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21 Thought Leadership Quotes Every CEO and Marketer Should Know

Posted by Tyler Samani-Sprunk on April 9, 2019
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Read some of our favorite quotes to get an inside look on thought leadership from the people who have been in your shoes, from CEOs and company advisors to thought leadership experts. For further reading, check out our ultimate guide to thought leadership, or our list of thought leadership tactics.

Thought leaders know how to take an idea and put it into action. In this way, they are doing more than sharing thoughts. They are making changes. People are smart. They know a phony when they see one. Speakers can inspire their audiences, but true thought leaders inspire change in others and actively make changes themselves because they are actively in front of their cause. - Dillon Kivo, CEO, Kivo DailyThe Ultimate Guide to Thought Leadership

The label of "Thought Leader" is not one you can give yourself. Leaders have to earn that distinction through persistence and by constantly sharing solutions to real customer problems. Thought Leadership is not about being unique or smart or clever but about being uniquely valuable. And it's never something to put on your LinkedIn profile. - Michael Brenner, CMO

A thought leader's goal is never to show off, to confuse with industry jargon or to leave anyone in the dust. They promote intelligent discourse by bringing issues to life, fostering conversations and helping to educate everyone from fellow executives to the consumer. - John Rampton, entrepreneur 


The good news is that CEOs who are genuine thought leaders end up running innovative, industry-leading companies. Founders who successfully position themselves as thought leaders are better able to attract the attention of investors. - Dustin McKissen, CEO of McKissen + Company

Not all thought leaders are immediately recognized, many are disregarded at first. Great thought leaders have the fortitude to keep moving forward in the face of adversity because they see the value [they] can bring to society in the long run. - Peter Arvai, Co-Founder and CEO, Prezi

Be consistent. Your messages must be consistent with your belief system over time and connected to what is going on in the world today. When your messages are consistent over time, people are able to relate to and understand your ideas and vision. - Manish Chandra, Founder & CEO at Poshmark


A hallmark of true thought leadership is the confidence to take the route that 99.9 percent of industry experts don’t even see. Will you? - Craig Badings and Dr. Liz Alexander, thought leadership authors

Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else. - Sara Blakely, Founder, Spanx

You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you're not passionate enough from the start, you'll never stick it out. - Steve Jobs

You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. - Ken Kesey, American novelist

Too often I see thought leadership content that is too technical, filled with jargon, or tries to cover too many ideas. The articles that leave a lasting impression are the ones that convey a powerful message in a simple and concise way. - Peter Economy, the Leadership Guy

A thought leader is someone who looks at the future and sets a course for it that others will follow. Thought leaders look at existing best practices then come up with better practices. They foment change, often causing great disruption. - Shel Israel, writer, Forbes


Read a lot. The daily industry news, analysis, scientific research, anything and everything that’s related to your field. - Lilia Stoyanov, CEO, Transformify 

Thought leadership is a way to build a relationship with prospects based on knowledge—not on products and services. - Chris Koch, film and TV director

We increasingly require braver approaches in order to be heard above the noise. Scot McKee, Managing Director, Birddog

I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of "Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this," and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. - Marissa Mayer, former President and CEO, Yahoo

I define thought leadership as creating a conversation that informs and shapes people's thinking. - Nicole France, Former Head of Thought Leadership, Cisco

Organizations that progressively contribute to imagining, shaping and promoting new realities are often today’s thought leaders. It’s not just about their innovations; there is more to it than that. It’s by virtue of their ability to translate their thought-provoking convictions into real behaviour and results that they are called thought leaders in a society of change. - Dr Mignon van Halderen, Professor of Thought Leadership, Fontys University

People look to thought leaders for a reason, because they don’t always say what everyone else is saying. Be bold. Get behind what you’re saying and say it with conviction. It’s okay to be a little controversial. - Heather Kernahan, President - North America, Hotwire

The goal is to be the best resource possible on your particular area of expertise, so you can start new relationships and enhance existing ones by consistently providing valuable insights and resources to your customers. - Danielle Sabrina, thought leadership consultant


If you don't love and believe in the topic you are talking about, you will surely not last long enough to become a thought leader. - Matt Sweetwood, former CEO and business consultant

Whether you're simply establishing authority with your audience or driving results on LinkedIn, effective thought leadership will take you far. Now it’s your turn to follow these great leaders and start your own thought leadership journey! 

Thought Leadership Guide


Posted in Networking, Branding, Thought Leadership