B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 2071 · 11 months ago

Behind the Curtain of a Robust Thought Leadership Program

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Dan Sanchez talks to S cott Miller who was the Executive Director of Thought Leadership at Franklin Covey about the inner workings of their massive thought leadership program.


They talk about:

  • What they look for in future thought leaders
  • How they groom them to get to the next level
  • How they administrate a program across 23 heavy hitters

Yeah, welcome back to be, to be growth. I'm dan Sanchez, Friends call me dan says, and I'm here with scott miller, who is the former executive vice President of Thought leadership at Stephen Covey and is currently a strategic advisor. Um I'm excited to talk to you about thought leadership because he's been doing it for a long time for a well known brand in the marketing and just business strategy space um with plenty of years in as you know, as you've been uh joined me on this journey into thought leadership. It's a topic that I've become increasingly passionate about and I've been a student of and I'm just trying to interview more people like scott to learn myself what it actually takes to make thought leadership, what it actually takes to become a thought leader in position to company as a thought leader. So thank you so much for joining me scott and welcome to the show, Sanchez, thank you for the platform for the spotlight honor to be here. Absolutely. And thanks for calling me Sanchez, that's how I know your friend, but you teach it up pretty well. Right. So I was up for me to either um ride or fail on that one. That's right, make it easy. But I wanted to learn a little bit about like how you even got started into this thing of thought leadership. There's as being in a company like this for 25 years, probably a number of different paths you could have taken. Um how did you land and specifically focusing on thought leadership for a brand? Like franklin Covey. Sure, my career has been really quite deliberate. As deliberate as I could create it. I'm from florida originally, I was a associate of the Disney Development Company, which is the real estate development arm of the walt Disney company for four years. I'm from Orlando. They invited me to leave, which is the gracious way that Disney fires you. So here I am a 26 year old unemployed catholic boy from Orlando. Where do I move? Provo Utah, Right, where all the Catholics are? That's a joke. If you've been to provo Utah. But I moved out here in 1996. I live in Salt Lake City now with my wife and our three young sons and I joined what is now the franklin Covey Company, which is by most measures the most prominent biggest leadership development firm in the world, where a public company offices in Gosh, nearly 50 plus countries. I started on the sales side, right as a front line sales person carrying a bag, managing schools, universities, community colleges, selling leadership productivity strategy solutions. I then became the general manager of our division in Chicago, where I got kind of dipped into the corporate world really for the first time in my thirties, was always on the education side or the private sector side or on the real estate side. With Disney grew that division to become a large consulting practice for the firm, came back to the company and became the company's first ever chief marketing officer, where I was that in that role for eight years, which is twice the annual tenure of CMOS and public companies proud to report. And then I disrupted myself. I moved out of that role for a variety of reasons. We need some new, fresh younger talent, including someone who had a SAS background as we became a SAS company. And I took on the role for the first time in the company as the executive vice president of thought leadership and I'm happy to explain what that means more if you're interested. But as a thought leadership firm, I, arguably one of the most impactful, influential in the world. I I built that division for the last three years, stepped away from the company, retired after 25 years. And now I'm a advisor to the firm As a consultant still lead their Thought Leadership Strategy, lead all of our books podcast, keynote speeches, you name it, host myself, the world's largest weekly leadership podcast called on Leadership with Scott Miller. And now I'm an advisor to the firm, writing, speaking on my own and building my own brand as well. So I got a few um messes and successes under my belt when it comes to Thought Leadership. So happy to talk about the topic on any particular area you want to go into. There's so many different questions that I could possibly in angles to possibly go out though, I'd like to hear from you, especially as you're starting to go at it. Um as a kind of like a solo agent now, um how you feel becoming a thought leader from just starting as a professional and actually aspiring and then actually taking clear steps to it. Like what would those steps be if your professional, maybe a CMA or a Ceo of a SAS company, you got your first round of funding your relatively unknown other than for being the ceo of this company. But now you want to become a thought leader. Like if you were an adviser to that person, what would the steps that have to take B in order to be positioned as that? I'd assume you'd never call yourself a thought leader, right? That's job number one. Right? As soon as you call yourself an expert, you're not so do not read, do not refer to yourself as a thought leader. Somebody else does fain humility but accept it. But job # one never refer to yourself as a thought leader. Well, I'm glad you have that position. I was gonna have to start winding down this interview. If you were like, no, start calling yourself, just proclaim it. Proclaim it, it's going to be as one of...

