Image Source: Visionary Art of Luke Brown
Many of you hope to become a recognized thought-leader in your industry, field, or niche.
With good reason. If you’re a consultant, coach, author, speaker, or blogger – becoming a thought leader is the ticket to freedom. Thought-leaders are paid higher, get better gigs, and have more opportunities to choose from. That’s a fact.
If you’re wondering what thought leadership can do for your business, here’s the difference:
- Ability to attract the best clients effortlessly.
- Invitations to speak at high-powered and prestigious events.
- Credibility to work with ANY organization in the world.
- Strategic partners clamoring to collaborate with you.
- Enough mojo to sit with confidence at any table you desire.
- Real leverage to make a global impact with your work.
Building A Thought-Leadership Platform = Career Independence.
You might be sitting at home, just waiting for the day – when you finally have the exit velocity that comes with being a big name in your industry. Imagine: You’ll finally be able to raise your rates, say no to crappy gigs, and command serious respect.
Reality check: becoming a recognized thought-leader is not a magical act of creation. It takes conscious intention and dedication. You think Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, or Nancy Duarte became household names by just clicking their ruby slippers three times? That’s just wishful thinking.
In my humble opinion, leveling-up is an internal process. There’s plenty of get rich quick programs promising instant celebrity and recognition. Lots of bloggers with great ideas, but little business. And plenty of people with a consulting/coaching business but little mojo to cut through the noise. Sadly, most consultants I know are often in business for themselves. Certainly, they’ll they work in service to their clients. But there’s no bigger story that shows they really care, even though they obviously do.
Don’t fall down that trap. I certainly did when I started as a storytelling consultant from 2002-2009. Sure, I got to work with big-time clients like AARP, Ernst & Young, Marriott, NASA, and The Nature Conservancy. But the impact of my work didn’t live far beyond the walls of these clients. I didn’t have the gravitational force to inspire others or change the world. It all changed in 2009 when my consulting business fell apart amidst divorce.
Faced with the need to reinvent, I decided to build a thought-leadership platform in service to my decade-long obsession: storytelling.
The internet is changing how we communicate, how we connect, and how we define ourselves. Yet I didn’t feel storytelling was getting the proper attention it deserves in this conversation. So I started to share more openly on this topic. I was witnessing countless friends and colleagues struggling through the process of reinvention.
None of us were taught how to redefine ourselves, much less do it again and again in our careers. Yet those are the demands of these times. Not just for individuals, but equally how we lead our organizations through reinvention and transformation. Armed with this seed of awareness, I began to evangelize a bigger notion of storytelling far and wide.
To start, I wrote Believe Me: A Storytelling Manifesto for Change-Makers and Innovators (since downloaded over 10,000 times). Honestly, I locked myself up in my apartment over the summer of 2009, and 90 days later emerged: 15 pounds heavier and with the book available on Amazon. In this manifesto, I gave myself permission to speak truth and reveal myself. I began to challenge the conventional thinking on storytelling yet approached it from a place of love and empathy. I called on a bigger game for us all to play.
What followed is chronicled here throughout GetStoried.com. From the get-go, the mission was to teach the world how to think in narrative.
Along the way, the following was built:
- Created a podcast series: The New Storytellers.
- Consulted to clients including Zappos, Audubon, and International Storytelling Center.
- Became a prominent voice on Twitter’s #storytelling hashtag.
- Started tagging storytelling trends on Twitter and Facebook.
- Curated a virtual conference: The Reinvention Summit.
- Produced a fun quotes site: Storytelling Quotes
- Launched Story University with an online curriculum: The New About Me.
All of the above was achieved for pennies on the dollar. When you’re broke, necessity is the mother of invention. Don’t doubt your own ability to execute. We MacGyver-ed all this with rubber-bands and a toothpick. Our site remains unabashedly DIY and in perpetual beta. This doesn’t stop people like you from sensing there’s something here, and joining our tribe.
We’re now rapidly expanding our vision with a wider circle of collaborators, strategic partners, and game-changing projects. We have another Reinvention Summit forthcoming in the fall. A research study on “About” pages rolling out later this week. We’re also evolving the editorial voice and vision of Get Storied into the areas of human development, entrepreneurship, and social media. There’s a new genre of naked blogging that we’re inspired to emulate. You’ll be seeing more of this open-kimono style in the coming weeks. Hope you appreciate our expanding directions.
It’s never been easier for YOU to build a thought-leadership platform:
- You don’t need permission from anyone (the gatekeepers are disappearing).
- You just need to tell the bigger story of what really matters.
- You have to frame it as a cause so others can identify with.
- You need to package your ideas in a way that can travel.
- You can do it DIY-style for pennies on the dollar.
I was recently talking to my good friend and colleague George Huang on this process. The light bulb went off when I explained: “learn to extrovert your thinking and sense-making process.” In other words, invite people into relationship with who you are and how you look at things. If what you say has a shred of truth, empathy, and vulnerability – people will pay attention. (I’ll explain those three concepts in a forthcoming blog post).
Now, do you see the secret to building a thought-leadership platform? Here’s 9 tips to inspire your process:
- Help people understand how you see the world.
- Let them know what you’re paying attention to.
- Give shout outs to people who inspire and inform your thinking.
- Try to frame the bigger conversation for your field or industry.
- Listen to what’s being said. Avoid debate over trivial stuff.
- Focus on what’s being overlooked but truly matters.
- Start with Facebook and Twitter as your streams for sharing and aggregation.
- Graduate to your own containers/platforms (blog, e-book, podcast, radio show, etc…)
- Package your ideas for easy dissemination and sharing.
Don’t worry, I’ll be expanding on all these tips in future posts as well.
The most important element is to work in service to something larger than yourself. When you have a bigger story to tell, people pay attention. They feel you’re in it for more than just your own personal advancement. That’s the mistake that most consultants or coaches fall into. Same with some business gurus. Are you trying to just sell more shit, or do you really give a shit? That’s the ultimate question.
When it comes to your community or tribe, you become a leader when you take care of those around you. Demonstrate your commitment to collective well-being, and people will naturally turn to you for guidance. Be earnest in your approach and you’ll naturally become a leader in your field. Being recognized and appreciated for your efforts is an obvious by-product. People like to spread and share great things. So take care of your tribe, and you’ll become one of their leaders.
What’s your favorite insight from this blog post?
Share your comment or question below, and I promise to respond. If you like this post, there’s no greater love than to share it with your friends.
If you’re looking for advanced help on the issues described in this blog post, I
still have a few spots left for private 1-on-1 coaching. If you’re on a budget and want to jump into this process, check out The New About Me.
Join us for StoryU Online: Undeniable Story — an 8-week program where you learn our six-step storytelling framework. Begins Oct 6!