As I write this post, there are over 280 people who claim to be “thought leaders” in their Twitter biography. It’s certainly a popular label, but I’m pretty certain they haven’t all earned the title.
Why? In the 20 years I’ve spent helping clients develop content, I’ve noticed a critical (though perhaps blindingly obvious) fact. It’s pretty hard to become a thought leader. The hurdles include:
- Analysis Paralysis: Your need to make something perfect essentially dooms the project.
- Competitive Distractions: You are so focused on a competitor that you ignore your prospects.
- Junior Partner Syndrome: You don’t believe your ideas are good enough.
- Calendar before Content: You keep waiting for the right moment…that never comes.
- Peer Review Ricochet: You need approval from an internal cast of thousands.
- Your Idea is About You: Your audience is somehow supposed to “make the bridge” to why it matters to them.
- You Make an Assumption About Your Audience: But your audience doesn’t agree with it.
- Burning Wo/Man: You’ve been burned before. (Gentle reminder: That makes you exactly like every great thinker.)
- No ‘So What:’ Your topic lacks differentiation, making it easy to ignore.
- Coitus Interruptus: Your observations don’t build towards an actionable climax.
But you can jump over these hurdles. Here’s how:
- Get granular: Steer away from giant sized fears and focus on small do-able projects that build your confidence.
- Get Factual: Nothing beats hyperbole better than cold hard facts. Use research to cut through the emotional clutter.
- Get Creative: There is another way to accomplish your objective. Circle until you find it.
- Get off your High Horse: Compromise. Is there a study you can do to round out your hypothesis or an article you can co-author with a credible third party?
When all else fails, listen. The best thought leaders start by reflecting on the wisdom of others.
Have you encountered another hurdle for this list? How do you jump them?
To reach Elizabeth: