Been racking my brain for days on this and can't seem to come up with the right word (or two words) to fully encapsulates describe this type of person...

Someone who leads people en masse to transform their lives by educating them, guiding and mentoring them, but through the lens of "on a mass scale" and likely in an automated way. "Thought leader" and "Influencer" are close but don't necessarily imply that they educate and work to transform peoples lives. "Coach", "Guide", "Mentor", "Teacher" are also close but don't imply the mass scale and global or national impact.

The words I'm looking for would describe someone who has laid out a journey for people to walk down in order to better their lives but can deliver that to people in mass via an educational model. A "cult leader" for good without a religious context. Tony Robbins is an example as is someone like

I'm also good with a single etymologically appropriate word that isn't necessarily in common use but makes sense.

It should fit in this sentence... Tom is an entrepreneur and powerful __________ whose books, training, leadership and non-profit work has created a movement.

Thanks in advance for your help!

EDIT: I'm looking for how someone would view themselves vs how others would view them.

  • 3
    Maybe "revolutionary."
    – user362274
    Sep 21, 2019 at 21:14
  • Does "Guru" or "Messiah" or "charismatic leader" fit your context? Sep 21, 2019 at 21:39
  • Whose not who’s.
    – David
    Sep 21, 2019 at 21:59
  • @Billy H, Revolutionary give me a new thought rabbit hole to go down. May work combined with another word. Thanks.
    – twolf
    Sep 21, 2019 at 22:14
  • @Peter these definitely describe it but looking for the word as someone sees themselves rather than how others see them. Good clarity though... will edit the question
    – twolf
    Sep 21, 2019 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


Today, some corporates and literary innovators have hijacked the (much respected) evangelist in the sense of "zealous advocate or supporter of a particular cause." Note the cause taking the place of the traditional Christianity: "I see myself as an evangelist."

(Emphasis mine:)

A technology evangelist is a person who builds a critical mass of support for a given technology (Technology evangelist)


Evangelists engage with technical audiences to influence the adoption of Microsoft platforms and tools. By educating, enabling and exciting them to use Microsoft products and services, evangelists get to turn audiences into Microsoft advocates within their communities. (Microsoft Careers)

So I suppose,

Tom is an entrepreneur and an evangelist whose books, training, leadership and non-profit work have created a movement.

should work.

  • This is great... very, very close. I think there is a little too much of a religious bent to the word evangelist, at least for my use case. "Advocate" is good too. I ended up going with "change catalyst" but will mark this as the best answer.
    – twolf
    Oct 1, 2019 at 17:45

Would the idea you'd want to describe fit to the word "shepherd" in its metaphorical meaning ? As someone who leads a mass through a certain path, without being too much positively or negatively conotated.

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