...the world's most prominent thought leaders. Let me weigh in on that, right? No. So let me level set for a moment dan, because let me define what I think thought leadership is as a executive Vice President of thought leadership and my title, I'd say kind of just rudimentary thought leadership is the new public relations mean no more. Do companies have legions of people in pr calling up news reporters in newsrooms? There are no more reporters. There are no more newsrooms. They barely exist anymore. They're not on the local business beat. Right? The, the Salt Lake tribune or the, the Dallas, whatever it is, does not have someone assigned to cover local product launches and local business. They don't exist anymore for a variety of obvious reasons what has been disrupted in the media business. So really public relations, although it still exists, I think primarily for, you know, collateral damage control, reputation repair, right? It's usually you hire a PR firm in the moment of a reputational crisis. Thought leadership is the new pr it is the megaphone, if you will where your announcing your expertise to those who care on a topic that matters to both of you. So it's very carefully calibrating deliberately focusing on who are the people out there that need to know and understand your expertise on a topic. It might be leadership development, that might be some kind of engineering, might be a medical invention right now, whatever it is, who needs to understand and learn that you have expertise and what problem they're trying to solve. That's thought leadership that may come in any number of fashions. And I want to answer your question a second, but I just kind of a level set. I think thought leadership is go ahead. Would you say that thought leadership is synonymous with expertise or as extra? I've never been asked that question, you know, for risk of not knowing your position, I'd say it's fairly synonymous. I mean, how would you have thoughts on it? Who would care what your thoughts are on a topic if you didn't have some expertise? So yeah, I think you have to have a developed sense of report and acumen on a topic for someone to care about it. I'm sure there's those that developed it over time, right? And welcome to most entrepreneurs. But first and foremost, I think to your point, you have to have a articulated point of view. You have to bring to the table something new, something different, something valuable that someone else will choose to read your book, listen to your podcast, read your article, come to your speech book, you as a keynote speaker. So there's no question you should have an articulated point of view, whether it be highly experiential or well researched or just practice, because you've got the number of reps that somebody else doesn't have. No, I have essentially the same same viewpoint of what you just articulated. What I want to make sure is that some people will take, like, we'll say that you can be an expert if it's synonymous, then you don't need an articulated point of view, right? Because there's lots of public intellectuals that like to critique all day because they know the space intimately well, but they're not necessarily offering anything new. And I'd usually say that a thought leader is somebody who's adding in his prerequisite his expertise, right? But is then offering something new, original, useful novel um in a way that's useful and I'm sure there is space for both. To your question, what advice would I give you know, to an entrepreneur, a founder I give there's different advice for different scenarios, right? I mean, I would first want to really understand what circumstance are they in Clayton? Christensen was a good friend of mine passed a year ago, of course, the famous Harvard Professor, author and innovative expert, right? I mean, he was obsessed with helping business leaders understand what circumstance are their clients in circumstance based marketing, we know it often known as the job to be done. Right? So my first question to your client might be, what is your circumstance? You know? Are you looking to grow your business? Are you looking to sell a book? Are you trying to sell a book to build your keynote business? I think, you know, for different reasons, different people have different strategies. Some people do it because they want to build their own brand, right? They have they've made all the money they want to make, they have helped their customers and now they want to be seen as someone who is influential and build their brand. Nothing wrong with that. If that's your strategy, I may or may not choose to hire you. I'll ask you selfishly, since I get to meet with a lot of these ceos and cmos and different people um as a podcast agency, part of the big reason why people come to buy podcasting is because I thought leadership and I'm usually the one kind of coaching them on podcasting. That's why I'm doing the deep dive and learning more about it myself is to give them better answers. And usually they're doing it for a mix of motivations, right? There is a personal branding aspect to it because they know this startup that they're in right now isn't the final destination of their life, right? They know by using this they can build a little personal brand here that that might sell, it might fail, but either way their personal brand gets to live live beyond that. So there is a personal branding aspect to it that gets to live beyond the startup. But addition to that, they do want to be, essentially, it's somewhere between the mix of branding and demand gen by having that leader that's out in front and being...

...positioned as innovative. With thought leadership marketing, they want to be seen and have their company known for being innovative and whatever kind of industry or category you're either designing a category that position themselves in a category. And they usually want to use thought leadership as a means to do that. So it's, it's somewhere between branding so that people like having their mind that this company is innovative because they have an innovative leader and they want to use it also to generate demand. So people are waking up the new ways of looking at things everything you said amen to. I think the one point out to build on is you've you've used the word leader. I think too often organizations picked the wrong person to play the role of thought leader because you are the Ceo or the founder does not correlate that you should be the thought leader. Maybe it should be your chief scientist or your chief legal counsel. It should be your chief innovation expert or your chief whoever. Right? Not every time should that perhaps rarely should the founder of the owner of the C. E. O. B. The thought leader. It depends on their medium. No, they're there. If you're trying to host a podcast and you're very shy, retiring personality and, and or you have a stutter or something like that, it may not be the best venue for you. You might be a genius writer. You might have several thought leaders. You might have, you know, the the leader might be great at writing an article for ink magazine and maybe you pick somebody else to have the personality for keynotes or for interviews. I do think too often organizations select the wrong person for the wrong medium and one person rarely has the talent to crush it in all mediums. So be thoughtful about as a leader. Should you be the person that is the thought leader or perhaps someone else might be better for your firm, depending upon what your goal is. So that's interesting. What would you say? The characteristics that are required in order to be seen as that person depends on the industry depends on the medium. I mean, here's a good example, right? I mean, there's lots of things I cannot do well fly a plane cook parent, you know, but I have lots of poor skills, but I do have one skill of fairly ubiquitous and I can write and I can speak and I can host and I can interview. And so I'm actually probably a fairly good candidate to be considered a thought leader on topics where I have expertise, right? It should not be a thought leader on six sigma or on only in manufacturing. So I just think it depends on the content. I mean, you might have a topic where you're perhaps you're in the beauty industry, right? Perhaps your you own a series of hair hair salons and maybe you are charismatic and outgoing and you know the practice well, you know how to run the business side, as well as the marketing side and the recruiting side and you wanna you wanna school and perhaps you can speak to all of those in a variety of mediums and modalities. I think you have to be self aware, you have to recognize am I the best person? Again, that really has to do with your intent. If your intent is to build your brand, you build your ego, then you might find yourself being the thought leader in mediums that don't resonate well with people that are searching for advice. I love this question dan. And that is um I think effective thought leaders, effective leaders are more concerned with what is right than being right, so take a step back and say who in this firm would be the best thought leader provided they have, you know, the capability, the knowledge, you can teach knowledge to a lot of people and they can innovate on their own. I know a lot of people that serve as thought leaders of their firms and you're thinking, yeah, you've got you have expertise but your ability to persuade me to hire you or your ability to articulate it is not resonant with me. So I turn you out, turn you off. No. I definitely say that the ability to kind of create a personal brand around that expertise is probably one of those things that you want to be able to build right. Because people not only have to be able to hear and understand your expertise, they have to believe that they have to trust you, so they have to be able to kind of like to some degree resonate with you and who you are, maybe even your your background, your backstory um to some degree. But do you think for a company that it would be worth playing out as a single thought leader, do you think it's better for a company to have multiple thought leaders? Maybe all your, maybe you pitch all your employees and being that leaders to some degree? Yeah, I think it depends. Uh I don't think everyone is a thought leader. I don't think every employee should be a thought leader because you have people that are off brand off message there perhaps saying things that are confusing, contradictory. And so I think she'll be very deliberate around how you curate thought leaders for what industry, here's a good client, here's an example. I'm coaching a client in a pro bono fashion where the ceo of this major hospital is going to create a podcast and I love this idea and I think actually he would be and I told him, I think he actually will be a better ceo host of this podcast for internal associates. That there are thousands of employees in this health...

...care network I think will be great at building culture retention recruitment. I think he'll be the right person to be the thought leader on how they're leading out. I don't think he's the right thought leader for the industry per se, but I think maybe that maybe the chief medical officer or somebody else that has a little more charisma, um I don't actually think the ceo is a physician where the chief medical officer is, and he might be a better better spokesperson for um mergers, acquisitions, things like that, you know, and trials that kind of stuff. So, again, circumstance, right. I mean, I know a lot of ceos that are very charismatic, but quite frankly can't write a column weekly to save their life, right? They don't have the discipline or the management or they're just there are better with the spoken word than the written words. So it comes down to self awareness and how to get a team that you trust, sit down and say, what should our thought leadership strategy be? Where do our customers find us? You know, it might just be that you should have a thought leader that's out key noting at conferences, or perhaps you're writing a column in a, an industry journal that doesn't take any charisma that just takes expertise and good writing skills. And again, you know, match task to talent, match it to the right industry. That's how ubiquitous answer. But I think it's a valuable answer is one strategy does not fit every organization. Look at franklin covey, you know, we produce intellectual property for a living, we don't own anything we don't own and there's no inventory books and manuals, but beyond that it's all personal property. But we find ourselves hosting podcast and also being guests on podcast were writing books and audiobooks and giving keynote speeches and writing columns and articles and interviews and it's endless and we pick people that are expert in that medium. You don't see our ceo writing any columns or giving any speeches or any interviews, it's not his passion, he doesn't want to be in the limelight. He probably should be a little more public in his brand, but quite frankly is more of a producer director. Therefore we deliberately craft people that have charisma and expertise and energy and competence and points of view and deploy them very strategically. So tell me about that process that you take internally. So you find people that are already have strong points of view, expertise and our charismatic and can get in front of a microphone or on stage or something. So you have that that's already pretty far along. What do you do with them next? Well, there's more than just that too, right is we make sure that they are on brand, that they have paid the reps, that they have, you know, X 1000 of client implementations behind them and that they have the ability to not just, you know, charm someone behind a microphone, but they actually have strong leadership skills and they have intuition and self awareness. They can write and they can speak. We make sure that they have a good reputation, Right? I mean, I don't check their credit score, but I sit down with the key people office, we talk about where they've been, where they are, where we think we're going, right? I mean, what is their own reputation outside the firm? Do you think they'll be around for a while? It's part of that is very pragmatic. It's almost like getting married. I mean, kind of investment you're gonna be making in them, you better make sure its job and there's upside for them, Right? And I'll tell you, I'll tell you probably the biggest criteria is your social media. I mean I I'm the author of multiple books. You can see them behind me if you see a video clip and I lead our book strategy and there's not a publisher in town that will take you as an author. If you don't have 50,000 instagram followers and 50,000 subscribers to your Youtube channel and 30,000 linked. I mean it's just the new media and I coach people way too often that say I hate social media. Well do you hate billboards? No to hate radio? No direct tv. No do you hate Time magazine? No do you hate I'm like you gotta get over it because social media is the way that you you project your thought leadership because you can write an article for ink magazine every week as I do. But then if you don't activate it through all of your social media, the only people are going to read it are those people happened upon it on inc magazine's So thought leaders also need to have a curated reputation and deliberate strategy and cadence to make sure they are maximizing their social media platforms. It's it's everything, it's the first and only question a publisher really cares about now. So it sounds like by the time they're getting to you, like The kind of already are thought leaders. I mean, if you would've got 50,000 Twitter followers and 30,000 followers on linkedin and uh expertise and established point of view and the background to get there, I'm like, I mean you're kind of a micro thought leader into some point. Well, you might be a micro thought leader and you might have 400 connections on linkedin. So if I think you have promised on a variety of you know, criteria, I'm willing to help you build your thought leadership, it's gonna are your social media is going to take, you know, three years to build your linked incredibly with a cadence where you've got a post two...

...times a day or one time a day with really thoughtful value, add things, not just pictures of your kids, which sometimes is a good. Also you'd be surprised, I think, I mean, you know, I I've been this business a long time and and you know, I'll post an income that I think crushes it. I'll post a picture of my kids dancing, my dining room table and we'll get, you know, triple the engagement, right? So I don't mean that to be funny, but also need to be true. You also have to build a connection with your audience. They want to know that you are real, that you have struggles, that you're thinking through something that you're relatable, that you also take vacations and that you you know, take pictures of your sushi dinner. Do you believe people want to know that you're relatable, you're trustworthy and that they like you outside of just your expertise. It may sound trite, but you look at the best people that are thought leaders that are also distributing through social media and you see the whole person, not just there, there there's sterile or sterile article people want to know, I mean, that's why Gary Vaynerchuk is successful because he shared little bits of his story and in fact that he likes this or that or has dreamed of the new york Jets, Right. I mean, people buy into that kind of stuff because well, there's there's probably a good amount of Jets fans out there and people who really die hard for their underdog football teams, right? A lot of people can relate to that. I can, I'm not a big sports fan, but like there's all kinds of little hooks you put out there to connect with you on an emotional level. But ultimately he still has to deliver on all the business and marketing an entrepreneur ice. Right? So that's like 80% of the game in 2010 20% that, But what do you do? So you got that person and your on boarding them? You said you spend like three years like helping them get in a rhythm of creating it and most of that they're just, they're doing themselves, you're just putting in front of them being like, hey, this is what it's going to take, this is what you're gonna have to execute, what other things are you putting in front of them to do once they get signed on with you to become these internal thought leaders. Yeah. So the point you mentioned that I want to reiterate is we don't just take people that are, you know, good looking and well spoken and turn them into thought leaders, right? I mean, these people have serious reps of expertise on the topic in which we've decided to make them the public face of the firm, but we do a lot of things that, you know, it may seem superficial, but we do media training, right? We we we sit them down with an outside media company and ask them hard questions about reputational issues and what is the company point of view and find out whether they know it or not. And we make sure they have it authentically, we make sure that they know they're an ambassador for the firm on and off the clock and that when they've had four martinis on a friday night at Bruce chris they need to know that probably was too too many. And I mean that to be, you know, metaphorical, but we will talk to them about the responsibility they have for our organizational reputation. We make sure that if they're incubating a new idea that they talk with us about it right? We don't want them to go out and test it with clients because they have a fiduciary responsibility that we need to remind them of. We hone their writing skills. So we actually put them through some writing training because you know how you write for Fortune magazine is different than how you might write answers to a question for Good Housekeeping, which is different than how you might right, you know, a blog post or a book for that matter. So we actually we really helped to build people's writing skills and their speaking skills, their interviewing skills. So we do a fair amount of training like I said before a lot of social media training as well, you know, I also do training on your own personal image, right, kind of clothes you wear and you know your grooming habits and things like that. I mean my responsibility to make sure that you are a good ambassador for the brand, You also know where the company is headed at any given time. You can articulate kind of where the company isn't just where we are now, but where we are headed, what are we seeing in the market place that you are just a thought leader on an island, but you can speak to other topics of the organization, you might be a thought leader on organizational change, but you should be adept at understanding where we're headed on productivity, on building a culture of trust. What are the trends and employee retain recruitment? Of retaining, retaining right? So retention rather. So we do a fair amount of refreshing frequently on kind of, where is the overall firm? Gosh, what have I missed a lot? It's a lot. What do you do for training? Like for example, you said writing skills, does that mean they're they're submitting and you or somebody else on the team is behind it and kind of like even appointing a different program books you recommend? Or is it kind of like a pretty well established? They go through this for the first three months or we just start critiquing everything you write. Here's what I usually find people who tell you their a thought leader aren't and people who tell you they can write can't, so there's usually an inverse correlation in your confidence and your ability to speak it and say it out loud and what's really true. So we do I mean, we we sit everyone down in a different place and we have them right for us, right? It might be a column on article or blog post, and we just talk about stuff like smooth transitions, right? And what is...

