Thoughts on Thought Leadership
Everybody wants to be a thought leader, but I wonder, with all of these "leaders" all pitching the same thoughts, who's following?
I was a thought leader once
Honestly, it was more like one of those "I'm not a thought leader, but I play one on the internet" situations. Here's how it happened.
A friend of mine is a spokesperson in the HR field. She wrote a social media guide a few years back that kind of catapulted her into minor internet celebrity status. I won't tell you who she is, because, well, I'm a ghostwriter. Once this happened, all kinds of interesting opportunities exploded for her and she took on more consulting work than she could manage with a full time job, so she made a career change to consulting and speaking on HR.
As happens, she got really busy
Her consulting took off, and to keep it going, she had a huge need for content. She wasn't in the position to attract high level guest bloggers yet and wanted to establish her own byline, so she turned to me to produce posts for her from her bullet point outlines.
That's where it gets interesting. Sure, I'm a writer. But the thing is, I've never, like ever, spent any time in a traditional office. I spent about three months one time as a telemarketer, and one of the cabinet shops I worked in when I was young had an HR department. That's the extent of my experience with HR.
But it didn't really matter, because, as it turns out, being a thought leader really just means synthesizing what others say and having an opinion. So, I followed her bullet points and crafted what she kept insisting was really great content, and apparently it worked, because now she can attract the kind of high profile guests she needs to drive more traffic.
What's my point?
I'm getting to it. Here's the thing, you think you know who you're listening to. You think that pastor, or speaker, or CEO is BRILLIANT BEYOND WORDS! And, maybe, like my friend, they are. It may also be that they have some help from an outside voice in the form of a ghostwriter. Way more of the "bestsellers" than you would believe are not crafted by the "authors" themselves. Neither are the speeches they give at conventions and workshops that draw thousand of dollars in entrance fees.
Nope, more often than not, it's a guy like me, sitting at a keyboard, wherever he wants to be in the world, synthesizing the information into a palatable form. Of course, without my friend, I'd never have even considered writing about HR, because I lack experience in the field, but with the right resources, even you could become an expert that people will not just listen to, but share with others.