July 12, 2010
Thought Leaders Now Being Replaced By Feeling Leaders

A few weeks ago I attended the World Innovation Forum in NYCMy big insight? Thought leaders will soon be a thing of the past.

In their place? Feeling leaders -- business savants who have made the journey from head to heart and aren't afraid to let the rest of us know what they've learned along the way.

I'm not talking warm and fuzzy. Nor am I diminishing the thoughtfulness of the presenters at the World Innovation Forum. They were. Thoughtful, that is. Very.

But it wasn't so much their thinking that moved me -- as it was the feeling behind their thinking.

No matter what business you're in, the engine of innovation is really about being moved. That's what movements are made of -- the heartfelt, intrinsically motivated effort to get off of dead center and accomplish something meaningful.

This is the crossroads all of us are standing at these days -- the intersection between this and that. What the newspaper industry is going through. And the music industry. And the television industry -- just to name a few.

My heroes, these days, are the people who don't just stand at the crossroads, but dance -- inspired individuals who find great delight in the paradoxes, get juiced by the challenges, and realize that "innovation" is not a program, initiative, or model, but a way of life.

That's the main reason why I enjoyed the World Innovation Forum so much.

Because that was precisely the mindset of the presenters -- and the people who attended -- no matter what industry, pedigree, or astrological sign.

As I watched the WIF presenters do their conference thang, I got some unexpected insights into the art and science of delivering a memorable presentation to a global audience of innovation-hungry patrons.

So, for all of you conference kick ass wannabees out there, take note. Here's part 1 of your tutorial.

1. Be in tune with your purpose: If you're going to hold an audience's attention for more than 10 minutes, you've got to begin by holding firm to your purpose... your calling... what gets you out of bed in the morning. If it's missing, all you could ever hope to deliver is a speech -- which is NOT what people want to hear.

If your purpose is clear, you're home free and won't need a single note card.

Mark Twain said it best: "If you speak the truth, you don't need to remember a thing."

2. Be passionate: Realize you are on the stage to let it rip. Completely. People are sitting in the audience because they want an experience, not just information. They want to feel something, not just hear something.

So play full out. Pull the rip cord. Jump!

3. Connect with the audience: You may know a lot of stuff. You may have a double Ph.D, but unless you know how to connect with the audience, your knowledge ain't worth squat.

If you were a tree falling in a conference room, no one would hear it.

So tune in! Establish rapport! Connect! And that begins by respecting your audience and realizing you are there to serve, not preach.

4. Tell stories: That's how great teachers have communicated since the beginning of time. Storytelling is the most effective way to disarm the skeptic and deliver meaning in a memorable way.

"The world is not made of atoms," explained poet, Muriel Rukyser. "It's made of stories."

No bull. Parable!


5. Have a sense of humor: There's a reason why HAHA and AHA are almost spelled the same. Both are about the experience of breakthrough. And both are sparked when the known is replaced by the unknown, when continuity is replaced by discontinuity.

Hey, admit it. At the end of the day, if you can't find the humor in business, you're screwed. So, why wait for the end of the day. Find the humor now.

6. Get visual: It's become a corporate sport to make fun of power point, but power point can be a thrill if done right. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

If you want to spark people's imagination, use images more than words. The root of the word imagination is image.

7. Have confidence: Do you know what the root of the word "confidence" is? It comes from the Latin "con-fide" -- meaning "to have faith." Have faith in what? Yourself.

That's not ego. It's the natural expression of a human being coming from the place of being called.


So, if you're about to walk out on stage and are feeling the impostor syndrome coming on, stop and get in touch with what is calling you.

Let that guy/gal speak.

8. Trim the Fat: When Michelangelo was asked how he made the David, he said it was simple -- that he merely took away "everything that wasn't."

The same holds for you, oh aspiring-kick ass-presenter-at-some-future high-profile-conference (or, at the very least, pep-talk-giver to your kid's Junior High School soccer team).

Keep it simple. Or, as Patti LaBarre, the delightful MC at the World Innovation Forum put it, "Minimize your jargon footprint."

9. Celebrate what works: If you want to raise healthy kids, reinforce their positive behaviors -- don't obsess on the negative. The same holds true for conference kick asss.

If you want to raise a healthy audience, give them examples of what's working out there in the marketplace. Feature the "bright spots," as Chip Heath likes to say. Share victories, best practices, and lessons learned.


Save the bitching and moaning for your therapist.

10. Walk the Talk: Good presenters are genuinely moved. Being genuinely moved, it's natural for them come out from behind the podium and actually move around the stage -- as in, walking the talk.

Big thanks to Michael Porter, Michael Howe, Jeff Kindler, Chip Heath, Andreas Weigend, Biz Stone, Seth Godin, Brian Shawn Cohen, Wendy Kopp, Ursula Burns, Joel Makower, Jeffrey Hollender and Robert Brunner for their presentations at the World Innovation Forum.

Special thanks to Seth Godin for his bold effort to remind people that "there is no map, not even a fictional map" -- and that all he could do was point the way there. Lucid. (Start walking, people!)

DVDs from past World Innovation Forums, are available here.

To subscribe to HSM's Inspiring Ideas Newsletter, click here.