...the call to action? And how far deep into the article? Is your idea embedded? And who are you writing this for? Is this for health care practitioners? Or is it for hospitality professionals? And you can't just keep the same idea and we appreciate the same column, right, in the same article or the interview that matter. So yeah, we do. We we have an editor, we do teach punctuation and grammar, but we also expect that by the time you're a thought leader you're able to you know, compose but you'd be surprised. You know there are some very credible, articulate thought leaders that can crush An audience of 10,000 but they can't put five sentences together or five paragraphs together to save their life. So sometimes we have to protect them from themselves and we may choose to have a ghostwriter right? Interview them and then turn that into some article and they approve it and change it in such again, each person is in a different situation. It's so helpful to identify a thought leader and then have a really high courage conversation. Here's where we think your strengths are, here's what I think your weaknesses are, here's where we need to protect you from here. We're gonna burden or burgeon your skills and build them up. That can only happen when they trust your intent and you trust that they have humility and vulnerability and that they're willing to have you grow them. There are some thought leaders that are quite frankly arrogant, you know what? And I tend to steer clear from them and don't give them a whole lot of platform because they're not moving with the times, they're not adapting them going, their skills. Thought leadership is an iterative process. I know a lot of experts that I have had on my podcast and we have not aired the tape because they literally did not realize they gave me a 12 minute answer to a question, are you out of your mind? You gave me? I mean literally a 12 minute answer and so those that are open to the training and writing and speaking and interviewing man, I'm all in on hey everybody Logan with sweet fish here. If you're a regular listener of GDP growth, you know that I'm one of the co host of the show, but you may not know that. I also head up the sales team here at Sweet Fish. So for those of you in sales or sales ops, I wanted to take a second to share something that's made us insanely more efficient lately. Our team has been using lead I. Q. For the past few months and what used to take us four hours gathering contact data. Now takes us only one where 75% more efficient were able to move faster with outbound prospecting and organizing our campaigns is so much easier than before. I'd highly suggest you guys check out lead EQ as well. You can check them out at least I Q dot com. That's L E A D I Q dot com. All right, let's get back to the show, man. It sounds like a lot of work, but at the same time it's like well, I mean you're taking people that are probably 60 70% of the way there and Polishing up to get to 100%. Which somebody operating at 100% is going to be operating pretty effectively. How many people do you have a better These kinds of thought leaders at 2043, 23. So on any given day I've got like a big like an air traffic controller right on the team. And we're helping them with their social media where many of them have weekly columns at any given time. There is, you know, eight or 10 media inquiries coming in a day and some of them aren't trained to be spokespersons for the company because there might be a not nefarious but there might be a journalist who has an angle and he or she. And so we make sure that in some cases we might have our director of public relations on the phone with them. We might just simply say, you know what that person's expertise on this topic Isn't what you need when you talk to this person. So we have 23 and any given time, we have probably four or five that are kind of coming up in the ranks. You've not seen them yet, but we're helping them perfect. They're not thought leadership per se because they've got articulated expertise on the topic, but helping make sure that when we do launch them, that they're never in over their head, right, that there safely ensconced. If you will, we don't try to control the message. I don't need it to be like the White House communications firm, but we want to make sure that, you know, we don't lead people into a path that they could get over their heads in. It makes sense that you kind of get boundaries. It's like, hey, here's some boundaries play within those, right? There, probably fairly generous boundaries. So 23 people is a lot to be doing this kind of work with. Have you started, were you like number one? No, but I was so it's interesting you ask that because my job was the Executive Vice President of Thought leadership, right? A a you know, named officer in a public company. So my job was to identify, grow and build people, you know, and I might have actually, there are some cases where I plucked a person out of the audience and said, gosh, I think you've got great talent and you know, you're so in demand with clients on this topic, we're thinking of writing a book and this is the book, were writing on, Would you be interested here all the things you'll have to do and how do you feel about this? And you're willing to pay the price to become an expert on...

