Saturday, June 19

7 Business Thought Leaders You Should Be Following

leadership concept

By Alex Lenox

The term “thought leader” gets thrown around a lot these days. It seems like everyone with a LinkedIn page and a podcast is vying for your attention. They want advertising dollars, speaking gigs, and more followers. Perhaps they have potential, but too often, you’ll find most self-prescribed thought leaders are faking it until they make it.

So who are the true thought leaders in the business world? And how can you spot them?

First off, it has nothing to do with where they went to school or what degrees they have. What matters most is that they’re a trusted source for innovation and inspiration. Technically, it’s anyone recognized in their field for being an authority figure—someone whose expertise is highly sought after and rewarded. Often you’ll find them speaking at conferences, TED talks, or at corporate events. The greater value they provide, the more likely they’re a true thought leader.

Here are seven true thought leaders everyone should follow if they want better habits, more creativity, and an endless supply of good ideas:

1. Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s a marketing extraordinaire who’s written over a dozen books (mostly on marketing), blogs daily, and runs the wildly successful Akimbo Workshops.

Why you should follow him:

  • Godin is a 2018 inductee of the Marketing Hall of Fame and a 2013 of the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame.
  • Many of his books are New York Times and Wall Street Journal best sellers.
  • His blog is jam-packed with golden nuggets you’ll want to save and forward to your friends.

In his own words:
“Repainting your house the same color it already was feels like a waste. It’s a lot of effort merely to keep things as they are. But if you don’t do it, time and entropy kick in, and the house starts to fade. The same can be said for 1,000 elements of your organization, including your relationships with customers, staff, suppliers, and technology. The way you approach your market, the skill you bring to your craft, the culture in your organization—it constantly needs another coat of paint. Rust never sleeps.”

Follow him on Twitter: @ThisIsSethsBlog
Or subscribe to get his daily blog posts: Subscribe here

2. Paul Graham

Paul Graham is a programmer, essayist, and thriving venture capitalist. He’s likely best known as the cofounder of the startup accelerator Y Combinator.

Why you should follow him:

  • Graham’s company, Y Combinator, has funded 2,000+ startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit, and Stripe.
    His website gets 15 million page views a year, and his essays are filled with creative insights and wisdom.

In his own words:
“One of the most common types of advice we give at Y Combinator is to do things that don’t scale. A lot of would-be founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist.

Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off. There may be a handful that just grew by themselves, but usually, it takes some sort of push to get them going. A good metaphor would be the cranks that car engines had before they got electric starters. Once the engine was going, it would keep going, but there was a separate and laborious process to get it going.”

Follow him on Twitter: @paulg
Read his essays:

3. James Clear

James Clear is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Audible best-selling author. While he’s found success writing about creating better habits, his training platform helps organizations build better workplace habits.

Why you should follow him:

  • Clear’s book Atomic Habits is a #1 New York Times best seller.
  • His website drives nearly 400,000 visitors each month.
  • His “3-2-1” Thursday newsletter provides three ideas from him, two quotes from others, and one thought-provoking question for you.

In his own words:
“Entrepreneurship is a personal growth engine disguised as a business pursuit.”

Follow him on Twitter: @jamesclear
Or subscribe to get his weekly newsletter: Subscribe here

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4. Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and social media influencer. She’s also Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, a marketing education and training company.

Why you should follow her:

  • Handley’s book Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content is a Wall Street Journal best seller.
  • She’s a LinkedIn influencer and has over 450,000 followers on Twitter.
  • Her email newsletter is chock-full of useful ideas that will liven up your content and boost your marketing efforts.

In her own words:
“Today, I see my business as a content marketing company. In other words, my entire goal is to give more valuable, helpful, and remarkable content to consumers than anyone else in my field, which will, in turn, lead to more sales.”

Follow her on Twitter: @marketingprofs
Or subscribe to get her bi-weekly newsletter: Subscribe here

5. Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss is a successful investor, a distinguished podcaster, and the author of five #1 best sellers.

Why you should follow him:

  • Ferriss’ podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, has 500+ million downloads.
  • His book The 4-Hour Workweek spent seven years on The New York Times Best Seller list.
  • He was an early investor in Twitter, Facebook, Uber, Alibaba, and Duolingo.

In his own words:
“Principle #1 is to refine rules and processes before adding people. Eliminate before you delegate. Don’t assign something unimportant. No one should do it. Using people to leverage a refined process multiplies production; using people as a solution to a poor process multiples problems.”

Follow him on Twitter: @tferriss
Subscribe to his podcast: Subscribe here

6. Ryan Serhant

Ryan Serhant is an uber-successful New York City real estate agent, TV star, and published author.

Why you should follow him:

  • Serhant’s real estate firm did nearly $1.45 billion in closed and contract sales last year.
  • He stars in Million Dollar Listing and Sell It Like Serhant on Bravo; his shows earned him two Emmy nominations.
  • His YouTube vlog has over 1 million subscribers.

In his own words:
“A Win is the legacy you leave behind. And your Win doesn’t have to be as big as “change the world”—but it needs to be real, it needs to change you, and it needs to be something you really want.” 

Follow him on Twitter: @ryanserhant
Follow his vlog: Subscribe here

7. Adam Grant

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, a best-selling author, a TED speaker, and a successful podcaster.

Why you should follow him:

  • All four of Grant’s books have been New York Times best sellers. They sold over two million copies and are translated into 35 languages.
  • He’s a frequent contributor to the New York Times and consults with companies like Google, Bridgewater, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the NBA.
  • He earned Fortune’s 40 under 40 award.

In his own words:
“We don’t have to be tethered to one authentic self. We can try on new identities and make them our own. We don’t have to be true to ourselves. We can be true to the selves we want to become.”

Follow him on Twitter: @AdamMGrant
Subscribe to his blog: Subscribe here

RELATED: 12 Small Business Podcasts That Will Help You Sell More

About the Author

Post by: Alex Lenox

Alex Lenox is a freelance copywriter and content strategist. He specializes in helping companies of all sizes find their voice, and providing marketers the means to level up their content. If you’re interested in working with him, you can find him over at He also loves connecting with people who share his passion for creating a meaningful and productive life. Subscribe to his newsletter—Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise—at for life advice, productivity tips, the occasional tasty recipe, interesting DIY projects, or eclectic Spotify playlist.

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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