This is a quick reprint of an article I posted yesterday on my site "Influential Business Thinkers - Are Gurus Evolving?"
Entrepreneurial and influential business thinkers have always been a secret passion of mine. In addition to having amazing thoughts, you have to have the business acumen to take action and reach results that many people do not even perceive. The Wall Street Journal had this article about a shift in how business leaders are changing- "New Breed of Business Gurus Rises"
The way professionals (and researchers) define data is also of extreme interest to me, especially when looking at how online information is being passed back and forth through online communication tools such as social media and search engines.
In the Wall Street Journal article, they ranked the gurus by a fairly simple methodology "The ranking is based on Google hits, or results mentioning the person when searched in Google, media mentions in LexisNexis, and academic citations for 110 business "gurus" who ranked high in the 2003 survey or have since won a significant following. The thinkers were ranked in each area, the rankings were summed, and those sums were ranked to create the final list."
This idea is great from a historical perspective, but it is ironically funny that the WSJ used such an out-dated way of searching for gurus and thought leaders online. I am familiar with Google and LexisNexis data indexing, and the academic citations for "gurus" is pretty straight-forward…
Google is not the "end all, be all" of if you are a Guru or Thought-leader. Sure some people may find information about you… but there are many reasons that someone may have falsely inflated numbers in Google. For instance Bill Gates is on the top five list, but if you count all the "hits" of Bill Gates online, you don’t end up with just business guru mentions… you end up with sites talking about his car and his photo of being arrested when he was younger. Surely Bill Gates is a business guru, but the metrics of his juvenile years throws the numbers off. (He is also the richest man of who owns several search marketing companies that cannot manage to push some criminal photos off his own search results for his personal reputation.)
Along the same line of thinking as the WSJ, I started a series of articles called "Other Smart People" that includes individuals in my industry that are pre-qualified only by my appreciation of the skills and expertise they share.
While my qualifier and testing may be based only on personal interpretations, I think that social media is pushing us farther and farther away from scoring individuals based sheerly on metrics and datasources online. Google itself is shifting over to more and more algorithms that rank the popularity of specific personalities and sites- which is abused fairly frequently by search marketers who don’t "play nice"
In the instance of the Wall Street Journal list, I wonder if there is anyone with my skillset manipulating the scoring system to merely get on top of a list like that? The opening phrase for the WSJ article is "Psychologists, journalists and celebrity chief executives crowd the top of a ranking of influential business thinkers" and I have this gut feeling that Psychologists and journalists ARE NOT on the top of the influential list of gurus, and that people like Robert Scoble (FastCompany blogger) and Seth Godin (Best Selling Author, Speaker) who are influencing hundreds of thousands of business professionals every day should be on that list.