...this topic? Your, you know, more than a novice, but so we'll build them up. So I had four or five people that were quite significant already. People that sold, you know, a million or two million copies of their book inside the firm. And then I started writing myself and podcasting and speaking. And maybe once along the way, someone referred to me as a thought leader, you will never hear those words come out of my mouth. I'm an author and I'm a speaker and I have expertise on topics, I'm not afraid to say, you know, I have expertise on this because I know I do have expertise on how to launch a book. I have expertise on how to build communities of clients inside organizations, to buy your products and things. So along the way, I kind of moved from being producer and director to also being kind of actor on the stage and I'm in I'm in half the time I'm a thought leader as described by others, and the other half the time I'm promoting and raising other thought leaders. But I think it's good because it allows me to understand the challenges of thought leader plays, and I can say to people, you know what guys, you gotta follow what I'm doing and you may not like what I'm doing, but learn from it, take what's good leave, what's bad and create your own, your own strategy around it. That works for you and for the firm, There's nothing wrong with being a thought leader. There's nothing wrong to aspire to be a thought later. Take the steps to be one. You just can never call yourself one right? A men beautifully said. And that's that's the first and the second rule of thought leadership, Right? And I would never be afraid to talk about thought leadership. I know there's been parodies about it and such and I think they might even been one on saturday night live or some like that. That's totally fine. But there's no question thought leadership is a space that I think any organization, I don't care if you're a mechanic, if you're a dentist, if you want a carpet business. I mean, there is no reason why, you know, as the owner of a carpet business. If you can write, you couldn't have a weekly blog that goes onto your linkedin account, right? Or goes to your company website. Every organization could and should have a thought leadership strategy because that's kind of in many ways the new marketing, new advertising, not just the new pr so the way you guys are implementing thought leadership is different from most of the guests that I'm going to be talking to have the title like thought leadership in their their title, right? Usually their pr bent maybe journalists and background. And they're helping the company come up with thought leadership content. They're talking to the subject matter experts and then crafting it into content. It's the usual thought leadership role. But what you guys are doing is a whole step ahead and that you're developing a 23 is a big team of thought leaders. Um so I'm kind of curious about the administration of this kind of a program. Are they all these people on on staff, are they like full time salaried or are they like ambassadors of some kind where they're like, so there may be there all paid differently, maybe they all have different. Yeah, they're all different. Right? Some are executive officers and the firm, here's a good example. Our Chief people Officer is a man named Todd Davis. He's the Chief People Officer, Franklin Covey, this is an executive role with a large group and uh he is a two time Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He gives keynotes around the world. He does interviews for us. He writes responses to journalists all the time, wanting to have a quote from him in their article, whatever it is, he's on salary. He makes no money off any of his thought leadership. Right? He's on salary as an executive officer. We have people who are independent contractors that like for example, Stephen M. R. Covey, Doctor Covey's oldest son. He wrote the book The Speed of Trust, an amazing book. He's considered by most to be the most preeminent Nayman organizational trust worldwide. He's actually a contractor for us. We have full time consultants. We have some sales people who on the side are kind of working their way to become an author and they're writing blogs and they're kind of building their brand. Everyone's at a different level in terms of impact, competence, compensation is honestly all different. We have some outside publicist we hire, we have an outside digital distribution company that helps us to land and maintain columns. And we have a team of three or four people inside that help us produce podcast and activate columns and things. So not a large, not a huge team, about three or four people that work to envision execute the strategies that I lied. But uh, it's a machine that I think is uh, second to none in our industry. I have not been one like quite like that. I think Dave Ramsey would probably like he's got a number of personalities that are pumping out content but not 23, but he's got quite a few. Now. I notice he's trying to diversify away from his own personal brand. Right? That's kind of been interested and I think he's lost a few recently too. I think he's lost a few as well. I know Dave what is in the nature of the beast to help people build their own platforms naturally. Some of them are going to want to go off and chase it. And I actually think that's, that's not bad. That's yeah, I know especially well people are going to be talking about you. Right? That's right. Look at me. I mean, I'm the perfect example, right? I mean I left the firm and I'm the biggest evangelist out there for the firm on more podcasts than anybody and...

I'm a huge ambassador for the firm. You're exactly who's, who's responsible for finding the new people. Do you just have like people raising their hands being like, hey, like I've noticed you're doing this thing. Can I get in on that? Do you have like a number of those? Just pick from them or do you go find them or is it kind of a combination of both? Yeah, It's controversial. Right. I mean, I think a lot of people probably think scott has his favorites and I hope that's not true. But you know, we have a grid that we look at all kinds of criteria and I have my eye on someone and I always consult with the ceo of the company, the chief people officer, the DP consulting and four or five people talk about their reputation, their competence of a team player. Do you think they're here for the long term? Do we think they have expertise? Are they open to feedback? Are they thunder work with? Like, do you enjoy working with, Are they humble? Are they grateful? Are they open to learning? So as I'm raising someone up, it's usually because I've had a series of four or five conversations with three or four executives from different points of view of different backgrounds of different races. Right? Just to kind of make sure that we have different age groups. I'm not just, I'm not anointing people on my own by any stretch. No, it's definitely a team effort, but it's sounds like it's fairly robust and you're trying to get multiple people on board with making the decision beyond yourself, which at a company that size is smart, especially as a, as a public company. Right? Because quite frankly, the majority of our thought leaders for decades were, you know, caucasian males from Utah's where our company is based and that worked for us for, you know, several decades. And of course it's not anymore. So we have a very diverse group of thought leaders that are coming up in the firm, actually more diverse than our our members of our board of directors. And even our executives were quite proud of the level of diversity, both in age and gender and experience and background, ethnicity, sexual orientation. Right? In terms of making sure that our thought leadership quite frankly, looks more like our customer base than it does our employee base right now. How do you know if it's successful, You got 23 people on this program. How do you know if it's working? Yeah, different criteria for different mediums and channels. Here's a good example. Um If I write a new book six months from now and we pitch when you invite me back on, it's working. If you don't invite me back on, it's not working, we might sell 100,000 books on a particular topic. But if that's not driving clients to be interested in purchasing the solution to adopt in their program, the organization, all we've done is sold a bunch of books. You know if we book a keynote speech at the conference And they pay us $30,000 for that. But you know the phone doesn't ring with 12 clients wanting to book that keynote and then that person doesn't drive ongoing business. It's not working. If we write a column and fortune magazine for a series of five issues and that person's social media doesn't grow. It's not working. So we have lots of measures and tests to know are you just building likes and impressions or are you actually building influence where people know to come to you when they want to solve that problem? Because there's lots of times when someone's not ready yet, right? You're just, you're building credibility with them that when they are ready they will come to you. There's some times when you might have a ceo of a hospitality company that later becomes the ceo of an airline and now she is thinking about you and says, I'm gonna call up dan because I've been, I've been loving dams topic and dan might be able to refer me to someone in our firm or even outside our firm. Sometimes a long burning you're not gonna become a thought leader and have a thought leadership strategy and see your qualified leads exponentially in salesforce dot com. That ain't gonna happen. Thought leadership is a committed long term strategy where you're building reputational credibility and a point of view that someone will come to you when they are ready. You thought leadership does not tip A decision like you know a marketing campaign or advertising campaign, its overall kind of infrastructure that helps you shape the reputational credibility of your brand. So how do you monitor all that though? Because it's got to be a lot of work if you got 23 people that's and they're all doing a variety of activities. I'm like do you have them self report in what they've gotten or what has happened or do you have maybe someone underneath you that's kind of like keeping tabs with everybody to make sure things are working a variety of a variety. I would be fraudulent if I said we took and tie every single you know post and what the outcome is. But we we we have some good processes in place that are very predictive of of uh success. We know he placed someone at a certain conference or a certain An event or a certain publication or on a certain podcast or TV program. We generally know what that will do and sometimes you get it wrong, I mean you could go on to the today show and not sell four books. You could go on Donald Miller's podcast and sell 8000 books.

