation and reinvention!
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 Thought Leader in their industry? Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.
1) To become a thought leader requires you to first understand who you are, to learn to communicate well, to express your thoughts in such a way that the setting of the tone, the construct is enough — not too much nor too little — a great thought leader provides just enough information to stimulate the thoughts of others.
2) Know your industry and establish those areas which you can stand out in, i.e. your frames of reference, this will resonate with others. Be wary though of being one-dimensional or too niche; depth and breadth generate creative new thinking.
3) Develop higher-level thoughts, which are inspirational and edgy, try them out, and observe the reactions of others when shared.
4) Develop your emotional intelligence skills for rapport building is a key attribute of influence, quite possibly the primary resource for a thought leader.
5) Master public speaking — sharing your ideas in public, will pay off as it builds relationships with a potential mass audience of people who identify with what you want to share. At the same time, a thought leader will express their uniqueness and be able to back it up through action!
In your opinion, who is an example of someone who 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?
Sesh Sukhdeo, Brian Bacon, Bernie Dohrman, Mitchell Levy, I am by touched by their individual approaches. They build tribes through single thoughts and expressions, insights that you can trust and build upon. We can learn so much through observation and reading their material, one is the style they have is unique, however, they are authentic in each of their deliberations. I can say, that each of them, truly are brilliant relationship builders and have huge tribes of people around them globally, who respect them for what they say and do.
They are all super passionate and immensely credible and are able to hold engaging discussions with people whom they have only just met maintaining a truly genuine engagement. They are connected deeply with themselves, they have a purpose and are incredibly sincere. Their energy and presence is not something you can truly experience by reading a book; you have to see them in action live in person.
I have seen some discussion that the term “Thought Leader” is trite, overused and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
I totally agree with this. Let alone the word ‘leadership’ being used out of context, political and corporate leadership is awash with flavours of variety and vagueness. So many authors I have come across say they are thought, leaders. It is only, when we look deeper, that we see that they have a weak audience of a select few or very narrow audience. A thought leader to me has a far-ranging influence group, is unrestricted in nature and they are happy to share “un-transactionally.”
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Take care of yourself first. Give time to yourself, understand what your body needs and tap into what your soul wants (learn to meditate!). You give out so much of your love, you truly need to refill your cup of love as well.
One of my favourite people on the planet and even Oprah cites as someone who truly helped her change the trajectory of her life, is Gary Zukav. He asks one to imagine all your little personalities are your little boats and your soul is the mother ship. When we use our little boats, little personalities to serve the mother ship we are destined to transfer into another Avatar to live a great, purposeful life. If any boat goes away from mother ship then one is certainly bound to face the troubled waters
So it is to understand to live in harmony with the mother ship. All the little boats, all the little personalities are connected energetically and through the unity of these personalities one gets the nurturing and the nourishment to live this life wholesomely. Then there will certainly be no regrets at the end of this life when one has accepted their new Avatar. You will feel you have lived the life wholesomely in this body, and now curious to see what is on the other side.
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.
Yes, I am working on one program right now. Spiritual Entrepreneurship is where we blend the science of business with the universal laws of nature. We are seeking to raise the mind over matter. The same applies to ones purpose, our inner workings and energy are not just a function of what we eat. Our energy within and its presence is also a reflection of the inner sanctuary where our inner voice and consciousness resides.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My gosh! Lifelong learning is a must! It’s a never-ending process of gaining awareness and knowledge. It was my curiosity that first drove me to enquire and learn. In fact, in many cases, unlearn what we know or think we know and then re-learn from a clean slate. This has been my biggest strength, it is so relevant to my own position today, that I have learned to listen to learning.
I have so many great quotes: but let’s share a very pertinent one courtesy of Mitchell Levy:
“ Good #ThoughtLeaders are at the top of the mountain; great thought leaders are at the bottom, helping others climb up”.
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 lunch or breakfast? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Oh! At present, my favorite people are Oprah Winfrey and Ariana Huffington. I love them because of the magnitude of the services they are doing in the world. I would love to find a way to work with them both and contribute to their vision as it’s my vision too; to make this world not only better but a happy place for everyone.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Find me on LinkedIn or Facebook- with the name of Preet Dev. Also, you can email me at