Building Success In The Music Industry by Connecting, Building Relationships, Reaching Out To The Media & Not Relying On Facebook or Myspace
June 16, 2012 8 Awesome Responses, but Add More Here

21 Folks Who Stand Out As Thought Leaders In Their Niche & How You Can Too – Part 1 of 3

Standing out in your business. Is it really that hard?

Look at kids. Ages 3 and up. Kids know how to spot a difference before we do.

They point out the really cool kid. The psycho kid. The kid great at football. The fat kid. The black kid. The white kid. The Asian kid. The kid with the scarf on their head. The kid with a lump on their forehead. The kid who wears the same pair of shoes every single day. The kid who eats all his salad. The kid who smells a lot. The kid who’s rich. The kid who’s broke poor.

You get the point. Kids are great at seeing the difference between themselves, the mass, and the odd ones out.

However, being different in school generally gets you bad attention, sometimes even bullying. To survive, you might end up learning to blend in.

But to become an achiever, blending in doesn’t work.

Those differences are what make folks stand out. Joseph Putnam noted on kissmetrics, it’s what sets your business apart from others because of what your business makes a stand about.” For example, he showed why Starbucks is so distinct from everyone else, explaining,they’re not trying to be known as the amazing coffee, sandwich, AND smoothie place, and they’re not trying to compete head to head with McDonalds or Jamba Juice. Instead, they’re the convenient premium coffee cafe that happens to also sell breakfast sandwiches and smoothies if you want one while you’re picking up your delicious coffee.”

But how do we find a way to be different from everybody else? And how does it advantage us in our businesses?

Here are 21 people who aren’t just standing out, but are fearless leaders of thoughts and ideas, being seen as super experts in their space, going against conventions and what they should be doing:

“Jamie Oliver”

Author, Chef & Champion of Healthy Food for Children

Jaime isn’t just a chef. He’s a TV mogul who can boast friends in politicians, movie stars and athletes.

When he’s not writing books, he’s travelling around countries looking for real food inspiration, and when he’s not doing that, he’s making sure that kids eat healthy food.

He started his healthy school dinners cause near to my home town, and now he’s taken it across to the US.

If he was once famous for being the Naked Chef, now he’s known for trying to change even a small piece of the food world. His legacy and what he will be known for will center around how a whole new generation were given proper food to curb obesity and bad eating habits.

He stands out because he’s not just a chef. He’s not even just a celebrity chef. He’s a chef with a cause.

If your industry is already packed with celebrities authoring books and appearing on their own TV shows, take you and your business to a more social level. Bringing in a cause may be a great way to differentiate yourself. So if you’re already volunteering, or are passionate about changing people’s perceptions in your industry, this is a great way to stand out.

“Michael Ellsberg”

author, speaker, mentor, Champion Super-Networker & How To Propel Your Career The Non-College Way

Michael Ellsberg is a regular writer on, showing that entrepreneurialism doesn’t have to start in college. It can start way before, and without formal education.

Look at Mark Zuckerberg. Billionnaire drop out. Steve Jobs could be added to that too. And what about Bill Gates. Oh, and you can’t forget Brad Pitt.

In fact, he supports the Thiel Foundation as well as Uncollege. His video on how to reach out to mentors and connecting with peers and businesses was eye opening for folks like myself who associated networking with sleazy salesmanship. He proved me wrong.

Michael stands out because he’s not trying to help every entrepreneur under the sun, even though he could do. He’s more than qualified to mentor experts of all kinds, after being a specialist on ‘Eye Contact’ for which he’s gained tonnes of attention.

Have you seen Good Will Hunting?

A good lesson from Michael is to take your service and flip it around, by not saying solely, what it is you provide, but which group of people you’re going to help. That means you become a specialist in what you do because of the people you serve. In Michael’s case, he is a copywriter, career consultant and a brilliant networker amongst other things. He tailors his expertise to help a target audience, so all the common problems they face will be a lot more similar, than if he was to choose three groups, such as college kids, retired folk and single mums.

For example, if you’re a Bike Repairer, maybe you can choose to service amateur club cyclists by going out to them. Or, you could repair bikes for commuter riders in your city.

Michael Ellsberg at the Thiel Fellowship Retreat from Michael Ellsberg on Vimeo.

“Dale J Stephens”

author, writer, blogger, speaker, consultant & Champion of Education Activism Without College

This is guy is impressive. He hasn’t let his youth get in the way of his big ideas, and he wants every other guy and girl who are thinking college is the only way to succeed in life to change their outlook. The creator of is a dedicated speaker on the cause, yet, the service he provides as a consultant is in his own words is finding and building, “uncommon solutions to common problems”.

