Thought Leaders

“Who is the thought leader’s thought leader?”

Gianpiero Petriglieri

Diversify Your Thought Leadership Portfolio

Like all industries, SEO too has well-known experts, aka thought leaders, that voice their opinions, share valuable information, and encourage new ideas. They each have unique backgrounds and subject matter expertise. They may be bloggers, entrepreneurs, journalists, developers, agency folks, and in-house employees. They may focus on different aspects of SEO, or general online marketing, or broad business & entrepreneurship topics.

As a professional, it’s up to each and every one of us to carve our own niche by learning from our own experiences and from those of others who have been there, done that in hopes of repeating their success, and avoiding their mistakes. So, it’s extremely important who we follow, especially on the internet, why we follow them, and how their words and their work helps us grow.

We follow people on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, and various industry publications such as Moz, Inbound, Search Engine Land. As we create these lists, and subscriptions, we should do it with purpose.

A recent MIT study supported a long-known idea in business that diversity is the key to innovation: Twitter users who have diverse social networks generate better ideas than those that don’t.

In the same way Steve Jobs wanted folks at Apple from different departments to mingle to come up with good ideas, you can become a smarter SEO by following people across a wide spectrum of topics. Expand your thinking by stretching even further into non-business industries, and you’ll improve your ability to spot patterns.

Over the years, there are dozens of colleagues, and strangers on the internet who I’ve absorbed information, advice, and ideas from, that I’d like to thank, and I encourage you to do the same: Paras Mehta, Mert Sahinoglu, Sarah Kendzior, Heidi Moore, Brian Dean, Gianpiero Petriglieri, Maria Popova, Tara Reed, Rand Fishkin, Umair Haque, Julie Evans, Alisa Scharf, Wil Reynolds, Michael King, Colin Cronin, Michelle George, Katie Dixon, Vala Afshar, Amy Cuddy, Anil Dash. I’m sure there are a dozen others whose names I can’t think of. This doesn’t even include all the brilliant authors whose books have shaped me to an even greater extent. Or my inner circle of close family and friends in my life.

I’ve worked directly with some of these people directly, but most of them, I’ve never met in person. Thank you Millenium 2000 for enabling me to learn from so many professionals from different fields. Through their Tweets, their blog posts, their work, I’ve acquired real-world knowledge and wisdom that even perfect GPA students can’t find in textbooks.


If there’s one piece of advice I can offer on letting people influence your thoughts…don’t measure any person by the size of their following. You can follow only the heavy hitters, and you’ll be fine in acquiring general knowledge. When I stopped doing that, however, and started following those in the minority, my life changed. The whole game changed. A diverse list is a judgment-free list, and a more relevant list.

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