I decided to act on the spot.

For years, I’ve been an admirer of the ‘Top Gurus’ featured on Global Guru’s ranking lists. In particular, I kept an eye out for the ‘Top 30 Gurus’ in the communication category. Now Global Gurus is a respected organisation that ranks thought leaders, professionals, speakers, trainers and experts in several categories according to strict criteria. And such criteria include original thought leadership content, the impact of programmes, and public votes. Gurus who are nominated, then shortlisted and ranked, are at the top of their game; they’re authors and speakers with considerable experience who consistently impact the public with their work.

So, each year, I’d check the coveted list, then nod and agree that those that clinch the top slots deserved to be there. Case in point: Nancy Duarte, who’s named #1 guru in the communication category for 2021.

And I’ll be honest: I’ve wanted to feature on that list for years, but I knew I needed more time to deepen my knowledge and secure my impact. So, I’ve been building my credibility with my work. I research and produce rich content on this multi-award-winning blog. I also share original insights on communication, which I regularly use to teach and train with – for example, my original six-component communications strategy introduced in 2012, my three rules of effective communication, and my three rules of business writing. And along the way, I’ve kept tabs on Global Guru’s communication category ranking.

But this year, after checking the featured gurus in all 17 categories, I noticed a worrisome trend – the very limited representation of experts from minority groups. Overall, only 11 Blacks are featured out of 510 experts listed (i.e. 30 experts per category). And of the Blacks selected, the majority are African-Americans. More glaring is the fact that Africans are non-existent in the communication category. And I find that unacceptable. I know qualified African professionals in my network who do amazing work and who, like me, meet the ranking criteria.

Therefore, after seeing the communication ranking for 2021, I immediately decided to write to Global Gurus to persuade them to rethink the lack of representation of African gurus in their annual ranking. I figured that if I wanted something to change, then I needed to write in a persuasive, compelling manner to get an influential organisation to act.

Below is the screenshot of the email I sent to Global Gurus.

After some back and forth, they forwarded me a link and advised me to share it on social media etc. to get people to nominate gurus from Africa for the communication category. I’d requested a special link for minority groups in another email but didn’t receive it. Still, the compromise was encouraging. Below is their response.

I set to work to get as many public votes as possible from my LinkedIn community and my other social networks. This process is ongoing given that the deadline for nominations is 15 December 2021. By January 2022, I’ll know if I’d been shortlisted. The journey is far from over but below are important lessons I’ve learned about how to request a change, and how to create a movement to support a worthwhile cause. I’ve also realised that by writing in a compelling way, two things are guaranteed:

a) You won’t be ignored

b) You’ll coax support for your goals

And here’s how to proceed:

Step #1: Be clear about what you want

Right from the subject line, I was clear on what the email was about. It left no room for ambiguity:

“A call for diversity in Global Gurus Top 30 Communication Experts”

Then after acknowledging their good work, I mentioned the problem – the lack of representation of African experts. I also clearly stated what I wanted them to do: create a category specifically for minorities or those from other regions so that Black experts could be ranked. The request was bold but I figured that even if they didn’t agree to do everything I recommended, they could at least take some action in my favour – which they did (even though I was required to create a movement to support my cause).

Step #2: Be explicit in your rationale

Next, I addressed why Global Gurus should rethink their strategy. I didn’t rely only on pathos (emotional element) by alluding to the ‘shame’ that minority groups were barely represented in its objective ranking. I went a step further.

I highlighted the fact that given hashtag movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate – the pandemic has heightened the need for representation and inclusion of minority groups in society. Therefore, if Global Gurus sought to remain relevant, they would be wise to include, as I wrote: 

“…Well-deserving Black experts and other minorities.”

I then used myself as an example as someone to be considered in the ranking and I listed a few other Black professionals in my network who could also meet the criteria.

By addressing the WIIFM (what’s-in-it-for-me) angle, I was able to get Global Gurus to understand that it was attractive to them to get more minority groups represented. But I was careful about my tone and avoided a confrontational stance since that would have caused defensiveness and closed the channel of dialogue.

Step #3: Create a movement and ask for support

After I concluded with Global Gurus, I reached out to my social and professional networks to request nominations.

For my professional network, I prioritised the LinkedIn community given how active I’d been on the platform for years. Moreover, that was the social media platform where I generated the most content and where I was known for my body of work on communication.

So, I carefully crafted a post on LinkedIn and solicited support. The post had three distinct elements:

– The action I’d taken by contacting Global Gurus and why I did so.

– The reason I should be nominated.

– The clear call-to-action: People were to click on the link I provided, type ‘Lucille Ossai’ as the name of the guru to be nominated, and choose ‘communication’ for the category being considered.

