How to become a thought leader on $137.88 per year…

A couple of days ago, Craig Badings of the Thought Leadership blog asked me to complete the following sentence: “Thought Leadership is _______”. My response? Fundamental. As in “thought leadership is fundamental”. Craig asked me if he could post my definition on his site with attribution and frankly I don’t know if it’s because he thought my response was stupid or brilliant or somewhere in between. Let me explain however, what I meant…

At a time in history when almost 90% of people search Google before making a buying decision you need to show up in search in a good way. To me a thought leader is someone who uses the incredible good, fast and cheap tools we have at our disposal to get found when people are looking for what they do, or, in what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth. They use blogging and social media to attract and retain fans who either buy into their ideas or by their products.

It was Leonardo da Vinci who said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I maintain that if you aspire to thought leadership there are only two activities you must master: finding and sharing good information. When I teach my college classes, I call this deepening your expertise and documenting your expertise. Any person who aspires to thought leadership has probably done Malcolm Gladwell‘s 10,000 hours of work to gain their expertise but if you want to be a thought leader you must continue to nourish that expertise and stay current on the things that are important in your field of study. That’s what I called deepening your expertise. The second part, documenting your expertise, simply means to use the publishing tools available on the Internet to provide social proof of your work. If you’re a great thinker who aspire to thought leadership that’s all you need to know — hence my statement that thought leadership is fundamental.

I have developed a simple workflow that I call a ‘Me’cosystem which anyone can use to establish a thought leadership position over time. All of the tools are best of breed, free or freemium, and completely cross platform down to the smart phone level. There are nine different activities in which the thought leader must engage and I outline them here:

I’ll be going into more detail in each of these stages later on in the series. Organized efficiently from the beginning to the end of the process, it looks more like this:

And again, I’ll be going into more detail in subsequent posts. All I think you really need to know at this point is that the process really does work and that it’s simple enough and cost-effective enough that even someone who does TED talks can use my system. :-)

Next week I’ll start with the analysis phase in the flowchart. Questions? Feedback?

 

Thinking about thinking about transformational thought leadership…

The title is not a typo. Watch the first video and you’ll know what I mean!

Some thoughts on searching for the ‘middle way’ and attempting to apply it to transformational thought leadership. Some very rough thinking along the perilous path of ‘becoming known’…

5/10/2013; apparently I blew the first video. I’ve been informed that there’s no sound but I won’t be able to redo it until Monday. Enjoy the rest of the post…

Here’s the version WITH audio;

http://storify.com/livingbusiness/the-middle-way

 

9 Steps to Be a Thought Leader

Susan HarrowSusan Harrow writes:

So many people call themselves thought leaders now – but they aren’t. To be a thought leader takes some doing. It’s not so much about being original as it is about putting things together in an original way. It comes down to packaging your knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, and yes, your thoughts in a way that makes you media worthy and worth listening to by your audience—a huge audience. Follow these nine steps to get going on the path to be respected, heard and reverberated out into the world.

Full story at: 9 Steps to Be a Thought Leader — and Become a Media Darling ׀ Susan Harrow | PRSecrets Blog.

Susan has some great ideas on how to achieve thought leadership, however, I think she leaves out one important point in her article: you have to document your work in a way that people can find it! Maybe I’m being Captain Obvious here, but while you read her article, think about how you can leverage business blogging and social networking to provide social proof of your thought leadership…

If this is all geeks to you comment below and asked me how you can get started! I have developed an efficient, cost-effective workflow that you can use as a platform for transformational thought leadership…

Yes, I can help you with a website…

…but a website is only a small part of the transformational thought leadership process — I can also help you determine what you should blog about and how! Here are a couple of examples of websites I’ve done for clients recently. Click image to enlarge…

How I apply David Allen's ‘Getting Things Done’ to social media and ‘thought leadership’ marketing…

When I’m teaching social media, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about whether or not social media works for lead generation or thought leadership — that’s been pretty well established at this point. I usually start out my classes by saying that the single most important issue in social media today — especially for my students were who are mostly business owners or traditional marketing professionals — is ‘how do I add social media to my already overflowing plate and still get home for supper?’. Most of the people in my classes are struggling to keep up with e-mail let alone manage a blog, four social networks and an e-newsletter…

