Curious, open and kind

I've been kicking around a blog post, "What do all thought leaders have in common?", written by Peter Winick, who consults with "authors and gurus to monetize their content through books, keynote speaking, the creation of training services and products and consulting and assessment tools."

In Winick's view, thought leaders are all consistently smart, curious and passionate about what they do. That may be true; Winick works with many more people who are thought leaders than I will ever meet.

But, his post got me thinking about the qualities I wished all thought leaders had in common. When I looked at things like my series of posts inspired by Tony Schwartz's "Turning 60: The Twelve Most Important Lessons I've Learned So Far", there isn't much overlap with Winick's ideas.

We do agree on one. I'd like my thought leaders to be curious. Winick himself may favor curiosity, as he leads his post with a quote from Albert Einstein: "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."

I'd like my thought leaders to be open to ideas that challenge even their most closely held views. We tend to harden around positions, with gaps in the middle that make solutions hard to find. In the United States, we need only look to Congress for an example.

Perhaps not as popular in the guru business: I'd like my thought leaders to be kind. If you're thinking about the future, you're probably counseling disruption. Change is hard work, and people working through it could use a bit of empathy.

This isn't a criticism of Winick's post. Appropriately, his point of view favors the cohort of people who have successfully converted their intelligence, curiosity and passion into a working business model.

I just think that, if you're really a guru, it would be great to give some of that success back. We need not be so focused on building our personal brands that we neglect those things that also make us human.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.