It's just it's all kind of situational. You naturally sometimes you get it right. Sometimes you don't, we have pretty good measures in place to uh make educated decisions on. Was that a good investment? Sometimes they're not, sometimes they are quite frankly dan, some of its instinctive gut, right. Some of it is, let's just put this person, let's give them a column and Forbes and let's just make sure it happens every week for 52 weeks. Let's watch their social media, let's watch their lead flow. We check in every three or four weeks with them and we know if it's working or not based on, you know how many inquiries they got. Forbes might not be the best place for a column, unemployed retention. It might be a great place for column on building sales pipeline or converting your pipeline to revenue. So we, we we we we are increasingly more adept at knowing who, what, when and where, how do you make sure ambassador actually champions the company? Like they all have their individual things that there a thought leader on. How do you, how do you, how do you tie the company back into each one of their own particulars? Her particular expertise is like, is there a unifying theme between all 23 or do you have standards you give to all of them being like, hey, you have to do this regularly, do these things regularly, for example, and sweet fish. We have, we don't have thought leaders are really like more brand evangelists, but like all of our employees and maybe this maybe may not be a good idea, but they have to change their byline to kind of have the company position statement and the byline. So that is there commenting and stuff. We're putting a lot of resources in their own posts and stuff. Um you know, our our positioning statement is always there. We do podcasts or beauty brands so that, you know, that's kind of like an ad that's just floating out there. We're gonna linked in. We could probably do a better job at that. But these are mature, sophisticated people. We, we don't have to monitor them, we don't police them at all. We know that they're going to be great ambassadors for our brain. We also know that, you know, they also have a brand on their own and that you know, they may not always be an employee of Franklin Covey. We recognize there's some value in it for them as well. They're doing a lot of work to build our brand and they ought to build their own as well. Not at the expense of our firm, but I just philosophically believe that I can build my brand and also Bill, Franklin Covey is not the expense of franklin Covey write the books that I've written. Don't come at the expense of franklin Covey. So I just generally think we pick people who have an abundance mentality that their mindset is, they are an ambassador for franklin Covey and I recognize that they also have a brand of their own and they can peacefully coexist with us and interviews and columns and podcasts and speeches. We do obviously have very strict rules about certain things like so for example, you know, you can't go out and give a speech for us and market or pitch books that you wrote outside of our firm. That's not ethical, right? You can't take one of our clients and an offline pitch one of your products. If you again are a contractor, it's not ethical. And you know, there's been a couple incursions along the way, but the vast majority of people are highly ethical, implicitly trustworthy. And it really isn't even a question for us. So mainly you have like a baseline standard of just like business ethics that are kind of like Plane one on one like base level. But then you like, we're going to help you. We know it'll come back to us. That's exactly right. I mean, these are, these are people that we hopefully trust implicitly and I don't want to jeopardize their relationship, right. These people are smart, self governing people. So honestly, we have to do very little policing of that. I can think of maybe two incursions and I've been in the firm 25 years and they both still work for us were perhaps a little more cautious. Um, and you know, generally our Ceo has a methodology of assume good intent and that was what permeates our culture here. What services do you provide for them? So they're doing a lot of work already. They got social media kind of going there doing a lot of their own work. But what what are you doing to help them build their brands? Yeah, So we provide a global platform. I mean we provide, you know, people who can help to build their social following. We have people that edit their columns and articles. We have a podcast that I host. It goes to eight million people every week. So if one of our thought leaders earns the right to get on our podcast, I mean Matthew McConaughey was two weeks ago, right, and next week was going to be Bill Gates. I'm not sure it's going to be right now. He's having a rough row right now. But you know, for one of our thought leaders to have a chance to earn our a spot on our podcast is a big deal for them. I actually host a franklin Covey book Club for a new start up called book Club dot com, launching in june and so they're gonna get a chance to actually be a guest on Franklin Covey's book Club. So we have a massive platform where we get to shine our spotlight onto them. So there's a significant amount of gasoline that we put into their tank. But at the end of the day, they have to...

