British comedian Ricky Gervais made global headlines (and then became the subject of a solid week of internet memes) when he called out Hollywood ‘woke’ culture at the Golden Globes. The man is now my hero.

Gervais took a good deal of flack for his admittedly coarse humour, but then, notorieties who ‘think against the grain’ generally do. Like other such personalities, though, Gervais appears to have the constitution to withstand backlash, and appears to care less about appeasing his politically-correct detractors than about speaking his mind.

We’ve discussed contrarians on this forum before, and I’ve written about them in both of my books on expert positioning. Contrarians may be right, wrong, or objectionable, but one thing they are not is ‘ignorable.’ With that stint, Gervais made himself one of the most talked-about human beings on the planet.

I increasingly believe that becoming a contrarian is not a choice made early in a career, but rather, one arrived at later in the game. It tends to develop out of years of confidence and experience, culminating in a strong personality with decisive views that has gone beyond caring what others think on the topic. That is a potent combination.

So today I am not simply going to instruct you to ‘go against the grain.’ Morally, or even scientifically, it may be wrong to do so, based on the specific scenario. However, I would like you to ask yourself the simple question: What do you increasingly feel strongly about in your world? Is there a chance that your way forward might be superior? If so, could you start to become a little more stroppy on the topic?

Strong personalities with strong views certainly divide opinions. It’s not the safe way to play the game. But it is a remarkably powerful shortcut to prominence, particularly when your message resonates with with those who have always wished someone would say it. Just ask Ricky.

Douglas Kruger is a bestselling author and business speaker. Book him as the motivational speaker at your next event via