I recently did a LinkedIn search for the words ‘Thought Leadership’ and guess what it showed me 505,248 results.
So who really is a Thought Leader?
We live in a world where every second there is a new idea/a new idea is birthed. There isn’t a dearth of ideas anymore. What we need is an idea or an insight that can bring the necessary tangible change. What we need is an impactful idea. What we need is to have our insight or idea stand out from amongst the clutter.
So, the Key Words to Remember are Unique Ideas + Impact + Standout
Let us explore 4 Steps you could take to be a Credible Thought Leader
You may want to start with these 4 steps.
I was deeply enlightened by the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. In one of the chapters he talks about the Hedgehog Concept, I had tweaked that a bit to help explain my idea:
Step1: Start with Passion
Ask yourself ‘What are you deeply passionate about?’ What is that one thing that gets you out of bed every morning and more importantly why are you passionate about what you’re passionate about? The secret lies in being able to find your true WHY. Simon Sinek’s philosophy of Why will enlighten you to see the power of ‘WHY’
Sometimes people can be passionate about a whole lot of things but a good way to test your passion could be by asking yourself this question – ‘if you had all the resources, people, and money in the world, what would you dedicate your life to? Now hold that answer in your mind and ask yourself this next question – would you still dedicate your life to the same one thing if you had all those resources, people, and money is taken away from you?
Step 2: Best in YOUR World
The second would be to look at what you can be best in the world at? Now that is a scary question to ask. At times a question like that could stop you from taking the next steps but here is the hidden clue: It doesn’t have to be the world over, it just should be a specific world. It can be a world of Entrepreneurs, it can be a world of Tech Entrepreneurs, it can be a world of AI-Based Tech Entrepreneurs. Go Niche! Ask yourself – can you with your expertise and passion make a significant impact in this ‘Specific World’. Your expertise and passion need to just solve a problem in that Specific World. So don’t fear to discover your Niche. You rather be a Big Fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond. Another lesson to borrow from the famous Blue Ocean Strategy is that you swim in this market/ world, that is uncontested.
So, what is your world?
Step 3: What drives your economic engine?
Having been in the space of Startups for now over 7+ years and seeing Startups on every street of the Silicon Valley, here is what studies show: Most startups that fail, fail not because their idea wasn’t great. They failed because they couldn’t sustain long enough to either get funded or to find paying customers fast enough. So here is what you can learn from them – If you cannot find a way to drive your economic engine, if you fail to monetize your thought leadership and expertise fast enough, you will be joining the ranks of those millions who had great ideas and passion to change the world but, didn’t have the economic resources to sustain growth
So, here is your food for thought- how can you build an economic engine that can fund your sustained growth?
Step 4: Amplify your Work
If ‘YOUR’ world doesn’t know you then you just exist to serve your ego. Hence who needs to know you, needs to know you. So how will you make yourself known to your world – in the world of modern-day marketing we call it ‘Content Marketing’
Please don’t confuse Thought Leadership to be Content Marketing. Thought Leadership is the Goal you wish to achieve and Content Marketing is just the means to it. Thought Leadership is your Unique Compelling Insights and Ideas, Content Marketing are ways you engage to amplify your Ideas and Insights. In other words, you would through the content of different formats make yourself visible to ‘Your’ world. As much as it has become so convenient to post content on the web, it also is a highly-cluttered space and hence you want to have a strategic approach to your content marketing so that you stand out of the clutter. Your content should help you share your compelling insights with your world.
A final thought on Thought Leadership- you never call yourself a Thought Leader, It is ‘Your World’ that recognizes your work, your unique insights and ideas and calls you a ‘Thought Leader’
Find your Ikigai: