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BLOGThe Activity Level Thought Leadership Test

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Blogging, Career Planning, Content, Engagement, Presentations, Thought Leadership

You may not know him, but James King was a thought leader in his day. Way back in 1851, he received a patent for… a drum-style washing machine. Today he is consigned to the annals of history, despite the dramatic impact he made on households everywhere. But Mr. King is a perfect examplar of the time and activity dimension to thought leadership. You may be a thought leader today, but if you don’t maintain it, you risk becoming a footnote.

The Activity Level Thought Leadership Test

The activity level test is simple: how “busy” is the thought leader? The more they are creating new intellectual property (books, blogs, podcasts, research, etc.), speaking at events, and engaged in conversations on social media, the higher they rank on this dimension.

Sadly, one of the things that would-be thought leaders do is mistake wheel-spinning for speed. The activity needs to be relevant to your area of expertise, relevant to the “market” that you serve, and relevant to your business model. If it isn’t relevant, then all your activity is wasted time on a wasted market.

Interestingly, the degree of your activity — your momentum — can provide advantage across different fields, as well as across time. Thomas Edison, for example, invented the record player in 1877. But that was only a small part of his claim to fame. He also patented what would become the electric light bulb, microphone, motion picture camera, rechargeable battery, and more. And as a result, he is far more recognized than James King and his washing machine.


Consider the activity level of two (other) thought leaders in your market: are there elements of their activities that you can take on as your own? Or, are they missing something that you can take advantage of? (For example, they are not taking advantage of a particular social media platform, or they are not speaking about their expertise within a specific sector.)

Thought Leadership Insight: It is rare to meet someone with a job title of “thought leader”, with the possible exception of “professor” or “chief scientist”; thought leadership is usually an outcome of a daily activity. The converse is also true: if you are looking to become a thought leader, it actually must be part of your daily activity. If it isn’t, then you’ll need to spend your weekends and evenings on it. And put yourself at risk of burn-out.

Related Post: Try the next Thought Leadership Test: The Speaker/Author Thought Leadership Test

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