10 thought leaders to put on your reading list

Thought leadership in business is challenging to get right. As we mentioned in previous blogs, authors must have credentials that inspire confidence but also have innovative ideas which they are willing to share freely.  

Although by no means limited to the business context, we have gathered some of our favourite (perhaps) lesser-known individuals from across the world, who demonstrate how thought leadership can be done well. With indisputable authority, they are not afraid to challenge and disrupt. 

1.Professor Rose Luckin – UK – Higher Education 

Luckin is a Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Education and Director of EDUCATE. Her research involves the design and evaluation of technology using theories from the learning sciences and techniques from artificial intelligence. She collaborates with international researchers and academics on AI, VR and AR and has published over 50 peer-reviewed articles. 

She has been described as ‘the Dr Who of artificial intelligence’ (AI) in education and clearly articulates her view that the teaching provided by schools and universities will fundamentally change over the next two decades as a result of AI, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). 

Blog – The Knowledge Illusion has many transcripts from talks she has given to eminent institutions.  

 2.Ryan Holmes – Canada – social media, technology and leadership 

The founder and CEO of Hootsuite and a self-proclaimed ‘future enthusiast, inventor and hacker’ he is a frequent writer about social media, technology and leadership. His blog is regularly updated with thoughtful and sometimes controversial views about a range of topics from work-life balance to productivity and strategy. 

Blog Ryan Holmes is sub-headed ‘Innovation and Disruption’. 

3.Swaminathan S Aiyar – India – economics 

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar is an Indian economist, journalist and columnist, consulting editor of The Economic Times. He has frequently been a consultant to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. A popular columnist and TV commentator, Swami has been called ‘India’s leading economic journalist’ by the Brookings Institution. ‘Swaminomics’ has been appearing as a weekly column in The Times of India since 1990. In 2008, The Times of India brought out the book The Benevolent Zookeepers – The Best of Swaminomics. He writes about global politics and economics from an Indian perspective, without holding back on what he really thinks. 

Blog: published works and weekly articles in The Times of India 

4.Dame Kate Bingham – UK – Life Sciences 

Bingham has been praised by scientists and international media particularly for securing 350 million doses of six covid vaccines for the UK during her unpaid stint as Chair of the Government’s Vaccine Taskforce. But prior to that Kate was already making waves as a successful venture capitalist and has been a vocal supporter of women.  

Now she uses her fame to tackle the very problems she encountered when she worked in Government. Author of The Long Shot, the inside story of the race to vaccinate Britain, she was also speaker at the prestigious Romanes Lecture ‘Another War is Coming’, making the case for the more scientifically qualified people in government to make important science-based decisions. 

Find her: published works & Twitter: @katebingham2

5.Susan Cain – USA – psychology and business 

Author of the bestsellers Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking.  Bill Gates named her TED Talk as one of his all-time favourites. It is said that she did not set out to start a revolution, but she created one simply by articulating the thoughts many introverts have been feeling their whole lives and giving voice to it. She uses science and the power of words to change the way the world views introverts, and more importantly, how introverts view themselves.​ 

See her web site. 

6.Sofi Oksanen – Estonia / Finland – Nordic and Baltic Sea focus 

An Estonian-born Finnish journalist, Oksanen writes a website in English called UpNorth – ‘News from the coolest place on Earth since 2003’. This covers a wide range of topics including political and foreign policy analysis. She also produces internet radio podcasts and video content.  

UpNorth was among the first media platforms, in 2012, to promote the need for an effective combined English language media for the Nordic and Baltic Sea region to present regional views and issues. The mission of her platform is to connect a global audience with Northern European and Baltic issues, society, business and culture. 

Blog – UpNorth is opinionated and eloquent, with interesting views about Russia. 

7.Jose Ignacio Torreblanca – Spain – politics and technology 

Head of the Madrid office of the European Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of Political Science at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) in Madrid. 

Josie Ignacio has written recently on ChatGPT, an advanced language generation model which uses artificial intelligence algorithms to generate human-like text, and the Geopolitics of Technology which advocates for the EU to become a global player. He is a weekly columnist in EL MUNDO as author of the blog “Café Steiner” (in Spanish) and is a regular contributor on RNE (Spanish National Radio) and RTVE. Previously. He was Editorial Director of EL PAIS where he also authored a weekly column in the International Section and a blog. 

Blog: Jose Ignacio Torreblanca includes articles about technology and politics in a forthright and engaging way. 

8.Steve Bartlett – UK – investment and self-improvement 

Once a broke university drop-out, Steve started a company which became Social Chain at the age of 18. At 26 it was generating $600m a year and at the age of 27 he resigned as CEO. He is particularly focused on inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs and creators from a BAME background. He is also a prolific investor, having recently joined the board of Huel, the UK’s fastest growing e-commerce company. Other investments and advice roles include with Atai life sciences, Flight Story and Third Web. 

At just 30 years old he is widely considered one of Europe’s most talented and accomplished young entrepreneurs and philosophical thinkers. He is author of Happy Sexy Millionaire, the Sunday Times Best Seller and was the youngest ever Dragon on BBC’s Dragon’s Den.  

Website: Steven Bartlett includes the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast featuring interviews with influential businesspeople, politicians as well as his own thought-provoking content​. 

9.Yuval Noah Harari – Israel – history and the environment 

Harari is an Israeli public intellectual, historian and professor in the Department of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is author of popular science bestsellers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. 

He writes about the cognitive revolution of 70,000 years ago but his books also examine the possible consequences of a futuristic biotechnological world in which intelligent biological organisms are surpassed by their own creations. He is not afraid to say that ‘Homo sapiens as we know them will disappear in a century or so’.  

See his web site. 

10. Hans Rosling – Sweden – philosophy and health 

A Swedish physician academic and public speaker, Rosling was a professor of International Health at the Karonlinksa Institute where he started health research collaborations with universities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. He was a health adviser to the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and several aid agencies. In 1993 he was one of the initiators of Médecins Sans Frontières in Sweden.  He also pioneered new courses on global health and co-authored a textbook on global health that promotes a fact-based worldview. 

Included in the Time 100 list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2012, Rosling also gave several TED talks and his book Factfulness was published posthumously, exploring Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, disagreeing with a more accepted, pessimistic world view. He also examined the five global risks of pandemic, financial collapse, world war, climate change and extreme poverty. 

Find here his good reads. 

Producing good thought leadership content isn’t quick or easy and most will never reach the heady heights of our top ten. But thought leadership doesn’t always have to be at this level of this high profile. But most senior executives have an area of expertise on which they can provide informed perspective. Whether it is identifying trends, addressing challenges or agitating against political or industry limitations, the secret is to produce high-quality original content with authority and conviction. Most importantly, be prepared to poke your head above the parapet.   

You can read more on this topic on our website: Thought Leadership, Storytelling & Narrative Advisory, Digital & Content Marketing. If you would like to discuss how to plan and execute genuine thought leadership campaigns, please contact [email protected].