Should “Thought Leaders” Be Banned?

Have you bumped into the phrase thought leader recently?

In the last few years this phrase, initially used to describe someone who was a stand-out authority and in-demand leader in a field, has appeared throughout entrepreneurial events and material.

As often happens this has become vastly overused and its meaning diluted.

To the point where it has become meaningless.

Any Tom, Dick or Harriet who has put pen to paper now seems to see themselves as a thought leader.

Yet most who seek the mantle of thought leadership appear to do very little original thinking—most of their material, if not all of it, is rehashed, regurgitated and repackaged from others.

The difference that makes a leader is…

Now there is definitely a place for easy introductions or simple breakdowns of complex areas, but this is simply the process of teaching and explaining, not thought leadership. Many little books tackle this challenge admirably. They distil methods, tools and strategies into bite-sized activities that can be tackled daily to gain excellent results.

Many of us would love to be seen as a leader in our field. The reality is that most of us simply won’t reach this position..

We cannot become a leader in our field by rehashing other people’s models or anecdotes. We cannot become a leader in our field by regurgitating reams of information and statistics. We cannot become a leader in our field by simply repackaging various approaches with new names or pretty design.

We cannot become a leader simply by layering a few anecdotes from our experience onto existing information.

We become leaders by evolving a vision that is unique, that is powerful, that is compelling and inspirational for others. We become leaders by sharing that vision in a way that enables others to get great results. We become leaders by being deeply thoughtful, sticking with the challenges of deep thought when others would rush away to seek simpler solutions.

Partners in thought and deed…

When we first started mPowr Publishing we already knew that books could be revolutionary, transformational and inspiring.

Since beginning to work with business coaches, consultants, trainers, speakers and entrepreneurs through Immersive Publishing we have consistently held out the challenge for authors to seek genuine leadership. When an author has a powerful desire to create a book, a vision, that changes the way the reader thinks, feels and acts then the work of thought leadership begins.

What a privilege to be involved in this journey!

Seeking genuine thought leadership? Then start the thinking here…

A portfolio of businesses or a portfolio business?

There is enormous upheaval ahead.

All of us are at risk.

There are also exciting possibilities for those who can ride the wave of change carefully.

Automation, ageing and the changing shape of globalisation and de-globalisation will lead to significant shifts in the coming years.

At a recent event, I was intrigued by a conversation that revolved around this rapidly shifting terrain for workers, both corporate and freelance.

Do the changes ahead mean we need to shift focus?

One successful freelance trainer I spoke with was struggling with the implications for his own business and was beginning to explore his options for creating a portfolio of businesses. This might mean him training online on one topic, doing coaching locally in a completely different area and doing project-based work on whatever he could get hold of.

His emerging strategy was to look at training in and developing some basic skills in lots of different areas. Then he hoped to be able to at least keep something going if the other areas dried up…

It was quite a challenging conversation. I could see the threat/challenges. I just wasn’t sure about the strategy, indeed whether it was strategic or merely desperation.

The trainer in question was highly experienced, one of the top experts in his field in the UK. Yet he didn’t really see how this expertise could survive as a business on its own.

This isn’t an unusual situation, lots of people are struggling with similar options, questions and tempting solutions (that may not be solutions at all).

I was puzzled, the skills he had acquired over the years, the insights into organisations, individuals and team dynamics were extensive and unique. Yet the live training arena was his current context and he couldn’t really see anything beyond this with his current skillset. Hence the search for something else to do…

Is your plan strategic or panic?

When we work with business authors we are encouraging them to think about the future of their business and how books, audio or online programmes can help them navigate and structure a future for their business. This isn’t a random foray into other areas that they don’t really know about, but a focused use of the insight and expertise in new contexts that can benefit from their wisdom.

For example, the HR consultant who has many years of experience in hospitality settings can begin to pull out the underlying principles of excellent customer experience and translate these for other business sectors in high-value books/products/training.

The creation of a product-range business that sits alongside and complements an expert’s current business maintains the centre of gravity around their expertise. Attempting to start lots of new stuff or offer lots of very different services will lead to a disintegration and loss of quality.

We never resolved the situation for the freelance trainer during our chat, however, my instinct is that our expertise is our strongest asset and delivers the greatest results.

