Everyone has an opinion. A view, a stance, a belief. And in 2017, most of us aren't afraid to voice them.
We live in a world where technology and society have enabled communication like never before, creating platforms and audiences that offer opportunities for conversation and debate at every turn. It’s incredible. When once only the elite could air their views, the democratization of communication has given us unbridled freedom to share.
From elections to slacktivism to reality TV votes (yes, even the trivial has a place), the masses are increasingly engaged, having been given the means to express their views on a global scale. A plethora of opinions collide online, leading to rich debate and discussion. Yet, as we know, this growing independence has also given a microphone to those whose outlooks the majority find repugnant and combative, creating an uneasy dynamic. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but at what cost?
So, as voices soar, there becomes more impetus for those who champion the good, the meaningful and the purposeful to step up. When everyone is given the power to take to the soapbox, we turn to visionaries to show us the right direction and bring perspectives that will have a positive impact on the world.
It’s not a new concept. Throughout history, thought leaders have defined generations and paved movements of immense social, political and cultural significance. They were scholars and philosophers, scientists and explorers, intellectuals and artists. From Aristotle to Mary Wollstonecraft, Gandhi to Martin Luther King, they used their creative endeavors to break down boundaries and influence others with new ideas.
Over the years, and with the proliferation of accessible content, the definition of thought leadership was diluted. Suddenly everyone was an expert, or at least they wanted to be. Egos got in the way of genuine insight. We forget the power of pioneering ideas and their ability to drive change. But as we stand today, in a landscape mired with uncertainty and volatility fueled by dangerous opinions, we’ve arrived back at a place where the need for progressive ideas and leadership in its truest form is critical.
For brands, producing impactful thought leadership starts with identifying a true value and purpose that a consumer can embed through their lifestyle choices. Think Airbnb, a brand that is committed to creating a world where all 7.5 billion people can genuinely feel they are able to belong anywhere. Think Google, which strives to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Think Nike, which aims to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete… where the qualification of an athlete is, simply, having a body. The common theme? Inclusivity for all.
Ambition and aspiration are the beating heart of the businesses that lead and define the world we live in today. Back in the 1980s, big brands were symbolic of materially driven lifestyles: consumers bought into labels because they represented wealth and success. We pursued luxury and based purchases on who we wanted to be, favoring status symbols over savings. Since then consumerism has evolved, to land where we are today – an era where we look for brands and products that share our values, fight for what is right and make a difference. Brands that lead with honest ideas.
Beneath the corporate visions sit the true thought leaders. The individuals whose values and opinions propel a brand from a commodity to a lifestyle. It is these impassioned individuals who champion the most critical of causes through well-honed expertise, cultural awareness and global perspectives. Today, brands that succeed are led by trailblazers who build a business around compassion, tolerance, progression and innovation. That’s why at FinchFactor we believe in a world that empowers diversity and equality in leadership; it’s core to our DNA and why we work with brands such as Airbnb, Critical Mass, Sylvain Labs, IMA and Code d’Azur.
And so, in a climate where every man and his dog wants to share their opinion, the assertions of true leaders matter more so than ever. Not because of the brand or the product, but because of the vision. Finding those voices that cut through the noise, that offer genuine insight and leadership, that live equality and diversity, is our raison d’être.
Everyone has an opinion. It’s how you use it that matters.
Kerrie Finch, Founder and CEO, FinchFactor