5 Thought Leaders and Your Business Operations

Thought leadership educates, inspires, and creates waves.

Everybody has a favorite thought leader or two, and when you’re in a funk or looking for a new direction, look no further than the people whose work you follow and admire. But listening and learning is one thing; applying that knowledge in the real-world context of your business operations is another. 

Here are a few thought leaders that tickle my fancy and a few ways to implement their wisdom in your business operations:

Seth Godin, Entrepreneur and Prolific Author

Let’s start with one of the OG entrepreneurial and marketing greats of this generation: Seth Godin. With a presence during the dot com era of the ‘90’s and multiple successful business ventures under his belt, including a popular blog, he’s been a thought leader for decades. Gotta respect the longevity. Here’s what he’s all about. 

What He Says

“Here’s the truth you have to wrestle with: the reason that art (writing, engaging, leading, all of it) is valuable is precisely why I can’t tell you how to do it. If there were a map, there’d be no art, because art is the act of navigating without a map.”

How to Apply It to Your Operations

Being a leader means venturing into the unknown. While there are piles of books, blogs, podcasts, courses, webinars, conferences, etc. that tell you the “secret to success” (including Godin’s), the real secret is that you have to circumnavigate your business operations using your internal compass over anybody else’s. Your context is unique and requires a customized approach. 

The Down Low: Spend less time copying somebody else’s plan and create your own instead. What works for YOUR business? Do that.  


Brene Brown, The Authority on Vulnerability and Leadership  

A successful researcher, author, and thought leader, Brene Brown leads with empathy and emotional intelligence using her own successes and failures as source material. Here’s what she has to say. 

What She Says

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”

How to Apply It to Your Operations

It’s time to get up and close and personal with fear of failure. If you don’t befriend failure, expect it, welcome it, you’ll limit your potential. How does this apply to your operations? Be willing to risk failure if it means you have a better chance at success. Outsource your marketing. Add that department. Hire that partner. Try a new technology. Offer a new service. It may not work out, but you’ll never know unless you try.  


Tony Robbins, Personal Power Motivational Speaker

With a global following and an empire of personal development content and offerings, Tony Robbins is THE motivational speaker. He’s been around for a while, but his teachings are just as relevant as ever. 

What He Says

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

How to Apply It to Your Operations

When stuff goes south, when your business faces changes, when you have to make hard decisions, it’s easy to get a little prickly. Tough moments can quickly turn into a blame game. Don’t seek to find fault in yourself, your partner, or your employees. Instead, switch to a solutions-oriented mindset and find a way forward.    


Amanda Nguyen, Survivors’ Rights Advocate 

Amanda Nguyen founded Rise, an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of sexual violence survivors across the globe. She’s the definition of a true badass; she drafted a law that became canon, impacting over 25 million survivors of sexual assault in the process. 

What She Says

“I had a choice to make: I could either accept injustice or rewrite the law.”

How to Apply It to Your Operations

You can look at your situation and hold the perspective that you’re at the mercy of your industry, tax laws, your competition’s choices—or you could get clear on your values, vision, and mission and create your own pathway to success. True entrepreneurship doesn’t fixate on barriers, it focuses on one question, “How?” If your goal is to revolutionize your industry in the next five years, start with your own operations and piece by piece, create the change you want to see. 


Mel Robbins, Action Inspiring Motivational Speaker 

Mel Robbins is known for her frank, practical approach to motivational speaking. She’s wildly successful and has built a network that inspires people to do the thing. All the things. Her ethos is centered around the idea of action, specifically that when you get an idea, you need to act within five seconds in order to do. the. thing. 

What She Says

“That’s what it takes to get what you want. Not big scary leaps once a year. It takes small, but irritating moves every single day.”

How to Apply It to Your Operations

Especially if you’re a big ideas person (lots of entrepreneurs are), you can get stuck in the cycle of waiting for the next stroke of genius. Mel Robbins suggests you do the opposite. Instead of waiting for inspiration, leverage daily action that moves you closer to your goals. So, if your last idea was the build the best team of people this side of the Mississippi, act on it. Get your hiring practices in order. Clarify what skillsets you need to build out your team. Spend time investing in your current team. Act daily. 


Be the Thought Leader Your Team Needs  

All of the thought leaders mentioned above have reached unparalleled levels of success in their careers. They walk the walk and then some. But don’t think for a minute that you’re not also in a position to influence others. You’re the boss. The owner. The entrepreneur. 

You’re in a leadership position already, and one of the best ways to ensure you’re impacting your business and your people positively is to hire a small business coach. They’ll get you organized, provide a much-needed sounding board, and help you achieve your goals. I’d be happy to hear about your business journey and help you take it to the next level. Let’s talk!