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Back in the olden days, thought leadership required thinking and leadership.
Steve Jobs was a thought leader.
His thoughts were groundbreaking. They changed the world. Just ask Polaroid or Timex for their feelings about that.
Steve’s leadership was legendary. He formulated an idea in his parents’ garage and built it into the most valuable company in the world.
Thanks to television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and high-profile events, his message was spread to the masses.
Henry Ford was a thought leader too.
His thinking was groundbreaking as well. In a world of horses, he envisioned the automobile.
His leadership was legendary. Henry Ford proved to the world that you can build complex products with unskilled labor.
Unlike Jobs, Henry didn’t have TV, magazines, billboards, or even the Internet to spread his thoughts and leadership ideas. Back then, one had to rely on only newspapers and word of mouth to promote your thinking.
It was tough to be a thought leader.
I tell you all of this because thought leadership is more important now than ever.
In fact, it’s also easier than ever. You no longer have to think or lead in order to be a thought leader.
Stick with me here. Let me explain.
The Importance of Thought Leadership
People are attracted to innovative leaders with unique thoughts. They want to listen to them. They want to follow them. They want to wear trucker hats with their taglines on them.
Thought leaders build loyal, cult-like followings. These are the types of followers that spend a lot of money on your brand. They are the good type of followers.
In today’s over-crowded marketplace, building a loyal following is as important as wearing pants on a Zoom call – by the time you realize you need them, it probably feels too late.
What is Thought Leadership?
According to the Type.ai engine (blatant plug for a cool new writing tool), here’s the definition of thought leadership:
Thought leadership is a term used to describe individuals who are recognized as experts in their field and who have the ability to influence others through their ideas, knowledge, and insights.
It’s important to note that, according to this magic AI machine that will revolutionize your writing, there are two important elements to thought leadership:
1. Being recognized as an expert in a field
2. Having the ability to influence others
In the times of Ford and Jobs, thought leadership was primarily defined by thinking and leadership.
Today, thinking and leadership are the least important aspects of thought leadership.
The most important element really comes down to “the ability to influence others”.
Coming of Age
The Industrial Age began in the mid-18th century, leading to the success of massive industries.
That led to the Information Age in the mid-20th century, in which information technology began to emerge.
We are now entering the Communication Age. In this era, the winners won’t be companies, but people.
Today’s thought leaders don’t have to have unique thoughts. They don’t even need to be great leaders.
Today’s thought leaders are the people with the best ability to communicate ideas in a way that is understandable and influential to the audience.
As it turns out, the best way to reach a large audience is no longer through the newspapers, magazines, and billboards that Ford and Jobs relied on, but through social media.
The ability to communicate effectively on social media takes a new type of talent, which means we have a new type of thought leader.
Jeffree Star is one of the most popular thought leaders today in makeup and fashion. I bet you’ve never even heard of him.
Josh Spector is a very popular thought leader in the area of content creation. I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of him either.
Madeline Mann? Yep, she’s another thought leader that you’ve never heard of. She’s a career coach for Millennials.
Is their thinking disrupting the world? Nope, not really.
Do any of them run a company? Kinda, but not like Apple or Ford.
What each of them does brilliantly is delivering their message in a way that effectively influences and engages others.
And they are making millions from it.
A Special Kind of Talent
Not everybody is a great writer or speaker, not everybody has the time to figure out social media.
It is not easy to effectively communicate your ideas. In fact, not everybody has clarity on what the heck their ideas even are.
And then to deliver it in a way that is apropos for social media? It takes a special kind of talent.
That’s where the thought leadership economy comes in.
The Thought Leader Economy
YOU can be a thought leader.
Even if you’ve never touched social media, you can still be a thought leader. In fact, there is already an entire infrastructure to help unleash that thought leader laying dormant inside you.
Here is how it works:
👉🏼 The Thought Leader Strategists
First, you need a strategy. You need to know who you are and what you believe in.
There are people like Toby Trevarthan, a Narratologist who delves into the minds of executives and helps them stand apart from the noise.
Or there is Heritage Brands which creates an entire thought leadership strategy, from soup-to-social media (which is nuts), for executives, businesses, and public figures.
👉🏼 The Thought Leader Media Mavens
Next, you need people to develop content that is apropos for your social media-driven thought leadership. The people who do this are masters of replicating your voice and your messages, and they know the secrets to success on social.
There’s Thought Leader Today, which is focused on developing content that leads to customers.
And there’s Thinkers One, which turns your strategy into meaningful content.
👉🏼 The Lead Gen Copywriters
Of course, it’s helpful to have white papers, courses, and Masterclasses to engage and monetize your audience. After all, the goal is to generate revenue, right?
Enter the course creators and lead gen writers like Stratton Craig.
👉🏼 The Ghost Writers
A book is no longer the result of somebody’s inner drive to get published – it’s simply another tool in the thought leader toolbox.
But don’t stress, Jess, you don’t need to write your book yourself, don’t be silly! That’s where the ghostwriter comes in.
People like Kristin N Spencer will help create your message, hone the idea and write a book that is so aligned with you and your beliefs, you’ll think you wrote it yourself.
It’s Time To Be A Thought Leader
Thought leadership is no longer limited to the Jobs-like thinkers or Ford-like leaders. There’s a maelstrom building my friends, and I’m not just saying that because maelstrom is a fun word to say (though it doesn’t hurt my point). Thought leadership is the new advertising. It’s your ticket to growing your personal brand. It’s the best way to get a job. It’s the secret to finding new customers.
Thought leadership is the hack to unlocking new potential.
So stop thinking and get started on becoming a thought leader.
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