No “Thought Leaders” Needed Here, Thank You

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Here at NPQ, we eschew “thought leaders” in favor of people who think critically and like to share their thoughts with colleagues. Call us stodgy.

That’s why when we got an article entitled “The Nonprofit Sector Has a Ferguson Problem” from Derwin Dubose, a man who has plenty of practical experience but we we had not heard of before, we did not just place it aside to be read after a thought leaders’ latest defensive rehash of a pay-for-success scheme, but rather published it, grateful for its immediacy and thoughtfulness and its challenges to the status quo. We even sent it along to other networks, which have hosted their own discussions of it – it is the most read NPQ article of this past week. That is whatNPQ is here for—to make as much as possible of the intelligence of this rich sector visible to you so you have its benefit.

And that is why NPQ needs your donation today—to stay out of the big hellish paddock of same-speak that awaits anyone not swift enough to escape, and provide for you here at NPQ a venue to ferret out some real answers to your real questions.


But, as an additional minor postscript on my original point, I actually think there is a very high correlation between people who don’t do much independent thinking and the longing—nay, unabashed drive—to be a “thought leader.”

David Brooks last year took on the concept in a searing column that laid out the lifecycle of this new fruity pudding, and it all sounded very familiar:

The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts.

“He doesn’t have students, but he does have clients. He doesn’t have dark nights of the soul, but his eyes blaze at the echo of the words ‘breakout session.’”

Toward the end of the column, he predicts how it all ends: “a lifetime of bullet points are replaced by foreboding. Toward the end of his life, the Thought Leader is regularly engaging in a phenomenon known as the powerless lunch. He and another formerly prominent person gather to have a portentous conversation of no importance whatsoever. In the fading of the light, he is gravely concerned about the way everything is going to hell.”

Let’s try to avoid this fate together here, in and around NPQ. Think freely, and donate today!


P.S.: Here is the recipe for fruity pudding, empty of nutrition and very likely to slow you down if you eat enough of it.