For articles, interviews, videos and podcasts featuring leading business experts, thought leaders, and the latest management training, do not move to Montana. Click here, instead.

This link? Well, let's consider this the token surprise link in today's Heart of Innovation posting. It's kind of like the prize in the crackerjack box. Come on! Take a risk! Click already.

And last, but not least, a big thank you to Patricia Meier, Santiago Muro, George Levy, Becky Gee, Sebastian Mackinlay, Kelsey Woods, and the entire HSM team for all their hard work, good cheer, and vision to make this year's WIF such a delight.




Who We Are

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at July 12, 2010 12:57 AM


"the heartfelt, intrinsically motivated effort to get off of dead center and accomplish something meaningful." - spot on!

Also, your comments about "Feeling leaders" This is a great insight about the coming shift from thought leaders as people of influence, to feeling leaders. I agree that this shift is happening already, but I am grateful to hear your thoughts, and I appreciate the way you have articulated this. I also think it is about time for this shift. It almost seems like I have been waiting my whole life for this! I am energized to hear others with this idea! It could change the way we do business in the US. :->

I wish I could have attended this event. I would have liked to hear these ideas in person.

Posted by: Dawn [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 11, 2010 09:03 PM

Enjoyed this post and also wish I had grabbed a seat at the forum. Overall, I think we're moving from the idea that we're just speaking to the crowd - to the fact that our thoughts are penetrating at a much deeper level. It's more authentic to bring such a heartfelt experience into the world of business and the workplace. I believe that celebrity aside, these thought leaders are getting to the heart of the business and media stream in an evolutionary way.

Posted by: Judy Martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 13, 2010 09:18 AM

One of the greatest finds in blog world in a long time. Thanks D Broward for the referral. I have personally taken as part of my life calling how to move "inspiration" onto the score card for business as a new metric for success. I "feel" we are making progress. Keep inspiring!

Posted by: Terry Barber [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 13, 2010 09:20 AM

Well said Mitch. The one point above that is lacking most often is the passion behind what people are saying. There is such a big difference between talking to a group of people and speaking to a group of people. For me, over the top works a whole lot better to engage the audience than great dictation and metered words.

Posted by: Flyinghscott [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 13, 2010 11:37 AM

I absolutely 100% can relate to this article finally validating "touching our feelings". I have long stated to the organization which I have had the privilege to create and lead (a hugh responsibility by the way...) that
"I always want to be your inspiration, not your perspiration"
It is so true. we work for so much more than the money and the glory......

Posted by: Phyllis Heppenstall [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 19, 2010 11:28 AM

OOps, my post got put on the "Flyinghscott' so sorry. I do not know how that happened.
P. Heppenstall

Posted by: Phyllis Heppenstall [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 19, 2010 11:30 AM

Great post. I agree. People today want passionate leaders to follow, who are invested in creating a better future and serving others.

"Call me crazy (or passionate), but I want people on my team that believe deeply in those they serve and therefore may reflect their passion through strong words and actions." (Passion vs. Emotion in Leadership: http://modernservantleader.com/servant-leadership/passion-vs-emotion-in-leadership )

Thank you for sharing.

Posted by: BLichtenwalner [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 2, 2010 02:17 PM

There are some great take aways from this article, and I was also struck by how often you were actually talking about "thoughts" and implying they were feelings.

Two points. One, because of the casual way we use language, people often talk about "feelings" but what they are really talking about are thoughts. You imply that motivation comes from feelings, and I think that motivation comes from thoughts which then elicit feelings. The word "meaningful" is as much thought-based as it is feeling based. And you use the word, "realization" early in this writing, and that is thinking.

Two, it is sometimes a temptation to talk about "our feelings" because we don't have to take as much personal responsibility for them. Someone says, "Wow, I'm feeling annoyed by that presentation!" And we accept that, we entitle people to their feelings. But someone says, "Wow, [I believe] that presentation was full of errors and [i believe] it was too long." That's a point of view that requires more personal responsibility to state and own. So sometimes, I think this is why people talk about feelings, we don't have to "own" what we say in the same way as when we state beliefs.

Posted by: dogsruleplanet [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 11, 2013 03:11 PM

I enjoyed over read your blog post. Your blog have nice information, I got good ideas from this amazing blog. I am always searching like this type blog post. I hope I will see again.
lenny face @ http://lenny-face.com/

Posted by: John David [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2016 04:30 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

Storytelling at Work
Storytelling at Work is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling in business – why it matters and what you and your organization can do to leverage the impact of storytelling in the workplace.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
The Hero's Journey
Innovators are known for their ability to move forward. But sometimes, the best way to move forward is to retreat – especially when it's time to reinvent yourself. That's why Idea Champions is now offering 5-day immersive retreats in beautiful San Miguel de Allende. Reboot! Refresh! Renew!
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Webinars Powered by
Idea Champions University
Webinars for online training If you enjoy our blog, you will love our newly launched webinars! Our training is now accessible online to the whole world.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Featured in Alltop Guy Kawasaki's Alltop "online magazine rack" has recognized Idea Champions' blog as one of the leading innovation blogs on the web. Check out The Heart of Innovation, and subscribe!
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

"In tune with corporate America." — CNN