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12 Holiday Gifts for That Special Thought Leader

Thought leaders are hard to shop for. That special thought leader in your life already has a lot; thought leaders tend to. But to make 2015 an even better year for your thought leader, the Bloom Group offers the following suggestions for holiday gifts no thought leader should be without.

  1. A novel idea. A novel idea is one of the Bloom Group’s “Seven Hallmark’s of Compelling Intellectual Capital,”. As my colleague Bob Buday has written, a new idea or point of view confers status (as long as it can be proven) and status is the rock upon which your thought leader’s business will be built. Where can you find a new idea or point of view? See Gift #12.
  2. A trademarked phrase. It didn’t take a genius to tell us that some people and businesses were good at some things and not so good at others but it took Gary Hamel to give us “core competency.” I’ve used the phrase (my core competency, obviously, is being a smart-aleck); you’ve probably used it. (By the way, Hamel didn’t trademark core competency; that would have been a waste of time. Don’t think so? Check out Bob Buday, here.) A trenchant phrase can confer differentiation. (Vide Michael Porter.) Where can you get one? See Gift #12.
  3. A TED talk. Bill and Melinda Gates gave a TED talk in 2014. So did Larry Page and Tim Berners-Lee. You know them. If your thought leader can give a TED talk in 2015, everyone will know her, too. TED talks have been viewed over a billion times online. Give your thought leader this nomination form, here. No guarantees come with this gift, but it will help if your thought leader already has Gift #1 and, of course, Gift #12.
  4. A thousand Twitter followers. Katy Perry is leading the Twitter derby with over 61 million followers but chances are your thought leader neither looks nor sings like Perry. Of course, neither does Rosabeth Moss-Kanter and she has 55,000 followers, so 1,000 would seem a modest, achievable, but still worthy goal. How can your thought leader get a thousand followers? It helps to have Gifts #1 and #2 (and Gift #12), but Gift #5 would be a huge help.
  5. A book. Nothing says “thought leader” like having written a book. Of course, it’s hard and who has the time? However, if you’ve already given your thought leader Gift #1, that’s an excellent start. Now you have to give him Gift #12.
  6. A niche. Rob Sher has had enormous success with his new book (see Gift #5), “Mighty Midsized Companies.” It’s terrific, but one of the reasons it’s become such a hit is because it’s about midsized companies and not too many thought leaders have thought about them (largely because midsized companies can’t afford the fees big time consultants charge to pay attention to them). In other words, Sher found a niche. And if you take the ‘h’ out of niche, you get nice.
  7. An award. To paraphrase the Wizard of Oz, there are thought leaders out there with no more thoughts than your special thought leader has. But they have one thing your thought leader doesn’t have. An award! If you give your thought leader Gift #12, he or she will immediately become eligible for the 2015 Bloom Group Award for Thought Leadership.
  8. A blog in HBR. The Harvard Business Review is where all the top thought leaders hang out. It will be smooth sailing for your thought leader once he gets into the HBR club. (A blog in Forbes is good, too.) How can you get your thought leader his own blog in HBR? It helps to know what HBR is looking for, and you can find out here. And your thought leader definitely needs Gift #1. Gift #5 would be a big help, as (of course) would Gift #12.
  9. A quote in the Wall Street Journal. A quote in the Financial Times also works, as does being quoted in almost any respectable third-party journal. If a reporter quotes your thought leader’s opinion on whatever, he or she is obviously an expert in something. It’s validating. So how does your thought leader get quoted? You can find easy-to-follow directions here.
  10. A LinkedIn group. Just about anyone can start a LinkedIn group, and as LinkedIn has become a major business platform for everything from socializing to finding jobs, having one’s own group can turn that platform into a thought leader’s launching pad. You can do it for your thought leader by starting here. That special thought leader will thank you for it.
  11. A get-out-of-thought-leadership free card. Although it pains me to say it, not everyone is cut out to be a thought leader. And not every business needs thought leadership. And yet, everyone today is burdened by the notion that they need to be a thought leader. The pressure is intense; the expectation crushing. However, reciting this blog aloud by my colleague Tim Parker, here, could relieve the stress.
  12. A gift certificate for The Bloom Group. We do thought leadership well. And if you’ve read all the way to the end of this blog, you obviously want help. So you will forgive us for being just a wee bit self-serving. We hope.

And have a merry, happy holiday season.