Dale stands out because because he is opening eyes by giving young ones and parents a solution to an obvious problem. Right now, education activism seems to be in the hands of academic professionals and politicians, all who are supporting an age long tradition of college degrees when many under 25s are struggling to get work, even after completing a highly asteemed college education, but Dale, as a kid who chose to drop out of college, is taking education activism back.

A good lesson from Dale is to take a common misconception, and blow open the truth not just with the repeating the reality because newspapers do that all the time and most folk know when things are just not working, but blowing open the truth and providing a solution that has been proven to work. For instance, folks in weight loss do this all the time. They take a huge misconception about dieting, or exercising, showing how these methods don’t work, and then they give us a new solution based on tested evidence or ground-breaking new facts.

“Ryan Holiday”

author, Director of Marketing at American Apparel, Champion of using the media in business

Trust Me I'm Lying by Ryan HolidayRyan Holiday is a media strategist, and another college drop out in this list.

Sense the theme here?

He comes, almost automatically recommended by the clients he’s worked with, such as author Tucker Max, the self-confessed a**hole (which is fair enough) and Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel who’s faced lawsuits for dubious behaviour of which he denies. With that level of controversy, he’s now on the verge of publishing work worth 3 years of research and experience, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

How does he stand out? He takes a relatively secretive industry that people, even businesses are afraid of, or don’t know how to work with, and he shares the truth about it. Publicity seems like some giant underworld. His truth-spilling confessions will definitely capture the attention of a generation of businesses evolving away from the scientific world of marketing, and into the more artistic publicity world.

A good lesson is to take something people are afraid of in your niche or your business industry, and constantly share the good as well as the bad. For example, those creepy crawlies might stop folks from a night of camping in the woods, but sharing the secrets about how to survive, kind of like what Bear Grylls  has done, has opened up people’s minds. People are a little more adventurous when they feel in control and safe. This may be a great technique if you work in a notorious or controversial industry.

“Mark Sisson”

Author, Speaker, Champion of eating and living Paleo

Primal BlueprintMark Sisson believes in:

  • living how man is supposed to live
  • moving how man is supposed to move
  • eating how man is supposed to eat
  • and sleeping how man is supposed to sleep.

He publishes a blog post every single day, amassing the largest following behind a paleo-diet enthusiast on the internet! Insane right?!

He has almost a dozen books to his name, primarily the Primal Blueprint (no pun intended haha), he runs his own seminars, hosts PrimalCon, a weekend super convention, plus he sells as an array of products to keep everybody fit and healthy.

And if you have no idea what living primally is about, well, the gist is to eat foods that our ancestors would have eaten. So no grain, no legumes, no processed foods. Lots of veg, some fish and meat, some fruit and a handful of nuts.

How does he stand out? He stands out by being a chief source of information on paleo living and eating. He’s constantly on the ball with news and what’s the latest. But his biggest achievement is the insanely large community of supporters who champion his ideas on how to improve all aspects of health, from losing weight to defeating IBS.

This super-huge community of Primal folk congregate on his self hosted forum where they share their stories and their goals. All their information can be used a testimonials, social proof. His community are actively participating in what could be considered a giant experiment, whether they realise it or not, to discover the perfect life-time diet.

A good lesson to learn from Mark Sisson is to build a community, and let them do the testing, sharing their experiences and proving or disproving your ideas.

“Brett Manning”

Coach, Video publisher, Champion of Understanding The Voice & Being Able To Sing Anything


Brett Manning has worked with a tonne of singers, including the lead singer of Paramore and Michael Barnes from the band red.  He is a serious expert, almost scientific about how to sing, and how the vocal apparatus works, that even without hiring his services, through his youtube video lessons, singers and wannabe-singers can glean advice that would cost them several 1-on-1 coaching sessions.

His generosity in enlightening people who want to improve their singing ability will encourage them to go on and purchase his more regimented courses on things like, mastering vibrato and harmonies.

How does he stand out?

He offers the most extensive education about not just the science of singing, but how to sing, how to achieve the perfect tone and the ability to sing anything. His free education is so important, because without it, it would be hard to understand the products he offers. For example, take for instance, his product about achieving a Super High Mix. Many singers won’t know what that is. Here’s one video that explains exactly what super high mix is.

