Thought Leaders(™) are the glorious saviors of higher education. With their keen thinky-thoughts, we can transcend the mere mediocrity of our field. All hail the Thought Leaders of Higher Education!
For those who cannot read intent online, that was sarcasm 🙂
Now, within #sachat and other spaces, recently folks like to make fun of the concept of a “thought leader”. I was inspired to write this fun post after yet another desperate and insipid post by a “higher ed thought leader” (lol).
What is a “thought leader”? Well, Wikipedia defined it as “A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Given the absurdity to which folks throw around the term, I thought something as basic as Wikipedia was just fine enough to cite.
How do I define it? Anyone with an ego and desire for attention that writes “thought leader” in their Twitter bio.
Onto the main event…
10 ways you know you’re following a
“higher ed thought leader”!
1. Well, it’s pretty easy, actually. They tell you they are a thought leader.
(I could probably end the list here, but that seemed anti-climatic)
2. They tend to be long-winded and tweet a lot.
3. Sometimes they will reply to your tweets just to raise their own profile (and will use 2-5 hashtags just to make sure people see it) – amazingly, this will sometimes happen even after they have blocked you for calling them out for their problematic behavior, but then unblock you because…they need attention, I guess? (this has happened to many millennial SApros…it is SO weird, y’all)
4.When you ask who their inspiration is, the honest answer is themselves.
5. They will use every student affairs/higher education hashtag that exists in each tweet.
6. They have the confidence of a unicorn (and sometimes the charisma of one). When someone calls them out for problematic behavior (like, say…an open letter seeping with racist and ableist microaggressions or denigrating a new #SApro on a podcast) they just keep flowing without ever apologizing for what they’ve done.
7. They spew these kind-of-poetical but cringe-worthy sayings that sound familiar, like a hundred other people have said it before, but they emote the same feeling you’d get as a Dickens character being served some sad, cold gruel in the breakfast line.
8. Did you KNOWWWWW that you could bring them to speak to your campus?! I mean, yeah, you probably did, because they talk about it so much. It’s just the low low cost of thousands of dollars for two hours (and somehow they registered their business as a 501(c)3 nonprofit?!)…
(note: this does NOT apply to actual great campus speakers, including the former SA folks who have started a side hustle that I actually like – you know I heart you)
9. You’re…not actually sure what they are good at and why we should be listening to their thoughts? They are people who sometimes are still in the field. Or sometimes they were in the field for a few years before then making a career out of ‘coaching’ higher ed leaders for 20 years or so. Either way, you honestly have no idea what they bring to the table except a lot of noise.
10. A rare but truly hysterical tactic is they retweet ‘people’ who quote their inspirational sayings, and then you check the accounts tweeting them and are pretty sure its a bunch of Russian bots.
11. They are most likely white and often a man, because there’s something about the socialization in a white supremacist patriarchal society that teaches men / white people that their voices deserve to be heard over others, regardless of their dismal mediocrity.