Tag Archives: thought leadership


Hello all,

I just arrived to Austin yesterday and will be here for a week as part of wonderful delegation from JWT & Mirum Asia-Pacific:


Our group in SXSW 

We will be sharing content every day from the interesting talks in our blogs:




Despite having had relatively rough start in Austin due to jet lag and cramping leg after cruel flight, I had full day of talks already today.  You can read some of my observations in our blog:

Why Living in Singapore Makes You Perfectly Prepared for SXSW?

How I Found The Happiness in SXSW 2018

If anyone reading this blog is in Austin, hit me up on different social media channels.

It would be great to meet.

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The Paradox of Thought Leadership

The more effective you are in your “thought leadership”, the more you get business.

The more you get business, less time you have to maintain that thought leadership.

If you do not have time to read outside your day-to-day work, the negative effects will come eventually. As a planner, you should try to maintain your daily reading time no matter how busy you are.

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How to Become a Thought Leader

Yesterday I wrote about the inflation of the term thought leadership. There is no magic potion for becoming a thought leader, but you can dissect three characteristics of a real thought leader.

Three characteristics (3C´s) of a Thought Leader

Whether it is grounded on heritage (IBM, GE) or innovation (Zappos, 37Signals), you have to build your credibility on real actions. There is no shortcut for it. It requires hours of work and a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears.
You cannot sugarcoat business mediocrity with great writing or flashy marketing. Good (or actually rather bad) example of great marketing over not a lot of substance is BP´s Beyond Petroleum. That thought leadership campaign looked quite out-of-place with their 2010 oil spill in Mexico and continuous neglect of safety measures.


There is no thought leadership, without radical thinking. Thought leaders dare to challenge status quo. If you aspire to be thought leader, you should not be afraid of confrontation and differentation from the mass. Leaders are not always right, but they have a clear point-of-view and direction where they are heading. Richard Branson is a thought leader, because he dares to go against the grain. The successes and failures of his ventures are secondary. He is thought leader because he is not afraid to try and rebel against traditional ways to do business.

The thought leadership companies commit to every piece of their business passionately. The core of successful business lies in almost maniac drive to understand your customers better. This drive correlates highly with great marketing activities. Thought leadership initiatives fail because people are not committed to them. When you are forced to write a blog post, you resent the task and produce a bland sales pitch. If you are changing the world, you want to tell about it and then writing that blog post is more of an honor than a dull task.

It is wrong to say that it is now easier to become thought leader. It is always hard task and requires dedication and determination. No shortcuts.

That being said, the rotation of thought leaders is faster than it used to be. Thought leader today, gone tomorrow. Especially the technologic disruption opens up possibilities for the brands and individuals to become thought leaders in their business. Provided that they are committed to change the world and challenge the status quo.

Thought leadership brands gain credibility by challenging the norms and committing to their mission to change the world.

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Read This Thought Leadership Piece

“Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms”
-Groucho Marx

Since when has a mundane B2B marketing effort become thought leadership marketing?

Blog post is not a thought leadership piece. On a worst case it does not really include any thinking in it, but is only a disguised and long-winded sales pitch for the company behind it. Just that you are sharing your thoughts does not make you a thought leader. Thought leadership is always judged by audience and not the marketer.

If you are a thought leader, whatever you do, it is thought leadership marketing. And the other way around, if you are not, no matter what you write, it is just another blog post, which no one wants to read. People should aspire to really be thought leaders and not just appear to be one.

Because we as a people are naturally lazy and trying to find shortcuts, it has not been surprise that marketing companies selling thought leadership marketing have found a lucrative market. Companies and individuals should concentrate more on doing things worth telling and doing some serious thinking worth sharing instead of buying some “thought leadership toolkit”. The actual methods to reach out to your audience come quite naturally if you have your real story in order. That story should be based on the actual truth.

Thought leadership marketing is just a contradiction in terms. Too often it lacks both the actual thinking and the real leadership.

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