Creative Thought Leaders – why the world needs them now, more than ever
Before we combine two of the most powerful forces in business, let’s try and understand ‘creativity’ and ‘thought leadership’ individually. Not that you wouldn’t know, but it’s better to really segregate the two before we throw them in the blender.
Creativity – that beautiful wave of ideas that surges through your brain when you let it run free, devoid of any tensions and conflicts. It is that train of thoughts, ideas, innovations that hit your brain at 4 am in the morning, in the shower, in your dreams, clearly giving you a far more different perspective, a unique way of approaching a problem. It is the eureka moment that lets you come up with a winning campaign, a marketing plan or a vision for your brand or company, that is truly innovative and unmatched.
Thought leadership – a term first used in mainstream for a certain Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson way back in 1872, in a Theistic Annual journal, lauding him for his literary works that were pioneering then, as much as they are now. Thought leadership, essentially, is creating and sharing with the world at large, path-breaking thinking that not just defines the present but also paves the way for the future. It often challenges and reshapes norms and conventions. It’s not just about being an expert in a particular field. Beyond expertise, thought leadership is the ability to influence the future.
A thought leader is a person or a company, looked at as an authority in a particular specialised field. Thought leaders demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in several ways like through writing articles, blogs, white papers or books, speaking at various events like conferences and conventions, or participating in panel discussions.
So who is a creative thought leader?
Simply put, creative thought leaders are thought leaders with a demonstrated creative ability in solving problems and setting the right examples within their circle of peers and followers. And sometimes, through their sheer genius they can end up inspiring generations. Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Nicola Tesla, APJ Abdul Kalam. Some illustrious names that were and still are creative thought leaders to millions.
Creative thought leaders are more right brained than their peers. Their exhaustive knowledge and expertise, and the ability to foresee and predict the trends or patterns for the future are deep-rooted in their power to think creatively.
They have this stubbornness about them, to break the shackles of conventions. They deep dive into their sub-conscious and somehow come back with tremendously powerful, game changing ideas. They don’t just transform the present, they set the tone for the future.
What does it take to be a creative thought leader?
Bar has been set pretty high, right? With all those big names featuring in the creative thought leadership hall of fame. But that’s just one part of the story. You too can be one. And though the word ‘thought leader’ alone might sound intimidating to a few. Addition of ‘creative’ as a pre-fix can make it a little more unnerving for most of us.
But think of it this way. Each one of us is an ‘authority’ in the true sense, in one thing or the other. Some of us understand stock markets better than others, some of us have a knack to fish out the sharpest of marketing insights to drive sales & growth, some of us are great at story-telling and so on.
To be a creative thought leader, you need not be associated with a creative profession. But what you do need is a true love for your craft and a burning desire to share that knowledge with others.
Talk about trends in your area of specialisation that you believe in, with honesty. In your own inimitable style. Don’t try and be someone you are not. Be authentic. And be a little impervious to negative inner voices – am I good enough? Will they judge me? Will anyone even bother to listen to what I’ve got to say? It’s good to ignore inner voices sometimes.
In the words of the legendary ad man, Dan Wieden – “if you really believe in yourself, weird shit can happen!” So trust the gut and share your unique POV on what you believe you can be a creative thought leader in.
The world seeks beacons, desperately
Look at us, barely holding on to the strings of whatever we can grab on to. 2020 has been a pessimist’s ‘year of the century’. The pandemic, the political and financial turmoil, riots, calamities, you name it and we’ve been hammered with it.
In these trying times, people are looking for ‘the light’. They are looking for guidance, for seeing a future that has more promise in it. They are looking for a way forward, be it in business, in marketing, in life in general. The younger generation even more so. This is the time to be the creative thought leader in whatever field you excel in. And people are willing to listen now, more intently, than they ever would have.
Believe in yourself. In your ability to churn out powerful ideas that offer a unique perspective on things to come. Challenge the status quo with your ideas. Help transform the world in to a better place and set a blue-print for the future ahead. Easier said than done. But such is the power of creative thought leadership. It can inspire people. It can change things for the better. And who knows, it might just begin with you.