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Thought Leaders need to think big to act big

#Thought Leadership Tweet #29

#Thought Leadership Tweet #29

Today’s guest blog post is by Mike Figliuolo (@OnePieceofPaper) whom we admire for his straight-talking, no BS approach to leadership topics. He chose tweet #29 (shown above) from our award-winning book, #Thought Leadership Tweet: 140 Prompts for Designing and Executing an Effective Thought Leadership Campaign as the prompt for sharing how…

To Capture a Whale, You Have to Swim in the Ocean

 You can’t get big without thinking big right from the start.  As an entrepreneur starting a business, it’s easy to see yourself as “the little guy.”  If you do, you’ll forever stay the little guy.  Too many times I’ve seen entrepreneurs name their companies after themselves (e.g., Tom Jones, LLC). Sometimes they stretch to seem bigger (e.g., The Tom Jones Group).  Sometimes it’s a creative stretch (e.g., TJG Strategies).  Unfortunately all of those are transparent and smack of small thinking.

The impact of small thinking is you’ll never get the big opportunities.  As a B2B company, you’re looking to land the whales – those huge companies who will buy massive amounts of your products or services.  If they get the sense that you’re small, they’re not going to give you a chance to serve them because they worry about supply disruptions, financial strength, and your ability to meet their gigantic needs.  This is one of the reasons I went with thoughtLEADERS from the start rather than “The Mike Figliuolo Group.”  A corporation is much more willing to work with another corporation than they are to work with an individual.

Thought Leaders Act Bigger

Our name has also staked out a position for us in the marketplace.  We’ve declared who we are and what we stand for.  Our tag line says exactly what we do (“Leadership, Communications, Strategy, and Operations Taught by Dynamic Practitioners”).  When we first started, our offerings and ability to deliver them were limited by my personal bandwidth.  Over time, since I was acting bigger than we were, I added instructors and programs to fulfill that promise.

In recent years, I’ve laid out an even bolder vision of what we’re building: “A global firm of uniquely-skilled executives who teach managers around the world how to be great leaders.”  That’s a pretty big and bold vision of what we’re building but that mindset helps us identify and pursue opportunities we might otherwise miss.

There have been plenty of occasions where a whale has asked us if we could support something big they were thinking about and our answer has been “absolutely.”  After the call where the request was made, we get together and quickly problem solve how we would actually fulfill the request.  Sometimes it’s really easy to figure that out and other times we’ve had to get really creative in building a solution.

The thing is, if we hadn’t said yes in the first place, we wouldn’t have generated the ideas for the solution.  Once we generated the solution, we had built a new capability for our firm.  Those new capabilities become growth platforms in the future.  Those platforms provide a basis for achieving your broader vision.

Find the Bigger Vision

Act bigger than you are.  It pushes your thinking.  It creates opportunities.  It helps you identify growth areas you might otherwise miss.  If you never think and act bigger than you are, you’ll always stay small.  So figure out what that bigger vision is.  Think about what you can be doing differently and bigger.  Identify the things that make you look and act small (and stop doing them).  The only way you’ll find and capture those bigger whales and the corresponding opportunities they create is to get yourself out of the pond and into the ocean.

Mike Figliuolo, thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Mike Figliuolo, thoughtLEADERS, LLC

–       Mike Figliuolo is the Founder and Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development and training firm (  He’s also the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (*

*Liz LOVES One Piece of Paper and recommends it constantly in her courses and talks. Read her Thought Readership review of Mike’s book on

If you have a favorite tweet from our book that you would like to comment on for this series, please write to us at, putting “Guest Post” in the subject line. The only stipulations are:

  1. Your post focuses on how that prompt has informed your thinking and impacted your business or organization.
  2. You confine your wisdom to 550-650 words.
  3. You stick to the deadline (typically one month ahead).
  4. You social share the heck out of it too!

There are 3 comments

  • David Motto

    Great specifics on this topic – especially naming the company and having an expansive mission statement to stay focused on who you’re truly trying to help with your offering.

    • Dr. Liz Alexander

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Dave. I love Mike’s approach to leadership. Check out his thriving blog. I had the honor of writing a guest blog for him a little while back here.
      Looking forward to a contribution from you here soon.
      Cheers! Liz.

    • Mike Figliuolo

      Thanks David. Glad you enjoyed the post and found the tactical stuff helpful!

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