Just over a month ago, I was scrolling through emails when I saw an e-mail from Harvard Business Review. The e-mail was titled “HBR’s 2023 Year in Review.” Interesting. So I opened the e-mail. Then I gasped out loud!

My HBR article entitled, A Simple Framework to Introduce Yourself, was one of the top 3 most read articles in HBR in 2023! Wow, I couldn’t believe my eyes!


"A Simple Way to Introduce Yourself" by Dr Andrea Wojnicki (Harvard Business Review)


I kept scrolling through the email and I saw a face that looked very familiar. It was Roger Martin, my old boss, the former Dean at the Rotman School of Management. The e-mail said that Rogers video, entitled “A Plan Is Not a Strategy,” won the award for being the most downloaded video on HBR in 2023.

So, I went home and I promptly wrote Roger a congratulations e-mail. I also asked him if I could interview him for a Talk About Talk podcast episode focused on Thought Leadership. And here we are!

Talk About Talk - episode 150 - Roger Martin - Thought Leadership and Building Your Brand - Roger and Andrea Wojnicki in conversation

Roger Martin is a PROLIFIC thought leader. In 2017, he was named the #1 management thinker in world. He has written 13 books, 33 HBR articles, and he posts weekly on Medium. As I mention above, he also has the #1 most downloaded HBR video of 2023, with 3.4 million views and counting!

I hope you’ll give this episode a listen. In the meantime, here are three takeaways to help YOU establish thought leadership.

3 Things to Talk About this week: 

  1. Two Kinds of Thought Leadership
  2. How to Establish Thought Leadership
  3. Thought Leadership vs. Personal Branding


1️⃣ Two Kinds of Thought Leadership

One of the first questions I asked Roger was whether all leaders need to be thought leaders.  His answer surprised me. 
Yes, all leaders need to be thought leaders.
But not in the way you think.

Roger distinguishes between two different types of thought leadership:
  1. PRIVATE Thought Leadership
  2. PUBLIC Thought Leadership

What’s the difference?

PRIVATE thought leadership is sharing your knowledge with a specific group of individuals (in your company, your networking group, your circle of friends).  

Roger told a story about how earlier in his career, when he was at Monitor Group, he would communicate internally through memos on various topics. He earned recognition at Monitor for his insights. People would come to him to ask if he had an opinion on X or Y because they trusted his insights.  This is private thought leadership.

PUBLIC thought leadership is just what it sounds like.  Sharing your thought leadership with a larger public audience. 

This is what most people think of when they think about thought leadership – people publishing articles, social media posts, blogs, or podcasts (ahem…). 

So, yes, all leaders need to be thought leaders.  But you can choose whether you make it public or not. As Roger says, “If you run an organization, you’re gonna have to work on your private thought leadership, regardless. But public thought leadership is a lot of work.”

Talk About Talk - episode 150 - Thought Leadership and Building Your Brand - Roger Martin quote "Don't try to be a public thought leader if you don't love the activities involved. Public thought leadership is a lot of work. And if you love it, do it. And if you don't, I just wouldn't try to force yourself because you're not gonna be any good."


2️⃣How to Establish Thought Leadership

I was curious to hear Roger’s advice about establishing thought leadership.  Assuming we want to be a PUBLIC thought leader, how can I do so?

  • Should we write a book?
  • Should we do a TedTalk?
  • Should we focus exclusively on one media or try go broad?


Once again, Roger’s response was not what I expected. (I guess this is what happens when you interview a thought leader about thought leadership!) 

Roger’s suggestion was to build thought leadership by focusing on the cadence of publication. As public thought leaders, we should publish at a regular cadence.


Because people are habit driven. You will build an audience when you publish your thought leadership regularly, regardless of the medium.

That’s why he publishes his Medium articles at the same time every week. And that’s why I publish this newsletter every week and the Talk about Talk podcast – every two weeks on Monday morning at 1:00 AM Eastern!

3️⃣ Thought Leadership vs. Personal Branding

Talk-About-Talk-episode-150-Roger-Martin-Thought-Leadership-and-Building-Your-Brand-paper-airplanes Image from Canva

Many people equate thought leadership with personal branding., and vice versa.  In fact, I’ve noticed many personal branding coaches on LinkedIn whose goal, it seems, is to help us become thought leaders. 

Personal Branding and Thought Leadership are two separate things. 

Personal branding is about YOU: Your identity, your reputation. In a career context, it’s about establishing your professional identity in a disciplined way.  It’s about being yourself, on purpose.  

Thought leadership on the other hand is about sharing your unique knowledge, opinions and providing information that others find valuable.  Public thought leaders become known for their expertise and grow a following of people wanting to learn from them. 

Our thought leadership can be a valuable element of your personal brand. Does that make sense? You can use your personal brand to share your thought leadership – in fact, being known for your expertise is a great thing to include in your brand! 

Personally (!), I seek to generously share thought leadership ABOUT personal branding and communication skills.

What about you? Is your thought leadership a significant element of your personal brand?



There you go – 3 things to Talk About this week:

1️⃣ Two Kinds of Thought Leadership
2️⃣ How to Establish Thought Leadership
3️⃣ Thought Leadership vs Personal Branding


Talk Abut Talk - episode 150 - Thought Leadership and Build Your Brand with Roger Martin


You can listen to my conversation with Roger Martin in this week’s Talk About Talk podcast ep.150 on AppleSpotifyYouTube, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I’d love to hear what you think about this episode. Please email me or message me on LinkedIn.

Have a great week.

Talk soon,