It’s the buzzword everyone keeps talking about: Thought leadership.

But what does it mean? Can anyone be one?

Yes…and no. See, thought leaders can come from anywhere—they’re simply people who have an expertise in a specific area and gain a reputation for being the person who knows what’s going on in that area, and therefore what’s going to be happening down the line. It doesn’t take a special degree or career path. (Honestly, you can put yourself on the road to becoming one in just 15 minutes a week.)

But, like any other buzzword, it’s so over-used that it’s lost its meaning. Writing one article on LinkedIn does not make you one. Especially not overnight. It takes work (and a real passion for the industry!) to prove to people your thoughts are worth listening to.

Writer and comedian Sarah Cooper’s new video calls out all the people who use that phrase to describe themselves just to use it.



Like I said before, becoming a real thought leader doesn’t require a PhD or having tons of well-known friends—but it does require a constant effort on your part. If you want to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way, you’re going to have to do the research necessary—whether it’s reading the latest books, watching TED Talks, attending key events, or simply meeting with people above and around you. This way, you can make an actual impact in your professional world, without pretending you’re friends with MC Hammer.


Photo of woman on laptop courtesy of mihailomilovanovic/Getty Images.