Not only does he teach folks through youtube videos, but he shows lessons where he teaches his clients, and then shares snippets of their lessons so there’s enough for folks at home to learn from, but not too much that he’s giving away stuff that people are paying him good $$$$$$ for.

A good lesson in standing out is teaching folks through the third person. For example, it’s great watching videos of presentations. You know that the speaker is talking to an audience, and not directly to you. That’s a whole tonne of social proof, especially when his audience are there to learn, rather than be their co-presenters. Changing how you teach folks gives you a serious advantage to stand out against your business peers who may also be experts.


“Darcy Clarke”

Entrepreneur, front end developer, Champion of JQuery & New Generation UI (HTML5, CSS3)

Darcy Clarke is a technology man. His themify venture has helped the likes of steampunk author Meljean Brook, independent artist and t-shirt designer Nidal El Khairy and passionate graphic designer Dean Sauls.

His other venture, is a comglomerate of all the big social deal websites, merging Living Social Deals, Deal Ticker, Mad Deal and the continuing number of them, all on to one single simple page. And when he’s not busy with business, he contributes to one of the best javascript frameworks on the internet, jQuery, forming the 30+ strong team.

How does he stand out? The cool thing is, that he started with Back End Development (ie. PHP, MYSQL, Phython) and discovered Front End (HTML5, CSS3, JQUERY), the side that everybody sees and notices when they land on a web page. However, instead of being a web designer, working for time, he created not just one theme, but a whole lot of different themes. The choice for some folks is paying a reasonable $50 for a premium wordpress theme that can customise at leisure, or a $2000+ fully bespoke website. If you’re on a budget the choice is obvious, and Darcy saw the opportunity and took it.

Like all these folks on the list, there are many lessons to learn from Darcy, but a major one is to contribute your talents to a cause, a mission, a non-profit organisation where you can also be known for something on an even bigger level.

Just last month, coinciding with her latest movie ‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’,  Angelina Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commission for Refugees, spoke at Foreign Commonwealth Office in London about ‘sexual violence,’ a discussion she wants raised, especially as it’s on the increase (  Not to say that she’s using highly sensitive issues to promote her career as a writer and director, but it definitely helped put the film on the map.

14 More To Come

That’s the end of part 1.

That was intense huh? There are 14 more thought leaders to go, and lots more to learn from these guys. Feel free to join the mailing list to make sure you don’t miss parts 2 and 3 coming up.

Beautiful Comments

  1. August 12, 2012


    Hey Lauryn! Nice!

    Thanks for dropping by. I’m psyched you like the design. And thanks for attempting to RT the post. I’ll be taking a look at digg-digg. Goodness knows what’s up with that. And lol, 21. Favourite numbers are one of those strange phenomenons. Breaking a 21 list in to 3 lots of 7s, lots of odd numbers. Total accident. ;)

  2. August 12, 2012

    Lauryn Doll

    Gemma, I love your site! Fix your Digg Digg so you can be RT’d properly! I also love the design here! And this is a great list – 21 is my favorite number. I think it has to do with my bday being 1-21. ;)

  3. July 24, 2012


    Yeah! Derek is a clever man. Another soul who’s got hectic angles is by Even though I’m not a political person, or get involved with politics, I do find every single headline arrests my attention.

    eg. “Let’s Fix the Problem, America!”, “President Obama’s Illegal Amnesty for Illegal Aliens” and “Look and Feel Your Best! (with Food Stamps!)”.

    Thanks for joining me again. It’s like a party! :)

  4. July 23, 2012

    Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca

    Yeah, and Derek Halpern, another great man, just wrote a post about Ryan Holiday.

  5. July 7, 2012


    Hey Ryze!! Thank you. Really. I’m glad you liked it.

    And yeah! I was fortunate to have come across Ryan Holiday. I think, and…..yeah…I think it all started with a curious look at the Thiel Fellowship. But he seems humbly brilliant, and I just watched an interview of him on Chase Jarvis ………Rar! Sometimes I marvel how it can be such a small world. Great folks are always closer than we think. Like yourself. :D

  6. July 7, 2012

    Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca

    You never cease to amaze me, Gemma.

    LOVE seeing Ryan Holiday on this list — love that guy!

  7. July 4, 2012


    Hey! Cheers. :-)
    These guys are awesome thought leaders. But I got loads more to come.
    And thanks for coming back again. That’s awesome.

  8. July 4, 2012

    Freedom, by the way

    Talk about people that have figured it out and are taking it to the bank! Great stuff here!

  • About Me

    Gemma D Lou of Diroski, Wordpress Blog Designer

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