...turn the engine on and they have to keep the keep it gas because it's an issue. There are some people that don't want to pay the price and they, and they look at me as a model and I say, yeah, well I spent six hours on social media yesterday and I also worked six hours and I also wrote for four hours. So yeah, I had a long day yesterday. Right? And, and so you got to put the price in and if someone is not going to put the price in, then um, they get 88 octane gas, not 93 octane gas. I'll tell them I'm very clear. I mean you're not putting the work in so I'm putting the team back off. You I have a lot of hikers. I don't have a lot. No. And kind of like all or nothing. Or do you have like different stages? Right. You're like, because a brand like yours has access different levels of access to different things. You got websites, you got podcasts, you got speaking deals. You know, I mean kind of like the Dave Ramsey who gets it. I don't know what the size of his show is, but like not everybody speaking with him on his prime time, some of them are on different things there on podcasts are lower down. Yeah, I think he has the second largest radio program in the world that rush Limbaugh has passed I think Hannity was two and Dave Ramsey was three But there's no question if someone is crushing it on their end, they're getting 93% octane gas from Scott Question it, meaning they're writing their reading, they're taking interviews, their podcasting, they're paying the price to not just build their social media but respond right and engage people and give people value With coaching and answers. Takes a lot of work. This is not for the this is not a full time job for anyone in our company is for me as the administrator. But you know these people all have mostly have day jobs. These people have you know 50 hour a week jobs plus they're writing plus they're doing all of this, right? This takes a lot. This is not for the weak of heart. Let me tell you, not for the lazy, nope. Sometimes you got to be able to work really hard in order to get out there. What's that quote, successful people are merely those who are willing to do what unsuccessful people weren't I slaughtered that. But there's so much wisdom in that right there. That's why it's usually see tiredness is a is a good thing, right? Taking tired Good. That's good because the people who run the world are tired, right? Isn't that true? This has been fantastic scott. If there's anything left, like if there's anything our audience has heard after all these questions and talking about this program, what what question haven't I asked? That would be good for them to know? Yeah. You may have asked this and I may have talked over you, but I think, you know, to be a great thought leader, your ticket to the game is obviously having a articulated point of view that's grounded in expertise, research reps and you're constantly innovating, disrupting yourself, giving your audience new value, new experiences. You're also insatiably curious and open to coaching. You're willing to get some writing coaching, you're willing to get some platform speaking skill coaching. You're willing to take feedback from people who have your best interests at heart. At some point, you get to a level where you're drowning and feedback. I mean, look at me, I'm not I know celebrity, but there are blogs that are dedicated to my glasses and my hair. And I have I have a speech impediment, have a stutter that I've tried to control on this call today, and I wanted to be careful about who I take feedback from but like me has like like me, I would say to people um make your brand be that you're open to feedback that you're really working on all of your skills. Because I think the most impactful thought leaders are those that can master the variety of mediums that your organization will need you to crush it in key noting on stages, radio interviews, tv interviews, podcast interviews, writing columns, writing articles and also writing short snippets. I mean I have I have thought leaders all day long where we'll get an ap reporter That's writing an article for some kind of something or other. We gotta find someone and they and they want 75 words in three hours all the time. And that person has to be able to, you know, on their lunch break somewhere in an airport in the Delta crown room, flip open their laptop and write 75 valuable words and make sure it sends happens, happens multiple times a day. If you want that reporter, if you want that publicist, if you want that editor calling you back for future comments and articles because they know you're a credible source That not just has a point of view, but you're willing to do the hard work to sit down and focus on it and give them 755 words that they may use 12 of the words when the article comes out. Man, that's a great to be able to turn that. But if you're, if you're into writing articles and content, all that is usually pumping out 75 words well, it's like you got to refine muscle to be able to do it. So it kind of makes sense. I think even a year ago I probably would have shuddered at that fact. I would...

...have been like, oh my gosh! But after doing Lincoln constantly all all year, doing 1 to 2 posts most days, I'm like, yeah, I think I could squeeze that out in a 30 minute lunch break or something like that in an airport or on my cell phone in between things on my girl would be a challenge. But you know, so it makes a lot of sense. Where can people go to learn more about what you're doing? It's franklin covey. Well, so obviously franklin covey dot com. You can also visit my own website, scott Geoffrey miller dot com as an author and columnist and speaker. I put up all of the podcast that I host up there, all the articles that I write and you can use them as examples of how to improve your own meaning. Like do what I'm doing but do it better. You're welcome to use everything that I do as an example of how you should and could do it better. So franklin covey dot com. You also can visit scott, Geoffrey Miller dot com. Fantastic. Again. Thanks for joining me on GDP growth. Thank you. Are you on linkedin? That's a stupid question. Of course you're on linkedin. Here's sweet fish. We've gone all in on the platform. Multiple people from our team are creating content there. Sometimes it's a funny gift for me. Other times it's a micro video or a slide deck and sometimes it's just a regular old status update that shares their unique point of view on BB marketing leadership or their job function. We're posting this content through their personal profile, not our company page. And it would warm my heart and soul if you connected with each of our evangelists, we'll be adding more down the road. But for now you should connect with Bill Read our Ceo Kelcy Montgomery, our creative director, dan Sanchez, our director of audience growth Logan Lyles, our director of partnerships and me, James Carberry. We're having a whole lot of fun on linked in pretty much every single day and we'd love for you to be a part of it.

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