What is a Thought Leader, Really?

According to Wikipedia, a Thought Leader is business jargon.

“The term was coined in 1994 by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine, Strategy & Business. “Thought leader” was used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had business ideas that merited attention.”

Is this still the definition? Does it just apply to business? Or does it also cover areas such as motivational speaking and life coaching?

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I love Wikipedia but I’m not sure this subject is canvassed enough on their page, perhaps

it’s time to do some updating when I’m finished this post or go across and have a look yourself if you have something to add.

I have to admit I’m a recent addition to the corporate world, although I consider myself to be far from a robot in a suit which is often the cliched imagery behind working for a fortune 500. Like the next person though, I see so many exceptions to that classic take on ‘corporate’ every single day. OK, it seems I just dislike the word ‘corporate’ and all the baggage it comes with, perhaps I spent too long in the music industry, or want so much to be a die hard entrepreneur of the likes of Timothy Ferris of ‘The Four Hour Work Week‘ fame. What I’m getting to is I have always been adamant on improving my situation in life from a very early age; whether listening and analysing the words of authority figures or reading esteemed spiritual leaders like Deepak Choprah. The term ‘Thought Leader’ has really only entered my life since the time of my departure from the throws of the music industry in Los Angeles in 2009. I had to go through an arduous reinvention process. The decisions were big grown-up ones and I needed solid guidance and inspiring words, so I turned to legendary Thought Leaders Jim Rohn and Brian Tracy. More on these guys later. If you haven’t heard of them I implore you to add them to your reading list, hell put them at the top! I must warn you though collectively these Thought Leaders or Business Philosophers have over 100 books between them.

Anyway, back to the definition. Forbes discusses the many takes on Thought Leadership.

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Ian Hopkinson
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