You can be a manager and a leader at the same time, but what's the real difference?

There are several golden rules you should follow to become a 'thought leader' in your industry. Photo: Paul Jones

To become an expert, you need to have a voice that sets you apart from others in your field; but first, you need credibility to achieve this level of respect.

There are plenty of bloggers out there who have thousands of followers listening to their tips and ideas. They have become "thought leaders" in their industries and their names appear alongside the title “expert”.

Dan Waldschmidt is a speaker, author, consultant and researcher. He's been profiled in Business Insider, Business Week and Inc., and his book Edgy Conversations is scheduled to be published in March.

But he doesn't consider branding a part of his success, because it's more of “a lifestyle than anything else,” Waldschmidt says.

“I still reject this whole idea of branding. It's branding when it's on the side of a piece of beef,“ he says.

At the age of 12, Waldschmidt started a lawnmowing business and by 19, he was the youngest sales manager for US department store chain Sears.

Business Insider recently caught up with Waldschmidt for his tips on how to be recognised as a thought leader in your industry.

Maintain a blog

“In 2005, I started blogging as a CEO,” Waldschmidt says. “I wrote about how lonely it was to be CEO.

“When I was in sales, I was a hotshot and everybody loved me. When I became CEO, it was lonely so I started writing about some of these radical thoughts.”

Waldschmidt writes in his blog a few times a week and says he's usually writing 15 posts at a time. "If someone ticks me off, I write about it,” he says. “I'll write the title, then I'll think up the contents.”

Choose a voice and stick to it

“Usually when I write something, it's the exact opposite of what the other experts are saying,” he says. “And I see if I can back up the exact opposite of what they say.”

At first, you will let the people who doubt you affect your own work but after a while, if you're doing something right, those people will eventually need you, he maintains.

“They need the guy like me who puts everything out there and finds the solution for everyone else.”

To set yourself apart, you need to have a specific voice, but don't stress too much on holding on to this voice because, at some point, your voice will change.

Work really, really hard

“There's a lot of ways to brand yourself,” Waldschmidt says. “For me, I have a relentless pursuit of getting it right.”

And to become successful, he says people need to stop thinking that the world owes them, because “no one owes you anything”.

“Get out there and make something of yourself. When you get knocked down, get back up.”

BUSINESS INSIDER