80: Please Don't Call Yourself A Thought Leader

Pattern of Purpose podcast episode 80 cover art

There’s an interesting trend in bios recently - executives dubbing themselves as thought leaders. This feels a bit like appointing yourself as the GOAT. Do you really get to make that call? And if you’re making it, is it true?

What defines a thought leader? Is it someone speaking on stage? Is it maintaining the highest earnings in your category? On this episode I’m taking the focus off of the title to uncover the actions you need to take to become seen as a thought leader.

I’ll be covering:

  • How to gain influence through your perspective, lived experience, and knowledge;
  • The difference between thought leaders, influencers, celebrities, activists, and changemakers;
  • Why every business leader should develop their own thought leadership; and
  • How you can adopt the title of changemaker by leading through your values.


As a thought leader, you publicly stimulate the conversation around what it is you provide — whether that’s motivation, a service, or an actual product.

Thought leaders aim to change your behavior; influencers aim to get you to spend money.

People will join you and follow you because they aspire to the same things you do. Brands will come to you to reach the people whose values align with theirs, making the sale easier and more authentic.


We all can think of someone who talks a big game but isn’t actually saying much of anything; that is not influence.

Everyone has a competitive advantage. Sometimes we just don’t know what ours is.

55% of decision makers use thought leadership as an important way to vet organizations they’re considering working with. - Edelman + LinkedIn, 2019