My official definition of a Thought Leader is as follows:
“A trusted source who moves people with innovative ideas.”
Does that describe you?
If it does, cool. You probably know a lot of this stuff already.
If it doesn’t, that’s cool too. You’re about to learn what REAL Thought Leaders know.
1. Be a world-class noticer. When you notice more, you learn more. And when you learn more, you earn more. The cool part is, every single day; your environment gives you small nudges. And you have a choice to either to let them pass you by, or leverage them into new dimensions for your Theory of the Universe.
Check out my system for doing this called Freeze, Reflect and Identify. And remember: Opportunity never stops knocking – only YOU stop listening. What are you noticing?
2. Be prepared to express yourself. Not prove yourself, but EXPRESS yourself. That means not trying to look good for others. That means not playing to the crowd. Instead, start BEING. More specifically, start being … on paper. Start being … on stage. Start being … online.
To build the strongest possible Thought Leadership position, people need to experience YOU—BEING—YOU … in as many different media and dimensions as possible. Remember: Proving = Doing. Expressing = Being. Bring all of who you are to the statement you make about the world. Are you filling up your time with mindless efforts to prove yourself?
3. Become the world’s expert at learning from your experiences. You are a sum of all that you’ve experienced. Now it’s time to become a master at the individual integers that comprise that sum. FACT: You don’t fully own your experiences until you’ve thought about, written about and talked about the lessons you learned from those experiences.
Your challenge is to create your unique system for entertaining ideas. That way you profit from EVERY experience, so your followers can do the same. How are you letting your experiences change you?
4. Bring a new view into existence. Not even world-class eloquence can rescue a shallow, unsupported, unactionable point of view. Instead, establish a new approach. Pioneer in obscure areas. Maintain contrarian positions to as many subjects as you can. How original, fertile and unexpected is your Theory of the Universe?
5. Differentiate yourself by defining a process your competitors haven’t. This is how you develop a competitive mental angle. By NOT following predictable lines of inquiry. By defining problems differently than anyone else. That way, you differentiate through your diagnosis.
Now, I’m not suggesting you ONLY keep a hammer in your toolbox and start seeing everything as a nail. Rather, I challenge you to clarify, trademark and become known for your unique approach to solving problems. What equation do you use that nobody else knows?
6. Formulas are the enemy. They’re non-updatable, unshakable and inelastic. They’re inflexible, choreographed, canned, insincere, inauthentic and preplanned. They’re often resisted, debated and creates defensiveness. And their rigid, rote learning limits people’s possibilities and stifles their creativity.
PRACTICES, on the other hand, work. They come in the form of simple, doable and human actions. They insinuate instead of impose. They’re adaptable and apply to various situations and people in their own unique way. They’re also easily digested, self-evident, non-threatening and encourage people’s creativity. Which of the two are YOU teaching?
7. Have a paper memory. Your brain is a moron. And if you don’t write it down, it never happened. So, the secret is simple: Take a serious inventory of your thoughts. Chronicle your thinking. Make sure everything you know is written down somewhere. Because, as George Carlin once said, “What good is a good idea if you can’t find it?” What’s your Content Management System?
8. Perfect your philosophy. As a Thought Leader, you don’t need some cutesy shtick – you need a philosophy. Poverty of philosophy prevents profitability. What’s more, confusion over where a leader stands causes stress in his followers. So, here’s the ONE question to ask yourself:
“If everybody did exactly what you said, what would the world look like?”
This distills the essence of your approach and becomes the architecture to help people see your philosophy more clearly. What’s more, once you’ve uncovered the 5-7 bullet point answers to that question, you now have a framework to guide your Thought Leadership practice. All you have to do is keep yourself accountable every day by asking this follow-up question: Is the message I’m delivering right now giving people the tools to build that world?
9. Practice questioning answers instead of answering questions. Answers are overrated. Answers are what “experts” provide. You’re a Thought Leader, and as such, your job is to have more questions and fewer answers. Here’s why: Questions are bridges. Catapults. Fuel.
Question earn respect, invite dialogue, reveal character, earn respect and transform organizations. Any moron can spew out an answer. Only a REAL Thought Leader can bust out a question that disturbs people into action. Which do you provide?
REMEMBER: Be out IN the marketplace with your ideas or be out OF the marketplace completely.
That’s what REAL Thought Leaders know.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How are you establishing a sustainable Thought Leadership Position?
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For the (full) checklist called, “45 Recession-Friendly Strategies for Entreprenerial Evolution,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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Friday, September 04, 2009
My official definition of a Thought Leader is as follows: