Have you ever noticed the people that call themselves “thought leaders” are usually much better at talking about thought leadership than actually practicing it?

Casie Gillette of KoMarketing has a great quote about the self-indulgent folks who insist that they want to be seen as thought leaders, “saying you want to be a thought leader is sort of like saying you want to be called by a cool nickname… that you made up. It doesn’t really work that way. To be viewed as a thought leader you actually have to do something that makes people want to listen to you. You have to do something to actually lead.”

This is something we run into daily. People ask us, “Hey Lightspeed person! Are you a thought leader in the world of marketing or can you make us thought leaders?” The term thought leader has stolen the mantle of most annoying corporate buzz word from synergy and it wasn’t much of a contest.

We love this video. You will too.

Kind of perfect, right?

Not only because so many Ted Talk-styled speakers are such oblivious asshats, but because it also illustrates how formulaic the marketing industry has become. You want to be seen as a thought leader? Cool! Well, just keep saying you are. No need to actually prove it.

The next time someone tells you they are a thought leader, ask them to prove it.

Do they have concrete examples of projects that changed the game? Have they elevated their clients to new levels? Do their clients talk about the work they’ve done rather than the work they say they can do? Can they produce tangible results?

It’s time to put all the wanna-be thought leaders on notice. It’s time to put up or shut up.