Authentic Thought Leadership - Be the Real Deal People Respect

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Dan Sanchez outlines w hy he thinks the term "Thought Leader" has become so frowned upon and what authentic thought leadership can look like. 

To Dan, an Authentic Thought Leader is equal part expert, contributor, and authority on a niche topic. 

Yeah, welcome back to BBB growth. I'm dan Sanchez with Sweet fish media. And today it's just a solo episode Just me, the dance says. And I'm talking about thought leadership because we're still in this deep dive in the beginning of june to explore all the facets and nuances of this thing called thought leadership marketing. Now I've been working on this for just about over a year now. I went and read all the books on the topic. I've interviewed multiple people um who are experts in this topic already for this deep dive. And over time I've developed a few ideas of my own and it's some of those ideas actually want to present in this deep dive as kind of a uh I don't want to call myself an expert because I'm still very much a student, I'm still trying to figure this out. But as I've read through um the topic, as I've had many dozens of conversations with other people, other b two b marketers out there on linkedin and have kind of like worked wrestled with it and...

...experimented a little bit with customers at sweet fish media and our own our own marketing. I've started to come to some realizations and I wanted to share those with you today. I want to talk about the problem of thought leadership, right? And it's a pretty obvious problem if you ever talk about this topic, especially on any kind of social network. Yeah you'll start to find out that there's a lot of people who don't like it. People don't like the term thought leadership. People think all thought leaders are fakers. Um And that there's just it's just the buzz word, it's just a term, it's just the thing people like to throw on their bios that isn't real, it doesn't mean anything. And honestly I disagree with them wholeheartedly and I'm gonna do a whole another episode that kind of goes into the history um and why the history of thought leadership where it got coined, where it's been done before, why it deserves to be its own specific thing, whether you like the term or not. Um but that's not what this episode is. This episode is talking about um why there are so many bad players when it comes to thought leadership, where all...

...the fakers come from and what actually makes for what I'm calling authentic thought leadership or what makes an authentic thought leader. I find that there's actually three primary ingredients and if you miss one of these ingredients that explains why thought leadership has gotten such a bad name out there. Because let's be honest, we've all seen it, we've all seen the person proclaiming and declaring themselves to be a thought leader and well they're not and you can feel it, it's actually quite obvious. You can tell that they don't know what they're talking about or that they're just arrogant, you know, I want to say a word but I'm just not going to say it and they don't actually care about people. Their, their ideas aren't really unique, they're not really that useful but they're really into it and they have massive blind spots, like they just don't see their own issues or they're just there, okay, maybe they're actually kind of thought leaders, but the fact that they're just declaring out in front of everybody, they're like, oh I'm, I thought leader, I've been in the space for so long, you're like, dude, stop it, just stop, Nobody likes you and you're losing you had some...

...trust and you're now losing it, goodbye. Like we've all seen this happen over and over again on social media, on ted talks on stage, at conferences in books. So now I want to talk about like, what are the three ingredients to authentic thought leadership that I'm discovering as I've been reading through and kind of exploring and thinking a lot about this and what happens when you're just missing one or two or all three of these elements. So first, let's cover the elements of what I'm calling authentic thought leadership that you have to, if you don't have any, if you don't have all three of these, then you're not a real thought leader, right? Um, the first one is expertise, right? Kind of critical. You have to kind of know everything there is to know in your particular niche topic, whatever it is and the supporting areas, right? It's not enough to know everything about email marketing. If you're going to be a thought here around email marketing without knowing things about, you know, copyrighting and web design and just marketing, funnels and marketing automation, right? There's a lot of related categories that you have...

...to not maybe be like the best, know everything there is to know about those things, which you have to be pretty well. And you have to know a lot about those topics in order to become a true expert on the topic of email marketing. Right? So that's step number one, you have to be an expert. The second part of an authentic thought leader is you have to be a contributor. You have to actually not just know everything there is to know on the topic. You have to advance the topic. You have to push the boundaries to where it hasn't been before. You have to add new ideas, new research, new points of view, new ways of doing things that are not only unique. Like you invented it, you made it. You're the one who advanced it. They have to be useful, right? Because you can contribute things that are just kind of like nobody thinks that nobody cares about. Nobody asks for that. It doesn't solve any problems. Congratulations. You added a unique crypto coin to the market and there's nothing really unique about the crypto coin. You just gave it a new name. Oh...

...wait, does coin, Sorry? There's nothing really unique about it, right? You have to actually contribute something that's both equally useful and unique and that's what it means to be a contributor. So you have to be an expert. You have to be a contributor. And lastly you have to be an authority. So many times I get pitched for people to come speak on this podcast that you're listening to right now and they have PhD So they're clearly experts on the topic And as a PhD, I know they've done unique and original research that may actually be complete, 100% unique and 100% helpful. It covers a real, a real problem. It's well researched and they've taken the time, you know, stripped down the thesis, the big dissertation and put it into a helpful book and now they want to talk about their book on the podcast. The problem is, I've never heard of them. I don't know them, so I can't trust them. I don't really know whether their stuff is good or not because they're not an authority on the topic. So that's the problem you run into is you have to...

...actually be an authority. And while I'll do future podcast on how you can actually build your expertise, become a contributor and build your authority over time, you do have to build all three and the steps to do so can be a little counterintuitive. But again, that's for another episode. Let's talk about what happens when you're not one of these things, which is why I thought leadership gets such a bad rap, because there's so many unauthentic thought leaders. What happens when you are an expert and you're a contributor, but you're not an authority, right? You're like the ph D s I just mentioned, and that essentially just makes you unknown and by unknown, you're just not trusted. You have all the expertise, you know everything and you have the ideas and that's got to be a difficult position to be in, luckily, you can take a lot of steps. That's probably of all of all the three positions you can be in to be missing one of these, It's probably the best because at least you've actually done due diligence and you actually have something useful and you have, you have the goods. The problem is nobody knows you, nobody trusts you, nobody...

...likes you yet. And that's okay. That's, that's easy to fix. You need to become a marketer or hire someone who knows good marketing in order to Sprinkle your ideas out there to slowly build that trust. I mean, it would have been nice if you had started from day one that way, but you haven't, that's okay. You can start building authorities slowly now. So that's what happens if you're missing authority. What happens if you are an expert and you're an authority, but you have no unique contributions or maybe you do, and they're just not useful. They're not unique. You know, they're just, we're not just, they're just not contributions. Well then at worst, you're kind of a rip off because you're ripping off other people's ideas and kind of claiming them as your own. At best, I can call. You may be a public intellectual, you are an expert on the topic and you have authority. So you're good at bringing critiques to other people's ideas, you know? So that's at best. But generally what we're seeing out of the market when people are...

...declaring themselves thought leaders, which you should never do, by the way, even if you are an authentic thought leader, never call yourself a thought leader. It's just safer that way. No need to brag If you're if you're a thought leader, everybody knows it, no need to say it. But most thought leaders are masquerading as if they have unique ideas and they're not so they're rip offs. And that's why I thought leadership leaves a bad taste in people's mouths, right? Because they've actually well studied and the true, the good expert authorities, the public intellectuals will certainly let you know that actually those ideas aren't unique. They've come from other places and there's a fine line there, right? Because there's certainly, we all stand on the shoulders of giants. We've all taken and borrowed and stretched and done different things with different ideas. So there's really nothing unique under the sun, at least truly unique. But there are still, I think there are unique approach is unique. Ideas are unique ways of looking things that are unique enough, luckily, if you never call yourself a thought leader, you never really have to play with defending it because...

