Tuesday, August 18, 2009

6 Ways to Raise Your Reputation as a Thought Leader

My definition of a Thought Leader is as follows:

A trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas.

And here's the BEST part:

Thought Leaders build wealth.
Thought Leaders trump experts.
Thought Leaders establish equity.
Thought Leaders differentiate themselves.
Thought Leaders create ongoing demand for their value.

Ultimately, Thought Leadership is a vital driver of your business success.

Here are six ways to raise your reputation as such:

1. Pick the lane you’re already cruising in. You can’t just “decide” that you’re a Thought Leader on the subject of (x). Instead, pinpoint what you’re already and inherently an expert on – then magnify it.

Finishing the following sentence is a great place to start: I cannot die until I change people’s think about…

Also, try asking yourself questions like these:

a. What is the mission were you mandated to fill?
b. What were you designed to cure?
c. What are you known for knowing?
d. What are you the answer to?
e. What problem do you solve?

Find the small corner of the universe that is yours to transform, touch it – then set it free. What are you the world heavyweight champion of?

2. Build a solid mental reservoir of ideas. As a Thought Leader, ideas are your #1 source of income. So, if you’re not reading, writing, thinking, discussing, debating, researching, LISTENING and learning – every single day – your mental reservoir won’t just run dry, your bank account will run dry.

Thought Leaders are learners, Thought Leaders are readers and Thought Leaders are writers. Don’t feel bad about spending an hour at Borders in the middle of the day. That’s what you DO. Practice aggressive pondering. Be a learning machine. Be a Smokin' Hot Piece of Brain Candy.Do you have a well-stocked mind?

3. Become a Question Master. Speaking of ideas. Your success as a Thought Leader is determined by the questions you ask yourself (and your constituency) every day. And because questions are ideas waiting to happen, you need to have them captured, catalogued and accessible.

My suggestion is to make a Master Question List. Even if it’s as simple as a Word document on your laptop. Keep all your questions, organized by categories, in the same place. Update it weekly. Peruse it daily. And pull questions from this list for your writings, presentations, meetings, brainstorming sessions and sales calls.

With every question you add to it, you build the equity of your intellectual assets. Personally, I have about seven thousand on my list. I wonder how many are on yours. What are you doing to become a Question Master?

4. Use YOUR voice. Broadcasting borrowed attitudes, publishing recycled insight and spouting secondhand wisdom is the vestibule of failure. Originality is the only way.

That means no more writing book reports from what a bunch of smart dead guys said.
That means no more cutting and pasting paragraphs from Google searches.
That means no more sharing outdated, overused stories that never actually happened to you in the first place.

You need to think. You need to write. And you need to do so with the one and only true voice of your heart. Otherwise the people you serve will sniff out the banality immediately. Whose voice are you using?

5. Draw monstrous, sweeping generalizations. Let’s say your School of Thought revolves around the concept of “exit interviews.” You’re the Exit Interview Guy. And your position is that they’re not as valuable as most companies think. Perfect.

Here’s what you do: Start writing modules called, “Exit Interviews are (x).” Then, the variable in your equation turns your philosophy into blanket statement. Use words like “useless,” “worthless,” “overrated,” “for amateurs,” or “for losers.”

The cool part is, if you start a sweeping generalization campaign called, “Exit Interviews are Useless,” the world notices it, becomes curious about it, and ultimately wants to buy into it. What ridiculous claim could you make and then back up?

6. Don’t be a vending machine of quotations. Quoting other people doesn’t make you smart – it makes you a parakeet. Now, I’m not saying a nice quotation doesn’t have its place. But the majority of the time – quote YOU. That’s what people want. Enough Emerson, enough Rumi and enough Tom Peters. (No offense those brilliant people.)

The strongest Thought Leaders are the ones who brand their own language. And here’s why: Language is everything. Language wins business. Language changes minds. Language attracts clients. Language makes money. Language communicates presence. Language reveals brilliance.

Ultimately, It has the power to differentiate you among the gazillions of other people out there who claim to do the same thing that you do. Therefore: Quote yourself. If you don’t quote yourself, nobody else will. And you can quote me on that. Who’s quoting YOU?

REMEMBER: The world opens up to the Thought Leaders.

I just hope you’re one of them.

How are you raising your reputation as a Thought Leader?

For the (full) checklist called, “7 Ways to Out EXPERIENCE the Competition,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur

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