What Makes You A Good Thought Leader? Ellen Voie Speaks

Perspectives from Thought Leaders: Ellen Voie, Founder and CEO of the Women In Trucking Association

TMSA introduces our “Perspectives from Thought Leaders” series, where visionaries in our industry share their ideas, perspectives and stories about the essence of thought leadership. This blog post is the second in this series brought to you exclusively by the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association.

Meet Ellen Voie. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Voie founded the non-profit Women In Trucking (WIT) association nearly 10 years ago, amidst incredibly difficult circumstances. We recently asked her to share the attributes she thought made for a great thought leader; here’s what we learned:

A thought leader has to be a visionary and have passion. Passion is what makes people support someone they believe to be great. Thought leaders should be ‘all-in’ when it comes to changing the current state and making the world a better place.

A thought leader has to take risks. Voie lives by the motto that ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ While staying in the safe zone is easy, without taking risks, you won’t know how far you are actually capable of going.

Thought leaders overcome obstacles – HUGE obstacles sometimes. As a testament to this, Ellen herself lost her job in the middle of a recession, with two mortgages and a daughter to support in college, shortly after she founded the Women In Trucking association. She went many months at a time without being able to cash a paycheck, and freelanced as a writer to make ends meet. Now, 10 years later, the association is 4,000 members strong and growing rapidly; and her daughter holds a Master’s Degree in Economics to boot! The relentless will to succeed, at perhaps the lowest point in her career, speaks to the spirit and perseverance that you find in great leaders.

Thought leaders look outside themselves to find inspiration in others to break down barriers. As she was growing up, Ellen’s mother taught her that gender barriers simply didn’t exist, and she lived her life in a way that demonstrated this. Ellen recalls a time when her Mom had a flat tire and couldn’t fix it herself, so she decided to take an auto mechanics course to make sure it never happened again. She learned how to change oil, rotate tires and even drive a stick shift. Ellen, in turn, took shop class in high school and learned to do auto repairs, drafting, woodworking and welding. Today, Ellen knows how to fly an airplance, drive an 18 wheeler and owns a motorcycle. How’s that for turning gender barriers on their head?!

A great thought leader has deep integrity. A thought leader needs to have a thick skin and not allow others’ negativity to weigh you down. You have to be confident knowing that you’ll make mistakes, but that out of those mistakes, you’ll also learn.

“I risked my career so I could pour my heart and soul into making the WIT association what it is today….. but the results are proven” concludes Voie.


TMSA invites you to learn more about Thought Leadership marketing by ordering:

Webinar: How To Launch A Thought Leadership Campaign in 90 Days 
E-Book: The Ultimate Launch Kit for a Thought Leadership Program 

Click here for more about Ellen Voie

Guest author of the TMSA Thought Leadership blog series is Jill Schmieg, Founder and Chief Strategist of Sol de Naples Marketing. 

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