John DeMato - NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photographer

NYC Branded Lifestyle Photographer - Blog

NYC Branded Lifestyle Portrait Photography Blog | Hi, I'm John DeMato, and I collaborate with thought leaders to create powerful, purposeful and authentic images. This is my blog where I talk all about the magic behind the portraits we create.

"There's no such thing as a thought leader..."


"There's no such thing as a thought leader..."

Recently, I posted an article to LinkedIn outlining the difference between headshots and portraits, and was met with some resistance.

Not about the content, but, about the way I addressed my audience.

I serve thought leaders with various areas of expertise, and regardless of the content, I use that term liberally throughout my copy so people are reminded to whom I’m referring.

Apparently, some people aren’t buying it.

In the comments section of that article, a woman let her feelings be heard.

“There's no such thing as a thought leader! The whole concept is narcissistic and ludicrous.”

Hmm, interesting perspective - let’s unpack this a little bit more.

Let’s start off with a definition.

In my eyes, a thought leader is someone who has amassed an extremely valuable body of knowledge in a particular area of interest through research, collaboration and personal experiences, and is passionate about sharing these thoughts with those who would deeply benefit from this knowledge. 

Whether self-ascribed or dubbed as such by colleagues, mentors or followers, the distinction is earned based on their knowledge base.

Clearly, these people exist.

But, by the same token, there are also people who are driven exclusively by their own ego and ambition and are only interested in exploiting the “thought leader” moniker in order to serve their needs - be it for financial gain, elevated status in their communities, or both.

Yes, there’s a lot of shitty people in the world, and they come in all flavors, shapes and sizes, and can be found in all walks of life.

But, does the selfish motivations of a few negate the work of the whole bunch?

Hell no!

If it weren’t for me stumbling across the work of several thought leaders in the marketing, personal branding and networking spaces, I would still be absolutely miserable working a FT job that I hated more than I can process in words.

It was because of these blog posts, articles, podcast episodes and social posts that inspired and motivated me to get my shit together and be better than I was yesterday.

This is one of the primary reasons that I narrowed my focus to working with these folks - I’m energized and fulfilled when I help those who help others.

Have I crossed paths with “thought leaders” with ulterior motives? Of course I have.  

I just make sure I don’t cross their paths again after learning my lesson, :)

Long story short, there will always be people out there who place their motivations above all else - their ego, vanity and status are their torchbearers. But, that doesn’t mean that everyone under the thought leader umbrella is drinking the same Kool-Aid.

It’s up to you to judge whether or not someone has your best interests in mind.

What are your thoughts on the phrase, “thought leader?” Am I being too naive with my assessment?

PS - For those of you who aren’t in the know, I mail out these blogs 3x a week, and lemme tell you, they’re a real party, so, if you’d like to get in on this, sign up for it here and I’ll throw in a free gift for you...because I care, :)