OK, I know that's not a very positive message. But it won't be a huge bit of cheating, I promise.
I just came across an airport book called 28 Business Thinkers Who Changed the World (Kogan Page 2011) by British journalist Rhymer Rigby, which is a pretty good name for a writer if you pause to consider it.
The book lists 28 of the biggest names in global business, like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Anita Roddick, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Zuckerberg, plus a few influential outsiders, such as Tom Peters and Tim Berners-Lee. It then offers pithy summaries of their business history and major contributions to business thought and/or innovation.
This is both the strength and the weakness of the book. On the one hand, there's nothing much new in here if you already know the stories and thoughts of someone like Richard Branson (and really, who could have escaped his in particular!).
But I bring it to your attention because I think it's a handy reference tool for would-be thought leaders or marketers for at least three reasons.
First, it's a great cheat sheet if anyone ever asks you to name some top business thinkers. See, I told you the cheating part wasn't too naughty.
Second, even if you know the stories, Rigby does offer a lively recap and the occasional thoughtful insight. For instance, he reminded me why I loved Ricardo Semler's book Maverick so much but also points out that despite it becoming a global bestseller read by business people everywhere, no-one has ever actually created another company that works the same way as Semler's Semco.
Third, the book tends to give you the main material from major figures like Jack Welch in a nutshell and offers good citations and links if you want to gather more depth. This might be useful next time you want to drop an Andy Grove quote (he's in there too) but can't quite remember when or why he said a line like 'only the paranoid survive' (turns out it was the name of a 1996 book).
Finally, it is interesting to see what people are remembered for, such as Grove's paranoid meme or Mary Kay Ash's focus on gender equality, and to consider your own thought leadership. If someone wrote a pithy chapter on your work or thoughts one day, what strong, simple ideas might they pluck out?