...you're not calling yourself one. Just try to be helpful and useful to others. And it's not something that doesn't have to be a problem. Now, if you're missing the last piece, this is where the most problem problems are created, right? And these are the worst kinds of quote unquote thought leaders we ever see out there is if you are contributing unique ideas and you are actually like, well known, but you're not an expert. That's a huge problem, right? Those are what you call charlatans. And by definition, a charlatan is a person falsely claiming to have special knowledge or special skill and is indeed a fraud. It's not okay to present your ideas with authority as if they've been well researched as if they've been tried and true without actually having the expertise behind it. And expertise can come from a lot of different things, but generally people can tell really quickly, especially if they have a little bit, even just a little bit of expertise in the category itself. Um, you're gonna get found out, unfortunately because some people are so good at marketing. Um, a lot of...

...people will buy into it. A lot of people will buy the lie and by the rip off products, you know, if you're a marketer like me, you see all the cheap, like crazy ads that are running on Youtube and on facebook targeting entrepreneurs who want to make a quick buck and they're like, hey, they're standing in front of Ferrari or making fun of the people standing in front of Ferraris and claiming to say like, oh, drop shipping on amazon or this or that. They're pretending to be an authority there, pretending to have useful, original ideas, but they're not experts. They're like, they're like 21 years old, right? And it's not that 21 year olds can't be experts. There are a lot of them, but generally you're like, uh just puts a bad taste in your mouth, right? So we've all seen those people, Well we've all seen the unknowns, we've all seen the rip offs, we've all seen the charlatans and that's why I thought leadership has a bad name. So let's change that. Let's actually seek to become authentic thought leaders by slowly working on our expertise as we work on our expertise, finding and contributing unique and useful ideas...

...and slowly building authority all without ever proclaiming, being a thought leader. Shoot. I mean, if you're listening to this now, you're like dan, is that what you're trying to do with this deep dive in some ways. Yes. But also I'm also declaring like, dude, like I've only just started studying the subject um and I have years to go, but this is my intro to it. This is my first beginnings this year. The first ideas like all good thought leaders come from somewhere and especially can do well if they come with a sense of humility. If they come with a sense of just servant hood and helpfulness to help other people. I have enough people coming to me asking me uh help them with their podcast. And one of the big motivations why they started a podcast is because they want to position themselves as thought leaders. So it's actually from all those questions that I've had, the desire to like learn how to coach people in this. And I still have a long way to go. So as I'm going, that's why I'm interviewing all these practitioners to test ideas with and even doing this episode now. Um I've...

...talked about this one at length multiple times on linkedin now, so I think it resonates it rings true. I still have some time to continue testing it with our internal Lincoln evangelist. We call them in our company and with customers to actually put out more research that says that these are indeed the three key elements so far. It's looking good though. As I've talked to other thought leaders who have been in this game longer than I have. As far as validating that these are really the three critical elements. But this is just my, my findings so far and I'm presenting it to you. So hopefully this episode has been helpful. I have more solos, just like this one coming down of things that I found to be true, things that I found to be helpful to me and I want to share them with you. But I don't pretend to come with these as well researched well backed, like things that I've been experimenting with for 10 years and have statistically validated with math and science ha um, no, they're not that these are just ideas that I'm roughly putting out. There is like, hey, these are something findings I've had after...

...my first year into this topic. Um, I have years to go and these are essentially a hypothesis. So take that as it is and uh if you like it, run with it, play with it, make it your own idea. If you so desire. Um, and if this has been helpful, please give us a rating on your podcast app of choice that always helps us a ton. So this show gets found by more people and if you want to talk and connect with me on this idea in particular, please find me on linkedin dot com slash I N slash digital marketing dan would love to chat to you about authentic thought leadership or if maybe if I had some of these off, would love to hear about those two. I'm still a student and I need as much help as I can get. So thank you for listening. Mhm. Mhm. Mhm Gary V says it all the time and we agree every company should think of themselves as a media company first, then whatever it is they actually do.

If you know this is true, but your team is already maxed out and you can't produce any more content in house. We can help we produce podcasts for some of the most innovative BB brands in the world and we also help them turn the content from the podcast and blog posts, micro videos and slide decks that work really well on linked in. If you want to learn more, go to sweet fish media dot com slash launch or email Logan at sweet fish media dot com.

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