The Rise of the Do-Leaders

Do Leader vs Thought Leader

Over the last couple of months I  have been exposed to some very interesting experiences. I was somehow becoming hyper aware to the people talking in the social media industry. We all know them, the people that are keynoting at conferences, have large twitter followings and run consulting businesses on how to leverage social media. (Before I go on any further, let me be clear, this is not intended as a blanket statement or observation about everyone.)

I intended on throwing an image up on my Facebook wall with a quote and an hour later I realized it had turned into a full manifesto/rant and I hit publish. Heres the original post but I have added more for this blog post.

There two camps of people. I don’t know if its in my DNA or how I was raised but I tend to see things in black and white. It just makes things easier for me to make decisions. I am fully aware that there are MANY shades of grey.

There is a disturbance in the force. We are watching a mini revolution take place where all of the pundits, self proclaimed experts, gurus and ninjas are being confronted by a new generation of people (not necessarily young) that can actually DO what everyone else is just TALKING about. These DOers are building a personal brand that will turn into a legacy because what they produce will become the foundation for future generations.

In the past month since the original post people have come to me through Facebook messenger, email and even Twitter DMs to talk about this concept of a Do-Leader. A few that were VERY upset that I was somehow putting them down with my post and degrading them in the overall community. What I thought was most surprising was that NONE of these people had anything public to say around the subject. Their insecurities became very obvious.

What can’t be contested is that the concept of a Do-Leader vs. Thought-Leader  resonated with the people. I think this is the case because there are a large group of people that have felt this way for a while and most don’t have the confidence to say anything or to take a stand against the existing paradigm. I guess I do.

Having people come to me behind the scenes after the fact to condemn me for saying it just makes it even more needed to be said.

There are groups of people that have built their careers, in some cases successful ones by just talking about stuff but never doing anything more than reading a handful of blog posts and research papers then getting on a stage/webcast/Meerkat to regurgitate the info. That’s the analog of a bad copy and paste. I see this all the time. People that pivot their business and ‘expertise’ to fit into whatever the new trend is.

They look for the low hanging fruit and talk about marketing concepts that are so generic and high level that there really is no additional value being given. They just play the role of echoing information.

Before anyone tells me about throwing stones in a glass house. I love to speak at conferences. There is a rush getting on a stage in front of several hundred people and getting them to take pictures and take notes of what I have to say. I’m not going to lie. I enjoy it. But I don’t do many of these and most of the conferences I’ve spoken at have been customer events. It’s work 99% of the time not pleasure.

Most of my time is spent working (I call it spending time in the lab) trying to learn something and then produce something of value. I feel that without the time in the lab I couldn’t possibly have anything valuable to talk about when the opportunity arises. Social Selling was a breakthrough. I can talk about that subject for hours because I know it from concept to execution.   

What I am against are the groups of people that only strive to be in the spotlight. The ones that use other peoples work and tell the world how it should be done. Specifically the people that can talk about the field fairly intelligently and get passed off as an expert but when you hand them an actual job, one that requires achieving a goal, moving the needle, propelling the business, they are clueless and expect the people around them to do all of the work while they receive the credit. If that is how you operate then I am talking about you.

When you are seen as a leader and you tell companies, clients, customers you have real world experience DOing the job, the expectation is that you are being honest. What I am finding is that some of these leaders or experts have very little ability to actually do the work that must be put in to complete the task. Stop talking about HUSTLE when all you are DOing is talking. When you are confronted with this realization you point fingers at your coworkers, blame the system for not supporting you or even working against you, you give unlimited excuses that hold no weight. You are not a leader. You are part of the problem.

This new economy needs DOers. The people who can only talk are being passed up and laughed about behind closed doors. When these people are asked to produce something or to show the results they’ve produced the house of cards falls down. Your campaign from 2003 isn’t valid anymore. The interview you did is old news. The world has changed since then.

It might not be fair but what you did last year and maybe even last QTR doesn’t matter more than to help show a track record and a potential for future results. It’s all about what you are DOing now. Let’s become Do-Leaders and not just Thought-Leaders.

Hope is not lost though. There is a solution. Build your personal brand based on results. Let your work become famous and you will become famous by proxy. Not the other way around.

Stop worrying about how you’re going to get to every industry conference to show your face and talk. If that’s what your personal brand is built on, it’s weak and ego driven. Start worrying about how you are going to solve business problems and have something to actually talk about. Or even better, have others talking about the work you DO.

I can find detailed information about how to do anything from baking a cake to building a rocket online and I could build some slides and talk about it semi intelligently but this doesn’t make me a chef or a rocket scientist.

Not until I can actually DO it and show that it works should anyone take me seriously. That’s the world we live in now and we have to adapt.

That’s it. My only post on the subject. Leave a comment if you want me to discuss further.



Koka Sexton

Koka Sexton is a renowned expert in social selling. Some would say Koka Sexton is the reason social selling exists, he would say that social selling existed once the internet was created. A recognized expert in social selling that has produced revenue for B2B companies, Koka continues to make generating new business the focus of social media. Finding creative ways to plan, develop and execute content marketing campaigns that break through the noise and provide value to buyers in excess of what they expect. He is the founder of Social Selling Labs.

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