August 2

Tackling the Impossible as a Thought Leader


Tackling the Impossible as a Thought Leader

By Deborah Johnson

August 2, 2021

Albert Einstein, content marketing, Simon Sinek, TED, TedX, Temple Grandin, Thomas Edison, thought leader

Thought Leader

How do you cut through a noisy world not just as an expert, but as a thought leader? A thought leader is one who has the ability to make an impact and is known for something. If you are an artist or creative, it may be difficult to define that one thing you are known for as if you’re like me, you keep creating. But there is usually an umbrella that will connect all the projects and areas of your business and life.

We will look at different creatives and inventors here and define the main thing they are known for. I’ve made a graphic with an umbrella. That is what we’ll put on the Thought Leadership Umbrella. We’ll ask four main questions of each subject. You should then be able to ask yourself these same questions to determine what stands out for you. Hopefully this will help you to define the impossible process of becoming that thought leader you desire to be.

Our questions will be: One, what stands out most of all? Two, what did they do to support their thought leadership? Three, how did they get the word out? And Four, how did their work create an impact? We will start with Albert Einstein.

Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Tackling the Impossible as a Thought Leader 8-3-21
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Albert Einstein-Thought Leader

Albert Einstein, the German-born physicist, was acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. He is known for developing the theory of relativity, which is the law of gravity. Einstein published four groundbreaking papers in 1905 and continued to publish papers throughout his career to substantiate his theories, thereby supporting him as a thought leader.

Einstein also took scholarly positions that gave him a platform to share his work. His awards, such as the 1921 Nobel Peace Prize in Physics, along with his intellectual achievements, equated Einstein with genius.

Einstein was also interested in music. In his late journals he wrote, If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…I get most joy in life out of music. Einstein played the violin and it helped him think. His second wife, Elsa, said, As a little girl, I fell in love with Albert because he played Mozart so beautifully on the violin. Music helps him when he is thinking about his theories. I write more about this in Music for Kids.

Thomas Edison-Thought Leader

Thomas Edison, American inventor and businessman, has been described as America’s greatest inventor. He was extremely prolific, holding 1,093 patents in his name as well as patents in other countries. His first invention to gain him wider notice was the phonograph in 1877. The title was completely unexpected but he became known as The wizard of Menlo Park.

Even though many think Edison invented the light bulb, but he was not the originator. But he did form the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878 and made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb on December 31, 1879. Edison’s patent is on the improvement of the light bulb with a filament of carbon of high resistance.

With the number of successful patents and inventions, Edison also had failures and flops. But he took the risks necessary to provide groundbreaking inventions that changed our lives to increase the number of working hours with inventions as incandescent light, the telegraph to provide communication across the miles and eventually, a phone.

Thomas Edison-thought leader

With the number of successful patents and inventions, Edison also had failures and flops. But he took the risks necessary to provide groundbreaking inventions that changed our lives to increase the number of working hours with inventions as incandescent light, the telegraph to provide communication across the miles and eventually, a phone.

Temple Grandin-Thought Leader

Temple Grandin is an American scientist and animal behaviorist. She is a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. She is also autistic, not formally diagnosed until adulthood. She was in the Heroes category for the 2010 Times 100 most influential people in the world list.

The only formal diagnosis Grandin had received was brain damage before autism was revealed. A late diagnosis has fueled Grandin’s platform. She wrote her first book in 1995, Thinking in Pictures, and went on to write over sixty more. She was one of the first scientists to report that animals are sensitive to visual distractions and published scientific articles on beef cattle behavior. 

Her disability, combined with groundbreaking research, has created a unique platform, named as one of 2010’s one hundred most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. Because of her breakthroughs, I would definitely name her as a thought leader, even though formally disabled.

Simon Sinek - Thought Leader

Simon Sinek’s most well-known book is Start With Why, though he’s written five books. He is described as a visionary leader with a rare intellect as he has uncovered the patterns of leaders, companies and politicians in how they think, act and communicate.

Thought Leadership Umbrella-Deborah Johnson

Sinek’s Ted talks are grouped with others who are thinkers, doers and idea generators. He gave one in 2010, then 2014 and 2021. He also published his thoughts in the Ted Ideas blog. This has taken deep work, writing and the ability to formulate his thoughts into Ted-style talks that are impactful.

To be a Ted speaker you have to be nominated by someone else or you can nominate yourself with an idea worth spreading. The TED platform, along with Sineks’ research and writing has made him a well-known name among business professionals and entrepreneurs.

Common Threads of a Thought Leader

What stands out most of all for Einstein, Edison, Grandin and Sinek is that they all wrote. Their thoughts and research were either published or put on the world’s stage as a speaker. Temple Grandin went back to update her first book with new research that didn’t totally disprove her first thesis but it changed it somewhat. By taking a risk, she was put on the world stage as a spokesperson for those with disabilities and also put her groundbreaking research forward, even though she changed her opinion.

Each person kept going, even when their work was not immediately recognized and affirmed. Most also took positions that gave them a platform for their ideas, whether at a university or on the public stage.

The market for content marketing is already large and it’s expected to grow by 417.85 billion USD during 2021-2025. If you are aiming to become a thought leader and not just one of the millions who are calling themselves an expert, writing and publishing your thoughts with blogs, podcasts or other media is key to establishing your platform. It takes work, risk and courage to change your message if needed because a thought leader isn’t right all the time. But a thought leader can have a great impact in changing their world.

It takes work, risk and willingness to change your message as a thought leader.

deborah johnson

Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author

If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning

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Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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