This article contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
To me a thought leader is someone who has taken a stand for something and is amassing an army of fans (and critics!) and selling products along the way.
I’ve studied the websites of three uniquely different thought leaders who are leading the charge on very different fringe topics.
- Elizabeth April – 28 yr old Psychic and Cosmic Channeller
- Dr. Jordan Peterson – Psychologist and Philosopher on Religion, Truth, and Meaning
- Marrianne Williamson – Alternative US Politician and Miracle Teacher
I intentionally chose from a wide philosophical spectrum so we could see if there are indeed similarities in the only business model even though their worldview is quite different.
What I’ve noticed is despite differences in message they all have 3 things in common:
- They are confident, passionate and unapologetic in their worldview philosophy
- They continually give away LOTS of free content (for years)
- They offer similar types of products on their website
In this article I aim to expand on each of the 3 keys to creating a thought leadership business. If building a thought leadership business is your calling this article will show the essential building blocks for a solid foundation.
A Confident, Passionate, and Unapologetic Holistic Philosophy
Here are 3 very different types of thought leaders who are knocking it out of the ball park! And boy of boy are they a diverse bunch. I wonder what would happen at a dinner party with all three? I’d love to be there!
What they all have in common is an unwavering passion and conviction to their message. Here’s a taster for you…
Elizabeth April is only 28 years old. She’s all about raising the vibration of the planet and uses unconventional means to reach her mission. Basically she talks to aliens. It’s really fun and entertaining. Surprisingly, what I’ve watched aligns with conventional personal development messages… albeit through galactic metaphor.
Her confidence, passion and belief in her work and approach is undeniable. It’s working for her with 200 website followers and 117K YouTube subscribers (at the time of writing).
Dr. Jordan Peterson is a super academic and clinical psychologist. He’s got his own philosophy on values, truth, meaning, and dancing on the edge between chaos/ order. He’s been a researcher and lecturer for 30 years and is a best selling author.
In 2016 he became famous/infamous for his views about political correctness. He’s been slammed by mass media on many occasions including this article by Forbes.
His videos have about 2M views with 41K Likes and 1.6K Dislikes. Most coaches would be happy to get 1.6K views!
Maybe what we should all be aiming for is speaking our truth and toughening up. Strong opinions are what is needed if you want to be a thought leader. Rejection in the form of criticism and dislikes is an indicator you’re onto something that matters to people.
He is eloquent, logical, and creative with 3.49M YouTube subscribers! Someone obviously likes what he’s saying.
Marianne Williamson got her start offering lectures on A Course In Miracles. Her first book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A COURSE IN MIRACLES, is considered a must-read. The book’s invitation to choose Love over Fear in each moment is life changing for those who start the practice.
She’s also an active participant in US politics and was even a candidate in the 2020 presidential primary season. On that note, Marianne has recently released a new book called, A Politics of Love: A handbook for a new American Revolution.
Marianne is now an Opinion Columnist for Newsweek. Her articles may be found here.
With 14 books under her belt, four of which have been #1 New York Times best sellers and 94.3K YouTube subscribers and who knows how many people on her email list, she’s certainly onto a philosophy that inspires people to follow her light.
Now that I’ve set the stage with the characters let’s look more into what they are doing to build their following.
Give LOTS of Free, High Value Content
The next key thing my thought leaders have in common is that they regularly share free, high value content.
It seems that each one releases at least one video a week on their YouTube Channel.
They are also active on Facebook and Instagram. Jordan and Marrianne are on Twitter as well.
On social, they are promoting their own content as well as memes, images and bits and pieces that complement their worldview.
All the content is in alignment with the truth of who they are so it all works together really well. This gives the audience a sense of confidence and security to follow what they have to say. This is easy to say but I know from experience, it’s not always easy to do… until you are really grounded in your mission and purpose and message.
Offer a Range of Free and Paid Products
I went to the main website of each thought leader and audited everything they are currently offering. I included both free and paid offers so you gain an appreciation of the prolific nature of being a thought leader.
You can see my findings in the following table.
Are you ready to be a thought leader?
Doing the research for this article has shown me the dedication, consistency, courage and commitment that goes into being a thought leader. We’re looking at anywhere between 4-30 years worth of high volume, high value, content on the same topic!!!
Although it’s an attractive prospect to “try to model” this type of business I think it is only suited to a small percentage of people out there. Let me know if you agree or disagree.
Fortunately, there are tons of other models available to coaches. The important and the self loving thing to do is to understand YOUR nature and choose a model that is the BEST fit for you.
Sign up for Coach Guardian email notifications and get a free copy of this article as a Downloadable workbook and checklist.