Tech & The Web

Don’t Set Out to be an Influencer or Thought Leader


Do you know anyone you’d truly consider a thought leader? How about an influencer? Too many people want to brand themselves as such.

If there are two titles I’d like to see banned, one would be thought leader and the other would be influencer.

I’ve actually seen people identify themselves as such. I’ve seen people list the titles in their resumés.

They love to label themselves as such like some sort of red badge of courage.

To me, it’s much more like a red badge of arrogance.

Just the other day, in fact, I ran across a web post listing approximately two dozen influencers or thought leaders — I don’t remember which it was — that you should be following.

It’s a curious phenomenon.

No one should ever brand themselves as such. That’s not a “title” someone should ever place on themselves.

It’s a status that someone earns, not one that they should ever claim.

Why? Well, to be either, you have to actually influence someone. You must change people’s minds and have them agree with you.

All of us, to some degree or another, are capable of this. All of us have “influenced” those around us. In some cases, we don’t even know how much we’ve influenced others.

Here’s an example. Back in 2014, someone decided to “pay it forward” at a Starbucks in Florida. That one simple act of kindness ended up starting a chain with the next person paying for the next person’s order and so on to the tune of 378 purchases.

The person who first paid for the next person’s purchase was unquestionably an influencer: that simple act of kindness he or she first committed prompted others to follow suit.

Perhaps the person might even qualify as being a “thought leader,” since it was their thought that inspired others to do the same.

But is that person walking about calling themselves either term? Let’s hope not. As far as we know, he or she didn’t.

It was a nice idea with a pleasant motive that inspired positive action.

For some reason, we’ve reached a point of self-centeredness in our society in which positive action isn’t enough of a motive.

More’s the pity.

To be honest, I didn’t browse that list of 24 that I saw in my feed. I’m sure they’re nice people. I hope none of the people listed actually refer to themselves as such.

But if your thoughts are so brilliant, I figure I’ll learn about them soon enough on their own merit.

After all, it’s their ideas that are what give them influence. It should be about the concepts, not about the person originating them.

The blatant self-promotion shouldn’t ever be necessary.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.