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To be an education thought leader, it’s not enough to merely have ideas, education, and experience.       

Whether educators are motivated to become go-to solution providers within the education field, assist students in gaining a thought leadership advantage, or become thought leaders within a new profession, educators should establish an education thought leadership presence on the internet.

Freelance journalist Shawn Andrews talks with Edward Brown, M.S., of the American Academy of Advanced Thinking about why more educators aren’t becoming education thought leaders.

Shawn: First, what is education thought leadership?

Ed: Education thought leadership is a solution-based leadership model where educators use their research, knowledge, and experience to advance their ideas within the field of education as go-to people, as well as cultivate budding thought leaders.

Shawn: In the past, you’ve said that there are a scarcity of education thought leaders, why do you say that with the number of educators throughout the world?

Ed: Essentially, many educators with advanced degrees believe that degrees are the imprimatur for education thought leadership. In other words, if educators have Ph.Ds and have written books, they deem themselves thought leaders. In actuality, only the public or audience that educators serve can qualify them as education thought leaders. Not them, themselves.

Shawn: So, how would you determine if an educator is a de facto education thought leader?

Ed: You must first ask, “What problem(s) are you attempting to solve based on current data?” The problem can’t be merely in the minds of educators, but based on extensive research. Secondly, are the solutions generated from best practices germane to the problem? If so, what social media platforms are being used to evangelize solutions to targeted populations? Finally, education thought leaders are on a crusade to transform the thinking of a specific audience, and thus close the intellectual gaps they perceive.

Shawn: What do you believe is the biggest challenge education thought leaders face?

Ed: Expanding their experience and insight to a broader audience. To be truly transformational, the ideas of education thought leaders should influence private, non-profit, and government sectors. Education thought leaders have solution-based methods and systems that produce a specific outcome. Educators who aspire to education thought leadership should systematize their philosophies. If it’s purely personality driven, then it can’t be used in a methodical manner, because it’s based on the mood and subjectivity of the educator. 


Young creative team speaking at desk in creative office

Educator teaches student how to improve critical thinking skills for thought leadership.


Shawn: How long does it take to become an education thought leader?

Ed: That is a frequently asked question. Of course, no one can say exactly when people will start viewing a particular educator as an education thought leader, but based on the data, it’s safe to say that a minimum of 2 years is a great starting point.

Shawn: To manage expectations, is it safe to say that to become an education thought leader may take even longer than 2 years in some instances?

Ed: Yes, that’s why it’s important to make your case and test your hypothesis every day. There is a great deal of noise on the internet. An education thought leader has to stay on message, like a politician, to break through this cacophony. Focusing on the work relentlessly is the best chance you have for getting your message heard and accepted.

Shawn: It’s been said that there isn’t a whole lot of books available on education thought leadership. Is that true?

Ed: Pretty much. There are several books on thought leadership. However, a book geared to guiding educators into dissecting a problem, creating intellectual property from solutions, and distributing solutions through social media, is largely nonexistent. That’s why I’m creating new information in this domain.

Shawn: Did you get your start by researching “Thought Leadership” and developing “Education Thought Leadership” from there?

Ed: Yes, my research on the skills gap within the American workforce led me to the need by business leaders and corporate managers for critical thinking, decision-making, and problem solving skills for students entering the workforce. I had already developed the IBAR Critical Thinking Method from my brief attendance in law school. However, I didn’t feel that critical thinking for critical thinking sake would galvanize individuals to desire to become scholars and intellects. I discovered thought leadership through the works of Denise Brosseau, Dorie Clark, Peter Winick, and Carl Friesen. They were the benchmarks for creating a destination for my critical thinking method. Once I determined that LinkedIn was the premier social media platform for professionals where decision-makers frequented, as well as where the intellectual property for thought leadership could be showcased, it all came together.

Shawn: The thought leaders you named focus primarily on corporations, why did you choose the education field to develop education thought leadership?

Ed: Again, the research suggested that education is in the greatest need for transformation for meeting market needs. Business leaders and corporate leaders still attend universities and continuing education programs to stay competitive within their fields. I am evangelizing my system to educators for them to teach students to become thoughts leaders within and outside academia, but I also want to attract corporations. Truly, the divide between academia and corporate America on whose responsibility it is to prepare a new generation for the workforce, can be bridged by creating a system that satisfies both parties. Past thought leaders such as Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and Peter Drucker were adept at straddling corporate and academic fences successfully. I feel they are great benchmarks for my mission.

Shawn: As far as benchmarks go, you’ve benchmarked Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth,” in the past. How has this particular benchmark helped you?

Ed: Gerber’s “E-Myth” preached the need for businesses to have a system. It took me twenty years to develop a cogent system for solving problems and creating intellectual property for education thought leadership. As I mentioned earlier, unless educators can create a system for producing documented outcomes, a case for thought leadership is weak. In this regard, educators are tasked with testing their ideas and hypotheses in a global market to determine its pragmatism. If you discover that these ideas and hypotheses are found to be impractical and unfeasible, educators have to return to the drawing board. Education thought leadership is a process. Educators must use benchmarks to ask the questions, “How does this benchmark work?… why does it work?.. and will it work in this instance?” Only then can you build intellectual property culminating into education thought leadership.

Shawn: Thank you Ed for your time.

Ed: My pleasure…