20 Surefire Ways to Make Yourself an Ad Industry Thought Leader

There’s a peculiar breed running amok in advertising. These folks are pretty much ministers without portfolios, ostensibly charged with raising the profile of their employers but more often focused on their own. The underlings stuck doing the work wonder what exactly these people are actually doing. Easy: Thought Leadership.

Here’s a guide to making yourself an agency thought leader.

1. Have interesting hair.
This is critical. It advertises you’re different.

2. Speak with an English accent.
You can spout absolute nonsense. It simply doesn’t matter.

3. Speak at a lot of conferences.
Really, any and all will do. But do try to make sure they’re in exotic locations. Tweet about them a lot. Make sure people know when you’re “wheels up.”

4. Coin a corny catchphrase, or just steal someone else’s and repeat it ad nauseam.
Nothing goes over better than some made-up word that makes you seem prescient. It can be something obvious, don’t worry. You’re a thought leader!

5. Tweet nonstop, ideally RTs of other thought leaders who mentioned you.
Is it unseemly? If you have to ask yourself, chances are you may not be cut out for thought leadership.

6. Have a cause.
Sexism. Racism. Sharing Economy. Cronuts. It doesn’t matter.

7. Criticize how awful advertising is.
But be sure not to mention who’s paying you.

8. Have a fashion calling card.
Wear a red blazer. Squeeze into leather pants. Don a beret. Carry a cane. Rock an ascot.

9. Attend every networking event possible.
Food. Booze. Business cards.

10. Charge $20,000 a day consulting fees for unclear services.
Go big or go home.

11. Maintain a prodigious LinkedIn network.
Connectors shall inherit the earth.

11. Become a “power user” of Slideshare.
A great deck is a terrible thing to waste.

12. Judge a lot of awards.
Again, prioritize exotic locales. Tell the world when you’re “wheels down.”

13. Blog nonstop.
OK, this one is work. But you’ll find publications are so desperate for content, they’ll publish your social media how-tos.

14. Declare the “death” of things — email, TV, social media, capitalism, etc.
Do NOT give a time frame.

15. Jump on the latest tech trend.
Second Life? Why not. Augmented reality? Yes, please. Snapchat? Next Google.

16. Write a book.
But will people read it? It. Doesn’t. Matter.

17. Bestow on yourself a made-up title.
Chief What Time Is It Officer, meet Happiness Czar and Change Agent.

18. Flatter reporters’ egos by constantly responding to them on Twitter.
Engage or die.

19. Give good quote.
If you’re available 24/7 and have a readymade kicker, reporters will love you more than their own families.

20. Never do client work.

Image via Shutterstock


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