Do we want to create a range of different businesses that are unconnected and risk poorer results for the client?

Or should we look to the future with a product-range business that maintains our quality in different contexts?

There is enormous upheaval ahead.

How will you ride the wave of change?

Are your readers in Waterstones?

Next time you are outside a bookshop take a wander in.

Enjoy the atmosphere, soak up that wonderful, new book aroma and then mosey over to the business section.

Look at the size of the bookshop, then look at the size of the business section, then look at the shelf space dedicated to your particular topic of interest.

It will be an illuminating experience.

When we first start to work with business authors one of their first concerns is that their book will be available at bookstores. We reassure them that yes, all books published by us can be ordered and purchased from Waterstones, et al.

Then we tell them that Waterstones, or the other bricks-and-mortar stores, are probably the last places they need to worry about.

Think back to that shelf space at the back of the bookstore containing the behemoths of business books The One-Minute Manager, The 7 Habits, etc.

The reality is that, for most business authors writing for specific niche audiences, prospective readers are not prowling the shelves of Waterstones desperately seeking their title.

This is not a bad thing.

In fact, it is liberating.

There will always be a role for the physical bookstores for particular kinds of books and for highly popular authors in mass market areas. But for the rest of us, for those with expertise, services and products in niche arenas, our hungry audience is elsewhere.

Thankfully we can reach them more easily than ever before.

Fighting for shelf space in Waterstones reduces your title to a mere commodity and also massively reduces the profitability of your book project.

When you are visible to your target audience where they gather your book is not a commodity… it is a solution, a way out of their predicament, a welcome relief from their pain, a map to the future and a toolkit for their success.

Oh, and when they buy directly from you the return is so much more rewarding!

If you focus on Waterstones you are probably thinking more from ego than from a calculated business strategy. Much better to reach your audience where they are gathering in numbers, connect with them, demonstrate your unique perspective and value and offer them ways to learn more from you through your book(s).

Develop your online (and offline) content marketing strategy long before you publish your book, or even write it. Don’t just focus on the launch period. Think about supporting the growth of your ideal clients for the long term.

Your potential readers are online, don’t fight for shelf space—build connections, grow an audience and nurture your tribe…

If you must fight… Don’t fight to get your book on Waterstones’ shelves, fight to get it in your audience’s awareness, then you’ll find it makes its way to your tribe’s shelves!

The 8 secrets the gurus don’t tell you about writing your book

 

8-secrete-dont-tell-youA book… the new business card?

Have you been to events where the main speaker suggested you write a book, claim your space or become a thought leader?

Perhaps you’ve been encouraged at networking events or seminars to demonstrate your authority and expertise by getting a book written and published. Experienced coaches, trainers and consultants are being told, “You should, you need to, you must write a book!”

It is commonplace now to hear that a business book is the new high-impact business card. Apparently this business card will automatically unlock massive growth and profitability for your business…

Make it a brilliant book…

Clearly, as publishers, we believe in the tremendous value a book can bring to a business… a great book, a brilliant, a compelling, a transforming and powerful book.

Sadly, the vast majority of expert coaches, trainers and consultants who invested time and money in writing a book never reaped these magical rewards. Despite what they were told by the gurus their book hasn’t made them stand out, demonstrated their authority, turned them into a thought leader or dramatically improved their business fortunes.

So does the fault lie with the gurus who promote the creation of books purely as a marketing tool or with the naïve coaches who end up with poor books? Why is it that these books didn’t turn out to be great, brilliant, compelling, transforming and powerful books?

Avoid the pitfalls, know the facts…

It’s what the gurus don’t tell you that leads many business authors to disappointment…

As publishers who work with experienced, expert and successful coaches, trainers and consultants we know that there are some basic elements that many skip over when promoting the idea that writing a book is the key to a golden future. Once you understand these eight secrets you’ll be able to avoid the worst pitfalls that first-time business authors frequently make.

This introductory series of posts at immersive.pub will step you through the eight secrets the gurus don’t share with you.  These make ALL the difference to the book you can write to drive real growth for your business.

So here’s number one on the list—look out for the detailed post to come shortly…

Secret #1 – It’s not all about you…

So, what do you think?