As a consultant, every minute that I spend on my own Internet marketing is a minute that I can’t bill to a client, therefore, I’ve had to force myself to become pretty efficient about how I do things like process e-mail, consumer information and published to the Internet. My constant inspiration in this process has been David Allen’s classic work ‘Getting Things Done‘. I recommend it to anyone who will listen. The heart and soul of David Allen’s book is this diagram:

e1804d69af45cc81a597ee62115cb1bf

How I apply Getting Things Done [GTD] to social media and ‘thought leadership’ marketing…

Thanks to David’s methodology I use as many containers as I need and not one more. I usually handle information only once — especially if I can process it in 2 min. or less. Here’s an attempt to depict what my thought leadership process looks like:

image

If you’re looking for a way to become more efficient about how you develop and document your expertise, comment below or use the contact form to get in such. I’d love to talk with you about applying David Allen’s Getting Things Done [GTD] principles to your world…

What is a blog?

What is a blog? It can be everything and it can be nothing. As the Bard said “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so”. During my blogging career, I estimate that I have created between 15 and 20,000 blog posts on every topic from A-to-Z — most of them, unfortunately, ineffective…

And this is only my business blog...
And this is only my business blog…

In this next phase of my business I’m attempting to become more mindful and intentional about what I’m doing online and why in this post is an attempt to unpack blogging from that perspective; more mindfulness and awareness of why we actually do social media and what we can expect from the effort.

What blogging isn’t…

A get rich quick scheme. If you are thinking that this was one of those articles I think you’ll be happier somewhere else on the Internet. But if you’re looking for deeper insight into what blogging is from perspective of mindfulness and intention and what it can do for you then please read on…

Continue reading

How to simplify your content marketing and thought leadership workflow for 2013

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, right? Here’s a minimalist workflow for content and thought leadership marketing that will help you get found when people are looking for you and what you do in the coming year…

tlwwflow

The beautiful thing about this simple workflow is that you have to do the reading anyway in order to maintain your expert status — why not turn it into thought leadership marketing? Also every tool is free and completely cross platform and it could all be executed from a $199 Chromebook. I explain here:

How could I explain this more clearly or make this post better? Comment below or use the contact form above…

In a fragmented world, go deep

Friend, mentor and client Nilofer Merchant posted recently about the problem of fragmentation:

It’s a fragmented world. And it’s only becoming more so. It used to be that when people wrote, they wrote more deeply. In the early days of the web (pre-twitter), I remember hand picking the few voices I would listen to and then putting them into my RSS feeder and checking for their essays. Essays, not tweets, were the way we shared what we were thinking. But as “content” has become more important to maintain a standing online, more and more people are entering into the fray. More and more people who may not even have a point of view to advocate but just want to participate in the conversation.

As content becomes more fragmented, you could try and compete with that by doing more and more, by curating other people’s content, by then running your content through Twylah, by having that “twitter magazine” come out which puts all your tweets and links in one place so that people can catch it if they missed each particular one.

Or you could do the opposite. You could go deep. You could be that voice that everyone listens to because when it speaks, it is so deep and rich that it’s worth slowing down to listen to. Sort of a Morgan Freeman voice, in the times of Justin Bieber bop. Maybe it will allow the light of an idea to be seen more clearly.” There’s more at the source: In a fragmented world, go deep – Nilofer Merchant

If I were talking with Nilofer, I’d gently push back on this one. ‘Going deep’ does not preclude using Twylah; rather, I think, the answer to fragmentation and ‘going deep’ is focus…

When I first started blogging I was not confident in my own skillset and my focus was a mile wide and six inches deep. My tagline was “Marketing, Sales and Technology for small business, non-profits and academic institutions”. It makes me laugh now because there are no dozen websites that can cover THIS landscape effectively. I used to curate anything and everything related to those topics sometimes posting over 20 times a day! I got traffic but it wasn’t really relevant and it didn’t get me customers. Over time, Nilofer helped me go deep and realize my ‘onlyness’ was really helping thinkers to become thought leaders through the use of a minimal toolkit for content marketing. Now my tagline is “content marketing for thought leadership” and I help experts get found when people are looking for what they do. By going deeper, I may lose the opportunity to develop a small business website but I might gain the opportunity to work with a TED Fellow like Nina Tandon which is much more rewarding in the long run. Now, too, I’m more confident in my onlyness, I only post a couple of times per week…

Nilofer and I have had this discussion before and I think we both agree: If our thoughts are going to resonate with our target audience we need to understand the questions they are asking and align our answers with their queries. If we position ourselves as the obvious answer to the questions of the people we want to attract, we will get found when people are looking for ‘that one voice’. It’s not good enough however simply to think deep thoughts; we need to let people know that we are thinking them. Nilofer is a great thinker on strategy but I direct my energy toward ‘thoughts, tools and tactics’ for content marketing and ‘thought leadership’ marketing; I think the answer here is not either/or it’s both/and. I don’t think Nilofer’s saying that Twylah is a bad thing and I think she’d agree you need to go deep thoughtwise AND master ‘thought leadership’ marketing toolwise because the two go together like peanut butter and chocolate — it’s just that mindlessly tweeting and retweeting doesn’t do much to add value…

In closing, here are the 3 tools I recommend for ‘thought leadership’ marketing:

  • Google Reader
  • WordPress
  • Twylah

I posted about them here just last week. They are the tools that will help you get found when you decide to ‘go deep’ and become the one voice [because it doesn’t matter how deep you go if no one can find you]…

Be known!

In his epic book “Here Comes Everybody”, Clay Shirky writes:

We are living in the middle of the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race. More people can communicate more things to more people than has ever been possible in the past, and the size and speed of this increase, from under one million participants to over one billion in a generation, makes the change unprecedented, even considered against the background of previous revolutions in communications tools. The truly dramatic changes in such tools can be counted on the fingers of one hand: the printing press and movable type (considered as one long period of innovation); the telegraph and telephone; recorded content (music, then movies); and finally the harnessing of radio signals (for broadcasting radio and TV). None of these examples was a simple improvement, which is to say a better way of doing what a society already did. Instead, each was a real break with the continuity of the past, because any radical change in our ability to communicate with one another changes society.

Shirky, Clay (2009-02-24). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (p. 106). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

What good, though, is that expressive capability if people can’t find you when they need what you do? You need to be known!

The question is, though, for what should I be known? Everyone’s an expert! How do we know this? Seth Godin told us so long ago in his ebook ‘Everyone’s an Expert’ [About Something]

So now you are an expert. I know it. You know it. It’s the rest of the world that may not know it. Yet. In my humble opinion however you did not get to this ripe old age of wherever you’re at without becoming an expert in something. The 10,000 hour rule is just that – Malcolm Gladwell hypothesized that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Now think of all the things you are an expert at!

Here’s the problem, however: your area of expertise may be so narrow or specialized that no one in your town or county or even your state needs it. There are however almost 2,000,000,000 people on the Internet. Even if your expertise appeals to only one in 1 million people that still means there are 2,000 people who need you to guide them. The 10,000 hours you spent gaining your expertise probably means you’re pretty good thinker too. The challenge is you can be the sharpest knife in the drawer but if no one can find the drawer you’ll never get a chance to get out…

Chris Brogan says:

“As you now know, if you have no Google results, in a sense you don’t exist.

Brogan, Chris; Smith, Julien (2010-07-16). Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust (p. 161). Wiley. Kindle Edition.”

My good friend Dana VanDen Heuvel, a thought leader in his own right, says “there are thinkers and there are thought leaders. They both have a point of view. The thinker has a point of view that is limited by word-of-mouth but the thought leader is only limited by world of mouth.” Using the good, fast and cheap tools available on the Internet a thinker can make his or her thought leadership position searchable, findable, knowable, usable, and shareable. Because of all those ‘ibles’, they may actually become credible. Publishing your thought leadership position will give you a share of voice which may lead to share of mind and ultimately to share of market…
The first step in ‘being known’ is actually accepting the face that you ARE an expert and discovering your ‘onlyness’ as author Nilofer Merchant puts it in her book “11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra“:

The foundational element starts with celebrating each human and, more specifically, something I’ve termed onlyness. Onlyness is that thing that only one particular person can bring to a situation. It includes the skills, passions, and purpose of each human. Onlyness is fundamentally about honoring each person, first as we view ourselves and second as we are valued. Each of us is standing in a spot that no one else occupies. That unique point of view is born of our accumulated experience, perspective, and vision. Some of those experiences are not as “perfect” as we might want, but even those experiences are a source of ideas and creativity. Without this tenet of celebrating onlyness, we allow ourselves to be simply cogs in a machine—dispensable and undervalued.

Merchant, Nilofer (2012-09-12). 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era (Kindle Locations 107-113). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

So now we have established the foundation of being known; you have to define your area of expertise and embrace your ‘onlyness'; only then can you take the next step. More next Tuesday…