I ended with an emotionally charged secondary call-to-action (because that captured what I was feeling):

“Let’s get an African featured in the Top 30 for communication.”

Below is a screenshot of the LinkedIn post and its statistics.

The post has so far been re-shared eight times and views continue to rise. Mark Bowden, who wrote the powerful foreword of my book ‘Influence and Thrive’, also supported the movement by requesting people to nominate me – as seen in the screenshot below.

He also endorsed my work, thereby strengthening my credibility as a communications thought leader and trainer.

In addition to responses I got from people affirming their support and confirming their nominations, I privately reached out to my first-degree connections. Many supported me wholeheartedly with some agreeing that representation mattered.

However, four people needed more convincing and sent me private messages; they politely enquired about my work or asked why they should nominate me. While answering them, I kept my tone light and non-defensive. I stated that based on my body of work (and I mentioned my blog, lectures, training programmes, and my published book) I’d appreciate their nominations. Of these people who were initially undecided, one was the CEO of a US manufacturer of webcams, and another was an influential HR executive in Lagos – and they both nominated me after my explanation. The other two didn’t – but that didn’t matter because the majority of people whom I’d contacted privately overwhelmingly did so.

The key takeaway for creating a movement and generating support is to have the credibility to back up your request. Emotion alone wouldn’t have moved people to nominate me. Next, you must ask for what you want and be very clear on what people should do to help.

As an introvert, putting myself out there and asking for help was difficult. But I realised that if I were to have a chance at being ranked, then I needed help – a lot of help. And because I’m not a celebrity, I don’t have a massive following. But I do have significant work that I’d built for years; plus, I’d earned enough goodwill that spurred people to offer support. Some even advised their networks to nominate me!

And persuasive writing spurred action.


As mentioned earlier, the process of generating public nominations is ongoing and I’d continue to reach out to my social networks and LinkedIn contacts to support me. And I’d like to include you. So, if you’ve enjoyed this blog and my work over the years, please nominate me here. Proceed by listing my name (Lucille Ossai) and then choose ‘communication’ as the category. Thank you so much for your support! And please forward to your networks to nominate me too. We have until 15 December 2021 to get as many votes as possible.

Whatever the outcome of my movement, learn from my journey. This post has given you the practical steps you can follow to request change from an organisation. It’s also highlighted tips you can use to generate support for your cause.

I concentrated mostly on LinkedIn for my social media outreach because that was where I’ve had the greatest impact. But based on your movement and your goals, you’d do well to expand your support base by adding other channels outside social media.

Just note that before you start asking people to support you or your cause, you must ensure you’ve earned the right to be considered – through your experience, your expertise, or both. Then tweak your written request to address Aristotle’s three classic pillars of persuasion: ethos (your credibility), pathos (emotional slant of your audience), and logos (logic).

If you’re not keen on doing the work, then don’t bother requesting a change or seeking support – because you’d receive neither.

Grab my new business communication book ‘Influence and Thrive’ on Amazon!

The book tackles nonverbal communication, public speaking, and business writing for two target audiences: professionals, entrepreneurs, and business leaders in the first group, and corporations and organisations in the second group. 

Order your copy today. The book, ’Influence and Thrive: How Professionals, Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders, & Corporations Use Effective Communication To Get Results’, is available on Amazon, in Kindle, paperback and hardback versions, at Barnes & Noble, on Kobo, at Waterstones, and in many other international outlets, stores, and libraries.

And don’t forget to check out the ‘Influence and Thrive’ website for all information about the book, including the trailer, advance reviews, exclusive offers to Nigerian residents, and how to contact me. Then email me your thoughts on how to intend to apply the foolproof techniques I recommend in the book to get the results you deserve. I’d also appreciate your reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Goodreads, and other platforms.

For Nigerian residents: 

You can buy a special colour ebook/PDF directly from the website and pay in naira. (I believe this colour version is better than Amazon’s Kindle format because it retains the original stylistic elements from the book designer). Paystack (now a member of the Stripe family) powers the payment platform so your financial transactions are secure.

I’d soon supply books to selected bookstores in Nigeria who’d ensure nationwide delivery, so you’d be able to receive copies quicker.

Over to you:

Do you need help in boosting your business writing skills? Sign up here for my free quarterly newsletters and learn best practices. When you sign up, you’ll receive my evergreen resource on giving persuasive presentations. Ensure you download that document and refer to it before any high-stakes presentation or speech.

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N.B:  First  image  is  courtesy  of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay. All screenshots are provided by Lucille Ossai. Last image is courtesy of Cristian Ferronato via Pixabay.

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